When I first found out about linux, 56k modems were considered fast and windows 98 was the latest greatest OS around, if you could get it to work for longer than five minutes without the dreaded BSOD rearing its ugly head.
The Linux distribution that I had found was Redhat. As I read more and more about Redhat I knew that I had to get a copy of it. I scoured the internet looking for a place that I could get my hands on it. I tracked down a computer shop near me that stocked Redhat, it was like Christmas had come early.
There was one hurdle that I had to overcome, I was young, had no money and for this packaged version of Redhat I needed some
My only option was to convince my parents that they needed it as much as I did. I knew that they were getting BSOD’s while using Microsoft word and playing their favourite game (solitaire). So I told them that this new software would solve all of there problems. They weren’t fully convinced and had worries about loosing files. So in desperation I said that there was no chance of that happening, if I put Redhat on a second hard drive and leave the windows one as it was. Then it would be a simple case of just selecting the hard drive that you wish to boot from when you turn the computer on.(this option totally destroyed my argument for converting fully to Linux) I think my parents saw how much I wanted to do this so they gave in and said ok. The very next day we went to the local computer shop and picked up the goods.
At this point I had no specific ideas on how to dual boot but that didn’t deter me as I was sure it could be done.
As soon as I got home I started to look online for some kind of instructions related to doing the things that I said could be done, I kept thinking that they must be out there somewhere as I was sure that I had read something regarding this process. I had found bits and pieces online, nothing close to a step by step tutorial. After hours of searching I decided that I was just going to just do it. I managed to open my computer and proceeded to physically disconnect the windows drive so that there would be no chance of me over-righting anything. I connected up the new drive and set the jumper settings to master. I was now ready to install Redhat. I put the first of eight cd’s into my cd-rom drive and booted up my machine. This is it i’m installing Redhat. I worked my way through all of the cd’s installing everything and something called LILO which was a bootloader, and the thing that would allow me dual boot. Everything was going great and finally after many hours of tinkering I was booted into Redhat.
I spent hours playing about with as many applications as I could get my hands on (mainly the games:) ). I then tried to get online… and nothing. Oh I thought to myself i haven’t installed the AOL cd for the internet. No problem, I always have one lying around. I found the cd and put it in the drive. The cd started to spin up to speed and then a message box popped up on the screen saying something along the lines of unrecognised software.
I spent ages trying to get the internet to work oh and the sound card but no luck. I eventually used my Redhat hard drive as a storage drive and went back to windows:(
Some time had passed and I now had a broadband connection running windows XP on my very own machine that I had built from scratch I had a silver aluminium case with a window cut out on the side of it. I had also fitted some blue, green and red cold cathode lighting inside that could be activate from an array of switches mounted to one of the blank panels on the front of the case.(Don’t judge me they were cool at the time )
It was at this time that I decided to give Linux another go. I downloaded a cd image of mandrake linux (now called Mandriva) i burn’t it to a cd and then defraged and repartitioned my hard drive to create some space so that I could dual boot. This time around I had a lot more knowledge and managed to get everything working with little trouble i even got my wifi card working with ndiswrapper and the windows drivers. Everything worked! dual booting like a dream(with grub not LILO). From then on I have been hooked on Linux.
Starting at university, I began to see that all of the early tinkering that I had done as a youngster with Linux was paying off massively.
I was the only one on my degree course who knew what it was and how to use it.
A lot of my work at university was done on debian boxes and sun ray stateless thin clients running solaris making my Linux knowledge a great advantage.