A Linux Anniversary of Sorts

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Okay this is a stupid anniversary but by all estimations I began playing around with Linux in 1998. So it isn’t a round number anniversary and I have no clue what month is started in.

Not sure why I thought about this today. Maybe it was because I was just thinking, “Damn I have a lot of computers with Linux on them”. And I do.

So how’d all this start you probably aren’t asking yourself?

I was living in Japan and caught the computer bug in general. I spent every waking hour working on, or reading about computers. Bought every computer magazine there was. I was seeking the enlightened status of “POWER USER”, whatever that meant. But by golly I was a POWER USER.

Being a POWER USER in 1998 demanded the exploration of Linux. It was mandatory. No way around it. I think the first Linux program I got was either Red Hat 3 or 4 something and I probably bought it from a bookstore or computer store of some kind. It came in a big old box with a big old book and a couple of CD’s.

My best (worst) memory was installing it and then finding out my modem didn’t work. Hell it worked fine under Windows. I literally worked for days until I found out that Linux had a command called “setserial” which told the serial port which IRQ address to use.

After MUCH mucking around I came up with the command that made that God awful modem connect tone. Then the problem was how to set that command at boot so it was always persistent.

Took probably several hours to crack that nut as well but by God I had achieved POWER USER status.

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I ran Red Hat through version 4 and 5 and got pretty good at it. I had tons of desktop hardware and I began to understand the logic behind taking an operating system and telling the kernel that I had only this CPU, this video card, this sound card, this system bus, etc.

You could build a custom kernel that supported ONLY your hardware and not every other possibility in the world. It was lean, it was fast, and best of all it was STABLE. Rock hard stable. Not like any version of Windows in those days. The Blue Screen of Death in Windows was a fact of life for any real POWER USER.

Then when my daughter got old enough to use a computer I built her a desktop computer with Mandrake Linux. Sure I tried Windows first but she kept breaking it or crashing it. Windows was so pathetic in those days.

Heck she was a kid. She didn’t know the difference. She used that Mandrake OS computer for a year or two and I don’t think it ever once crashed.

It’s all fun and games, until someone calls the cops. Then it’s a new game; hide and seek.
Sorry for the humor break. Back to Linux. Here are my deployed systems. Scroll through them with the arrows.

Pic 1 - Debian Unstable (better known as Sid). My cutting edge system and work server. Me-TV for over the air TV, Spotify, Pandora, 5TB’s of Music and SDR Radio for local radio and aircraft traffic.

Pic 2 - My Raspberry Pi system at home. This is my JRiver Media Center client sitting by my bedside. I use it to listen via streaming to my 5TB music server in the other room.

Pic 3 - Cubox with Arch Linux and LXQT Desktop. This is my suitcase computer for hotels. This is a Logitech media server for music, a print server for my HP Deskjet 100 portable printer, and a web server to share files and photos with my co-workers (if they are in the same hotel).

Pic 4 - Laptop with Manjaro Linux. This is my GQRX, WXtoIMG, GPredict machine for tracking satellites and downloading images from NOAA weather satellites, cool, huh?

Pic 5 - My LinuxMint laptop. This is my back up web server and all around home computer. Whatever is on the other computers you’ll find it here too and then some.

Pic 6 - A Raspberry Pi running Logitechmedia Server accessible from a web browser. Hooked to a tube headphone amp. Able to stream Spotify and Pandora and Tune In Radio, among other things.

Pic 7 - My Pi Aware Raspberry Pi. This is a crowd sourcing computer with a program called Dump1090 on it. It tracks local aircraft traffic and uploads it to Flight Aware. One of those websites or apps you visit when you wanna know if Aunt Bessie’s plane is on time. For this service they give me an enterprise account worth $80 a year (their assigned worth).