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A Trip Down Distro Memory Lane 238

M-Saunders writes "What did the Linux world look like back in 2000? TuxRadar has republished a distro roundup from Linux Format issue 1, May 2000. Many distros such as SUSE, Mandrake and Red Hat are still around in various incarnations, but a few such as Corel and Definite have fallen by the wayside."
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A Trip Down Distro Memory Lane

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  • SuSE Ruled... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @03:30PM (#26765963)
    ...until Novell bought them out. When it became apparent that Novell wasn't going to uphold the SuSE quality, I switched over to Ubuntu. Haven't looked back since.
    • Re:SuSE Ruled... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Shuntros ( 1059306 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @03:40PM (#26766055)
      I'd be interested if you could give a full breakdown of what SuSE's shortcomings are since Novell took them over. I've used SuSE since the late 90s. It was never foolproof, no distro is, but despite trying a number of other distros I still find it preferable to all of them, including Ubuntu.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by hawk ( 1151 )

        I put it on a couple of computers in 2005 or so. After several months, it went into an upgrade hell--I think it was that Yast tried something in the wrong order. It could go neither back nor forward. When it happened on both, I threw my hands up and switched to kubuntu.

        Then again, if it handled the latest flash (or even recent enough for the kids' sites), I'd just switch entirely to FreeBSD. Unfortunately, it doesn't (though I believe Adobe demonstrated a prerelease of Flash 10 on FreeBSD). Even using

      • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:28PM (#26766459)
        The first SuSE version released from Novell broke on my system, wasn't worth the time to fix, and I went back to the previous version. If that was the best Novell could do with SuSE, then I would try another distro. When it came time to rebuild my file server, I went with Ubuntu since it just work when I installed it. These days I prize working out the box over calling forth my grandmother's spirit to recompile the kernel to run on ordinary PC hardware.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ogdenk ( 712300 )

          Like Ubuntu has never had a problematic release... please. I've seen at least one piss poor release from every distro.

          I finally got sick of all of the inconsistencies present between all of the Linux distros and switched to FreeBSD and NetBSD (on non-x86 hardware) back in 1997. Though I had run NetBSD/mac68k on a IIci since about 1995. I also knew BSD well from my experience on a VAX and SunOS 4 boxes.

          A couple of my machines run OSX as well these days because A.) I like the interface. B.) I like to ru

      • Re:SuSE Ruled... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Daimanta ( 1140543 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @05:33PM (#26766885) Journal

        One shortcoming: YaST.

        It's dogslow and doesn't have the easy of aptitude.

        I was trying to install some pieces of software a couple of years ago on SUSE(which was my first *ux distro) and I was going down the lane of installing tens of packagedepencies for one piece of software. Eventually a friend convinced me to use Ubuntu. I was sold the minute I understood the apt-get command.

        Even if Ubuntu had it own shortcomings(still a lot of textfile configuration editing) it still worked decently. And with the leaps Ubuntu is making in the usability field, I can probably stay with it for a very long time.

        • by IANAAC ( 692242 )
          Yast is far more than a package manager. If you are looking for a smaller, faster package manager for RPM-based systems, have a look at smart.
      • Re:SuSE Ruled... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sortius_nod ( 1080919 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @06:15PM (#26767173) Homepage

        I use SuSE for my home server too, I see no issues with it... I've used many different distros (RH, Mandrake/Mandriva, Slacks, Ubuntu, Debian, the list goes on), but SuSE seems to do what it's meant to without a lot of headache - true, configuring from conf files can be a pain if you're not used to where it puts some.

        Either way, run what you feel comfortable with until it shits on you... I know there's a lot of anti-Novell sentiment here on slashdot, but it's like hating a red-headed child - you may not like them, but they are still part of the family.

    • Re:SuSE Ruled... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @03:43PM (#26766077)
      Except that Novell has done some good things too. Yast is still pretty amazing. Oh and Novell opened it up and set it free.

      It's OK to not like a company, but give them credit where they actually deserve it.

    • Re:SuSE Ruled... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xoron101 ( 860506 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:17PM (#26766361)
      I've always thought that Debian was a great Distro. Stable, lots of packages that can be installed, and lots of resources on the web.

      Ubuntu (based on Debian) ties it all together with a nice, easy to use installer and GUI. Great choice for desktops, but I'd stick to Debian for servers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ultrabot ( 200914 )

      ...until Novell bought them out. When it became apparent that Novell wasn't going to uphold the SuSE quality, I switched over to Ubuntu. Haven't looked back since.

      It seems [Open]SUSE is becoming a bit "hip" again, after years of silence. These days everybody is using Ubuntu (and it's becoming synonymous with "Linux"), though...

    • I've been using SuSE since version 9.1. I've noticed they've been following a trend since the takeover by Novell, version x.1 is always "prettier looking" than x.0 or x.2 or even x.3!!
    • by Cally ( 10873 )

      My first install was Debian 2.0 c.1998 - never got X working, hardly surprising in retrospect. I never got on with Red Hat; Mandrake was the next I tried, c.2000/01, and I've just paid £100 for the shrinkwrap edition (out of guilt, from never having given them anything for ~ a decade of great Linux fun. And some extreme frustration - mostly when tinkreing with Debian and getting hopelessly lost, but that's half the Linux learning experience.

      The only other OS I've really tried is OpenBSD; I've b

    • You waited for Ubuntu? Should've just switched to Debian straight away; it's been easily the best distro ever since apt-get was added, which was a LONG time ago now.
  • Slackware rules! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spaceyhackerlady ( 462530 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @03:35PM (#26766013)

    In 2000 I was a seasoned Slackware user, and had been so for several years. I did my Master's thesis in LaTeX on a Pentium 233MMX box (which I still have), complete with diagrams done in xfig.

    I did a lot of course work on that box: Viterbi decoding, polyspectral analysis, lots more.


    • Re:Slackware rules! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @03:47PM (#26766113) Homepage Journal

      Slack was and still is a nice distro for folks that know what they're doing, want a solid, stable system and don't care much about fit and polish or having the latest goodies. I was Slack user and proponent myself for a couple of years.

      The main thing I don't like about Slack is that lack of real package management. I like the power and convenience that tools like Synaptic and apt-get provide -- a lot. And the fit and polish that desktop-oriented distros like Ubuntu offer is a guilty pleasure for me and an absolute necessity for my techno-angst-ridden wife.

    • Re:Slackware rules! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GreatDrok ( 684119 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @03:51PM (#26766141) Journal

      I started out with Slackware in late 1994 on a 486DX33 with 8MB of RAM. It was amazing. 40 floppies to install it since I had no CDROM drive. I bought a 14.4 modem and had access to my university e-mail (pine FTW). X11, gcc, Netscape, FTP, the lot. All on a machine with 200MB of disc. I reckon I could function quite happily on that machine even today apart from Netscape which would have to be replaced with Lynx I guess.

      By 2000, a Linux distro was incredibly easy to install by comparison. Today it is even easier. You barely even need to worry about compatibility.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The ancient bane of my shelving.
        Well thanks, i thought i had those sets of memories decently blanked out of my mind.

      • by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:38PM (#26766545) Homepage

        I started out with Slackware in late 1994 on a 486DX33 with 8MB of RAM. It was amazing. 40 floppies to install it since I had no CDROM drive.

        That's nothing. I ran Linux 0.03 on my Sinclair ZX81 [wikipedia.org] in early 1982. It were stored on 300 C90 cassettes, took 18 days to load and I had to hold the RAM pack to stop it wobbling.

        And you try and tell the young people of today that ..... they won't believe you.

        • Cassettes? Luxury.

          I read Linus's mind in 1974, keyed what would later become Linux 0.0.01 into the front panel of an IMSAI 8080 with 1K of RAM, and once I got it running, backed it up using the paper tape punch of the ASR-33 I used for the console.

          The first application I wrote for it was an ESP transmitter which I used to beam the Apple II monitor ROM bits into Steve Wozniak's brain.

          • keyed what would later become Linux 0.0.01 into the front panel of an IMSAI 8080 with 1K of RAM

            Well, the unexpanded ZX81 had 1K of RAM as well (no, really!), but I had to trade that off against the chance to get the infamous RAM pack wobble in there. :)

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by harry666t ( 1062422 )

            In one of my previous lives I used to run simulations of an universe on an early prototype of an abacus, running a REAL Unix. One of the simulations went uncontrolled, became Singularity, created Earth and shit in six days, it was like 6000 years ago, AFAIR. That singularity used to run until 1882, with the only major upgrade around 1 A.D. Now, that's also a pretty nice uptime.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Sique ( 173459 )

          I preferred the C=64-Version...

          LOAD "VMLINUZ",8,1

          Fond memories...

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Press Play on Tape.

            fun times...
        • I guess I was a lucky one then. I didn't have to run Linux on one of those extremely spartan systems. I had Slackware via diskette installed on my luxurious 486 DX33 with a whopping 16MB of RAM and 420MB hard drive. I had no idea what to do with all that extra processing power and disk space.

          Then I discovered public FTP archives like wuarchive.wustl.edu for amiga demos, shareware, and vidcaps of hot actresses. Then learned about using tin for usenet porn. Save message attachment, uudecode, save, consume!


      • by Peter Simpson ( 112887 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @05:02PM (#26766707)

        I built a Slackware system and had it dual-booting on my 486-33 at my new job. I was using it (with X11 and Motif) as an Xterminal off our UNIX system to do schematic capture, after I got fed up with Win3.1 and QEMM (which was what I was supposed to be using).

        That the same hardware could perform so much better running Linux (versus Win3.1) was a real eye-opener .

        Have not thought a Microsoft OS was worth paying for since.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I think I would probably still be a Linux user had fonts been properly rendered and smoothed in X as it was in Windows and Mac OS X. That turned out to be a deal breaker for me, looking back, and really the one feature besides DirectX that kept me using Windows. I still know how to configure and compile FreeType to support things like subpixel rendering, but I never could get my fonts the way I liked them. At the very least, kerning was always off. Obviously, I pay a lot of money to have font rendering in a

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by arelas ( 1336019 )
        Impressive, 8MB ram in 94...I think I only had 4 and that cost me dearly.
        • Re:Slackware rules! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by GreatDrok ( 684119 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @07:11PM (#26767591) Journal

          arelas said: "Impressive, 8MB ram in 94...I think I only had 4 and that cost me dearly."

          I was able to upgrade it a few years later to 20MB as I found four 4MB memory sticks. 1MB sticks were pretty easy to come by but the 4MB ones were pretty rare. Linux would run fairly well in 4MB but 8 was definitely better and with 20MB it flew. I had a 386 laptop which only had 2MB and I was able to get a very bare install of Slackware onto it just for shits and giggles of course. Using PLIP I was able to network it to my 486 and use it as a terminal. X was too much for it to manage mind you but it was cool just for command line stuff. I even had a VT100 emulator on my Psion 3a. Since the 486 had the 14.4 modem, I was able to share my internet connection from it to my growing selection of rescued machines. By 1996 I was running a SUN SPARCStation 1 with OpenBSD as my main work machine. I managed to get 64MB of RAM for it, a 19" monitor and it was a very nice environment to write my PhD thesis up using LaTeX. I really miss the Type 4 SUN Keyboard and optical mouse.

      • by ogdenk ( 712300 )

        I bought a used NEC 1x SCSI CD-ROM for my Slackware install around the same time period. Cost me $12 at a local HAMfest.

        I had to find a book with Slackware on CD in it. I couldn't stomach the download time over dialup for slackware via my NetCom shell account. I really wanted to learn how to manage UNIX boxes, not just use them. I couldn't talk anyone out of a copy of SCO UNIX or Novell UNIXware so I started looking at MINIX and Linux.

        I had downloaded MINIX 1.7 and installed it from floppies to play wit

    • Re:Slackware rules! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dbcad7 ( 771464 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:08PM (#26766279)

      Slackware is what I started on.. I remember getting the Cds, making a root and boot disk and installing.. It was during the time of modem internet and I specifically bought a modem that would work (non win-modem).. getting that baby to work was a challenge but always satisfying once the puzzles were solved. I kept that modem through several upgrades and new systems.

      I think the order of discovery for me, was.. Slackware, Redhat, Mandrake, Debian .. once I got a taste of Debian, it's been Debian based distro's ever since.

      Things sure have come a long way.. but I don't regret the hours I spent solving problems way back then.. as I said there was a certain satisfaction to getting something to work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kozz ( 7764 )

      I also have a P233MMX on which Slackware ran in year 2000. Maybe the two of them could get together for a play date?

      • I was introduced to linux in July of 2000. Red Hat, I believe it was. I was quite the little boy at the age of 9, playing with dual booting with ME. I despised ME. Athlon 600 with 128MB of RAM, 3dFX Voodoo3 32MB AGP, Western Digital 20GB. AND it had a 2X CD recorder.

        That was quite the upgrade from Windows 98. Pentium 200 with MMX overclocked to 233. 64MB RAM. Also a Voodoo3, but this one was PCI. 32X CD ROM, ~3GB HD. ISA Sound Blaster and 3COM network adapter.

        Now is the 3.1GHz Phenom. 4GB RAM. 9800GT
    • by rbanffy ( 584143 )

      I remember my first Linux install. It was actually MkLinux on a Power Macintosh 9300 (or something close). Installing was _very_ easy - just uncompressing data on an empty filesystem.

      It booted via an MacOS extension. I guess that made it so easy.

      Still, it was pretty cool. I had to compile and install Afterstep by hand.

      A year later, I came back to that company (a major ISP here in Brazil) as a consultant only to see just about all of those Macs converted into MkLinux boxes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      My first Slackware box was a 486/66 with Slackware '96 aka Slackware 3.1. It came with 8 MB of RAM, which was fine for everything but Netscape, which worked, but only after a minute of page thrashing. I maxed the box out to 32 MB and everything was fine.

      My current development box at work is a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo with 4 GB RAM. It runs Slackware 10.2, though heavily updated (gcc, kernel, etc.). I just updated the kernel to I refuse to run Gnome; the desktop is KDE. Needless to say, it flies...


  • 2000, heh? I've got a release 4 of Trans-Ameritech "For UNIX users...Linux plus BSD" distribution on CD right in front of me, it its original shrinkwrap (bought two, kept one as a souvenir all these years). Those were the days. None of the sissy GUI installs. None of the silly pissing matches about which distro was the best. Just having Linux on CD was something. Web? Heh. Anybody still remember UUCP?

    Ah, good ol' days.

    • Perhaps I should have mentioned for the young ones, the year was 1994.
    • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @03:50PM (#26766127) Homepage Journal

      None of the silly pissing matches about which distro was the best.

      Now I know you're lying!

    • None of the sissy GUI installs.

      You mean you had to learn how your computer worked to make it work?

      Come on - you gotta admit it's so much easier to pop a shiny disc thing into the box, hit the button, and have it do its thing so that you can get right to posting on the Ubuntu forums to complain about having to type "sudo" before you want to do something in that annoying little "terminal" window that they should work on getting rid of asap.

  • by fyoder ( 857358 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @03:39PM (#26766035) Homepage Journal

    Many distros such as SUSE, Mandrake and Red Hat are still around in various incarnations

    Mandrake started out well, but then suffered some sort of identity crisis, had a sex change, and become the totally flakey bitch named Mandriva [mandriva.com]. Some say she's been to rehab and is much nicer now, but she is ancient history as far as I'm concerned.

    • I've been with Mandrake since around 2001. It did have some problems for a few years, but I've been very happy with 2008 and 2009.

  • by WiiVault ( 1039946 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @03:43PM (#26766083)
    and look how far it has come. Seriously, despite some remaining imperfections Linux has turned into a really pleasant desktop experience. I remember when installing Linux was a nightmare, with dozens of configurations, tons of unsupported hardware, and the need for highly advanced skills just to make it usable. Now it is rare to have to mess with the details- for the most part it just works. I'm primarily a Mac user, but I do a lot of stuff on my Ubuntu install as well, I am just shocked at how far Linux has come and quite interested in what is to come.
    • by Rhabarber ( 1020311 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:15PM (#26766331)
      You say it, in 2000 I set up a Gentoo system on one of those early Pentium III Notebooks. Yes, sure, it took me a couple of hours. But guess what, I still use it every day, exclusively. Just copied it from box to box over the years. So I'd say that time was quite a good investment ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Compholio ( 770966 )

      I'm primarily a Mac user, but I do a lot of stuff on my Ubuntu install as well, I am just shocked at how far Linux has come and quite interested in what is to come.

      Really? One of the huge original selling points for me was that Linux made (nearly) all the drivers open source and distributed as part of the kernel. This idea is really important because it means that once a driver for something is made it sticks around forever (sans growing pains every once in a while). Personally, I think this issue is wh

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hawk ( 1151 )

        But that's rather full of exceptions. *IF* the full driver made it to the kernel, and stays in the sources, sure. Then there are things like ath_hal that require a true adventure. .10.5.6 has been around for a while, but with kubuntu, I had to extract and make by hand. I then panicked when a new kernel downloaded on an update--that *used* to be a problem with linux when you had custom modules; they were dependent upon the version of the kernel. Even when a pre-compiled module was available to support ha

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Compholio ( 770966 )

          But that's rather full of exceptions. *IF* the full driver made it to the kernel, and stays in the sources, sure

          In my mind this scenario is not full of exceptions, these exceptions exist on a local time scale. I see it is a matter of "when" rather than "if" - eventually a fully functional driver will get included, and when that day comes it will work forever thereafter (it is very incredibly rare for drivers to be removed).

          • by hawk ( 1151 )

            I have two laptops which need ath_hal .10.5.6. One is three years old, and the driver still hasn't made it in.

            The issue isn't so much removal, but the ability to use custom modules compiles for older kernels--which is far better now than it was in the mid '90s.


            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Compholio ( 770966 )
              An implementation of the Atheros HAL just came out recently (http://www.linux-magazine.com/online/news/open_source_hal_for_atheros_wlan_chipsets [linux-magazine.com]). The proprietary HAL would never be included, but since there is now an open source HAL it is unlikely that you will have such problems down the road.
              • by hawk ( 1151 )

                I bought the Acer (the only one I'll ever buy; I have this funny problem with refusal to honor warranties . . .) in November, 2005. Linux and Freebsd solutions existed at the time--linux took some serious hoop-jumping to use windows drivers; FreeBSD was easy (but still a hoop). This is more than three years later, and both still take hoops. This laptop takes the same/similar solutions (again, FreeBSD being significantly easier).

                The Acer is old enough to typically leave service (not counting the factory d

      • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

        Well, yeah, that had a lot of appeal, now that I think about it.

        The problem there, however, is that the landscape has changed. Linux used to be a smaller development community than it is now, obviously. As such, written, working code was more valuable than it is now. Hobbiests developed the kernel, mostly, so keeping the older hardware working was usually of some import. In fact, it was one of the primary appeals for Linux: you could run reasonably modern software (Netscape, mainly) on some pretty ancient h

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Now, however, a Linux distro usually won't run nearly as well as XP will.

          Are you *sure*? I have a four, five year old desktop machine that dual boots Win 2k3 and Gentoo Linux. If we ignore the terrible Flash plugin and turn off KDE 4.SVN's Desktop Effects, I find that the Linux system is faster to boot, faster to get me to a ready "desktop", and no slower than Windows at performing tasks in The Gimp and Firefox. Perhaps my experience is atypical.

          Also, was 2000's four year old hardware proportionally as slow as 2009's four year old hardware? That is, if you were to plot the CPU a

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Like a few posters above me I started with Slackware in...94..Maybe 95. I remember that install actually being quite smooth since my hardware was well supported (a somewhat antiquated 486SX-25). Ahhhhh having a dual boot machine back then really was something to geek out about.

      I've done maybe..30 installs since then, moved between Redhat, SuSE and Ubuntu and STILL the totally smooth installs are more to do with having experience with the hardware though. 8.10 on my home media PC? INCREDIBLY smooth; even man

    • by Vlobulle ( 1286874 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:37PM (#26766541)

      Well, in 2009 the audio system is still a complete mess and the screen configuration (setting the resolution and multiscreen settings) not far behind.

      • check its pulse (Score:2, Insightful)

        by zogger ( 617870 )

        ...I cannot figure out exactly what pulse audio is really for, but I "fixed" my fedora 10 system sounds by totally removing PA, going to sound prefs and checking alsa everything, rebooting, going to terminal and doing alsaunmute. Bam, all my sound works fine now. And I fixed my vid by downloading system-config-display and using that. Why they don't include that in the default install like they used to I do not know.

        I wish there was something along the lines of a more stable RH/RPM desktop system between ble

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 )

      I am shocked on how little it has moved sense then. The only thing is better hardware detection... But that was because hardware manufacutres got REALLY REALLY STUPID and focuses stricly on Windows Only hardware. They made a D2A and a A2D converter and hooked it up to a telephone socket and Called it a Win Modem. The took out the Logic board in a printer and called it a Win Printer. There was a slew of really bad hardware that was all driver driven making it hard for Linux to do anything. They have seem to

    • I remember trying to set up text mode's Disk Druid to partition my HDD and I got stuck with it. I didn't know what to do for a long time. :D

    • Absolutely agree.

      The pain of figuring out monitor frequencies for X11 (with the threat that a wrong line can physically destroy my monitor!).

      I tried a linux distro a year for about 4-5 years (redhat, Mandrake, Novell, among others), before things finally started going my way in '04.

      It wasn't just the desktop, though. That's when openoffice.org and firefox were just starting to be usable alternatives.

      And now, the future' so bright, we have to wear shades. :-)

    • I've been using Debian full-time as my desktop since around 2001 (which admittedly doesn't make me one of the oldest-school users). I started noticing a big decrease in the amount of HOWTO-googling and config-editing I had to do somewhere around 2005. While presumably many improvements were made between 2000 and 2005, there were still a lot of things I had to do in 2004-2005 that I recall thinking would make it 100% impossible to get my non-tech-savvy friends and relatives to switch.

      For example, when I boug

  • Sad To Remember (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hduff ( 570443 ) <<hoytduff> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:10PM (#26766289) Homepage Journal
    You'll find my name in the contributors for documentation in Mandrake 7.0, and it was an excellent distro in 2000 and remains so today. They would likely be a more significant distro today had they not experienced near-fatal management problems (mostly a re-focus of resources on computer-aided learning). Corporate bankruptcy did not help even though they emerged from it, a rare occurrence in France. But their biggest failure was to develop admin tools for their Red Hat-clone in Perl rather than what Red Hat used, Python, probably the combination of developer preference and a desire to be "NOT" Red Hat. They also introduced a number of incompatibilities just because they thought their way was better (and it may have been). Their style/icon/theme choices were not the best either (plain and cartoon-ish) and failed to appeal to younger Linux enthusiasts. They had a good concept with "Red Hat done better" and should have stuck with that. It is still my distro of choice, even with my familiarity of Red Hat (I've been a Red Hat Fedora Unleashed co-author). But it's sad to remember the opportunities squandered at Mandrake/Mandriva. I would suggest that anybody give it a try, especially if you have not yet selected a favorite distro. It now does have a nice feel and polish and "just works".
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:16PM (#26766351) Homepage Journal

    How about a few years before that? SLS ( the first 'real' distro ), Yggdrasil ( paved the way for GUI installers ), or the classic root/boot (with its hex-editing to boot off of IDE ), or even when the kernel wouldn't even self host and you still needed a running minix system..

    Kids these days don't know how good they have it.

    • by Peter Simpson ( 112887 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:58PM (#26766681)

      I have in my hand, a CDROM marked "December 1993" from Infomagic, I also have Infomagic's 2-CD Linux Developer's Resource from June 1994, with (it says here):

      - complete snapshots of TSX-11.MIT.EDU and sunsite.unc.edu Linux archives

      - SLS 1.05 with kernel 1.0

      - Debian 0.91 beta

      - Preliminary versions of the WINE code

      and a "complete live filesystem!" ...and lots more. Wow. Hard to believe, huh?

      (now, get off my lawn...and here, take this Ubuntu disk and try it out at home)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nurb432 ( 527695 )

        I still have my infomagic cds as well. Got them every quarter, and it sure beat trying to download it all via dialup ( or sneaking into the local college's data center with a box of floppies )

        • by tbuskey ( 135499 )

          Hahaha! I did the same. Except I had a Syquest SCSI drive & the college had Macs. I made the floppies at home.

          SLS 1.0.5 (103?) was my 1st install after BSD386 (or 386BSD?)/Jolix failed to install.

    • I bought Caldera OpenLinux in 1997.
      It was actually fairly decent, with a much better installer than other distros and GUI system management tools. In these features, it presaged what many other distros have done since then. If they had kept working at it, it might have been a real contender...
      Of course, Caldera morphed hideously into SCOg after 2000, lashing out at the Linux community, abandoning technology for litigation, and creating their own private pit of Hades to which they are now consigned.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nurb432 ( 527695 )

        Many of us did, back before they were evil. It was way ahead of the others at the time.

        For collection sake, i kept my copy of both workstation and server. About the same time i bought a license for Staroffice.

    • by kwabbles ( 259554 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @06:11PM (#26767141)

      ...or even when the kernel wouldn't even self host and you still needed a running minix system...Kids these days don't know how good they have it.

      Whippersnappers sans bootstrappers. Shameful.

      Why... in my day my old man would smack me with an oak limb if I forgot to sync the filesystem three times before shutting down.

      • by ogdenk ( 712300 )

        Holy crap, I was a kid in those days but I watched my dad do it on a couple old Sun boxes at work.

        You're really showing your age. You've officially earned the right to tell kids to get off your lawn. How'd that hip replacement go? LOL

        I still have a copy of the first edition of O'Reilly's Essential Systems Administration where that was officially talked about in print. I learned BSD reading that book.

  • TuxRadar (Score:3, Informative)

    by hduff ( 570443 ) <<hoytduff> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:24PM (#26766403) Homepage Journal
    TuxRadar is an online effort to re-publish archives of LinuxFormat magazine on-line. As a former LFX contributor, I applaud this.

    At http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/wiki/index.php/Main_Page [linuxformat.co.uk] , they are also attempting to convert the PDF stories into WIKI format. This could be a a valuable repository of technical and historical information.

    I support their efforts and release to LFX and an all rights I may hold in any contribution I may have made to LFX. (I was an early contributor and some of my work was not done under their standard contract.)

  • by unfunk ( 804468 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:26PM (#26766431) Journal
    ...last I heard of it, it had the friendliest installation process of all the Linuxes (which wasn't saying much at the time, I guess...), but then it kinda.. disappeared...
  • by ultrabot ( 200914 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:35PM (#26766521)

    ... how much gnome sucked (was it ver 1.4?) and kde ruled. KDE was under an evil license back then, though.

    Gnome was about to "take over the world" with their ingenious CORBA based "Bonobo", which is still around (though very little noise is made of it these days, c.f. Mono).

    Now that I look at these pics in retrospect, I can recall the huge UI discrepancy Linux had with windows. Windows these days does not look much better than back in 2000, but boy, has Linux caught up.

    • KDE was under an evil license back then, though.

      The GPL? or the LGPL? Or the BSD? Because those where the licenses KDE 1.x was under. The libraries have always been LGPL, the apps GPL, with a few pieces here and there under BSD.

      Of course, Qt wasn't under Free Software license, but KDE itself was fine.

      Ah yes, the year 2000. That was when Redhat wrested the World Troll Cup from Debian by publicly declared KDE to be a criminal desktop.

  • by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:35PM (#26766523)

    Ohh, memories :)

    Those screenshots and mentioned features really shows very rapid progress free desktop (GNOME, KDE and standalone apps) have achieved these 8 years (from KDE 2/GNOME 1.4 ugly-as-butt-but-functional to KDE 4.2/GNOME 2.2x ohh-shiny-and-my-tv-card-is-working). Yes, there are still issues, there are problems, but progress is deniable and imho only Mac OS X can fight with feature set offered by free desktop.

    Ok, yes, apps does matter and market share and knowhow too, but still...this is indication that free desktop is here to stay and won't go anywhere but forward.

    And btw, yes. Mandrake ruled the day back then. First distro which took users (no matter expierenced or newbies) *seriously* (nice looking themes, icons, serious localization, superb packaging - you name it). And it is still very hugely used in Europe and they are profitable company (escaped from bankrupt once), as far as I have heard. Shuttleworth definitely would say that Mandrake was inspiration for Ubuntu.

    • What are you talking about? GNOME and KDE were both considered ugly as fuck back in those days, if you wanted eyecandy you looked elsewhere.

      As for Mandrake, it didn't "rule" anything, there may have been a bit of buzz about it but most people seemed to run Debian, Red Hat, Slackware or some other minor distro.


  • WinLinux 2000's main selling point is that it can be installed onto a Windows drive without the need for tricky partitioning. It's based on Slackware and claims to be "the easiest to install Linux system in the Windows world". By working with the UMSDOS filesystem, WinLinux uses a Windows directory to hold the Linux files, although it's slower than a proper, dedicated partition. We booted Windows 95 and ran the SETUP.EXE program. A typical installation utility appeared, and after choosing the 'Typical' choice for packages, the installer started copying files onto our C: drive. So far, so good.

    ...And just to think that Linux being installed from Windows only caught on in 2008 (via Wubi) though the technology was being used 8 years previous...

  • was Ubuntu when it first came out. It was nice, user friendly, faster than Windows, and didn't crash. Heaven on a hard drive. I no longer had to worry about what I could and couldn't do (like modifying the shell outside of Microsoft's set boundaries). Deleted Windows and never looked back. Since then I've tried various distros and the one I currently like is Arch. Think of it like slackware, but with an amazing package manager. It starts very minimalist, but that's the beauty of it; you can change it into w

  • Just as Mandrake became Mandriva, so to is Corel Linux still around. It simply changed owners and goes by the name Xandros [wikipedia.org].

    If you need to switch a SMB over to Linux, or need to use Linux in a mixed Linux/Windows environment Xandros works great. Their desktop is close enough to XP that even the most tech phobic secretary doesn't have a problem with it, the business edition has built in Crossover Office so they can run their MS Office without difficulty, and their XMC [xandros.com] which is now available for RH as well

  • In 1994 I had Slackware running on my inherited 386 and I managed to install Doom (although I am not sure how) and it ran beautifully.

  • Corel Linux was my first foray into the world of Linux, back in 1999. I remember having to switch to another graphics card just to get the graphical installation to work. I didn't seriously start using Linux until later in 2000, this time with Slackware. Alot of work, but no switch between graphics cards (it didn't have a graphical insallation and I was able to fix the graphics problem from the terminal once it was installed.

    Linux has come a long way since...

  • by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @07:04PM (#26767543) Homepage

    My first Linux was downloaded with a 9600Baud modem.. There were newer modems at the time, but I saw no need for it :D. I got most of the floppies working and created, but for some reason, the installation wouldn't quite complete. I posted a message and within a few hours, someone offered to send me a known working set of disks. He did. Within a week I was booting into my first Linux prompt.

    That's what I remember most about Linux. Some random stranger spent his time and money to send me disks. That was just unbelievable.

    Tinkering with that Linux installation reminded me of the first computers I'd owned.. The TI99/4A, the 800XL, C64... They were so wonderful to tinker with...

    It never ends. Before it was a wonder to get dialup access to a shell account working.. then tcp... then the first X session.. Now I'm using Linux to tinker with HDR images, create music, ray trace, re-create experiments that once took million dollar equipment, map Martian images...

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @08:04PM (#26767915) Homepage

    Wow, that review sent me - like a drunk bum thrown into an alley from the back of a squad car - down memory lane!

    Ah, anyone remember linuxconf? What a piece of junk! It mostly worked, when it worked. But I remember it interfering with any manual configuration changes made (without telling you). Very irritating. I ended up ignoring it, I think.

    I can't believe Linux got any sort of foothold on the desktop with releases like the the early KDE and GNOME, to be honest. I remember constantly, constantly fighting with the two (and their respective toolkits) to make them a) look half decent, b) behave half decently, and c) work in a fashion which did not interfere. Part of that

    I remember when I started out, more or less with RedHat 5.2. GUI options? What GUI options? You had (from my recollection) fvwm, fvwm95, afterstep, and -maybe- icewm. I don't remember for certain if icewm was available in 5.2, but it was in 6.0, as I used it in 6.0 when I moved to it. I dabbled for a while with 5.2 but never permanently, as my hardware was not yet supported. I also tried DOSLinux and the HappyHacker guides before I determined that yes, I needed a real linux distro. After a botched upgrade from RH6.1 to 6.2, I moved over to (IIRC) Mandrake 6 or 7 (whichever came out around the time of RH6.2).

    It's funny, but when I decided to go with RH (largely because I could order the CDs - I ended up grabbing them from Best Buy, IIRC), Slackware was already considered to be a hodgepodge of crap thrown together, largely targeted at/used by the "h@x0r" community. It's only become more of the case, of course, but Slackware refuses to die.

    It wasn't long after Mandrake that I went to debian (maybe late '99), and stuck with that until just this past April, when I gave Ubuntu a try. Stormix 2000 was a major catalyst in me moving to Debian, if I'm recalling things correctly. I still use Debian as much as possible, but Ubuntu goes on my primary workstation/laptop.

    As this thread is about Linux in the year 2000: does anyone else remember Stormix 2000? It was an incredible, incredible distro for it's day (consistent look/feel, debian based, intelligent installer), and I'm sad to see that Progeny didn't make it as a company. They didn't get half the credit that was due them, IMO, as they were a major force behind the current way in which distros are packaged, IIRC. They stuck around for a while and provided some good additional packages, and an alternative installer for Debian 3, which was very nice (in terms of hardware support, which was lacking in Debian at the time).

    • by gmhowell ( 26755 ) *

      When I last fooled with linux, it was Progeny that was subsequently upgraded to whatever was current Debian at the time. (This following RH 5.0->6.? and one or two side excursions).

  • Oh yeah, loved that. BTW the GP is incorrect, Corel Linux did not die, it became... Xandros. Corel was great in a Windows environment, I even had it logging into and NT4 Domain... I even used Caldera, their install allowed you to play Tetris while it ran, oh the memories.... And the horrors... DeadRat 5 - I still hate gnome for that.

  • Remember these? [tuxradar.com]

    I had *no* idea what 'miscellaneous services' icon was until a buddy told me that it was a paper coming out of a folder. Who in the hell drew that thing? Who in the hell thought it was a good idea to put in the operating system?

    And WTF is that 'change root password' icon, now that I see it? A hallucinating snake?

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