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Thursday, 9 August 2007

My foray into the murky world of Operating Systems.

Or, A potted history of my computer usage.

I have used the Linux kernel and the same GNU based distribution since 1991. Yes, I was one of the masochists back in those days who saw Linus Torvalds work and the associated GNU tools as something radically different from what was quickly emerging as the default operating system ("OS").

I had previously used the Amiga OS, which was so far ahead in what it offered that even in todays OS world it would not be out of place. I started by foray into the murky waters of computers with a Commodore-PET, carried on through the C64/128 phase then the Plus4. Then along came the Amiga 1000. I immediately saw this machine for what it was and jumped on it. Over the following few years I went through the entire Amiga range ending up with what was their finest hour, the Amiga 3000 Tower.

By now it was 1991 at which time it had become painfully obvious the Amiga was going nowhere fast. Over the next few years I started looking at what else was available. IBM, and compatibles, where everywhere but lacked something I had grown used to having with the Amiga. Apple had machines out but they too lacked that something. Eventually, around 1996 and knowing nothing about them at that time, I bought my first and only pre-build IBM compatible machine which came with the awful MS Windows OS of that time. The OS itself stayed on that machine just long enough to download a Linux distribution, Slackware as it turned out, and install it. I have never used another OS on my main workstation since that time.

I had used NetBSD on my Amiga 3000 Tower setup since around 1990. Running it alongside the Amiga OS. It wasn't until around 1996 that I sold all my Amiga equipment and went full time into the Linux world which I have remained with ever since.

And that is my potted history of computer OS's I have used over the years.

I have said I started using Linux around 1991 and that is correct. Someone had given me an IBM clone on which had, if I remember correctly, MS Windows 1.0 or maybe 2.0, I forget. I ran this box alongside my Amigas for about 5 years, never upgrading it, save for an extra floppy drive and generally not doing much at all with it as it paled in comparison to my Amiga. Anyway, that OS, on the IBM clone. was quickly replaced with what was at that time the all new Linux kernel add in some GNU tools and a new OS was born.

What did the GNU/Linux combination have that the Amiga had that MS Windows, then and now, had that made me decide to use it? Freedom. Freedom to tinker with the underlaying OS and bend it whichever way I wanted to bend it. No MS OS has ever allowed for this and that alone made using the, any, MS OS a huge no-go for me.

Fast forward to today.

Through all of those machines and OS's I have been on a learning curve. Sometimes that curve has been steep, very very steep, and other times it has been easy. I am now the proud owner of several certificates which proclaim to the world I am fit and able to do all manner of IT related work.

I build all my own machines now as they work out cheaper that way plus one gets the ability to add-in whatever hardware one wants and often needs. Plus, I can tailor the hardware to ensure it works 100% with my choice of OS, which is GNU/Linux. Of course, today that tailoring of hardware is not really required anymore as GNU/Linux works with just about everything available, save for a few hardware pieces that tie themselves so close to the MS OS the coders and hackers cannot be bothered to create code that would make them work. If a hardware vendor is so short sighted they only make hardware that works on one OS then that hardware is not worth the time of day in my humble opinion anyway.

As a final note. If you enjoyed reading this and if you are located in Kingston upon Hull or at least somewhere close to it, and you are thinking of using a Linux OS within your company or as an individual at home, but the very thought of it is giving you nightmares, then feel free to contact me and if you want I will help you install a Linux based OS of your choosing. Perhaps you need someone to explain the finer points of the GNU/Linux OS versus MS OS, and there are many plus points for GNU/Linux over an MS OS, GNU/Linux is in 99.9% of cases cheaper to run and has no license fee mess to worry about, plus there is help everywhere on the Internet plus a few good GNU/Linux users locally who can offer guidance if you so need it. But the plus and minus things are best left for another blog post or possibly put somewhere on the Internet for all to see, read, inwardly digest and finally a decision made.

To my credit I have built from scratch upwards of 50 seat networks for various companies, that have at their heart a GNU/Linux based server. So, if you are such a person of company but are afraid of what GNU/Linux offers or perhaps the installation phase bothers you for some reason then feel free to contact me and we can perhaps have a chat about it. One thing you will find, be you an individual at home or the owner or manager of a small to medium company, GNU/Linux is not hard to install and with someone like myself at your elbow it will all become easy.

The savings that your company, be it a 2,4,16,32 or 64 seat one are not something your company can ignore or at least should not ignore.

As a side note and something that is, I am sure, always in your mind. I do not charge much, in point of fact I am confident you will find my services cheaper than most, if not all, of those who offer the same services, which is surely a plus for you. I charge nothing at all for email contact so what have you got to lose? Nothing, so go on. Contact me and let me show you the cost savings you can surely make.

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