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hpr1881 :: My road to Linux

I'm so old I actually installed Watchtower on an Amiga and I review 22 years of Linux distributions

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Hosted by clacke on 2015-10-19 is flagged as Clean and is released under a CC-BY-SA license.
Urecord, Slirp, Amiga, turbolinux, guix. 3.
The show is available on the Internet Archive at:

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Duration: 00:15:12

How I got into tech.

Started by monsterb, this series invites people to share with us how they found Linux. It has become traditional for first time hosts to share with us their journey to Linux. Indeed it has morphed to be way to share your journey in tech right up to your first contribution to HPR.

I went against my own recommendations from my previous episode and used Rehearsal Assistant, because it can rename files inside the app. Well, turns out it records at 8 kHz and encodes it as 3GPP.

Sound quality: Yes, it's at a terrible sample rate, but you can hear what I'm saying and at least I'm Holding It Right. There's no problem with sudden drops in level.

Do as I say, don't do as I do. Use Urecord, which is obviously pronounced you record as in telling someone to record something, not you record! as in insulting someone by comparing them to a vinyl disc. Don't say as I say.

Slirp can use either SLIP or PPP. I think I used Slirp with SLIP, and there was some other connection method that provided PPP directly without logging in and running a command. Maybe their getty even understood the PPP blurb and just went directly to pppd. Anyway, my Amiga-side software didn't support it. When I switched to Linux I was able to use the other method and just talk PPP directly and authorize using CHAP.

Debian didn't support Amiga until Debian Hamm, which was released in 1998. So I didn't have much choice but to run Watchtower and compile my own stuff. By 1998 the Amiga was already gathering dust in my wardrobe back at my parents' place, while my PC and I were preparing to travel the seas with the Swedish Royal Navy and hang out (not really) with David Letterman on Saint Barths.

Wikipedia says that yes, it was Bruce Perens who tried to get UserLinux going, but they claim Ubuntu killed it. I don't remember UserLinux getting any traction at all. I think it's more accurate to say that Ubuntu put the last nail in its coffin. LWN seems to agree: The immediate cause of death was an inability to deliver software. Today there still is no real delivered product, over three months after the release of Debian Sarge.

But the same article reveals that I was completely wrong about Bruce trying to gather existing vendors together: It was occasionally confused with UnitedLinux by people familiar with the Linux market. UnitedLinux is the old Caldera, Conectiva, SUSE and Turbolinux initiative. Yeah, I was thinking of the one with Turbolinux in it. That name rings a bell. But I thought Turbolinux was Finnish. Apparently they were Japanese. Or actually, apparently they are Japanese.

Ah yes, Best Linux, that was the Finnish one.

I know that guix is pronounced geeks. I just don't know it in my heart. Just like I actually think GNU/Linux is the better descriptive term, but I keep talking about the Linux ecosystem* etc, where 95% of that ecosystem is abstracted away from Linux by glibc and runs just as well on FreeBSD.

* Yes, you may hate the term ecosystem. I happen to think it's an apt** analogy.

** You see what I did there.



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Comment #1 posted on 2015-10-19 20:24:03 by Fin

Music fail

Why did the default theme play at the end, when clacke's a capella version was so good!

Interesting journey BTW. The audio wasn't that bad.

Comment #2 posted on 2015-10-23 16:00:35 by Dave Morriss

Great episode

This was a very interesting show. I knew very little of what you spoke about, never having had an Amiga, nor having used dial-up with Linux. Thanks for the insight.

Comment #3 posted on 2015-10-26 11:35:10 by clacke


Cool! Glad I added something new. I was worried that yet another Linux backstory might be redundant, but I guess everyone comes from their own direction.

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