My journey with Linux
When I first used Linux as a teenager, I was struck with a sense of awe and profound geeky joy. I had run a live copy of Mandriva One 2007 from the DVD-ROM attached to the front of a copy of Personal Computer World magazine, and I was surprised by how familiar and yet totally alien it looked. This family desktop I was definitely not allowed to mess with under any circumstances could be temporarily transformed into something mysterious and exciting, and yet returned back to normal in a matter of moments. It felt like I had uncovered a forbidden secret only a few hard-core technology gurus knew about. For a teenager that was rarely rebellious because of a fairly strict upbringing, it was quite the novelty.
My main reasons for switching to Linux full-time instead of just tinkering with it was the combination of owning a brand new laptop that could just barely run Windows Vista Home Basic, having access to a broadband Internet connection at home for the first time, and a lot of spare time during the summer between finishing secondary school and starting sixth form college. As luck would have it this was around the time Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn" (arguably the distribution that made Linux a viable option for most people) was a popular choice. Everything worked out of the box apart from audio on my laptop, but this was quickly fixed by copying the contents of a forum post and pasting it into a file at a particular location.
Not only would this completely change the way I used computers, it would also open a lot of doors for my career. In I attended the Linux Format "reader roundtable". I went on to intern at Future Publishing and then spent the two years afterwards writing magazine articles for Linux Format magazine on a freelance basis during my university studies. I availed myself of the same opportunity in . I also spent the better part of five years writing RESTful middleware applications for enterprise Linux servers. In the summer of I joined Oracle as a technical documentation writer, specialising in Oracle Linux and the cloud virtualization products that run on top of it. Linux is not just my preferred operating system, it is also my meal ticket!
I feel privileged to use a free operating system in my day job, and I am eternally grateful to the passionate people who took time out of their day over the years to help a precocious teenager (and later an over-enthusiastic adolescent) figure out how to use Linux. I hope I can continue to do my part to contribute back to the community and encourage others to give free operating systems and open source software a try.
My preferred Linux distributions over time
One of the first questions a Linux enthusiast will ask another Linux enthusiast is "what's your favourite distro?" and this has always been a hard one for me to answer. I don't have a particular favourite distribution, I simply use the system that gives me the most joy when I use it and that accomplishes the tasks I need it to do with as little hindrance as possible. I think people can enjoy using a computer without becoming tribal about it.