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A Trip Down Distro Memory Lane

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the early-nostalgia-is-the-best-kind dept.

Linux Business 238

M-Saunders writes "What did the Linux world look like back in 2000? TuxRadar has republished a distro roundup from Linux Format issue 1, May 2000. Many distros such as SUSE, Mandrake and Red Hat are still around in various incarnations, but a few such as Corel and Definite have fallen by the wayside."

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Twas a wondrous time (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26765931)

It was the first time I learned of UNIX and saw Gnome in action.

It was also the last year of fun before that fucking stupid backwoods retard Bush and his buddies flew Jets and cruise missiles into important buildings so that they would have an excuse to develop the Department of Homeland Gestapo and rape the privacy of Americans as well as loot the rest of the world.

And look where we are today. Fuck those of you who voted for Reagan, Bush I, and especially Bush II.

Read my lips -- suck my dick!

SuSE Ruled... (5, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#26765963)

...until Novell bought them out. When it became apparent that Novell wasn't going to uphold the SuSE quality, I switched over to Ubuntu. Haven't looked back since.

Re:SuSE Ruled... (5, Interesting)

Shuntros (1059306) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766055)

I'd be interested if you could give a full breakdown of what SuSE's shortcomings are since Novell took them over. I've used SuSE since the late 90s. It was never foolproof, no distro is, but despite trying a number of other distros I still find it preferable to all of them, including Ubuntu.

Re:SuSE Ruled... (1, Troll)

hawk (1151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766411)

I put it on a couple of computers in 2005 or so. After several months, it went into an upgrade hell--I think it was that Yast tried something in the wrong order. It could go neither back nor forward. When it happened on both, I threw my hands up and switched to kubuntu.

Then again, if it handled the latest flash (or even recent enough for the kids' sites), I'd just switch entirely to FreeBSD. Unfortunately, it doesn't (though I believe Adobe demonstrated a prerelease of Flash 10 on FreeBSD). Even using the linux versions of the browsers, flash leads to too many crashes.

hawk

Re:SuSE Ruled... (5, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766459)

The first SuSE version released from Novell broke on my system, wasn't worth the time to fix, and I went back to the previous version. If that was the best Novell could do with SuSE, then I would try another distro. When it came time to rebuild my file server, I went with Ubuntu since it just work when I installed it. These days I prize working out the box over calling forth my grandmother's spirit to recompile the kernel to run on ordinary PC hardware.

Re:SuSE Ruled... (3, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766885)

One shortcoming: YaST.

It's dogslow and doesn't have the easy of aptitude.

I was trying to install some pieces of software a couple of years ago on SUSE(which was my first *ux distro) and I was going down the lane of installing tens of packagedepencies for one piece of software. Eventually a friend convinced me to use Ubuntu. I was sold the minute I understood the apt-get command.

Even if Ubuntu had it own shortcomings(still a lot of textfile configuration editing) it still worked decently. And with the leaps Ubuntu is making in the usability field, I can probably stay with it for a very long time.

Re:SuSE Ruled... (3, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767173)

I use SuSE for my home server too, I see no issues with it... I've used many different distros (RH, Mandrake/Mandriva, Slacks, Ubuntu, Debian, the list goes on), but SuSE seems to do what it's meant to without a lot of headache - true, configuring from conf files can be a pain if you're not used to where it puts some.

Either way, run what you feel comfortable with until it shits on you... I know there's a lot of anti-Novell sentiment here on slashdot, but it's like hating a red-headed child - you may not like them, but they are still part of the family.

Re:SuSE Ruled... (5, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766077)

Except that Novell has done some good things too. Yast is still pretty amazing. Oh and Novell opened it up and set it free.

It's OK to not like a company, but give them credit where they actually deserve it.

Re:SuSE Ruled... (5, Insightful)

Xoron101 (860506) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766361)

I've always thought that Debian was a great Distro. Stable, lots of packages that can be installed, and lots of resources on the web.

Ubuntu (based on Debian) ties it all together with a nice, easy to use installer and GUI. Great choice for desktops, but I'd stick to Debian for servers.

Re:SuSE Ruled... (2, Interesting)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766579)

...until Novell bought them out. When it became apparent that Novell wasn't going to uphold the SuSE quality, I switched over to Ubuntu. Haven't looked back since.

It seems [Open]SUSE is becoming a bit "hip" again, after years of silence. These days everybody is using Ubuntu (and it's becoming synonymous with "Linux"), though...

Re:SuSE Ruled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26767217)

I think Novell's 'supported easy customizability' is going to make SUSE a great choice for OEMs selling netbooks and other low-end hardware in the next few years. It's a fantastic idea.

Re:SuSE Ruled... (1)

StarWreck (695075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766739)

I've been using SuSE since version 9.1. I've noticed they've been following a trend since the takeover by Novell, version x.1 is always "prettier looking" than x.0 or x.2 or even x.3!!

Re:SuSE Ruled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26766863)

When it became apparent that Novell wasn't going to uphold the SuSE quality

care to back that up with some examples or are you happy just being a shill?

Re:SuSE Ruled... (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767117)

My first install was Debian 2.0 c.1998 - never got X working, hardly surprising in retrospect. I never got on with Red Hat; Mandrake was the next I tried, c.2000/01, and I've just paid £100 for the shrinkwrap edition (out of guilt, from never having given them anything for ~ a decade of great Linux fun. And some extreme frustration - mostly when tinkreing with Debian and getting hopelessly lost, but that's half the Linux learning experience.

The only other OS I've really tried is OpenBSD; I've bought probably half a dozen different releases, originally to support OpenSSH but the installation and first few logins were illuminating, to say the least. (It's all consistent! the man pages make sense! You can start with little knowledge & with care learn a huge amount from scratch with OpenBSD. (Never tried FreeBSD.)

Slackware rules! (5, Interesting)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766013)

In 2000 I was a seasoned Slackware user, and had been so for several years. I did my Master's thesis in LaTeX on a Pentium 233MMX box (which I still have), complete with diagrams done in xfig.

I did a lot of course work on that box: Viterbi decoding, polyspectral analysis, lots more.

...laura

Re:Slackware rules! (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766113)

Slack was and still is a nice distro for folks that know what they're doing, want a solid, stable system and don't care much about fit and polish or having the latest goodies. I was Slack user and proponent myself for a couple of years.

The main thing I don't like about Slack is that lack of real package management. I like the power and convenience that tools like Synaptic and apt-get provide -- a lot. And the fit and polish that desktop-oriented distros like Ubuntu offer is a guilty pleasure for me and an absolute necessity for my techno-angst-ridden wife.

Re:Slackware rules! (4, Interesting)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766141)

I started out with Slackware in late 1994 on a 486DX33 with 8MB of RAM. It was amazing. 40 floppies to install it since I had no CDROM drive. I bought a 14.4 modem and had access to my university e-mail (pine FTW). X11, gcc, Netscape, FTP, the lot. All on a machine with 200MB of disc. I reckon I could function quite happily on that machine even today apart from Netscape which would have to be replaced with Lynx I guess.

By 2000, a Linux distro was incredibly easy to install by comparison. Today it is even easier. You barely even need to worry about compatibility.

Re:Slackware rules! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26766209)

Disk...sets....
The ancient bane of my shelving.
Well thanks, i thought i had those sets of memories decently blanked out of my mind.

Re:Slackware rules! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26766243)

even today apart from Netscape which would have to be replaced with Lynx I guess.

How about dillo [dillo.org] ?

another lightweight browser (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767035)

Arora [google.com]

Re:Slackware rules! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26766445)

I don't think you could function on that machine with a recent linux and gcc. I used linux on a similar computer (dell optiplex 486) around 98 and it was painful then. My own computer (a PII 233 with 32Meg of ram) handled linux (red hat 5), X, gnome, kde, etc like a champ, but today, my slug with a faster cpu and the same 32meg memory has a hard time keeping up with just command-line. GCC and linux have bloated up, just like Microsoft and OS X.

Re:Slackware rules! (1)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767131)

To an extent I would agree. Where I don't agree is whether they would run or not. I don't think they've bloated nearly to the extent that my tolerance for latency has decreased.

I ran a slackware dist with kernel 0.96.14 (iirc), X11, the full dev set, etc. on a 486DX2, 8MB RAM, ummm... 40MB HD? (don't recall), Ultrasound GUS, and a forgotten video card. It just barely ran with X11 up & running. And it was really slow by today's standards.

I'm sure that if I were to go back to that exact system with the same distro I would be extremely unhappy with the performance. Given that the only reasonable alternative was Win 3.x running as an app under DOS (OS/2 if I could have gotten it to install), I was ecstatic with it at the time.

Anyone Remember the Four Yorkshiremen Distro? (5, Funny)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766545)

I started out with Slackware in late 1994 on a 486DX33 with 8MB of RAM. It was amazing. 40 floppies to install it since I had no CDROM drive.

That's nothing. I ran Linux 0.03 on my Sinclair ZX81 [wikipedia.org] in early 1982. It were stored on 300 C90 cassettes, took 18 days to load and I had to hold the RAM pack to stop it wobbling.

And you try and tell the young people of today that ..... they won't believe you.

Re:Anyone Remember the Four Yorkshiremen Distro? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26766685)

Does this mean that having to walk uphill in the snow, both ways, to and from work is affecting the Sinclairity of your mind?

Re:Anyone Remember the Four Yorkshiremen Distro? (4, Funny)

ebh (116526) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766757)

Cassettes? Luxury.

I read Linus's mind in 1974, keyed what would later become Linux 0.0.01 into the front panel of an IMSAI 8080 with 1K of RAM, and once I got it running, backed it up using the paper tape punch of the ASR-33 I used for the console.

The first application I wrote for it was an ESP transmitter which I used to beam the Apple II monitor ROM bits into Steve Wozniak's brain.

Re:Anyone Remember the Four Yorkshiremen Distro? (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767463)

keyed what would later become Linux 0.0.01 into the front panel of an IMSAI 8080 with 1K of RAM

Well, the unexpanded ZX81 had 1K of RAM as well (no, really!), but I had to trade that off against the chance to get the infamous RAM pack wobble in there. :)

Re:Anyone Remember the Four Yorkshiremen Distro? (2, Funny)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766859)

I preferred the C=64-Version...

LOAD "VMLINUZ",8,1

Fond memories...

Re:Anyone Remember the Four Yorkshiremen Distro? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26767155)

Press Play on Tape.

fun times...

Re:Slackware rules! (5, Insightful)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766707)

I built a Slackware system and had it dual-booting on my 486-33 at my new job. I was using it (with X11 and Motif) as an Xterminal off our UNIX system to do schematic capture, after I got fed up with Win3.1 and QEMM (which was what I was supposed to be using).

That the same hardware could perform so much better running Linux (versus Win3.1) was a real eye-opener .

Have not thought a Microsoft OS was worth paying for since.

Re:Slackware rules! (3, Interesting)

arelas (1336019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767271)

Impressive, 8MB ram in 94...I think I only had 4 and that cost me dearly.

Re:Slackware rules! (3, Interesting)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767591)

arelas said: "Impressive, 8MB ram in 94...I think I only had 4 and that cost me dearly."

I was able to upgrade it a few years later to 20MB as I found four 4MB memory sticks. 1MB sticks were pretty easy to come by but the 4MB ones were pretty rare. Linux would run fairly well in 4MB but 8 was definitely better and with 20MB it flew. I had a 386 laptop which only had 2MB and I was able to get a very bare install of Slackware onto it just for shits and giggles of course. Using PLIP I was able to network it to my 486 and use it as a terminal. X was too much for it to manage mind you but it was cool just for command line stuff. I even had a VT100 emulator on my Psion 3a. Since the 486 had the 14.4 modem, I was able to share my internet connection from it to my growing selection of rescued machines. By 1996 I was running a SUN SPARCStation 1 with OpenBSD as my main work machine. I managed to get 64MB of RAM for it, a 19" monitor and it was a very nice environment to write my PhD thesis up using LaTeX. I really miss the Type 4 SUN Keyboard and optical mouse.

Re:Slackware rules! (4, Interesting)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766279)

Slackware is what I started on.. I remember getting the Cds, making a root and boot disk and installing.. It was during the time of modem internet and I specifically bought a modem that would work (non win-modem).. getting that baby to work was a challenge but always satisfying once the puzzles were solved. I kept that modem through several upgrades and new systems.

I think the order of discovery for me, was.. Slackware, Redhat, Mandrake, Debian .. once I got a taste of Debian, it's been Debian based distro's ever since.

Things sure have come a long way.. but I don't regret the hours I spent solving problems way back then.. as I said there was a certain satisfaction to getting something to work.

Re:Slackware rules! (2, Funny)

Kozz (7764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766407)

I also have a P233MMX on which Slackware ran in year 2000. Maybe the two of them could get together for a play date?

Re:Slackware rules! (1)

imboboage0 (876812) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767215)

I was introduced to linux in July of 2000. Red Hat, I believe it was. I was quite the little boy at the age of 9, playing with dual booting with ME. I despised ME. Athlon 600 with 128MB of RAM, 3dFX Voodoo3 32MB AGP, Western Digital 20GB. AND it had a 2X CD recorder.

That was quite the upgrade from Windows 98. Pentium 200 with MMX overclocked to 233. 64MB RAM. Also a Voodoo3, but this one was PCI. 32X CD ROM, ~3GB HD. ISA Sound Blaster and 3COM network adapter.

Now is the 3.1GHz Phenom. 4GB RAM. 9800GT 512MB. X-Fi. DVD-R. I really do take it for granted.

Re:Slackware rules! (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766497)

My wife is playing quake on Slackware right now and i'm typing this on slackware. We only have Slackware in this household. Even on the laptop. Ironically Ubantooo or whatever didn't even boot on that.

I had a break from the slack once, but i hated all the updates the dam thing wanted me to do all the time.

I've got your 2000 right here... ;) (1)

hwyhobo (1420503) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766033)

2000, heh? I've got a release 4 of Trans-Ameritech "For UNIX users...Linux plus BSD" distribution on CD right in front of me, it its original shrinkwrap (bought two, kept one as a souvenir all these years). Those were the days. None of the sissy GUI installs. None of the silly pissing matches about which distro was the best. Just having Linux on CD was something. Web? Heh. Anybody still remember UUCP?

Ah, good ol' days.

Re:I've got your 2000 right here... ;) (1)

hwyhobo (1420503) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766047)

Perhaps I should have mentioned for the young ones, the year was 1994.

Re:I've got your 2000 right here... ;) (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766127)

None of the silly pissing matches about which distro was the best.

Now I know you're lying!

Re:I've got your 2000 right here... ;) (1)

Xoron101 (860506) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766405)

I remember my first install of slackware back in maybe 1996. That was NOT for the faint of heart. I still get cold sweats thinking about it :)

I'm no windoze n00b now, I run Ubuntu! (1, Funny)

kwabbles (259554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767325)

None of the sissy GUI installs.

You mean you had to learn how your computer worked to make it work?

Come on - you gotta admit it's so much easier to pop a shiny disc thing into the box, hit the button, and have it do its thing so that you can get right to posting on the Ubuntu forums to complain about having to type "sudo" before you want to do something in that annoying little "terminal" window that they should work on getting rid of asap.

Re:I've got your 2000 right here... ;) (1)

Pictish Prince (988570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767677)

....

Web? Heh. Anybody still remember UUCP?

Ah, good ol' days.

Yeah, that brings back memories. In 1987, I had an account on the Well that I had to get to via the Compuserve network til I got PC-Pursuit.

Re:I've got your 2000 right here... ;) (1)

Pictish Prince (988570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767701)

That's great! They still have their old domain: well.sf.ca.us - try it.

Mandrake Mandriva (5, Funny)

fyoder (857358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766035)

Many distros such as SUSE, Mandrake and Red Hat are still around in various incarnations

Mandrake started out well, but then suffered some sort of identity crisis, had a sex change, and become the totally flakey bitch named Mandriva [mandriva.com] . Some say she's been to rehab and is much nicer now, but she is ancient history as far as I'm concerned.

Re:Mandrake Mandriva (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766211)

I've been with Mandrake since around 2001. It did have some problems for a few years, but I've been very happy with 2008 and 2009.

Re:Mandrake Mandriva (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26766663)

Do you use Mandriva 2009 with KDE4 or GNOME? I used the KDE4 version and I didn't like it much.

Re:Mandrake Mandriva (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766997)

I use KDE. I'm fairly happy with KDE4.1 although I miss some things from KDE3 that are still missing. The original KDE4 release was unusable though, so they've come a long way already.

I haven't tried 4.2 yet, although that's supposed to be another huge improvement. I may just hold off until 2009.1 comes out though, no real hurry.

Yggdrasil! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26766075)

The only distro that really matters...

I found my old Fall '95 release CD the other day. I couldn't bring myself to throw it away.

Re:Yggdrasil! (1)

dsheeks (65644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766455)

Yeah, I still have an ancient Yggdrasil CD around here somewhere. I wonder if it is still readable by now though. I keep it in the same drawer as my old OS/2 install floppies...

Re:Yggdrasil! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26767699)

The great thing about Yggrasil was that you could boot right from the CD! You should put it in your computer and find out

It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (4, Interesting)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766083)

and look how far it has come. Seriously, despite some remaining imperfections Linux has turned into a really pleasant desktop experience. I remember when installing Linux was a nightmare, with dozens of configurations, tons of unsupported hardware, and the need for highly advanced skills just to make it usable. Now it is rare to have to mess with the details- for the most part it just works. I'm primarily a Mac user, but I do a lot of stuff on my Ubuntu install as well, I am just shocked at how far Linux has come and quite interested in what is to come.

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (4, Insightful)

Rhabarber (1020311) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766331)

You say it, in 2000 I set up a Gentoo system on one of those early Pentium III Notebooks. Yes, sure, it took me a couple of hours. But guess what, I still use it every day, exclusively. Just copied it from box to box over the years. So I'd say that time was quite a good investment ;)

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26766605)

Opps, I checked my facts. It must have been in 2003. It was debian before.
Nevertheless that particulat system saw 4 Notebooks, two Desktops and a Server coming and going.

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766787)

Gentoo is still a pain to install every time, but that's by design :P

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (2, Insightful)

Compholio (770966) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766369)

I'm primarily a Mac user, but I do a lot of stuff on my Ubuntu install as well, I am just shocked at how far Linux has come and quite interested in what is to come.

Really? One of the huge original selling points for me was that Linux made (nearly) all the drivers open source and distributed as part of the kernel. This idea is really important because it means that once a driver for something is made it sticks around forever (sans growing pains every once in a while). Personally, I think this issue is why Linux will win in the long run and why Windows Vista was such a huge catastrophe - Linux will always update drivers for even the most obscure hardware where MS has to convince external entities to do the updates. Since these entities are not always amenable to this plan, and sometimes no-longer exist, the "Linux plan" has huge long-term advantages.

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (2, Informative)

hawk (1151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766509)

But that's rather full of exceptions. *IF* the full driver made it to the kernel, and stays in the sources, sure. Then there are things like ath_hal that require a true adventure. .10.5.6 has been around for a while, but with kubuntu, I had to extract and make by hand. I then panicked when a new kernel downloaded on an update--that *used* to be a problem with linux when you had custom modules; they were dependent upon the version of the kernel. Even when a pre-compiled module was available to support hardware, it could require force loading due to version mismatches.

Today, that doesn't seem to be a problem; it kept working with the new version.

(.10.5.6 hasn't made it to FreeBSD yet, either--the work is done, but sam doesn't have enough testing results to commit it yet. I have an alias as root that deletes the directory for ath_hal, then extracts and renames .10.5.6 with sam's patches. [when I update the source, cvs replaces that with the official versions, so I need to repatch each time]). That done, however, it just plain works flawlessly).

hawk

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (2, Insightful)

Compholio (770966) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766783)

But that's rather full of exceptions. *IF* the full driver made it to the kernel, and stays in the sources, sure

In my mind this scenario is not full of exceptions, these exceptions exist on a local time scale. I see it is a matter of "when" rather than "if" - eventually a fully functional driver will get included, and when that day comes it will work forever thereafter (it is very incredibly rare for drivers to be removed).

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (1)

hawk (1151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766971)

I have two laptops which need ath_hal .10.5.6. One is three years old, and the driver still hasn't made it in.

The issue isn't so much removal, but the ability to use custom modules compiles for older kernels--which is far better now than it was in the mid '90s.

hawk

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (2, Informative)

Compholio (770966) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767057)

An implementation of the Atheros HAL just came out recently (http://www.linux-magazine.com/online/news/open_source_hal_for_atheros_wlan_chipsets [linux-magazine.com] ). The proprietary HAL would never be included, but since there is now an open source HAL it is unlikely that you will have such problems down the road.

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (2, Interesting)

MrBandersnatch (544818) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766517)

Like a few posters above me I started with Slackware in...94..Maybe 95. I remember that install actually being quite smooth since my hardware was well supported (a somewhat antiquated 486SX-25). Ahhhhh having a dual boot machine back then really was something to geek out about.

I've done maybe..30 installs since then, moved between Redhat, SuSE and Ubuntu and STILL the totally smooth installs are more to do with having experience with the hardware though. 8.10 on my home media PC? INCREDIBLY smooth; even managed to get my wireless card running full speed. My latest install on a core i7? Incredibly smooth once I worked out (4 hours later) that having ANYTHING hanging off the Gigabyte sata-2 controller would crash out the install into a BusyBox :/

Point being that Linux is still very dependent on having just the right combination of hardware to get a smooth install. The wrong MB, the wrong wireless card (especially), and you will be p**** around searching forums (damn I miss Usenet and Dejanews...Google really have done that an injustice), searching for drivers, applying patches etc etc.

But still, yup youre right; the last few years with MS having totally dropped the ball with Vista has given Linux and the X/Gnome/KDE desktop some real time to catch up and its almost a different ballgame. Almost....

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (1, Interesting)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766529)

Well "back then" windows 3.1 wasn't a box of candy either. Ok so a little further back than 2000. But even now, once you really get down to it, windows 95 etc was no picnic to install and drivers often didn't work. It is not just linux that has improved.

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (5, Interesting)

Vlobulle (1286874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766541)

Well, in 2009 the audio system is still a complete mess and the screen configuration (setting the resolution and multiscreen settings) not far behind.

check its pulse (2, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767329)

...I cannot figure out exactly what pulse audio is really for, but I "fixed" my fedora 10 system sounds by totally removing PA, going to sound prefs and checking alsa everything, rebooting, going to terminal and doing alsaunmute. Bam, all my sound works fine now. And I fixed my vid by downloading system-config-display and using that. Why they don't include that in the default install like they used to I do not know.

I wish there was something along the lines of a more stable RH/RPM desktop system between bleeding edge and always something broken fedora and expensive "enterprise" redhat.* I'd actually pay RH for a consumer desktop system that would do all media and etc even if it was only 99% "pure if they made one with long term support, just not what they are asking for some business model server hybrid "workstation" system. They used to charge 60 bucks, then dumped that for free broken or expensive mostly not broken, I want a sweet spot in the middle there someplace. Twice a year fedora releases is too much, by the time you have everything all tweaked and running smooth, its back to broken stuff, and on dialup, forget it, about impossible to stay updated. I understand and that's fine for devs and tinkerers, but not for just a user who isn't a dev (that would be me and I bet a few million other people).

*The CentOS guys are adamant they are enterprise/server and don't care too much for the desktop, I've checked them out and don't like that attitude on their forums too much, and I don't run servers anyway, just want a bit more of a better and longer running desktop. I think the market is there especially if they (they being redhat) did an apple and sold hardware with it preinstalled so everything "just worked", a desktop system, a lappie, and a netbook.. And not the Dell example either, they play act at support for ubuntu (top of Dell's linux pages they recommend vista-that's play acting at support IMO)

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (1)

Rog-Mahal (1164607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766611)

I just started using Linux in 2000. Saved up all summer for an hp laptop and then threw Red Hat 9 on. X didn't work at all, and I was stranded in terminal trying to hack xorg.conf to get any kind of gui up. Let's not even talk about getting wireless to work, much less 3d hardware acceleration. I migrated to Mandrake, then Debian, and finally settled on Ubuntu. Now I use Ubuntu as my primary OS on my Macbook and love it. The learning curve was a bit steep, but has really smoothed out over the past 8 years. The only piece of proprietary code I use is the firmware for my iSight and the flash plugin, and I barely needed to compile anything from source. Kudos Linux developers!

Appalling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26767015)

What has not improved at all is the usability of the basic elements of desktops. KDE is still KDE, sadly.

Re:It was a nightmare for regular users in 2000... (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767615)

I installed Slackware when I was in 4th grade (93-94) for the first time. I don't really think advanced computer skills were required before 2000. It took a lot of reading on Usenet and various places, but if a little kid could figure it out in the early 90's I don't see why an adult would couldn't figure it out if they wanted to.

Sad To Remember (4, Interesting)

hduff (570443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766289)

You'll find my name in the contributors for documentation in Mandrake 7.0, and it was an excellent distro in 2000 and remains so today. They would likely be a more significant distro today had they not experienced near-fatal management problems (mostly a re-focus of resources on computer-aided learning). Corporate bankruptcy did not help even though they emerged from it, a rare occurrence in France. But their biggest failure was to develop admin tools for their Red Hat-clone in Perl rather than what Red Hat used, Python, probably the combination of developer preference and a desire to be "NOT" Red Hat. They also introduced a number of incompatibilities just because they thought their way was better (and it may have been). Their style/icon/theme choices were not the best either (plain and cartoon-ish) and failed to appeal to younger Linux enthusiasts. They had a good concept with "Red Hat done better" and should have stuck with that. It is still my distro of choice, even with my familiarity of Red Hat (I've been a Red Hat Fedora Unleashed co-author). But it's sad to remember the opportunities squandered at Mandrake/Mandriva. I would suggest that anybody give it a try, especially if you have not yet selected a favorite distro. It now does have a nice feel and polish and "just works".

A 'get off my lawn' moment (2, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766351)

How about a few years before that? SLS ( the first 'real' distro ), Yggdrasil ( paved the way for GUI installers ), or the classic root/boot (with its hex-editing to boot off of IDE ), or even when the kernel wouldn't even self host and you still needed a running minix system..

Kids these days don't know how good they have it.

Re:A 'get off my lawn' moment (4, Interesting)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766681)

I have in my hand, a CDROM marked "December 1993" from Infomagic, I also have Infomagic's 2-CD Linux Developer's Resource from June 1994, with (it says here):

- complete snapshots of TSX-11.MIT.EDU and sunsite.unc.edu Linux archives

- SLS 1.05 with kernel 1.0

- Debian 0.91 beta

- Preliminary versions of the WINE code

and a "complete live filesystem!" ...and lots more. Wow. Hard to believe, huh?

(now, get off my lawn...and here, take this Ubuntu disk and try it out at home)

Re:A 'get off my lawn' moment (2, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766809)

I still have my infomagic cds as well. Got them every quarter, and it sure beat trying to download it all via dialup ( or sneaking into the local college's data center with a box of floppies )

Re:A 'get off my lawn' moment (1)

uncle slacky (1125953) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767527)

I've got a 1995-era BURKS (Brighton University Resource Kit) CD around here somewhere - as luck would have it, it's still preserved on the web in all its Web 1.0 glory at

http://burks.brighton.ac.uk/burks/ [brighton.ac.uk]

A confession, of sorts (2, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767031)

I bought Caldera OpenLinux in 1997.
It was actually fairly decent, with a much better installer than other distros and GUI system management tools. In these features, it presaged what many other distros have done since then. If they had kept working at it, it might have been a real contender...
Of course, Caldera morphed hideously into SCOg after 2000, lashing out at the Linux community, abandoning technology for litigation, and creating their own private pit of Hades to which they are now consigned.

Re:A confession, of sorts (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767387)

Many of us did, back before they were evil. It was way ahead of the others at the time.

For collection sake, i kept my copy of both workstation and server. About the same time i bought a license for Staroffice.

Re:A 'get off my lawn' moment (3, Funny)

kwabbles (259554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767141)

...or even when the kernel wouldn't even self host and you still needed a running minix system...Kids these days don't know how good they have it.

Whippersnappers sans bootstrappers. Shameful.

Why... in my day my old man would smack me with an oak limb if I forgot to sync the filesystem three times before shutting down.

Times are changing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26766355)

I can remember installing Red Hat six and what a pain in the ass it was to get certain hardware working, or even video card settings. But times have certainly changed. I switched my parents computer out to Fedora 9 a couple years ago, and I noticed just how many drives I didn't have to hunt around for and install through the DELL website that I had to with a plain(not the DVD set that comes with the DELL) Windows XP DVD install. Just plugged in the Fedora DVD and it found all the hardware. For an older computer(no less them maybe 4 or 5 years old) I say switch your parents, grandparents, cousins, lord knows who else over to linux, put a shiny colorful desktop theme on there, set it up with a few flashy apps they love to use, make sure all the plug ins are installed in firefox(dont get carried away with things like no script. No Script is to techy, but ad block is ok. Point is don't lock the browser down to hard or you'll be getting so many phone calls because YouTube videos wont play or something else you didnt think of to white list) show them how to set up and use their digital camera, make sure the printer and scanner work. Aure it will be a slight adjustment period, menus are not all in the same place that they are in Windows. The icons look a little different. But guess what my parents got use to it and they are afraid of computers, and now they love it and don;t think twice about what OS they are using. It just does what they need. I even got my mom using Open Office to edit her work MS Word documents.

Infomagic developers kit (1)

hovercycle (1118435) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766391)

Infomagic developers kits were the shit! I got my first set in 1997 (Elvis) and started fiddling with redhat and debian and slackware. I ended up liking slackware the most. Linux comes with a shit tonne of development tools. I don't really care for ubuntu or fedora anymore and have gone back to slackware for my desktop. Because linux is more powerful from the command line! You should write your own scripts if you need and design your own systems...

TuxRadar (3, Informative)

hduff (570443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766403)

TuxRadar is an online effort to re-publish archives of LinuxFormat magazine on-line. As a former LFX contributor, I applaud this.

At http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/wiki/index.php/Main_Page [linuxformat.co.uk] , they are also attempting to convert the PDF stories into WIKI format. This could be a a valuable repository of technical and historical information.

I support their efforts and release to LFX and an all rights I may hold in any contribution I may have made to LFX. (I was an early contributor and some of my work was not done under their standard contract.)

what happened to Corel Linux? (2, Interesting)

unfunk (804468) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766431)

...last I heard of it, it had the friendliest installation process of all the Linuxes (which wasn't saying much at the time, I guess...), but then it kinda.. disappeared...

Re:what happened to Corel Linux? (3, Informative)

ramandu (1057348) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766549)

It was bought by the Xandros corp. about 2001. So for most practical purposes Corel linux is still around.

Re:what happened to Corel Linux? (1)

ServerIrv (840609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766675)

And now all I can think of is Starfox

Those pictures remind me (2, Insightful)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766521)

... how much gnome sucked (was it ver 1.4?) and kde ruled. KDE was under an evil license back then, though.

Gnome was about to "take over the world" with their ingenious CORBA based "Bonobo", which is still around (though very little noise is made of it these days, c.f. Mono).

Now that I look at these pics in retrospect, I can recall the huge UI discrepancy Linux had with windows. Windows these days does not look much better than back in 2000, but boy, has Linux caught up.

Re:Those pictures remind me (1)

portscan (140282) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766695)

there is a table at the bottom of the article with all the software versions. Gnome is 1.0.x in every case. i'm pretty sure Red Hat 6.0 came with a beta version of gnome (the article features RH6.1).

Re:Those pictures remind me (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766701)

KDE was under an evil license back then, though.

The GPL? or the LGPL? Or the BSD? Because those where the licenses KDE 1.x was under. The libraries have always been LGPL, the apps GPL, with a few pieces here and there under BSD.

Of course, Qt wasn't under Free Software license, but KDE itself was fine.

Ah yes, the year 2000. That was when Redhat wrested the World Troll Cup from Debian by publicly declared KDE to be a criminal desktop.

Re:Those pictures remind me (2, Insightful)

eldepeche (854916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767177)

I dare you to run a KDE desktop without installing any Qt libraries.

Progress of free desktop (2, Interesting)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766523)

Ohh, memories :)

Those screenshots and mentioned features really shows very rapid progress free desktop (GNOME, KDE and standalone apps) have achieved these 8 years (from KDE 2/GNOME 1.4 ugly-as-butt-but-functional to KDE 4.2/GNOME 2.2x ohh-shiny-and-my-tv-card-is-working). Yes, there are still issues, there are problems, but progress is deniable and imho only Mac OS X can fight with feature set offered by free desktop.

Ok, yes, apps does matter and market share and knowhow too, but still...this is indication that free desktop is here to stay and won't go anywhere but forward.

And btw, yes. Mandrake ruled the day back then. First distro which took users (no matter expierenced or newbies) *seriously* (nice looking themes, icons, serious localization, superb packaging - you name it). And it is still very hugely used in Europe and they are profitable company (escaped from bankrupt once), as far as I have heard. Shuttleworth definitely would say that Mandrake was inspiration for Ubuntu.

apt (1)

cpicon92 (1157705) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766639)

The article outlines apt as one of Debian's best features. What's interesting is that it still is. The reason I use debian, and the reason is used as the base for so many "user-friendly" distros, is how easy and painless it is to install software. Even now that other distros have package managers debian still has more packages and better organization than all other distros (obviously not counting the distros based off of it).

Wubi? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766657)

WinLinux 2000's main selling point is that it can be installed onto a Windows drive without the need for tricky partitioning. It's based on Slackware and claims to be "the easiest to install Linux system in the Windows world". By working with the UMSDOS filesystem, WinLinux uses a Windows directory to hold the Linux files, although it's slower than a proper, dedicated partition. We booted Windows 95 and ran the SETUP.EXE program. A typical installation utility appeared, and after choosing the 'Typical' choice for packages, the installer started copying files onto our C: drive. So far, so good.

...And just to think that Linux being installed from Windows only caught on in 2008 (via Wubi) though the technology was being used 8 years previous...

My first Linux experience... (1)

Vertana (1094987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766689)

was Ubuntu when it first came out. It was nice, user friendly, faster than Windows, and didn't crash. Heaven on a hard drive. I no longer had to worry about what I could and couldn't do (like modifying the shell outside of Microsoft's set boundaries). Deleted Windows and never looked back. Since then I've tried various distros and the one I currently like is Arch. Think of it like slackware, but with an amazing package manager. It starts very minimalist, but that's the beauty of it; you can change it into whatever kind of distro you want and nothing is hidden from you (in regards to text and configuration files) unless you want GUIs. But hey, choices exist for a reason...

The biggest difference (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26766731)

The biggest difference from Linux of 2000 and Linux of 2009, is that you didn't have go buy a new video card just to run the latest desktop.

fri5t stop (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26766801)

we aLl 4now,

Slight correction (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766843)

Just as Mandrake became Mandriva, so to is Corel Linux still around. It simply changed owners and goes by the name Xandros [wikipedia.org] .

If you need to switch a SMB over to Linux, or need to use Linux in a mixed Linux/Windows environment Xandros works great. Their desktop is close enough to XP that even the most tech phobic secretary doesn't have a problem with it, the business edition has built in Crossover Office so they can run their MS Office without difficulty, and their XMC [xandros.com] which is now available for RH as well as Xandros server, makes switching a Windows server admin over to Linux a whole lot easier. While it isn't for everyone, for SMBs and mixed environments it really does great and play nice with Windows.

Wow. (1)

zartacla (1320359) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766963)

They wrote really good and simple reviews then, that's for sure. Not like the blatant and stereotypical ones that you get to see these days.

Slackware (1)

molafson (716807) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767043)

In 1994 I had Slackware running on my inherited 386 and I managed to install Doom (although I am not sure how) and it ran beautifully.

Old GUIs are fun! (1)

Artuir (1226648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767071)

I didn't see this mentioned in comments before this, apologies in advance if it was.

Give http://toastytech.com/guis/index.html [toastytech.com] a try. It's got a lot of various screenshots of GUIs, some pretty obscure.

CorelLinux was my first (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767089)

Corel Linux was my first foray into the world of Linux, back in 1999. I remember having to switch to another graphics card just to get the graphical installation to work. I didn't seriously start using Linux until later in 2000, this time with Slackware. Alot of work, but no switch between graphics cards (it didn't have a graphical insallation and I was able to fix the graphics problem from the terminal once it was installed.

Linux has come a long way since...

OMG - I feel really old! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26767261)

2000? That's only a few years ago.

Let's go back a few years more, so I can feel nostalgic and let the kids know that I've been a geek for ever!

Slackware, then Ubuntu. (1)

Greyor (714722) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767275)

Slackware in 1996 for me was my first experience. Tried dual-booting with Windows 95, but managed to nuke the DOS partition with some careless use of fdisk whilst in Slack. No more Linux for me...

...until I started using Ubuntu in Sep 2007. Installed it after I backed up and wiped my XP installation; I'm quite happy with it and have no regrets.

I love these threads... (2, Interesting)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767543)

My first Linux was downloaded with a 9600Baud modem.. There were newer modems at the time, but I saw no need for it :D. I got most of the floppies working and created, but for some reason, the installation wouldn't quite complete. I posted a message and within a few hours, someone offered to send me a known working set of disks. He did. Within a week I was booting into my first Linux prompt.

That's what I remember most about Linux. Some random stranger spent his time and money to send me disks. That was just unbelievable.

Tinkering with that Linux installation reminded me of the first computers I'd owned.. The TI99/4A, the 800XL, C64... They were so wonderful to tinker with...

It never ends. Before it was a wonder to get dialup access to a shell account working.. then tcp... then the first X session.. Now I'm using Linux to tinker with HDR images, create music, ray trace, re-create experiments that once took million dollar equipment, map Martian images...

In February 1995 (1)

Pictish Prince (988570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767545)

I spent a day downloading Slackware on a 2400b modem. I set up a dual-boot system & everything (at least on the linux side) worked great.

In 1997 I received SuSe (5.x I think) on cd. That was the most stable operating system I have ever run. It was up and running continuously almost 2 years until I started screwing around with samba and it crashed (I'm sure there's a moral in there.)

I got SuSe 6.x in 1999. What a Piece Of Shit. It was so bad I got clear out of linux and went to FreeBSD, which I used until I got my mac w/osx 10.4. In the meantime I installed a few machines with Ubuntu, which is what I will be using when I get my next intel box.

Re:In February 1995 (1)

Pictish Prince (988570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26767563)

I forgot to mention the X server that runs on osx - it uses the fvwm2 window controller (or something very similar), so near & dear to my heart!
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