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My Journey to GNU/Linux

Posted: • Last Updated • ~6 min read

First sight

Previously, I never heard the term “Linux”. The first time I hear it back in 2010, when my school’s internet computer lab migrated all the OS to Ubuntu. Those computers are only used for web surfing. Each student had to pay the a small amount of money to rent it.

Somehow Ubuntu doesn’t attract my attention. Only until the end of 2012, when I heard that we can get the official Ubuntu CD and sent directly from overseas. I came to Mr. Fajrin — who at that time is is the chief of the lab — to clarify the news. Sadly, he told us that the program had been stopped. Fortunately, I managed to get the original CD from my friend, Rochim. I am super glad but I never play with the CD.

The sun rises

In August of 2013, I relocated temporarily to Aceh to teach some students for a year. One day I feel distracted by Microsoft Office license. It prevents me to do certain things. I want to get rid of it but at the same time I don’t want to feel guilty by using cracker. I am also worried by not knowing how the cracker work and things that it injects into my OS. I’ve heard bad news about it.

In the following day, I asked my friend Jauhari Hapinuddin to get me OpenOffice CD when he went to the city — He went to the city very often, cause he was canteen staff at the time, so he has to keep the supply —. Then I simply use OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office since then.

One day, I remembered about “Linux” and “Ubuntu”, so I start searching them over the internet. I find ubuntu.com and start downloading the ISO. It was Ubuntu 14.04 LTS at the time and I need 3-4 hours to download since it’s in a remote location. I managed to have it installed alongside my Windows 8, and I use it most of the time.

Using Ubuntu for the first time, I have so many questions in mind. I decide to join GNU/Linux Facebook groups and start throwing questions. My very first question was so silly cause I mistakenly type Ubuntu version 16.04, and the other group member was like “I don’t think that version released yet”. Later on, I have a viral post that saying “Which one do you choose, your tux or your wife”. Indeed this intended for joke and fun. One of the very first members that help me in person is Mircea Toader. I’m very thankful for having him answer in person at that time.

I asked Mircea so many things — Later, I know later that this behavior is bad. At that time I didn’t know how to ask good question in online communities —, he is so kind. One time he told me that he is far away from home and will reply later. These days I always wondering about the replacement for video softwares such as SONY Vegas, ADOBE After Effect, and so on. Currently, there is the app that fills these gaps such as Natron and Blender.

After some months, I met with a lot of kind person such as Epsi Nur Wijayadi who points me to read the Debian Manual Book — we both still keep in touch as a good friend up until now —, and Ragil Satrio who helped me to solve my GRUB error. I and Ragil become the best brother after that time. he shared with me a lot about GNU/Linux and I told him a lot about Islam because he was muallaf at that time. Indeed there are other kind people from the “Ayo Belajar Linux” forum that I can’t mention all of them here.

GNU/Linux grows rapidly in that school. We migrated all the computer labs with GNU/Linux. Even some ustads come to me to have Ubuntu installed in their laptops, some of them are Abthal Aufar and Bayu Kurniawan. Bayu started using Ubuntu and did his task mostly with Ubuntu rather than windows. The school headmaster heard this good news and saw the leaflet that we put on the bulletin board. He is so glad about this and called me “ustadz Linux”. He requested me to put Ubuntu on his laptop, but I refuse. To use GNU/Linux, we are required to have the ability to solve technical problems independently, searching for the cause of problems, and willingness to ask other users online. Nowadays GNU/Linux is more user-friendly than it used to be. But I insisted to refuse since I will not stay there for a long time.

To use GNU/Linux, we are required to have the ability to solve technical problems independently, searching for the cause of problems, and willingness to ask other users online.

I’ve put a lot of effort into the school labs. Including asking the fund for more machines to an external organization. Fortunately, I managed to get two more machines. I leave this school in the mid of 2014, with awesome legacy. I left the labs with some students that already had the skill to use GNU/Linux, to edit videos and music, etc. I also managed to make a “backup” PC with a big HDD capacity and Linux Mint installed to store all school data. This meant to prevent broken files caused by a virus in Windows Os’es.

I leave school and relocated to Surabaya. I met with the super nice and humble there, guy Ade Malsasa Akbar. He taught me a lot, I learned so much from him. He is the first man that taught me about non-technical things in GNU/Linux such as licenses and GNU project. After partition mismatch incident I wipe my harddisk and only put Ubuntu as a single OS. Seven months later I relocated to Malang.

The flag fluttering

I learned more about GNU/Linux in Malang. Reading many Wikipedia articles, blog posts, and StackOverflow answers. In this phase, I don’t want to lose any single bit of information regarding my reading history and all the solutions to the problem I faced. So I save every single of them to maff format. The growing number of them makes it very hard to maintain, then later I decide to invent a method to manage my digital files.

I spent every day using GNU/Linux, and start customizing its behavior and looks. Later in 2015, I moved to Debian and never looked back. At this year, I start to learn more about its philosophical and non-technical side. I learn about GNU and Linux history, GNU projects, RMS, licenses, and the difference between the open-source movement and the free-software movement. Throughout the days I became more skeptical. I read a lot of things and joined many IRC channels. GNU Project’s articles, RMS’s Essays, and Lawrence Lessig’s books taught me a lot about “freedom in society”. I learn how to give software sincerely, how bad the proprietary model is, etc.

I want to thank many people who put their time and effort to make many great libre softwares available for use. Now we can live completely with libre softwares. Thanks for every single contributor in BSD foundation, X.org foundation, Free Software Foundation, Linux Foundation, and other projects.

I don’t imagine if I didn’t take this path. My career would be very different now. I am very grateful to know GNU/Linux early on in my life. I am connected to many great programmers, scientists, and authors. I managed to make a lot of contribution such as pull requests, translation, and talks. Those actions changed my career for good sake later on.

I don’t imagine if I didn’t take this path. My career would be very different now. I am very grateful to know GNU/Linux early on in my life. I managed to make a lot of contribution such as pull requests, translation, and talks. Those actions changed my career for good sake later on.

Thank you, GNU/Linux community.

CS

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