I have been a follower of free software since the eighties. I started using commercial UNIX software in 1982, and not long after, I sought to find free utilities that would meet needs not cleanly met with standard tools.
When the GNU project started, I found a number of utilities that I liked, so over time, I used many of them.
I did not actually download my first Linux distribution until late 1995, when I finally purchased my first home PC for that very purpose. By then, I was using the majority of tools that I was interested in that were in the Slackware Linux distribution. I bought a book that Patrick Volkerding co-authored because I did not yet have broadband network access from home. (It was not until 1999 that I got home broadband, and that is when my home Linux usage REALLY took off).
From 1999 until 2001 I was attending online graduate classes at the University of Phoenix. I wrote about and promoted Linux at every opportunity, and at that time, I felt that emerging embedded systems and small form factor systems, coupled with free falling hardware prices would create a huge market for Linux systems across servers, desktops, and small devices. There has been a nice market established, but nowhere near the size that I had been expecting, though a decade later, there are signs that good things are happening at a modest pace.
I enjoy testing and reviewing desktop Linux systems and I particularly enjoy desktop distributions that have been derived from Debian roots.