16th Linux Day

Today, 16 years ago, Linus Torvalds released version 0.0.1 of the Linux kernel.

This is an occasion to reminisce how I began to use Linux, and how I subsequently switched to 100% Linux usage at home.

I started using Linux about 13 years ago. For me, the killer application was Brian Marick’s GCT – a C Coverage Tool. At the time I worked as freelancer in the area of medical software testing, and needed a way to assess code coverage of my tests.

After the failure of an attempt to port GCT over to the world of 16-bit computing in MS-DOS, I found out about Linux. I soon found Harvey Stein, who had Linux (the Linux-IL mailing list, whose Patron Saint was Harvey Stein, started operating at about the same time – and this is no coincidence!). Mr. Stein let me come to his office and copy from him about 40 5.25″ diskettes of the Slackware distribution.

I copied the diskettes and installed Linux in an empty partition in my 5MB AT386 PC. Soon afterwards, I got GCT working!

The first Kernel version, which I installed, was 1.0.8. Soon after installation, I upgraded to Kernel version 1.1.13.

The old AT386 PC is still operational, and is bootable into either MS-DOS or Linux (Kernel version 1.2.13).

Additional links:

One day I acquired a new PC, but used MS-Windows 95 on it. I used the old AT386 for E-mail and surfing, and the new PC – for software development. At the time I developed software, rather than testing it. Few upgrades later, I installed RedHat 5.1 on the new PC, and it became dual-boot.

Subsequent years saw me switch to RedHat 7.2, 8.0, and then to Debian. I also had MS-Windows 2000 (in another hard disk).

One day, the PC’s motherboard died and I was forced to upgrade to a new one, with clock frequency beyond 1GHz. The MS-Windows 95 ceased to operate, and MS-Windows 2000 was problematic. Linux booted on the new motherboard without having to make any modifications or installations whatsoever. This was when I abandoned MS-Windows altogether and switched to Linux fulltime.

Over the years, I did not need to rebuild my PC’s Linux hard disk due to malware. I did rebuild it due to switching to new versions of RedHat and then Debian. As a proof, I present the fact that my ICQ number is still 8-digit long.

Author: Omer Zak

I am deaf since birth. I played with big computers which eat punched cards and spew out printouts since age 12. Ever since they became available, I work and play with desktop size computers which eat keyboard keypresses and spew out display pixels. Among other things, I developed software which helped the deaf in Israel use the telephone network, by means of home computers equipped with modems. Several years later, I developed Hebrew localizations for some cellular phones, which helped the deaf in Israel utilize the cellular phone networks. I am interested in entrepreneurship, Science Fiction and making the world more accessible to people with disabilities.

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