There was a time a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away where I believed that Windows was continually getting better. This was back in the early 90’s when Windows 95 was in fact an improvement over Windows 3.1. Sometime after Windows 98 came out I had become tired or re-installing my operating system every year or so because it had bogged down to the point it was barely usable. I started asking around to anyone who seemed knowledgeable and the answer that kept resurfacing was “Linux”. I kept asking if anyone knew how I could get a copy of Linux. At the time I believed it was like Windows and I had to find a retail store that sold Linux. Also, I wasn’t interested in the ‘modified versions’ of Linux I just wanted the ‘regular’ one.
I finally found a guy that game me a copy of Mandrake Linux. I was less than pleased that it wasn’t real Linux but at this point I was willing to take whatever I could get. I took it home, popped the CD in and before I knew it I saw a black X as a cursor. My dislike of Windows is even more clear to me now because I distinctly remember seeing the black X cursor and thinking to myself “That’s genius, why wouldn’t I want a X as a cursor. That’s such a better choice”. Yeah, I hated Windows that bad. My enthusiasm was short lived because as I quickly found, while I could play some games and edit documents, I had no sound, no network, no real display drivers. Like many new Linux users I spent untold amounts of hours trying to find driver disks or downloads for my hardware but in the end I was unsuccessful. My factory recovery disc would not recognize the partition that Linux had created and thus the restore operation would just fail. It was about this time that I developed a distaste for Linux. After all it was the ‘operating system that didn’t quite work right, and prevented me from going back to Windows.’ I was stuck without a computer that could connect to the Internet for the better part of a year until I finally was ready to “upgrade” to Windows 2000, which the installer thankfully did recognize the Linux partition as “unknown” and I was able to remove it.
You can imagine my lack of interest when a year or so later a friend offered to loan me a copy of RedHat. This was after all the operating system that as far as I was concerned “broke” my computer. He told me I could hang onto it for a month. I set them down on my desk and decided I would likely do nothing with it and simply return it to him. About three days after brining it home my computer crashed…again. I realized that I was going to have to re-install the OS anyway and by this point I had a Windows 2000 installation disc as well as a Windows XP one. My thought was that one of them would likely be able to reinstall the OS. I threw the RedHat disc in and to my amazement; everything worked! I had networking, I had video, I had sound. I ran RedHat as a very happy user for quite some time before realizing there were certain programs for Windows I needed. I had copied the disks and now that I had a distribution to focus on I knew what to try to Download. A short while later RedHat announced splitting RedHat Enterprise and Fedora. I left Windows on my laptop but I completely wiped Windows off of my desktop. I eventually dual booted my laptop and spent the next few years using this setup. I used Linux 100% of the time at home and most of the time on my laptop. I would continually find replacements for the software I needed on Windows. At the time my employer was using Windows on the server.
After seeing how well Linux was working in my house I convinced them to use Linux as a short trial before we installed Windows. That server to this day is still running Linux. What really opened my eyes was when I ordered a new laptop and didn’t have time to install and configure Windows and Linux the way I would have before a big trip. The end result was I was forced to use Linux only 24/7 for a short while. When I returned home I realized if I could get away with it for a short time, I should be able to get away with it indefinitely. It was around this time that I went back to my employer and convinced them to wipe all of the Windows workstations and use Linux on the desktop. From the moment I woke up in the morning until I went to bed at night I was eating breathing and living Linux. To say I was happy would be a gross understatement. What I discovered is the things I “thought” were holding me back, in fact were not. What was holding me back from going forward on Linux was my lack of confidence in Linux. I spent almost a year using Linux exclusively. If I did need Windows for something I used it inside of a VM.
A year later after seeing the success on both the server and the desktop my employer offered to pay for professional training. This was met with mixed feelings, on one hand I was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn about Linux on the other hand at this point I felt pretty comfortable implementing Linux solutions. I made a post on Facebook after arriving for my first day of class. It was the first computer I’d ever seen in my life that had Linux installed and I wasn’t the one that installed it. The RedHat course did many things, I did learn a ton about Linux but the most important thing I took away from the class was confidence. Confidence that I was doing this right. I also had developed the connections so I knew who to ask with questions and concerns when they came up. I discovered at the class that very few of the administrators were using Linux on their desktop. Most of them had Windows. My instructor at least dual booted. It was a strange feeling to the “odd man out” using Linux in a class where we were learning to use Linux.
A short while later the situation at my employer changed. I had seen first hand the success Linux could have not only on the back end but on the desktop and not wanting to go back to Windows I filed the paperwork to start my company where I could work towards moving anyone and everyone who would listen to Linux. I don’t use Windows anymore. I don’t have a single machine in my house or my office that uses Windows or Mac. Everything runs Linux. The more I use Linux, the more I find it’s capable of but it all starts by making a commitment that you are going to use Linux. You must trust it, and the Open Source community to take care of your needs. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed…