Last updated on October 18th 1998

So what's with me and Linux, anyway? How can an operating system be so exciting and why on Earth would you create such an extensive Website about it?

Humble Beginning

I first got into Linux back sometime in the summer of 1993. UNIX has always fascinated me, since I started "computing" (back in 1977!) on a Apple ][, Radio Shack TRS-80, Commodore Pet, and of course, the DEC PDP-11, VAX, and MicroVAX II (in a cool "World Box"). Out of all the operating systems of the time, TRS-DOS ("triss-dos"), VMS, RSX-11, ucsd-P, and MS-DOS that I was exposed to, I like VMS a lot. Why? I don't know, maybe it was the ease and speed (and of course, control and flexibility...) that it offered. Don't get me wrong, I love "windowed" environments, as they definately have their use (yes, even Windoze). But sometimes, when you want to do a bunch of stuff, real quick and without clicking 10 windows deep, through a bunch of dialog boxes and switching between keyboard and mouse, just typing it all on a command line is *so* much quicker!

There are those that criticize UNIX as being "arcane" or perhaps "not user friendly." The people that usually say this are the "average" business person, that expects the usual Excel, Word, and perhaps Pegasus Mail all in a nice group called "applications." This is fine, but it's not for everyone, as I'm sure you're all well aware. Personally, I like being able to get into the "dark corners" of the o/s and apps. Granted, UNIX has a somewhat steep learning curve, but once you get even a moderate level of experience with it, you realize, no, you *see the light* as it were, at the immense power you have at your fingertips. With Linux, you have access to, all "free" C, C++, BASIC, FORTRAN, Lisp, Modula, tcl/tk, etc. languages, you also get the UNIX shell programming and the myriad of other possibilities. Overwhelming? Can be. My advice? Pick a few cool ones, learn 'em and enjoy knowing that literally, "what you dream of, can be done." Damn, that's deep...

Hello, Linux.

This is where Linux came in for me. As I already mentioned, UNIX has always fascinated me. I was looking for a "cheap entry-level" UNIX, as DOS and "Windows 386" (at the time) wasn't cutting it. I thought about Coherent, which looked great, and was only $99. Then, someone had mentioned Linux, and that it was "free." Well, I started looking into distributions, knowing *nothing* whatsoever at what I was looking at. Fortunately, I picked Slackware 2.3. It was a fumbling experience, learning which boot image to choose to boot the "kernel" and which config file to change for this and that (there's a ton of 'em). Not that I didn't grasp it, it's just that it was foreign and different.

It didn't take long at all. I was hooked, hook, line and sinker. All I kept thinking was, "man, this is cool!" Not just the fact that I had at my disposal a slick, powerful and immensefully useful o/s, but every application (package) I could think of, was somewhere, on the 'Net, and only an FTP away. Plus, the exciting part of Linux, is that for the most part, generally under the "GNU license" you get the source code! Try *that* with any other UNIX! (it's possible, just *very* expensive!)

In a Nutshell

So, to make a long story short, Linux was to become my favorite environment. It never (or hardly) crashes like Windows95 does (but people that live on the "bleeding edge" have to expect that anyway), the whole thing takes half the room in hard drive real estate (my 500MB to 1GB drives to date have been very *comfortable*) and it's just *fast*. My dual-166MHz Pentium machine at home (with niceties like Ultra-Wide SCSI, etc.) is simply *amazing* at working. It's a full-time web server and daily workstation for me. I author and serve web pages, I'm in the process of setting up a mailing list and FTP site, as well as a PPP/SLIP server, among other daily tasks (email, graphics, downloading, etc.) and it's just humming along, not even phased by the work thrown at it. My load figures have yet to go over "1.0 to 1.5" which really, is not much at all! Talk about multitasking... With X windows (running the awesome fvwm95! ;> ) I can run everything, literally, in full color, on virtual desktops, with plenty of virtual screens, as well, at 1024x768, 1280x1024, etc. To the end, it's always quick. Even compiling a kernel in the background... ;>

Read my review of Xi Graphics Inc. Accelerated-X server for Linux!

All images are (C) 1994-2005 by Michael Holve