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My Journey through the Linuxverse

Micah Lindley
Self-taught teen designer, developer, and musician. Linux + Android lover and JavaScript enthusiast. Creator of Itchy and Modchat. Hack the world! 💪
Updated on ・3 min read

Cross-posted from my blog.

There’s a TL;DR at the bottom 😉

Until a few years ago, I had only used Windows and Macs. My only experience with development was that of a web-based IDE like Codeacademy or Repl.it, and the occasional Notepad on Windows. Now don’t get me wrong; those are both great tools to use while getting started. But they don’t reflect real-world development tools. I did some research and found the answer: most developers use a variant of Linux.

I knew immediately that I had to start learning how to use Linux if I wanted to be a good web developer. So I found the most stable version of the Ubuntu distribution- at that time 14.04. Following some online guides, I succeeded in creating a bootable CD and setting up Ubuntu on one of my dad’s old computers.

I expected it to be similar to Windows or even MacOS, but when I restarted the laptop to see the unique Unity launcher, I knew I was wrong instantly. I soon learned also that the primary method of installing software was using the command line, which Linux users referred to as the terminal or the shell. Eventually I learned some apt-get commands and how to navigate through directories in the terminal.

So that was about a while ago. Two years ago, that laptop’s screen malfunctioned and I ended up having to throw it away. The time I had with that old Samsung laptop was very stimulating for me- it was my first delve into the vast universe of Linux and non-mainstream operating systems.

My dad tends to keep around his old technology. I soon acquired a new laptop, possibly even older than the first one. It was a Dell Inspiron 8600 with no battery, and I had a love/hate relationship with it. The problem was this: the PC was 8+ years old and ran on an i386 (32-bit) Intel processor. My favorite Linux distribution, Ubuntu, had stopped supporting such 32-bit processors starting with version 17.04. I was forced to try to boot a version of 16.04 on the old machine, but it failed- apparently since the Inspiron did not have PAE support.

Now we’re up to about a year ago. I did some research and learned that there was a lightweight version of Ubuntu called Lubuntu with an alternative desktop besides Unity. It continued to support 32-bit processors, and I thought, “That’s exactly what I need!” So I made myself a live USB with Lubuntu and successfully installed it on the ancient computer. It was very slow, of course, but I enjoyed it. I installed custom icons and edited the startup screen to where it looked like Windows 10, which some of my friends thought was amusing.

Now I’m in high school, and a few weeks ago my dad told me that his previous employer had some old computers to give me (it’s a known fact in my house now that I can restore old technology, and people have started giving me stuff). He drove me to the old office, and I saw it standing there: a Dell Optiplex 890 tower PC- in all of its blocky glory. It had previously run Windows 7, but I took it home and knew what to do. I was going to install Ubuntu 19.10, the latest cutting-edge version of Linux with the new Gnome 3 desktop environment.

I succeeded. It’s currently sitting beside my desk in my room, with the beautiful Ubuntu desktop wallpaper on my monitor. Now I’m also inheriting my grandparents’ old laptop that also ran Windows 7 for school, and guess what’s going on that? 😉

TL;DR

No matter who you are or what device you’re trying to use, there’s a Linux variant for you. Ubuntu is the most common and most supported distribution. If you’re using older devices, I suggest using Lubuntu. For a more unique look, try Ubuntu MATE. Linux is not some side operating system. It’s the free OS that’s taking the world by storm. ⛈😎🖥

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Discussion (1)

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Ghost

your first contact with Linux included Unity and you kept using it?, kudos for that. If you want lightweight try Puppy Linux, you usually run it live from a USB drive but it can be installed, it has the added bonus that runs from RAM, the entire (is very small) system is loaded into RAM so is really fast. Because its goal is to be light and fast is not very flexible, its repos are not very extensive but it can save you or make a great browsing/dev machine, specially if you are comfortable in the cli.