Joachim Breitner

10 years of using Debian

Published 2012-05-12 in sections English, Debian.

Today, it must have been exactly 10 years that I started using Debian. The story of how I came to Debian shows some of its strengths, so I’ll use this occasion to share it.

I spent the first half of 2002 as an high-school exchange student in Wenatchee, USA. I was already a user of Linux at that time: I made my first contact roughly in 1996 and did my first installation at home two years later, but all that time I was dual-booting and my main system was a well-arranged Windows 98. The machine was a regular tower PC, but nevertheless I put the computer into my trunk when I flew to the US. It took away most of the space, and I had to put some of my cloths inside the case.

So I was there, happily using my Windows and my manually set up “Linux From Scratch” until one day the inevitable happened; inevitable at least until you start doing backups: On April 30th, my hard drive crashed, and took the two systems together with 4 years of personal data with it.

Two weeks later I had a new hard drive and was pondering my options. I did plan to install Windows again; at that time Windows XP was just released. But I wanted a German version of Windows, which would be hard to get there. Also, I did not want to use Linux from Scratch any more, and wanted to make a well-founded choice of a distribution. On the other hand, I really wanted to get my machine up and running quickly, to be able to read my mail more comfortably. I had heard that Debian had good support for network installations (downloading a full 700MB CD was something to avoid at that time), so I grabbed some netinst images, burned a CD, and quickly installed Debian.

I was planning to use the system for about two weeks. I did not pay any particular attention to the setup. Heck, I even picked from my Simpsons sidekick machine naming scheme one that I would not miss being used up (“barney”). Nevertheless, I was using this installation for many years (and many upgrades), until I eventually switched to using laptops. In fact, that very installation is still on the machine somewhere and works. I did install Windows XP a few weeks later as well, but hardly used it. So May 12th of 2002 was when I turned into a full-time Linux and Debian user.

I soon became interested in Debian the project and started to contribute. But that is another story for another ten year anniversary blog post, most likely on October 21, 2013...


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