As is true for many of you, I have been interested in computing and computers for quite a while. In my case that means back in the mainframe days. The first “user interface” I ever used was an IBM 026 Keypunch making punched cards for an IBM System/370. When the personal computer arrived in the 1980s I was ready to go! My first personal computer was a Radio Shack Color Computer that used a cassette tape recorder as its permanent storage media. We have certainly come a long way since those days.
I have dabbled a bit at programming in Fortran, Basic, C, C++, Python, and C#/VB.NET, but am not a professional programmer. I find that a working knowledge of computer languages is essential to survival in a technical field. Programming also represents a bit of enjoyable puzzle-solving. Some folks do crosswords or Sudoku, I write programs.
I have a long, on-again-off-again interest in Linux that dates back into the Slackware-on-a-hundred-floppies days of the 1990s. In the early days of Linux, I found it to be a bit of a frustrating experience because of my lack of exposure to Unix. As I slowly learned my way around what we now call “the command line” I found that it was actually possible to do useful work on Linux, and in some cases was easier to get things done there.
Today, Linux Mint is especially attractive because it just works. I find that the poking and prodding required to use other Linux distros is mostly missing from Mint, and that’s a very good thing.
I would not describe myself as a Linux advocate, nor as an open-source advocate. I’m a pragmatist… if it works, I’ll use it. I think Linux has some real advantages in some circumstances, and some formidable challenges to overcome in others. I use both Windows and Linux personally, and I don’t see that really changing any time soon. I don’t use an Apple computer primarily because I’ve never found a use that justified the additional cost. I don’t have much patience for the all-or-nothing fanatics on either side of the software freedom debate. Life just isn’t that simple, and there are good reasons why both free and proprietary software should exist.
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