I had a rocky start with Linux in 2000. Living in Kuwait and only having dial-up, the first distro I downloaded was a stage 1 Gentoo install. 14MB was significantly easier than 700MB to download, but the punchline hit when I began the install and found myself at a command prompt being told to compile my modem drivers.
Several months later I tried out Mandrake, loved it, and haven't looked back. I've had Mandrake or Ubuntu on my machines since late 2000, with brief stints with Gentoo and Debian.
I've set up several friends, my brother and my wife with Linux systems, and I am currently consulting with a friend regarding a linux appliance project.
I drop in and out of the community: I don't have the time to keep a close monitor on it, but I come by the forums or irc periodically, and keep up-to-date with the TC-LUG mailing list.
2 years of volunteer IT work in Sydney, learning Windows XP and Active Directory. Lately I've been 1 year at a local IT company, working with Windows, OS/400 and SuSE Linux. I've just begun studying for my LPI.