Sunday, January 10, 2016

My tryst with Ian Murdock's Debian GNU/Linux

I bought an assembled computer in the year 2000. The hardware was assembled by friends from my computer science department(I being a Mech engineer). They installed me the "latest" operating system, Win ME. I was also very happy, friends visited my home to see my computer. They wanted to "see" a computer with 128 GB RAM and a blazing fast 650 Mhz processor. Before that I had used DOS to run foxpro programs for my 1st sem engg. The next exposure was using Autocad in my final semester. The computers in the college were old school and "just" enough to run the required app. Played around with my new computer. Heard a heap os mp3s, watched a few movies on vcds, played a few games and thats it. After a month, the only result was that I learnt Autocad with great proficiency. After this, it got boring. Did not touch for around a month later. During this time, while discussing with a friend who had just joined a UNIX course. He did not know that he was learning GNU/Linux, Not his mistake.(At this juncture I did not know anything except Win****. Infact I did not know that there was another operating system). So, let us excuse my friend here and request the reader to excuse me too. Now in the discussion happening what caught my fancy was that my friend was repeatedly telling me that it is a tough nut to crack and one life time is not enough to learn *nix. Let us go back to the day I bought my desktop. I fell short of a 1000 bucks while buying it. So, the shop owner sent the person doing the assembly to my house with my friends to bring back the money. Once the desktop reached my home, All the components were quickly connected, hdd formatted and winME installed. Now, my computer science friends started having a chat with the assembler. The assembler told that he had learnt to install a new OS called Redhat 6 GNU/Linux. This caught the fancy of my computer friends and they asked him to show them the install methodology of Redhat 6 GNU/Linux. All this while I was a mute spectator. I just took care of all my friends with the snacks department. The assembler started the installation and I believe it took an hour or so. Once the installation was over it was late in the night and everybody just went home. My friends told that they would visit me again in the course of the week to "format" back the installation space taken by the GNU/Linux system.

Now, let us come back to the friend who told that *nix was a tough nut to crack. Since all the use case scenarios of win ME was exhausted I thought of venturing into fresh waters. Came back home the same day and booted Redhat GNU/Linux 6. I was dropped to a terminal with a blinking cursor with a black backdrop. I did not know the login ID and password. Immediately requested and begged my father for giving me money to buy a book. Went to the biggest store in Bangalore and bought "Redhat Linux 6 UNLEASHED". Here I came to learn of VI and Emacs editors. Somehow I though emacs was the editor for me. While reading the documentation for emacs I came across the history of GNU and the GPL licenses. I was glued. I just was at awe at the philosophy of "free as in freedom". After that it was learning everyday. I installed nearly all the OSs on my desktop. QNX, Minix and the like. Then Redhat GNU/Linux 7 was released and I recognised that GNU/Linux had arrived. From now on slackware, calderra, Mandrake and many others were tried. But I was always hearing about Debian GNU/Linux while on forums and reading magazines. I tried ubuntu somewhere here and applied for free cd shipping also and I did recieve them. But, somehow, my installations of ubuntu GNU/Linux always was not up to my expectation. There was a sort of "restriction". I cannot tell what it is. But I felt tied. This feeling I did not get while using any other GNU/Linux distros. After trying all the distros, I tried Debian woody. The installation, I thought was similar to slackware. But what caught my fancy was the way the distro was managed. The democratic setup, the clear responsibilities in the social contract, the "release when ready" philosophy, the plethora of packages and the wiki. I loved the distro. Being in India we were not luck in the internet department. I used to eagerly wait for stable releases. I had developed a relationship with a local cd/dvd vendor(Individual) who was selling GNU/Linux cd/dvd on his blog and was charging only for his efforts, true to the RMS philosophy. I would be the first customer for every major release from v 3.0 through 5.0 and I used to buy all the cds dvds not just the first one. While installing, my selction of sofware during installation would make me to swap the cd/dvd many number of times. I loved the release names owing to the fact that I am a huge fan of the toy story franchise.

My tryst continued with debian GNU/Linux after I bought a HP laptop. I have always documented my installation experiences on my blog. It continued on to a dell laptop. But, I got a high by installing the powerpc version of Debian Gnu/Linux on the PS3 while it was still supported by the otheros option. The last 15 years of my computing would have not been exciting if not for Debian GNU/Linux. I salute the vision of Ian Murdock. I salute all the developers/users/maintainers of this awesome OS. I always used to get a package for doing any task I wanted to do within the pack of the DVDs. Debian GNU/Linux is a part of my life as much as my friends/my family. I have spent more time on using Debian GNU/Linux systems than any other beside my job. Yes, I am not a pro. I am not a programmer. I am a GNU/Linux enthusiast. I am a fan of Debian GNU/Linux.

I request the force to give Ian Murdock all the peace he needs. His death didnt seem a normal one. I wish his family and friends all the positive force in the universe. This definitely applies to the man who spearheaded the development of the Universal Operating system.

Thanks a lot Ian Murdock. You definitely have left a mark in this universe.

PS: I had succesfully installed Debian GNU/Hurd also. That is one more Hats off to Sri Ian Murdock. Thanks. May the force be with you.

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Nobody can deter me away from "free as in freedom" concept seeded by Sri RMS. See to it that u dont make fun of my belief. If u think otherwise, no need to comment.