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How Linux became my job

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I've been using open source since what seems like prehistoric times. Back then, there was nothing called social media. There was no Firefox, no Google Chrome (not even a Google), no Amazon, barely an internet. In fact, the hot topic of the day was the new Linux 2.0 kernel. The big technical challenges in those days? Well, the ELF format[1] was replacing the old a.out[2] format in binary Linux distributions, and the upgrade could be tricky on some installs of Linux.

How I transformed a personal interest in this fledgling young operating system to a career in open source is an interesting story.

Linux for fun, not profit

I graduated from college in 1994 when computer labs were small networks of UNIX systems; if you were lucky they connected to this new thing called the internet. Hard to believe, I know! The "web" (as we knew it) was mostly handwritten HTML, and the cgi-bin directory was a new playground for enabling dynamic web interactions. Many of us were excited about these new technologies, and we taught ourselves shell scripting, Perl, HTML, and all the terse UNIX commands that we had never seen on our parents' Windows 3.1 PCs.

After graduation, I joined IBM, working on a PC operating system with no access to UNIX systems, and soon my university cut off my remote access to the engineering lab. How was I going to keep using vi and ls and reading my email via Pine[3]? I kept hearing about open source Linux, but I hadn't had time to look into it.

In 1996, I was about to begin a master's degree program at the University of Texas at Austin. I knew it

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