torstai 11. kesäkuuta 2009

My Digital Self

In the beginning
I started of my computing career with a second hand Commodore VIC-20, I was around 7 or 8 years old at the time (that's 1987-1988, I was born in 1980). Shortly after the VIC I got a brand new Commodore 64 as a present from my parents, from my C64 days I recall quite vividly playing a lot of Giana Sisters, F-15 Strike Eagle and a game about M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank. I also got my first introduction to programming with C64's Basic.

After the Commodores I had a quite long pause until I got my first PC, although I was a very reqular quest at my friends who already had their own PC's. I think I was around 14 years old when my family bought a 90mhz Pentium desktop and it was so cool I was almost torn in half in excitement. The operating system then was of course DOS and Windows 3 and a bit later Windows 95. Funny to think that in this point Linus Torvalds had already released 1.0 version of Linux Kernel, but I was not aware of it, not at all.

Since then I've had several desktops and a occasional laptop. From 1994-2004 I was using first Windows 3, then Win95, Win98, Win2000 and then Windows XP. I was always very curious about the operating systems and how to tweak them to their maximum performance, that was mainly because I never could afford to buy the absolute latest and greatest hardware available. So I have a good decade of experience in different Windows systems.

First touch with Linux
My first serious experience with Linux was at my summer job during 2004. The job was at one the biggest IT corporations in Finland and I was tasked testing software that ran on UNIX platform. I don't remember anymore what gave me the push to install Linux to one extra computer that I had at work, but I soon noticed that my work (connecting to various UNIX servers, debugging them and so on) got much easier with Linux. The distribution I installed (at that point I didn't know there were others) was Red Hat, but I soon found out about the new Fedora Core project and decided to install Fedora Core 1 at home desktop to dual boot with Windows XP.

Fedora Core 1 did not actually impress me that much at the time, I found it to be quite unstable, requiring quite a lot of manual configuration to get basic things working and, being a newbie with Linux, quite easy to break. So I continued us
ing Windows XP as my main OS, playing computer games was a big hobby of mine then anyway, but I recognized the potential that Linux held.

Age of nerdism
I think it was around fall 2004 that I dreamed up a nice PC customization project. I decided to try and fit a small Pentium motherboard inside a old Sony cassette tape player to make a retro looking MP3 player. I managed to fit the motherboard with 200mhz Pentium CPU and 96MB RAM, heavily stripped power supply unit, 3.5" hard drive, a sound card, a network card and a video card inside the little cassette player (quite like the one above). I even managed to install Debian on it, but partly because I faced some problems configuring Debian to work with my hardware and partly because I was worried about burning down my flat, the project got abandoned.

After the MP3 project I quickly tested Fedora Core2 and Mandrake on my desktop, I still was not convinced enough to stop using Windows XP but then along came SUSE. I was sold from the start. It recognized all my hardware and the configuration with YaST was so easy that I actually was very impressed and from that point on (end of 2004) SUSE or later openSuSE has been the main OS on my desktop. Although I still sometimes boot to XP to play a occasional game, it is Linux 99% of time. I even had couple of years there when I was completely Windows-free.

During past years besides running openSuSE on my personal desktops and laptops, I've created three HTPC/DVR's using Gentoo (one for myself, one for my parents and one for my little brother), I've run Ubuntu on my work laptop for a year, since then installed both my work machines to run openSuSE and been recognized as RHCE. Nowadays I work as a Qt software developer and besides the day-to-day development work I also administer four Linux continuous integration servers for our software project.

So in summary, it could be said that The Penguin has been good for me. I think it is time to give something back to the community and that starts in my next post.

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