When I became interested in computers the only ones available for the common people were the 8 bit ones like Tandy TRS 80 and Sinclair. Those were nice systems for hobbyists. My first computer was an Acorn Atom. Handling data was not easy. Loading programs from audio cassettes and also storing them on that medium. It was slow and not always reliable.
A bit later the IBM PC became available. With the floppy disc it became easier to handle data. Borland came with Turbo Pascal and Turbo C. A big step ahead. Still it was not the same as the 'big' computers that the enterprises used.
Microsoft tried to make available things like webservers, client/server applications and office applications. Other companies followed. For the hobbyist there was only one option available: Copy the software. They were too expensive to buy.
It has been a while since I wanted Linux on one of my computers. The first installation is (I think)
from December 2000. I bought SuSE LINUX 7.0 Professional. I installed it as dual boot next to NT 4.0. It
was a great start. The installation went smooth and the graphical part was nice. The only problem was
that my screen was not rectangular but some strange curved rectangle. It took me a while to figure out
how to change the default boot to NT. I installed Win98 because my son wanted to play games and games and
NT do not mix together. I 'lost' Linux. In December 2001 I decided to use my old PC. A P100 with 32Mb.
I woke it up and installed Linux again. The idea was to make a server with a database and application server.
For that I wanted a more recent version of the kernel so I installed Red Hat 7.2. It went well.
Not so smooth as SuSE but it worked. I installed 2.4.17 and it still worked. Unfortunately it was too slow.
I changed to a Celeron 333 with 128Mb and now it was fast enough. Later I added an other 64Mb. The only thing
I did not like was the fact that I had installed too many things that I did not need.
When I searched the web I came to the Linux From Scratch site. They promise a Linux installation where you decide exactly what to install. I downloaded everything and went to work.
Linux From Scratch has one big disadvantage. It takes too much time to maintain a server. Installing the basics works fine but going from one version to another is not easy. I did it with a second server but the process took me too many days. During those days everything else layed still. Therefore I switched to Debian. Debian has its own package manager. You do no longer have everything in your hands but at least you get a system that works and that is easier to upgrade. The installation history can be read on my Debian page.
Not only is Linux available for 'normal' computers. It is also available on dedicated hardware. I have bought a Linksys WRT54G router. For this router there is an open source package available called OpenWRT. It is based on Linux 2.4. I have changed the configuration so that it became a full router. Every port of the switch serves as a router for a sub network. On the router page I describe how I did it.
Another project is (was) MythTV. It should have been easy but it was not. I stopped the project because I could not get the TV card working with Linux. I should have used another card. I now use the hardware as my Debian server.