An Exodus from Microsoft: Parting the Knowledge Waters to Reach Linux and the Open Source Possibilities

As I have decided to explore Moodle by installing a Moodle server in the next week or 2, I thought I would spin the first coffee clutch tale of how I began my foray into Linux and Open source computing. I started my business Gwynedd Valley Systems in 1997. At that time Tim Berners-Lee's HTTP which had been taking the world by storm for several years was beginning to really reach the end user world. Web design and hosting was on the rise with the DOT com era, and I wanted to learn as much as I could. I had a friend who had just started an ISP and he offered me space on one of his servers. I really was unaware at that point of what was involved behind the scenes of web hosting. All I knew was that he was using the Netscape Web Server and I could log in and moved my basic HTML pages up to him so the rest of the world could view my web page masterpieces. Soon though I began to become curious about that area called the backend and web hosting. So began my inevitable jouney to Open Source

I began using Linux about 1997 as I started my feldgling (still small) web design and hosting business. We started by co-locating a Pentium II 400Mhz with Windows NT 4.0 and what ever version of IIS that came with it. That first month the NT box crashed 4 times and my ISP was getting tired of re-boots. He suggested we invest in a Linux based pizza box (SPARC 2 Station, called a pizza box because that is what it looked like.) as he thought it was a far more stable platform with Linux. One of my partners at the time had had some experience with Linux and we decided to give Open Source a try. Pizza box's were not expensive on Ebay and we purchased 4 of them at $75.00 a piece, a monitor, tape drive and disk drive. They had the bare minimum of memory and hard disk space. We set one up with Debian Linux and sent it to the ISP and started really working with the other 3. It wasn't long before we had a WEB, DNS, and MySQL box sitting in my basement.

It was fun learning to manipulate Linux, Apache and related other Linux programs eventually gaining a base level of knowledge that was neophyte at best, but sufficient to monitor the box and handle day to day issues that would pop-up. This was a major achievement for me as I was from the dos to windows generation and had done a lot of DOS command line work, but never really worked with a UNIX based language. In my next installment I will go into the trials and tribulations of learning about TCP/IP, TELNET, SSH, FTP, and how they became everyday terms in my life.

Special thanks to the Webopedia and What-is online technical libraries.

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Comment by Michael Taylor on June 1, 2007 at 1:20pm
I have been a Negroponte follower since the publication of Being Digital in 1995. He has truly predicted and integrated technology into education that has effected the academy in ways we could never have imagined.

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