Monday, February 6, 2012

Birth of a Geek, Part 2

At the time I thought it was the greatest thing that could happen to me. I mean, what computer geek wouldn't love working at Fry's while working on a degree? It only took a couple of months to discover that, as a computer geek, working at Fry's was not all it was cracked up to be. However, I did get to meet and converse with other computer geeks, some more "hardcore" than myself, some less so. It was also during my tenure at this big-box retailer that I came face-to-face with Linux. Sure, I'd seen and heard about the "Geek's Operating System" (my terminology) before, but had never given it more than a quick passing thought.

Then, one day, after transferring from the "front-lines" to the software department, I found I had a lot of extra time on my hands to just peruse the software being sold. Of course, this was at a time in the world when Red Hat still sold boxed copies of Linux and before SuSE became part of Novell. In fact, you could even buy a "boxed" copy of Slackware Linux at Fry's back in those days. Looking back I can say that I did indeed enjoy those few months that I worked at Fry's, to the extent that I could, at any rate. Hell, I actually still love the store itself to this day. I refuse to buy motherboards, CPUs, RAM, hard drives - anything, really - from anyone else. Toward the end of my days as a Fry's employee, one of my co-workers presented me with two CDs containing the latest version of SuSE Linux (unfortunately, I do not remember which version it was, now, but it was the last version to come out pre-Novell). I went home after work that night and immediately installed it as a second OS alongside Windows XP Pro on my PC. The rest, as they say, is history. Thus began my trip down the rabbit hole, so to speak. I was hooked.

That version of SuSE Linux came with KDE as the default desktop choice (I honestly don't remember having the option to install the Gnome desktop instead. If I am wrong about this, please correct me), and I fell in love with it. Of course, I would later move on to RedHat/Fedora and the Gnome desktop. Such is the way of things in the world Linus built. I remember the installation was surprisingly pain-free, especially as a second OS on a PC filled with hardware intended for gaming in Windows. The sheer volume of included, high-quality software, out of the box, was the other thing that was a very pleasant surprise. From that moment forward I became a lover of all things open-source. I could easily see the power and flexibility provided by "Free and Open-Source Software", hereby referred to as FOSS in this article. Aside from gaming, I quickly discovered that I could do anything that I normally did in Windows, such as chat online, surf the web in a modern browser, or any other geekery. Plus, it was fast!

It wasn't long before I realized I had stumbled into a unique opportunity to grow as a geek and pursue the "higher calling" of becoming a Linux-savvy professional. And so, rather naively, I sought out all I could find on how-to become a pro Linux tech. One large life-mistake later, in addition to moving away from Dallas to Houston during the summer of 2004, my dream came true. I got a job as a Web Technician at EV1 Servers in Houston where I was thrust into the very heart of IT geek culture. I was taught Linux and learned how to provide tech support for Linux servers and I loved absolutely every minute of that job. I will always look back on it with great fondness. That job was short-lived, unfortunately, due to that horrible mistake I mentioned above, as I was forced to move back to Dallas a few months later.

I still love and use Linux to this day, though. I've grown leaps and bounds in my knowledge of it, and have learned how to configure some of the smallest details and settings in various Linux distros, although the *buntu distros are my current go-to, with Lubuntu being my overall favorite for everyday use. Sorry, no discourse here about the perceived pros or cons of the Unity desktop in Ubuntu. Gotta keep some things un-aired!

A few years ago I began to rediscover my old, childhood desire to immerse myself in the world of software development, thus becoming what I equated as the "Ultimate Computer Geek." Linux will do that to you, and it's not an entirely bad thing, to be honest.

Check back next week for Part 3, in which I conclude this article series!