I can’t believe you’re 25 already! I haven’t been with you since your beginning, but you’ve been with me since mine. You weren’t the first OS I used or even the first I programmed on, but you were my first introduction to open source and I’ve never looked back.
I wrote my first programs in Visual Basic 3 and qbasic, later Pascal and C/C++ in high school. My senior year of high school I was able to get an internship in the IT department for a local company, Process Software, I became friends with a computer science major attending Worcester Poly Tech in the engineering department. Looking forward to starting my computer science studies (and yes, use the term “study” very loosely) I asked what it was like in college. He told me nothing was done on Windows and everything was done on Unix. Having heard of Unix but never used it I asked where I could get a copy and he said “you don’t, here” and handed my a copy of Red Hat Linux 5.2. This was 1999 so it wasn’t Red Hat Enterprise Linux, just good old fashioned could-buy-at-compusa-in-a-box Red Hat Linux.
I went home, followed some directions to partition my hard drive and setup dual boot. Got it up and running, had Gnome setup and away I went. I’d like to say I immediately loved it and started using it every day….but no. None of my games ran on it, VB didn’t run on it so I thought it was cool but didn’t really do much with it.
It wasn’t until I got to school and started my CS work that it just clicked. Oddly enough, at Western New England College, we used mostly Windows machines for our CS program. I hated it and started using Linux pretty much full time unless I had a paper to type. I didn’t really look back, at least to Windows. I continued to develop on Linux.
When I graduated, I did everything I could use Linux as my main OS. At my first job, my boss got me a nice new workstation with dual monitors. He told me he didn’t want me wasting “weeks” getting Linux installed so he wanted me to use Windows. I cried fowl and asked for 24 hours to get Linux working. I was up and running before he got into the office that morning!
More then just a great OS, Linux introduced me to the world of open source software. I landed my first job posting a project on Source Forge about a JDBC driver for LDAP that lead to me being contracted by Octet String (now owned by Oracle) to build it and later hired me after I graduated. I created the MyVirtualDirectory project to keep my programming claws sharp when I wasn’t doing much development and started Tremolo Security which wouldn’t be possible without the vast amount of open source software out there. Not only did I believe in open source, but I believed in giving back as well. We became an open source business last year and its one of the best decisions we could have made.
There are few things outside of my family and friends that have had such an impact on my life and its direction. Thank you Linux and happy birthday! (I’d say congrats on being able to rent a car…but I’m sure you’re driving a few already)