Tuesday, 10 April 2007

The Linux journey

The first Linux system I installed was Red Hat 6 back in the beginning of the 21st century. Which is the time when Linux was not sexy. We (me and my brother) had a 1 gig hard drive and we had somehow managed to squeeze both Windows 95 and Linux into that. Although I couldn't do much on the system, we didn't have sound or internet (yeah, I had a dial-up connection that time), but we did have a desktop. This lasted only for a few days, because slowly we got tired of sacrificing space for Linux and not being able to play games (Quake 2 Demo used to be my favourite apart from Age of Empires 1).

College saw another bunch of distributions. I started out with Red Hat 7.x; got sound and display to work and dumped it for Fedora Core 1. I got everything working in FC 1 too, but I got tired of the package manager (I don't know if its better now), so I did the unthinkable: I installed Gentoo.

It was not an easy ride, but in the end I had a pretty decent system to boast of. So other than the hours and hours I spent compiling stuff, I had no complaints at all from Gentoo. It was sleek, lean and mean. The best Linux system I have had till date. It was during this time I first learnt how to recompile the kernel. Not only that I tried to make it smaller. Packing in only what I needed into the kernel.
I would have never given away all my blood and sweat, but that is what happened. A freak accident wiped out Gentoo and I neither had the time or energy to make one again. But I thought that this is a good time to try out Ubuntu.

Ubuntu was good. Very good in fact. It worked out of the box. No hand tweaking of config files was required. Installing applications was a breeze. Moreover they shipped it to your doorstep for free! Only down side was that gcc, gdb etc was not installed by default. But that was OK. No big deal.
Ubuntu got wiped out when I completed college and parked my computer back at home.

But I guess there is always this thing with Linux distributions (or maybe with me). Most of them don't work out of the box. You have to go into the system, to get it working. Most people would say that this is a bad thing for Linux. Yes, maybe, for home users. But for engineers, developers and hackers, I guess this is what pulls them towards it (Of course, I don't say this is the topmost reason). It is that itch; that there is a problem and (surely) a solution, and I (will) want to find it.

And it is happening to me again. I installed something new called: archlinux. Took me two days and a lot of jugglery to get it working. But somehow, I'm drawn back to Ubuntu ...