Why do you use Linux?

I was recently engaged in a similar discussion which reminded me of a situation in which I truly learned to appreciate Linux enabled technologies. Now, I could get all nostalgic and say, that it was so and so year and this was happening in my life but truth be told, it was one specific event that truly highlighted the power and adaptability of the Linux kernel.
In the early 2000’s I had repurposed an older PC by installing an early version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and enabling it as a file server, hosting both NFS and SMB. The computer ran well and gave me almost zero issues once it was fully configured. It ran 24/7 and unless we experienced power outages, it was never turned off. It is important to highlight that the system, upon boot, would only load in runlevel 3. In Red Hat speak, this equates to CLI only with networking support; that is, no GUI.
Many years go by and one evening we were experiencing a bad lightning storm in the Chicago-land area. At some point during the night a surge bypassed the surge protector and blew out the power supply of the file server. After replacing the power supply, all operations resumed as normal. The PC continued to act as a file server.
I would not experience problems until the few times I loaded up X and ran in the GNOME desktop environment. In those few instances, the PC would freeze and become completely unresponsive. After experiencing this a few times, I decided to open up the PC case and observed that the capacitors by the onboard graphics port were blown. My thoughts immediately raced to that previous electrical storm. It would have appeared that not only the power supply was affected, but also other components on the motherboard, specifically the graphics controller.
Seeing that other than the graphics controller, the PC still operated relatively well, I continued to use the PC for a few more years until I eventually decided to retire it. Mainly due to the operating system hard drive failing. It was beginning to click.
It was at that moment that I truly realize how powerful and flexible the technology was.
Comments are always welcome.

4 thoughts on “Why do you use Linux?

  • I had something similar happen to me. I was maintaining a windows 2000 server for an umbrella company of companies. Every morning I would go in, and every morning I would spend 3 hours trying to fix a DHCP service that would crash for some reason during the night. I found out it was a “known Microsoft issue” and they were working on it. My boss blamed me. Even though I explained there was nothing I could do until it was fixed by MS, he still held me responsible for it.

    That’s when I looked into Linux. I used an old beaten up desktop computer, installed CentOS, installed the DHCP service, connected it to our LAN and disabled the Windows DHCP service. I was overjoyed to find out that it worked. Flawlessly. I learned so much about the power and ability of DHCP that was previously hidden from me through being an MS geek. I was given power and control like I had never experienced before. I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the power of the command line and how much more I felt like a real power-geek only after a little bit of research and study that I found online.

    Fast forward, I ended up replacing the entire Windows server with CentOS. The transfer of data along the network seemed to sing. Life was awesome.

    Through it all I ended up falling in love with programming and am now going back to school for Computer Science and Engineering. I have changed my life because of Linux. …and all due to a stupid flaw in a Windows DHCP service.

  • I started using GNU/Linux when something screwed up my Windows desktop again. Thing is, suddenly I didn’t want to use Windows again because I had paid for it but it was on my hard drive which screwed up and Dell told me I had to pay. So I called MS and they said it was my problem with Dell.
    So I thought about this Linux I heard a lot about. Let’s try it. Obviously I did the wrong thing and started with Ubuntu where the Unity Desktop was just not working usefully. Later I learned a lot more and understood that this Unity was/is a twisted tweak of the extremely beautiful GNOME Desktop where everything is logical, fast and intuitive.

    But that aside, the thing I learned the most of Linux is the concept of freedom and lack of fear. Both may sound general or vague, so let met explain.

    Lack of fear is the easiest and probably most recognized concept after working with Windows. When something persistently goes wrong in Windows itself, you learn to repair this. And you learn to repair this in extreme because reinstalling Windows can take many hours because you not only have to install it which takes quite long but also tweak many (privacy) settings and additionally install drivers and services in a not very easy way. Many settings and other stuff you’ll forget again and again.
    The thing is, you’ll learn this repair thing in an extreme degree just to prevent this reinstalling process – out of fear.
    So after I learned the very easy way of installing Linux and after that the easy tweaking (often a program called like that, for instance GNOME Tweak Tool), after a while, the fear of something going wrong will disappear. Although not even close like Windows something wil break or go desperately wrong, but you just don’t have any fear left anymore :-)

    The thing about freedom is actually also easy. It’s the freedom to choose, the freedom to do and use whatever you like. There are so many Desktops to choose from that it’s breath taking. I’ll always recommend starting easy and familiar for the usual user, like LinuxMint with the Cinnamon Desktop, but once you’re used to the Linux experience, you’ll wanna try and experiment.
    After this feeling of freedom there may come a learning curve of the deeper meaning of freedom, like ‘why is there not really a free choice in my retail computer store’ or ‘why is this Linux so easy, beautiful and cheap but still not used widely in public services and government but is it used widely at the smart big companies?’.

    After these experiences there will be a moment of thankfulness and a drive to give back. Like supporting the people who make this all possible or even things like translating that specific Linux version in you own language. And it’s easy and fun! They even want you and after you learn that you are good enough it makes you just happy!

    Well anyway, once you’re free and happy, you’ll never go back.

    So, that’s my little story :-)

    • YY,

      To add to the whole “fear” idea, with Linux enabled platforms, I think part of the “lack of” said fear is the result of nothing being hidden from the user. That is, if you are experiencing networking issues, you can dive pretty deep and figure out exactly what is happening. If you try to do the same on a Windows OS, well…..good luck getting the same kinds of details.

      >> When something persistently goes wrong in Windows itself,
      >> you learn to repair this. And you learn to repair this
      >> in extreme because reinstalling Windows can take many
      >> hours….

      In the mid-90’s I used to work part-time as a PC & AV repair technician. Our method of fixing Windows problems was to run through an OS re-imaging. Most of the time, it was the path with the fewest headaches.

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