Open Ballot: What are your highlights and lowlights of the past 20 years?


It has been 20 years since Linus Torvalds made his famous announcement about a certain kernel that we're all using today. Yes, Linux is now two decades old (and we know that GNU/Linux is older than that, RMS fans!) and a lot of things have happened in that time. For our upcoming podcast, we want you to tell us: what've been your high and low points of the last 20 years? Like, for instance, the release of a certain distro or desktop environment, or the battles against SCO and Microsoft.

Tap your musings into the comments box and we'll read out the most awesome in our podcast. Except for you, Anonymous Penguin. That ain't a proper name.

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Highs and lows?

Lows: WindowsME, Vista
Highs: Mandrake 6, the first distro I managed to install all by myself and, more recently, the new printer drivers from Brother, Lexmark and Canon.
I also like it when people don't ask me what Linux is ;-)

My pics


Being able to (pretty much) ditch windows
Ubuntu (prior to 11.04)
Linux Mint
Batman Arkham Asylum


Digital Economy Act
Windows (esp Vista)
Apple (especially iTunes)
Gnome 3 and Unity. Very nice to look at, but removing so much of my functionality.


Windows 95.
Windows 98.
Windows ME.
Windows Vista.
Getting my Xp based XAMMP server hacked.
Installing M$ Visio to WINE.

Discovering the awesomeness of a NAS.
Dropping IE6 for Firefox.
Installing Mandriva 2009.
Installing Ubuntu.
Learning how to install Sun JDK on a Linux machine. Discovering Virtual Box headless mode on Ubuntu.
Netbeans 7.
Completely removing Windows 7 in favor Fedora 16 Alpha. Ditching Visio in favor of Dia.

My picks:


Ubuntu / Mint: Even if I don't use it much myself, the fact that there are easy to use distros you can recommend to everyone is just great!

Android: Having Linux on the smartphones of not just a few geeks - fantastic!

Archlinux: The perfect solution for geeks that want to run bleeding edge software and customize their system to the extreme

KDE4 / Gnome3: Despite the (very) rough starts, it is brilliant to see Linux desktops actually innovating rather than just copying Windows or OSX.

Compiz: Nothing converted more people to Linux than the spinning desktop cube...


Missed opportunities: especially Vista and the new Netbook market (even though that seems to be over again)

Standards: Not our fault, but it sucks that it is still incredibly difficult to work with the tons of .doc/.docx files that get sent to you from your co-workers.


Just a short post for me this week.
Seeing the rapid development of the Linux Community over the past decade. So much so that we now have elegant operating systems, and operating systems for every task we could ever dream up all for free.

Just Microsoft and Apple in general. Sure they have done their parts for the computing world. But the constant lawsuits and patent infringements have gone too far. Apple have glorified an idea that we all have on our computers for free, just because they have stolen BSD and used it as their own. Microsoft's over dominance of the market has really but them at the fore front to make everyone suffer if they make one wrong move, vista being the most recent.

Awesome 20 years!

Highlights: The appearance of package management software, the increased quality control of packages (Debian-style), the involvement of commercial companies (Red Hat, IBM), the appearance of Live CDs, the Ubuntu newcomer-friendly approach, the increasingly larger number and quality of drivers in the kernel, and recently, Android and the mobile market.

Lows: The missed opportunities with netbooks (really bad distro and repositories in the original EEE), the discrepancy between attention to server and desktop, the wireless nightmare (almost inexistent today), the audio nightmare (pulse still gives problems occasionally), the printing nightmare (yes, the printer makers are responsible, but annoying nonetheless).

Though, all in all, what a remarkable set of achievements in 20 years... Congratulations to all involved and happy birthday!

Computer Magazines

One of the "highlights" I miss the most was being able to buy a computer magazine for a few dollars that was as thick as a small city phone book.

Highs and lows

Highs: an installer to get a distro onto my computer easily without being a computer whiz. Increased hardware support so the distro would be fully functioning. Virtualization to test out distros without installing and/or spending time burnining an ISO onto a CD. Compiz...'cause it's just cool. A beginner can now choose from many easy to use high qualily distros.

Lows: Poorly designed and poorly documented software. Ubuntu Unity. DRM

Lawers (the best Lawer is a dead Lawyer)

The Lows
1. Lawyers trying to get rich on the back of good engineers.
2. Windows ME and Vista
3. Windows Authentication (mind you it got me onto Linux!)
4. Apple's Lawyers.
5. Pathetic Software Patents and the manipulation of the Patent system for greed and power.

The Highs
1. Linux Mint Debian Edition.
2. The ability to Fork and to Fork it!
3. The Open Source Community.
4. The Open Source Community Lawyers.

Roller coasters

There have been quite a few I suppose, but a few stand out over the years.
My first experience of Linux, Mandrake, and finding that just because an application crashed didn't mean the whole OS ground to a halt.
The pilot, Linux Answers, became a new magazine called Linux Format.
Kernel 2.4, when everything started to just work.
The steady evolution of KDE, as things just got better and better from 1.x up to 3.5.
Finding that SuSE "just worked" on my newly built 64-bit rig after Mandrake repeatedly died a horrible death.
Nvidia giving proper Linux support.
Ubuntu offering a full three years support for a desktop release.

The failure of Mandriva to live up to Mandrake's early promise.
The debut of KDE 4. I'm still not reconciled to it.
OpenSUSE dropping from two years to eighteen months support on the desktop.
The failure of any version of Linux to work on my new Toshiba laptop. :(

in IT since1986

Moving from the mess of DOS drivers (printers...) to the unified platform of MS Windows
Windows 95
Windows 96 (was available only in ASIA it seems)
Mandrake in 2000
Fedora (4? )
My first subscription to Linux Format (I lean so much from it, thank you)
and then, the best of the best : GENTOO !!!!
so much more, android, compiz, Intel, IBM and all the rest participating in the open source, Netapp filers on linux...

Lows :
Slackware console installer in 1996
Windows XP hijacking my homepage to redirect me to some MS advert site
the impossibility to by a laptop without windows worse crap ever, Vista
Windows 7 and the same story again and again, it is not as good as linux so why is it on every sold PC ????? every shop in town offers windows 7

Finding Linux

High - Finding Linux in 2006 and realising it was a real alternative to the BSOD

Linux Format - helped me make the next step in Linux from a Nooob to a confident user (I'm still no expert but far more knowledgeable than I was with XP)

Going to my first OggCamp (as a crew member to boot)

Being part of a world wide community willing to help each other.

Lows - BSOD, WinME

Lows and Highs

Lows: Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, Mac OSX Lion Fedora (<-- Least liked distro)


Gnome 2
Ubuntu 11.04
Linux Mint


lows and highs

my wife still doesn't use Linux
she commands me by adding a sudo in front (e.g., sudo vacuum the floor).... how could I disagree? She obviously found a way to have superuser rights in our relationship.

highs and lows

Installing coral Linux in the 90s with a winmodem and failing
And going back to windows 95

Moving next door to gentoo developer plasmaroo and getting back in to Linux and ditching windows in 2002 and never looking back

highs and lows

No pro level video editor so I still dual boot for work?


Installing mint on my mom's computer and it taking a week before she asked me "is this windows?"

Highs and lows?


* Finding Linux in 2004 and finally moving my day to day personal computing to Mandrake/Mandriva Linux in 2006.
* When KDE 4 started to be fully usable and, IMHO, better than KDE 3.
* Finding powerful and free (in both senses) scripting languages under Linux and that they were taken seriously (unlike in Windows environment).
* Realisation that the file & execution security system on Windows 7 is clumsy and not as seamless to use as it is the permissions system under Linux.
* Finding that using OpenOffice I can read all the .doc & .docx files people send to me.
* The availability of Linux-based live-CDs which make repair of damaged disk partitions possible and also enable effective (and simple) partion imaging as backup strategy.


* Early versions of KDE 4
* Discovery that DRM-breaking software doesn't seem to be avialable to run under Linux and mostly doesn't work properly under Wine or Crossover [meaning I need to use my Win XP installation so I can read every purchased e-books on all my devices]
* The continuing issue of not having drivers available to use under Linux - i.e. hardware manufacturers lack of support for Linux (better than it was, but...)

A mixed bag for geeks

1. Pace of hardware progress - e.g. I've got a six-core desktop PC with 8GB of memory and many terabytes of disk. A couple of years ago that was the spec for a datacentre box to run an entire company and would have cost tens of thousands of £'s;
2. Linux's evolution - e.g. being able to install Ubuntu/Mint/Fedora CD on most machines and have all of it work "out of the box" and be just as usable as Windows/Mac;
3. Better hardware support for Linux - eg HPLIP project means that I can use my HP all-in-one _just as well_ on Linux as I can on Windows. See also NVidia, AMD, etc;
4. Great FLOSS apps - Chrome, SQLite, Inkscape, Firefox, Thunderbird, most of them as good as (in some cases better than) paid equivalents;
5. Android. Linux and SQLite in your pocket! (Unless you've got a tablet version of course);
6. Virtualisation. VMware/VirtualBox free editions - mean you can use that superb hardware from #1 above to run whatever OS you like - at the same time!
7. Being able to buy Linux magazines in most newsagents. Of course Linux Format is the best... ;)

1. Oracle buying Sun. See what they then did with OpenOffice, Java, MySQL, OpenSolaris;
2. Apple's and Oracle's legal teams - hate, hate, hate. (I'm with Dick the butcher in Henry VI on this one);
3. Windows 7 - it's good and I'm sure it's persuaded a lot of Vista-victims to not go to Linux;
4. Netbooks - that would have been a golden opportunity to "do Linux", but the manufacturers screwed it up by picking the worst, most brain-dead distros available;
5. Market fragmentation - there's too many distros, and maybe too much app choice;

Highs and Lows

I've played with Linux before, when it was the time of Suse 7, and so forth.

But I can say, now, I am not using any MS OS's or Software at all! And my high and lows are:

* Having converted, myself, completely to linux only
* Converted my mom!!
* Changed all my work's web servers over to Ubuntu servers! (this was a big one!)
* Discovering FreeNAS!

* Anything with the word Microsoft in it!!
* SQL!!
* Pulseaudio :(

Highs After using unix since

After using unix since 1986 Installed RedHat 5.5 on a 486 successfully first try and started up vi.


Thoughts from an Oldie

Netscape became available for Linux. Before that there was lynx which was usable but awkward being non graphical, and arena which would seg-fault at the blink of an eye.
StarOffice which became OpenOffice and now Libre Office, before that I had WP for Linux which I spent 6 hours downloading at 14 kbps and Wingz which was I think shareware but also tended to crash, or sc which was strictly textmode.
At this point Linux gnu X11 became a REAL operating system.
mysql (unfortunately now owned by Oracle) preceded by msql which was shareware and minimal, ingres which was becoming obsolete, and postgres which was becoming postgresql and was a pain.
MPlayer VLC and associated video libraries.
KDE 2 was I think the first really usable desktop. Before that there was TWM which was really just a vehicle for xterms, and FVWM which was clunky, and a pain to set up.
Windowmaker Fluxbox

Hassle of getting things to work because of lack of available free drivers for hardware. This will always be with us.
Software patents. All the development in computers has been based on copying or even outright theft. If the current patent situation had occurred at the start of the computer era we would still be paying $5000 for IBM PS2's and running DOS.
DRM and all that.
There is now in place enough legal BS to either shut down Linux or to ensure that it will be only available in functionally proprietary versions, whether this happens or not remains to be seen.

My highlights:

1. Being born.
2. Learning to use tuxpaint.
3. Completing the allotted ICT classwork within 5 minutes of having been assigned it.
4. Being signed up to deal with every insane little computer problem my illiterate classmates have with Microsoft word.
5. Discovering Linux.

A short history of time

In summary, I guess I should just echo: MS
I ran 3 MS Servers (2003) for 2 years as an ISP
The last time I used Linux was Redhat 6
I spoke bad about linux...

My life started a year ago.
May 2010, I discovered Gentoo.

PS: LOW: CAPTCHA. Who the hell can read that stupid text??


Low: 1995: Having to re-compile the kernel with specific soundblaster I/O port, memory and DMA channel addresses in order to get sound with doom. Having to install the doom music server on top of that to get the music.

High: Fast forward: Dynamically loadable kernel modules, sound which just works, native shrink wrapped boxed UT2004 for linux.

Low: The release of kde 4.0 which ended my years of happy kde usage in 2008.

High: The release of ubuntu 8.04 which provided a very nice escape hatch to a new environment where things just worked. I was pleased to see how much gnome had improved.

Ups and Downs


1) Waiting 5 minutes for Windows ME to boot into a usable desktop.
2) Dealing with viruses (viri?)
3) Defragging
4)Windows Vista (shudder)


1) Discovering Ubuntu 6.06 (on an LXF special)
2) Finding out a lot more about how an operating system works in a few months than I ever had in several years with Windows
3) Using Gnu/Linux almost exclusively with no insoluble problems
4) Building my first PC from scratch and installing just Ubuntu 7.10 (it's now got 10.04)
5) Discovering lots of great distros - Ubuntu, Debian, Xubuntu, PCLinuxOS, Bodhi Linux, Mepis, Crunchbang
6) Running Linux on all my PCs (Ubuntu 10.04 - Desktop, 11.04 - laptop, Bodhi Linux - old laptop)

Couldn't be happier. Thank you Linux

Highs and Lows

BBC Archimedes! Mandrake8, LXDE, Xfce, Gnome2, PCLOS-especially the PCC, Mint, HPLIP, FireFox, Synaptic, Linux Format, PMagic - partitioning and general help disk, Wine, Live Distros, Podcasts - TuxRadar and Mintcast, Open Office/LibreOffice.

Vista, Ubuntu - trying to get DvDs and MP3s to work, Compiz, Patent trolls, Hardware compatibility especially with new PCs and movie cameras, DRM and Digital Economy Act, Amateur Radio apps - I need to use Windows for some applications although Wine helps, Audio problems.

All in all, I use Linux 99.99% of the time, it keeps me on my toes and funnily enough, have learnt more about Windows under the hood. 8()

Mostly High

Death of Amiga
MS over take of Novell in the file server world.
Virtual death of Novell (hey, it was great for its day)

Window 3.1 – GUI on the corporate workstations – yeay!!
Cisco routers lead.
Internet to the masses
MS was initially running their web site on Linux :-D
Mandrake. Easy installation for all.
Mandrake boot CD – configs and storage on USB. (my first portable linux)
Ethernet 100
Debian (version 2 at the time I discovered it)
1 Gig Ethernet
High profile companies supporting Linux.
Embedded Linux everywhere you look
Linux for all my family (remote install from scratch on Parents PC (internationally))
Windows free house (except for the wife. Too much politics there :-( )

My Highs and Lows

- Reading that article about Ubuntu 8.04LTS in Personal Computer World magazine... changed my computing life!
- Getting rid of Windows from my PC.
- Learning more about Linux by reading Linux Format!
- TuxRadar - replacing the now dead favourite podcasts such as LugRadio and Shot of Jaq.
- Ubuntu ditching the shitty brown. :D
- Linux(Ubuntu) preloaded as a desktop OS on Dell machines. (and on System 76 and Asus Eee PCs too)
- KDE 4.0 being a failure! >:D
- Enjoying the Fedora hate on Linux Action Show! :)
- Open source Nvidia driver!

- PulseAudio! >:(
- Windows 7 (people flocking back to Windows after the disaster that was Vista)
- Unity FUD! (and the harsh media coverage for its first release)
- Mandriva decides to abandon their desktop strategy and copy Ubuntu. (Mandriva Sync with 2GB free storage anyone?!) *cough* Ubuntu One *cough*
- Nvidia proprietary driver not working since 10.04! >_<

Highs (in no particular

Highs (in no particular order):

Receiving Suse 9.0 in a lovely box complete with 2 manuals and never looking back.

PDF becoming open ISO standard.

GNU Hurd has an installer...and it works!

Slackware 13.37 kills all contemporaries and stamps on their graves.

I have a dream that people stop asking "Emacs or Vi?"

Drupal 7


People still asking "Emacs or Vi"?"

OSI lead on licence proliferation.


Open core.

Linux Action Show trolling.

Captcha still alpha in drupal 7.

High zen lows

Hardy Heron. This my first exposure to linux. I still love the hardy heron desktop background.
Fixing things so they are totally beyond repair and not being bothered as I can reinstall the operating system in the time it takes me to make then drink a cup of tea.

the realisation that I will never become a programmer/1337 h4xOr/thinner/less bald.

I love the new content in the mag. Keep up the good work. Coding Concepts is a stroke of genius.

My sine wave of technology...

MS saving Apple in 1997.
Apple becoming successful.
The sheeple of the world thinking somehow this is a good thing.
OSX Lion (just when I thought I could not possibly hate my work Mac any more than I already do)
Ubuntu switching to Unity
Gnome 3
DreamLinux going dormant


Puppy Linux - Honestly...It will run on a toaster off an external 3.5" floppy drive...
Lucid Lynx
Maverick Meerkat (IMHO,the absolute apex of the Linux experience)
The AMD Athlon chip
XFCE 4.8
Finally learning CSS


KDE 4 shaping up to be pretty nice desktop after a rough start
Windows 7
Clement Lefebvre making stupid comments that prevent me from ever using or recommending Mint
Russell Grant

It's all about the names

1.NAMING THE GIMP. Blatantly
2.KDE4 having 2 many options for my confused 13-year-old head
3.Packages...Why - the fragmentation in Linux

1.First Distro ever used - openSUSE 9.2 box set, shortly followed by 10.1 from LXFspecial
2.Linux Mint (apart form the wastebasket/trashcan naming problem)
3.TuxRadar and, of course the Pink Pony remix

The story

Apple patent suits and policy towards competitions
Windows 95/98/ME/Vista
Adobe flash 64 madness
Anti mono nonsense - mono is nice and I don't care about its MS origins
Death of Nokia
Skype - low quality software

Archlinux - no Distro can beat it, even Ubuntu.
KDE 4 - it's nice and rough start wasn't with functionality destroyed like in Unity
Windows 7 - first windows that looks like sometimes it can be used (Xp died few times on mine recent hardware).
Android = iOS - price + functionality

MeeGo - fun, but MS nearly killed it with Nokia purchase
Gnome (any version including 2 and 3) - Simple, but with low functionality and somewhat lack of standarts and requirement of third party apps to get it going.



Moved from Fedora to Debian to Gentoo and now in Source Mage and gaining a massive amount of computing knowledge.


Windows XP crashed the night before my undergraduate project presentation. I had to retake the year.


Latest (of many) Highs: I had Linux on my resume as my only OS at home & my interviewers; knew what it was, didn't blow it off as something useless, & gave me extra points for having that experience! (The year of the Linux resume is here!!!)

All the hate for Unity and Gnome 3. We don't need another Windows or Mac OS X interface clone: we need innovation.

Many highs, still many to come


It's 5 years I'm usging Linux at work

Ubuntu (linux made easier...)
Android !!
OpenMosix and Eucaliptus cloud computing...
Wine to run Autocad under Linux

$ git clone git:// my2.6
$ cd my2.6
$ make

my refrigerator is still not running linux...
ipv6 are not widespread
grid computing not widespread


MS Word, a big low

PS: It was 10 year ago that the day before I had to present my thesis for BS degree MS word refused to print more than 30 pages of the 100 I wrote... I tried all the night then the day after in a print shop I could print it... never write a document longer than 30 page with MS Word...

Lows don't get lower than this

Lows. MS Office pretending to be an integrated suite of packages when it is a rag-bag of third rate software badged by Microsoft.
SQL Server pretending to be a real database.
Visual Studio. Probably the flakiest software in the world.
Apple not going bankrupt when it had the chance.
Highs. Open source.
The Internet.
Really helpful Linux enthusiasts willing to share their knowledge.
The future.

Ups and downs

Ups :
Windows can be confined to a Virtual Machine and will never crash your machine ever again.
Learn Emacs and Lisp and you can do anything. And laugh whenever anyone debates "Command Line vs Gui" for the umpteenth time.
Experiencing Open Source in practice - building Xorg from scratch. Pointless but you really do feel great about it.

Open/LibreOffice is pretty but I still need Windows.
All that mountain of out-of-date documentation swilling around on the net waiting to trip you up. Am I the only one who spent all that time understanding ACPI hotplug and then discovering udev had obsoleted it over a year earlier?


Finding out that GNUplot and a little scripting on a Pentium 4 with 512MB RAM, is faster than rendering the same graphs using Excel on a Core 2 Quad, with 4GB RAM.
Live CD's
Open Source
Modern linux desktop environments (functionality is nice, but pretty usually gets the attention.)
Microsoft contributing to the linux kernel.
The FREE KEVIN campaign
The Internet

Gaming on linux. For shame games companies in general.
Dancing paperclips as an alternative to documentation.
The need for a FREE KEVIN campaign.

Highs and Lows in computing over the last 20 years

I have to say the biggest Lows would have to be:

1)WindowsME....I only ever saw ONE computer run it for more than 3 hours without needing to be rebooted.

2)SCO/Microsoft vs. Linux


4)Networking on MS-DOS 3.31/Windows 3.1

5)Mandrake/Conectiva merger...I miss you Mandrake

6)Windows Vista pre-Service Pack 1....Had 3 computers loose the tree.

7)Win98a--This was essentially Win95b with ie4 built into the OS which crashed A LOT!!! I still have the nightmare 3 days(nights after work) of trying to get Win95b upgraded to Win98a just to realize my mistake was upgrading to IE4 before upgrading to Win98a.


1) My first Debian boot that went into Gnome(first Distro I ever tried...1999)

2) My first Mandrake (i believe was 5 or 6) and introduction to KDE 2

3) Replacing Windows completely with Linux..of course my wife needs it for her Sims 2 on her

4) Android..finally Linux in the hands of the masses...we can start bringing them in.

5) Synaptic -- the first GUI package installer as good as the Mandrake/Mandriva one.

6) KDE -- I know a lot of people prefer Gnome, but I prefer the customization of KDE. Gnome can look pretty, but there are just things it won't do. yes early versions of KDE 4 were buggy, but since 4.3.2, it seems to be solid. No crashes yet.

7) Star Office and Netscape going Open Source. Both have grown by leaps and bounds ever since.

High and Lows

1) Discovering Red Hat then Fedora Linux
2) Discovering Ubuntu
3) Generally better hardware support


1) new versions of xorg that don't support existing gpahics cards.

H's Amiga A1200 Workbench


Amiga A1200
Workbench 3.1
Ubuntu 9.04, my first linux distro
Ubuntu 10.04 my current linux dist


Enduring several years of WinXP before discovering linux
Windows Genuine Advantage (although it got me to linux!)
The death of Amiga
The death of Psion
Nokia ditching maemo for MS :(

Highs and Lows


1. Installing ZorinOS on my box

2. Using Linux for the first time (Ubuntu 8.04, Dell netbook)

3. Convincing my school to switch to LibreOffice

4. Ditching Windows entirely


1. Favorite flight sim (YSFlight) is Windows-only

2. Favorite Flash game site ( requires Shockwave (Windows-only)

Test, just a test

Hello. And Bye.

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