Eric, aka Bilange, is now a totally converted Ubuntu user since March 2006. You may find him hanging around in #ubuntu-ca and #ubuntu-marketing amongst other channels.
Note: lots of chit-chatting in here. You can easily skip to the "Ubuntu Era" section if you don't feel like reading.
Since I like doing things the hard way, I first tried more-or-less succesfully Slackware 3, 4 and 7 as my real first Linux distribution. In case you dont really know, Slackware has that reputation to be a distribution that feels quite close to its UNIX roots, having close to none user-friendly interface, and a local copy of the TLDP's docs. Ive said more-or-less succesfully, because I had a winmodem at that time (winmodem on Linux was a no-no back in the days), with onboard video and audio adapters. And absolutely no knowledge, except for the aliased dir and del commands. Oh, happy days.
I'm not really an hardcore PC gamer, but there was ONE game I was addicted with (called Subspace), which kept me on the Windows side for a long time. Most of the time I had to dual-boot, and/or delete my Linux installation when I have some gaming rage.
Silly thing to note, I had a 4Gb harddrive at that time, and no CD-Rw. Everytime I wanted to install and mess around with Linux, I needed to download manually around 500mb of packages on a 33.6k modem (which takes more or less 50hours straight at full speed, 3.6K/s), shrink my fat32 partition using some commercial product, try to find non-corrupted disks usable to create bootdisks and pray.
God, times has changed!
That was nice back in the days, until I realised that Linux was a killer OS for use in a server environment, nothing more. This is where Clarkconnect, another distro free-in-beer, kicks in. Clarkconnect is quite limited, as in only home users can use this distro for free, the company behind this is a for-profit organisation. Furthermore, there seems to have no way to install the basic developper tools in a Clarkconnect machine. In other words, you could not compile stuff on it. Think of it as another incarnation of Linspire/Lindows, where you couldnt compile or install third-party programs here too, but Clarkconnect is a server-centric distribution, as Linspire is for a desktop use. Install it and let the box in a closet: thats what CC was good for.
I found out about Fedora long ago.. to tell the truth, I wasnt and I'm still not a fan of Redhat's products or attempts. A few years ago, there was a time where when I Googled for some Linux problem, there was lots of time where some user (or maybe a tutorial) goes like "in a console just type redhat-network-dhcp", redhat-this-tool, redhat's-own-configurer, and I really didnt get why on earth Redhat just wants to reinvent the wheel every time. Altough Fedora Core was really eye-candyish, I finally gave it a try. And actually I just deleted my installation after a few month, due to lack of interest, and there was some news about Redhat axing completly the Fedora project at that time.
Turns out to be a good decision, I learned later that Redhat just gaters what the Fedora community does make a commercial version of this. Not that interesting either.
I finally heard about Ubuntu because of Digg.com.
I began by downloading Breezy CDs, and made my way to modify the system to my likings. Back then, when I first tried Ubuntu, this felt like the most "right" distribution to me. That, and for the impressive amount of support as well as for the upstream contribution with developpers, that made me think this distribution is here to stay.
This community made me feel like it was easily possible to get involved, and since I always wanted to give back something I thought I'd give it a go, but I dont really know where to start or what to do. As far as technicalities goes, I can say I know my thing up to an extent, I know just a bit of programming to know whats going on (but no pure C/C++), so I could help on the software packaging side. So far, I just hang around on IRC to help other people out there and discuss (whether its about Ubuntu or not, I just share what I know whatever the matter).
As far as my hometown is concerned, there is lots to do. I had a job in a local used computer store, but that store closed due to no income, aggressive pricing by competitors and lack of customers. However the boss gave the green light to make a CD Stand for Ubuntu, and I was about to install a few workstations with Breezy, but the shop closed at that time. Due to the fact that there was close to no customers, a fery few noticed the CD stand. Long ago I did an interview for a job where the company sells tech support for other companies, and they are supporting Linux based OS too. One of the interviewers even told me they were considering making a switch from Fedora to Ubuntu on their own servers.
As for my current city, I am employed to an hardware store (home improvement kinda hardware) where Im basically a jack-of-all-trades (code, support, disassemble things tech wise, set up networks) and our team is pretty much OSS-friendly. To state a few examples, we've been using our own LTSP based thin clients hosted on Ubuntu Server nothing less, ive been making webpages for internal usage using a LAMP setup (also on Ubuntu servers), and we've tried to make a switch to Ubuntu workstations whenever possible (however people are too used to have Microsoft Office, and thats as far as having the new .docx/.xlsx file formats!) A few companies in the city (namely Revolution Linux also sells Linux based products and services, so things are in the move here.
LUG's, or the lack of.
I dont know if there is a local LUG still alive. There was some project going on (kinda like a startup LUG) in a local college, but never heard of them again, and in the best of the possibilites, they might not promote anything much outside of the school community.
Workstation (Win7, Lucid)
ASUS P5K-SE (Intel Chipset), Core 2 Duo E6550 @2GHz HDDs: 1.4Tb S-ATA
Workstation (WinXP, Lucid)
Laptop: Acer Aspire 5044 AMD Turion64 1.8GHz, 1Gb DDR 120Gb P-ATA Video: ATI Xpress 200M ATI Chipset for everything else Wireless: Broadcom 4318 (b/g)