What was your first Linux distro?

So I figured I’d start this topic just for a bit of fun, get to know where we all came from kind of thing :slight_smile:

So, as the topic question goes, my first Linux distro was way back in about 1999 or so, Mandrake 7.x to be exact. I had bought a computer magazine that had 2 or 3 3.5" floppy disks on the front. Maybe it had something to do with the Matrix screensaver that was being shown too. This was a time when broadband didn’t yet exist, so still using 56K modems to connect to the internet. I had installed it on my Pentium 133MHz computer. Internet was working with ppp0 dialup. Obviously due to the media, there wasn’t much in the way of software, so couldn’t get much else installed. I probably used it for like a couple of days before I returned to Windows NT 4.0 that I was running on that particular computer.

If we were to ask, when I fully moved to Linux, then that would have been around 2005. My potential employer at this time said I needed to learn Unix, but to do that from home was pretty near impossible, there was no OpenSolaris at this point or anything like that, so the closest thing was - Linux. First starting with Mandrake 10.0 due to me previously using it, and moving through other distros like CentOS, Debian, RHEL, Ubuntu, Gentoo Linux which was my first distro from source.

Since then have been on Linux every single day be it my laptops, desktops, or anything else I do that might be server-related as well.

So looking forward to reading about your first Linux distro, and when you decided to make the full-time move to Linux and never looking back :slight_smile:

Lets say Red Hat Linux, 1995, at work. About 1998 (the latest) at home too.

I call your 56K and raise with a 14K … that always negoatiaded a whopping 2400 bauds.
(Emacs GUI session over that modem connection and with X11 server that was running on MS Windows … what could go wrong?)

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LOL yeah, I remember working on Windows 3.1 and dialling up BBS boards to get anti-virus updates around 1993-1994 or thereabouts. Had a similar 9600 or 14400 baud if I was lucky.

The year OS/2 support ended. OS/2 warp.

Redhat with KDE. Don’t remember the version. Tried Gnome but immediately hated it. About that time we could connect to the Internet via Ethernet. Comcast via various new tech. So no more modems, yay.

Even before that we had no windoze machines in the house. Losing OS/2 was painful until I discovered Linux.

Never looked back. Would still be on CentOS if they hadn’t mucked it up with stream. Still have one colocated server on CentOS Steam 8. Probably get to rebuilding it next year on RockyLinux 9.



I briefly had a play around with OS/2 2.1 and Warp 3 in the 90’s. Wasn’t bad actually. The first company I worked for after finishing school had it on their PoS terminals in their shops.

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Back in the dim mists of time (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) I used to run a Fidonet bbs and mulittasked it, initially on a 286 with DoubleDOS and then eventually (after I got my 486) with DesqView. I spentlots of time squeezing every last byte out of that machine for multitaskiing purposes.

Around 1999 I decided that DOS wasn’t going to do it in the brave new world of the Internet so I bought a brand new computer with Windows 98 on it. Used that for about a month, didn’t like it much, so I reformatted it and installed Red Hat Linux. I’ve been using Red Hat - Centos/now Rocky for everything ever since.


My first was Slackware ~1995. The kernel was 1.2.7. It took forever to build it. :slight_smile: I remember going to kernel 2.0 was a big deal in the Linux world.


First distro I tried was Redhat 6 in 1999. In 2000, I moved to Linux-only for work using Mandrake, which was “Redhat with the bugs fixed” at that time.

Moved to Linux-only at home in 2004. Moved to Ubuntu in 2006 for desktop. Always have used KDE.


Oh the memories…

I first started on a well used IBM 8086 (or was it an 8088?) with monochrome monitor running black screen IBM DOS. I was amazed at discovering the ‘graphical’ program ‘dosshell’, roughly a primitive mc.

Then I bought a new Compaq 80286 (or was it a first gen 386?) with a huge amount of RAM, a whopping 1MB, which was a big jump from the standard 256k, and a very costly option in the day - I just bought 8GB of DDR3 ram for about a third of the money I paid for that 1MB back in the day.

I don’t remember if it was a 16 or an early 32 bit machine, but it ran at a screaming 11Mhz, with a ‘turbo mode’ button for 22Mhz - why you would ever want to not push the button remains a mystery. The monitor was colour, with a pretty low resolution and palette.

With that computer, I can remember thinking it would outlive me, because of the gargantuan hard drive, able to hold an unimaginable 40MB of data - that’s like 120x5.25 floppy drives!

There wasn’t much in the way digital media available, and what there was would have been low resolution and very small files to today’s standards. Loading a single image to view, took several seconds. What media there was, was mostly images - video was just about non existent, it being pretty much of the exclusive domain of analog magnetic tape.

I ran out of space on that ‘last computer I will ever need’ in about a month, downloading stuff from a few bulletin boards.

Internet was dial-up @ 1200 to black screen command-line ftp, for the most part. Netscape (Firefox predecessor) soon developed the first graphic browser to access the new CERN-developed www content. I was assigned a static, C-class ip address - unheard of in today’s world for the common user. Content was mostly a garish 256 colour palette neon headache.

Ms Windows was just starting to get a foothold in the market, version 2.* - very bad. It only took off properly with 3.1, in my estimation, and it’s usefulness exploded with windows for workgroups - rudementary networking. If I remember correctly, there was no bundled internet browser, networking being basically only local file and printer sharing.

It was at this point that I experimented with BSD and I was quite taken with the process of building a kernel, custom to your computer’s hardware, and the amazingly quick boot time this provided, as compared to windows.

I am stuck with windows at work, but I would say that for the last 20 years or so, various Linux distros have been my go-to platform at home as a desktop, for various servers, and an htpc.

I proudly wear my Rocky Linux hoodie and love the enthusiasm of the community.



I think around 2006 was my start of using CentOS (running LAMP stack).
My first “desktop” linux distro was Lubuntu (2010-ish), so pretty late to the party!

Before that… 80s DEC VAX/VMS, homebrew 8088/186/286 running DOS, and a C64 with a primitive GEOS “desktop” using Joystick, then 386/486 getting up to speed with Windows V1.0 and onwards… Apple II, early Mac Plus, Atari Falcon, back to PCs with win3.1, NT, 95,98,NT4, 2000, XP, skipped Vista!! …7/8/10, and some modern-ish (6-10) Mac OSX’s. Now mostly rolling on desktop Linux (except for a couple win10 machines, running stuff that linux can’t). Today, Rocky9 is my server OS of choice, but for desktop I recently had to roll back to Kubuntu 22 due to some flakiness with the Rocky desktop (some troubles with SNAP store & Gnome, mainly…)

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A fair number of games used hard-coded timing loops so something written for an XT would just blast through on a 286 and be unplayable.


SLS and/or Yggdrasil. Don’t remember which i used first. I only remember the first kernel version on one of my machines: 0.97.
About when I started using it full time: Almost right from the beginning. Before there was a decent X11 available on Linux, I used Interactive-Unix at work (this was bought by Sun much later and bekame Solaris/x86). Before that, I used Minix at home and Unix7 on DEC PDP 11/34 at work. (Developing custom software for typesetting industry).


Red Hat Linux around 1999. I even did some RH promotion bought some T-shirts with “Powered by Red Hat LInux” on the back. Since then CentOs, some Fedora installations and Rocky Linux I’m now on RL 9.1.

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I had a racing game that I used to play on a HP desktop 286, 8MHz, 2MB ram and 20MB hard disk drive that looked like it was bullet proof :smiley: and I remember it almost being unplayable, until I found this exe you could run and set a speed from 1 - 9, with 9 making the game unplayable, the car went like from 0 - 300mph in a second lol. I think I generally had it around 4 to actually play it with a relatively decent but controllable speed. And all that on a orange monochrome monitor (far better than green).

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My first console commands I did on a HPUX Unix box that was running an Oracle database for the first company I worked for. Nothing major, just ls, pwd, mkdir etc lol.

I forgot to mention, when I was due to learn Linux properly in 2005 because of my new job I was going to install the Red Hat Linux 9 of that time but wouldn’t install for some reason. Yet Mandrake 10.0 went on like a dream.

Indeed. Games ok on 386SX (16MHz, IIRC) became snappy on 468DX (33Mhz or higher) and “flashed” on Pentium Pro 200MHz (although there was DOS app to “eat cycles”).

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I’ll go back a little farther than my first linux distro - 1984 I was COTR technical rep on a CAD/CAM contract for our division which resulted in Computervision supplying rebranded Sun workstations runing solaris. Got my taste for unix in an instant. So much so, I got connected with Interactive Unix to resell their 80386 version of System V unix at about $1200 a pop. Bought the full documentation set - a case of manuals - don’t see that anymore. Anyway, eventually Sun bought out Interactive and cut me off since I only sold a system a year at those prices. I started looking for an affordable unix fix. Ran across Andrew Tannenbaum’s book and bought it and the disk. I had to hack the code every time I tried to do anything with my hardware. And it was so entangled in copyright restrictions that it just wasn’t worth the effort. Played with minix for a while until a co-worker mentioned this new OS someone named Linus Torvalds put out there without encumbrances. I think slackware was the first distro I tried and kernel 0.97 sounds familiar. Went on to Red Hat to build four DNS servers to handle our enterprise, since the two sun workstations that were handling DNS were unresponsive due to the load. I’ve tried debian and except on Raspberry Pis, I find it lacking. I require RPM package manager on all of my commercial projects - it just saves me so much grief dealing with software management issues. Most of those projects were using CentOS due to cost. And now we have Rocky Linux!


I think I started off with SUSE. It was often included in PC magazines here in Switzerland, either on floppies or CD. But I don’t remember when that was.

After that I tried red-hat 6 or 7 I think.
Later I tried all imaginable distro’s along with BSD & freeBSD.

Now I’m mainly using a Debian testing based distro where I helped in the developing process (testing, fixing bugs & scripts etc.).

I only use M$ windoze when I have to, for example when someone needs a problem solved

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Yeah I have a VM for Windows just in case there are things that simply don’t exist for Linux like a particular VPN client or something.