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Going against the grain

For me, I have been an advocate of Linux from the first day I set eyes on Redhat 4.2 at the age of 14. I had my new PC for less than 6 months when I decided to wipe Windows95 from the disk, and install RedHat with its awesome NeXTSTEP window manager.

That was the first day I started to argue the point about the difference between Windows and Linux. Sure, Windows had loads of software, but Linux had so much potential, but still living with my parents meant that they wanted to use Windows if they needed to use a computer, they could not possibly use Linux.

It continues like this from thereonin. At school, I was the odd one, the teachers concerned that I may do something which in their eyes would be the equivalent of digital armageddon.

For me, Linux really took off when I discovered Usenet, where I started to discover more and more applications, scripts and more distributions of Linux, where I quickly moved onto Debian.

When I went to college, I found myself doing a course in IT in which the IT lecturers, and the IT support staff had not ever used anything other than Windows. They were stuck in their ways, only teaching and supporting Windows and Microsoft technologies.

Despite arguing my advocacy for Linux for several months, and requesting that I used an alternative to Windows, I was alway shunned to the point where I was warned that if I didn't conform, I would be kicked off the course.

Being restricted like this wasn't good for me, I soon dropped out, wanting to find a way to stretch my wings, and teach myself what I wanted to learn. I felt that Linux was certainly the way to go.

It was certainly the right thing to do. In every job I have had, I have brought in Linux. Each time, it has been the same. I promote, people seem me as being a bit odd, suggesting time after time that we should use Linux for X. Eventually wearing them down to the point that I get to do it, and every time, I have managed to deliver and beyond, whether its because it was more forgiving with some questionable hardware, or whether it was that it 'just worked'.

For me, my biggest win was working at an eduational establishment where the majority of the infrastructure was apple-based, with their 'crashproof technology', and their 'it just works' motto, I loved the fact that over six years I took critical services away from OSX Server to linux, seeing server uptimes over a year on Linux hardware, compared to the weekly reboots required by their fruity counterparts.

I found however, attitudes change when I became a developer. Once I start working with people who embrace technology, and don't sit on the rigid rails of Microsoft brand software, it was easy to convince people to use Linux servers, and also the benefits of using it day-to-day as a desktop, a staging system, and the basis of every new project I develop. Now, I am Senior Developer for a multi-million pound company, one of the fastest growing tech companies in the UK, and one of the top growing 200 tech companies in the EMEA. I put a lot of faith in the tools I use, and they have never let me down.

Even after 16 years, I still get strange looks, my wife still refuses to use Linux, and I can easily empty a room just by showing my passion. Despite all this, I continue on, promoting Linux, promoting Opensource technology, and always being there if anyone wanted help making the same change too.



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  • BJ Smith Said:

    Andy, Thanks for your story, it is inspiring to me since I can definitely relate (except for the mutli-million pound part!). Everywhere I go I still encounter a lot of resistance to anything not Microsoft. While I have nothing against Microsoft I have been drawn to Linux and love it! I too am using Debian now (crunchbang) and really like the interface. I have been using Linux for my desktop OS now for 9 years and have no complaints, like you my wife still refuses to use it so I still have one windows PC at home (that i get to wipe quarterly to get rid of the malware, viruses despite having protection!).

  • woolie Said:

    Nice story, Andy! I too discovered GNU/Linux some time ago (7+ years ago in 2006). I earn my daily bread as a C# developer. At home I maintain a CentOS server, Xubuntu home theater, 3 older laptops (including one macbook) running SalixOS, Debian, Xubuntu, and a desktop workhorse running Debian. My wife uses Debian at home -- without any complaints, yay! All my latops/desktops use Xfce. While I discovered some Linux users among my colleagues, at every workplace, the Microsoft sysadmins are holding the gates (sic!) and I was not even allowed to set up a XMPP/Jabber messaging server (Openfire) on a Pentium III which was sitting unused -- I thought we can replace mesaging by email with real-time messaging. For sure, only those who did not use Linux daily will claim that Windows is safer and better... because they have no way to measure, while people like us, having been on both sides for long enough time -- know better.

  • Troy Banther Said:

    I went Microsoft free in October 2003 and never looked back. My distribution of choice is Debian GNU/Linux. I congratulate your persistence.

  • James Krych Said:

    I have been active with Linux since late 2008 and dabbled with it for 4-5 years prior. I have gotten my wife to use Linux and I initially had her trying a Mepis 8 Live CD. Her current computer, a laptop, uses Korora 18. Having had to deal with both Windows and Linux regarding smart card access, Linux has been almost always much easier.

  • Ivan Said:

    Same to me. I use Linux since I was 8 as my parents use edubuntu at 2000+. I have experience that feeling too (odd). Now I use raspbian wheezy (raspberry pi). Most of my friends use windows because their parents use it.

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