When did you first use Linux?


That's the question cropping up on various websites at the moment. If, like us, you love to reminisce about the olden days, when you had to recompile your kernel just to use your keyboard and FVWM2 was the most amazingly new tech on the planet, then get commenting below. What was your first distro? What did you think of it at the time? Were you one of the original Oxford Beer Trolls, plying Torvalds with ale in return for his efforts?

Here's how the TuxRadar team got started...

Paul Hudson: "I installed Red Hat 4.2 on my shiny new 133MHz Cyrix in '97, not long before 5.0 came out. I spent most of my time trying to figure out the difference between all the shell options and not really getting anything done."

Mike Saunders: "After finding Red Hat 5.1 on a magazine coverdisc back in '98, I gave it a whirl and fell in love when I got IceWM installed. (AnotherLevel, RH's FVWM setup, was a bit ugly.) I did need to recompile the kernel to get my rubbish sound chip working though."

Graham Morrison: "My Amiga 4000 (with 060!) had lain unloved for too long. In 1998, Red Hat 5.1 brought it back to life, albeit with plenty of expletives and no X Window System."

Andrew Gregory: "I tried to install some version of Mandrake 2005 from the Linux Format coverdisc, but it didn’t recognise the graphics card of my Dell laptop so I had to get Graham to fix xorg.conf for me. I hated the look and feel, but once I’d found Gnome and Ubuntu I was sorted."

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Your comments

SuSE 1997

Don't remember the version though. Stuck with it until version 10.0. Got upset and annoyed, turned to Ubuntu, and stayed with it since.

Also toyed with Mandriva 2008 - hated KDE 4.1 (mainly because the toolbar wouldn't autohide!!)

Still toy with opensuse/mandriva on Virtualbox.

Red Hat 5.2 / Corel Linux

Back in 2000 first year in the uni. We got a book about Red Hat Linux 5.2 that included 2 CDs of the OS. I installed it but never entered in graphical mode, so I removed it and tried my luck with Corel Linux. The installation was easy and booted directly in KDE. Beautiful years...

Damn Small Linux - a few months ago.

After using Windows XP on my laptop for several years, I decided that I couldn't keep using an OS which takes several minutes to open a web browser. I discovered Damn Small Linux, and now I use linux (various distros) on all my computers.

DSLinux on the nintendo DS in the sumer of 2004!

I bought a flash card reader and decided to run linux on it. It was rubbish but dropped me headfirst into the command line!

When I got my own pc several months later in 2004 (a castoff from my school which I spray painted green for osme reaosn) I installed redhat on it (which failed) so I moved through about 20 different distros (including slackware, and fedora, and mandriva, among many others) and was already firmly attached to the console. I didn't realise it, but I had been born lucky-linux, by the time I took an interest, was moving into a golden age of speed, and catching up with the modern OSs of the late 90s, early 00s

I moved between rpm, deb and source based distros, gnome, fluxbox, iceWM and kde and mostly open to dubiosuly open distros, before my father showed me a copy of ubuntu hardy, which worked fine from the off!, and despite forrays into other distros (slackware, and gentoo call me from time to time, usually disatrously) I'm taken with ubuntu, the ease with which it does stuff, and also, the ease with which my girlfriend can use it! (and she struggles with vista on a daily basis!)

Caldera OpenLinux in 1997 (boxed)

Although I've used UNIX since 1985, once leaving Uni, I was left with SunOS 4.1 for my UNIX fixes. The main UNIX available on PCs was SCO UNIX (and Xenix!), which I completely hated, being more used to the BSD way of doing things (which Linux also followed in the main). In 1997, some of the ex Novell guys came over to the UK and left me a copy of Caldera and I loved it - a UNIX that really worked on a PC. I used it on an old HP Netserver with a Pentium Overdrive. The 3COM driver had to be recompiled to support a new IRQ, but in those days, that was still considered user-friendly :-)

Having used various distros since, I ended up settling on RH for my home server) and for the last couple of years, Ubuntu has worked best for me - especially in terms of compatibility with laptops.

Boxed Mandrake

I bought a boxed version of Mandrake at Wal Mart and installed it on an AMD K6 200 system that I literally got out of the garbage. I used UNIX in college back in the 70's and ran Minix (?) on my Tandy 1000. I recently returned to Linux while playing around with VirtualBox. I am one of the peculiar individuals who like Vista, but I admit to being blown away by the new distros. Unfortunately, I have to run Vista for business. I must give kudos to Sabayon for installing on my HP laptop and ALL functionality was retained.


Red Hat 5.2 in 2000 dual boot with Win98 on a thinkpad. Mandrake 7 on a desktop in 2002, moved to Suse 9.3 in 2003. Got tired of rpm dependency hell in 2006. Have used Ubuntu on desktop since, but getting tired of lack of total control, May move to slack or a derivative in the near future. Have Mint XFCE on my hp laptop and I like it.

RH 7 About 2002

Got fed up having to retire perfectly good hardware 'cause the crap you had to pile into it to keep the bad guys out used to max out its processing power to the extent that it ran like a slug. Found Linux, played with it for a bit, couldn't get to grips with and biffed it. Came back in 2004 with RH9, this time got the docs (and what incredible quality they were, still refer to them) and I've been a linuxer since mostly Fedora. Not completely free of MS, still need it to drive some devices but it is running in a virtual machine on Linux :)


I got a copy of turbolinux4.02 , with the handbook less than 10 page. only text mode to install then, 1998.


I was 16, taking an operating systems module on a collage computer course and we were to be working with Linux to explore alternative operating systems. A friend of my dad's heard about this and gave me red hat 8 on 5 cd's. I installed it on my rather dated PC at the time and with hindsight I realise either there was no video card driver or simply X was not configured right. I built a more modern PC and distro hopped between red hat 8/9, Mandrake 9.2/10, dabbled with Debian, installed Fedora Core 1, upgraded to 2. Finally I installed Ubuntu 4.10 and stuck with it from there.

Haven't looked back, though I do wonder if I had known where to look I might have fixed that video card issue cos Anaconda ran fine....

Back in 2000

I wanted to learn the C programming language that started my obsession with Linux. I started with Redhat 7 then and now after trying many Linux distros now use Debian Lenny.

I would say the Linux experience has been super, that is the default OS on my desktop. Though i have Redhat / Fedora for a longer duration, i came back to Ubuntu / Debian because of the good repository and package management.

Redhat 7
Redhat 9
Fedora Core 2
Fedora Core 3
Fedora Core 6
Fedora 7
Fedora 8
Fedora 9
Debain Lenny

--- Linux Rocks

Yggdrasil Fall 94

I believe that Yggdrasil Fall '94 was my first successful on a Pentium 90 MHz with SCSI HD & CD (1x). At the time, you booted from a floppy 3.5" before loading the rest from the CD. I recall some trouble to start X11 and I got to enter myself the monitor features. Already then, the dual boot with MS Win system was running fine. Networking through 3Com card was working smoothly. And it was already pretty to hang when drivers were stable: no freeze, no slowdown, and no smegging blue screen!

In those days, printing, even on other UNIX systems, was a bit tricky, but functional.

I was able to move on my PC some C programming done on other UNIX platforms.

Then, I moved to Slackware, then to SuSe, and now Mandriva.

In the early days

or so it seems now
I tried Linux during the glory days of windows 95 as it was something that was not windows 95. Suse, Corel Linux, and a couple others. But none were quite right just yet.

With another go some years later using Red Hat 9, I fell in love with the OS and have never looked back to the misery wrought by M$. Currently idling between Debian Lenny w/ KDE 3.5.10, and Kubuntu 8.10 w/ KDE 4.2.2.

Linux IS the desktop for me and I run my business on it as well. Everything I need a computer for, Linux does much better than M$ products ever could. Just waiting now for Microsoft to whither and die and all will become right in the world.


I originally started using FreeBSD/NetBSD but now I am straight Ubuntu.


It was Slackware in 95 year, CD from some software developers' magazine, and 386 PC with 4 or 8MB ram.

I remember few things:
- having to bye pack of diskettes, and then 'burn' them with some DOS tool (makefloppy or something like this) - to be able to start installation and boot linux installer
- kernel 1.0.something
- fvwm as main window manager, and switching few other window managers (like twm, openmotif) on the fly (without logging out).
- I was able to observe how windows are being painted on the screen in every detail, while moving windows ;)
- booting to console, then logging in then running startx
- spending whole evening for trying to obtain 800x600 resolution with my Trident card (manually tweaking xorg.conf file) and risking my monitor damage :)

Having it configured finally, I didn't use it that much.
Windows 95 with Word 2.0, Excel 5.0 and Visual C++ 1.52 was too far ahead at least for desktop/home usage at that time. However I remember my friend who told me in 97 that he is stopping cheating and made format c: flushing down all his unlicensed stuff in charge of solely use of Linux.
I did the same, but only ten years later ;(

What those 90's Linuxes have in common with the current ones - I think these dots camming up while booting in some distos:
Booting Linux .................

Please don't remove them !


My first Linux was SLS on four floppies downloaded over Fidonet from a bulletin board. I played with it for a while but did not start using Linux until SuSE 5.2 came on a magazine cover (PC PLUS I think).


I got given a set of CD's to try in 1995. Shortly after work relocated me to Thailand.
It took me forever to get going, I had to change a lot of my thinking from SCO Unix and Xenix for which I has been a support tech for 4 years prior to that.
I couldn't get my head around compiling the kernel and drivers. I wasn't used to it.
I was as pleased as punch when I got doom working.

I started back in the 1990's

I started back in the 1990's with Slackware on floppy using i386 boxes. After a friend bugged me to death to start using it.

I still think i'm a linux noob even after 5 years!

I used to have old Bush Internet TV in my bedroom one day in 2003 while playing with the Keyboard on the remote I accidentally crashed the TV and it went into what I now know is terminal. After playing with it for a little bit I went to my desktop and Goggled what it was! I was informed that this was the TV's embedded modified Risc OS from Pace and I had a small computer with an ARM 7500FE CPU running inside the TV. From this I started reading about other OS's on-line and discovered Linux.

Then in 2004 I downloaded SLAX 4.1.2 and used My SLAX Creator to add programmes that sounded fun to the .iso image in Windows XP. I then Burnt the disk and poped it back into my 800MHZ Sony Vaio Laptop and seconds later I had my first Linux experience!

Since then I have learnt more and more and now run OpenWRT, OpenPMA, Ubuntu 7.04 PPC, Ubuntu 8.04LTS, CrunchBang 64 9.04.01 and WattOS Beta2 on a range of Computers/Devices!

I started using linux around 1997

I started using linux around 1997 when we shared the machine from other terminals via rlogin like capabilities and used to produce programs in C, and next year in compiler design.

SuSE 7.0

It was SuSE 7.0, awhile ago when it was moving from KDE 2 to KDE 3. Don't remember the hardware, only that it was a desktop PC. I was learning C as well.

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