My association with Linux is very old. I am known as ‘Babaae Linux’ meaning ‘Father Linux’. I first read about it in DAWN newspaper and the word stuck in my mind. But it was an article in IEE Magazine titled ‘Linux Army’ that really inspired me. I read this article many times. I became obsessed with the philosophy of Free Software. Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman became my heroes. In my final term in 2000 I explored about it on the Internet. In my final term, in 2000, there was a project about RT Linux. I opted to select it but it was not given to me. Instead I was given another project rather forcibly because I was among top 6 students. Top 6 students were given a special project sponsored by Air Weapons Complex. Another of my course mate took RT Linux project and I helped him.
Then there was the turn of the desktop environment. There are two leading desktop environments namely GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) and KDE (K Desktop Environment). GNOME was less polished at that time but it appealed more to me and I preferred it over KDE. GNOME is American born while KDE is German born. Miguel de Icaza, the founder of GNOME project, became my leading inspiration and remains up to this day. The picture at right was my favorite during my project phase. He is also the founder of the Mono project. Mono is an open-source *nix version of the .NET development platform. I presented a research paper titled ‘Linux on Desktop’ during my Army course in 2001. I presented the paper using Linux machine. The presentation was made in KPresenter. The openOffice project was not born yet. I compared the two desktop environments and presented various alternatives to Windows programs. You can download the lesson plan from here.
I took two projects on Linux. The first one was taken during my Army course in 2001, titled ‘Windows Linux Networking’. It was done using Samba. File sharing, printer sharing and text chatting capabilities were demonstrated between two platforms. The second one was taken during my MS Computer Engineering at College of EME in 2009. The project was titled ‘Linux Clustering using openMosix’. You can download the report from this page.
I have tried various distributions. The first distribution that I owned was tomsrtbt that can fit on a floppy. I did not have my own PC at that point. of time. The first distribution that I actually installed on my own PC was Red Hat as it was the only one available in Pakistan. The ‘Windows Linux Networking’ project was done using Red Hat 7.2. Subsequently Red Hat was commercialized into RHEL and a free version called Fedora was released. I have checked some others, notably Ubuntu, but Fedora remains my favorite.
Learning and using Linux remains one of my most satisfying achievements of life. It became and remains an important intellectual activity.