I am writing this out of my close association with GNU/Linux for quite sometime.I have had been using it everywhere to do my day to day work.
First I have started or introduced to the UNIX system way back in 1996 during my Diploma classes.One day I was sitting in front of a blank and black terminal in the classroom ;so my instructor came to me and said " why are you sitting idle"...I replied back with a pretty confusing face that " I am not able to understand what to do with this(the black and blank terminal)..with small cursor blinking on it". My teacher/instructor smile at me(rightfully) and said " Bhaskar it is challenging you to play with it and waiting for your intervention"..that spark me!! From that day onward I fall in love with that fellow called "UNIX".Yes,it was SCO UNIX ..those days it was used in almost all the academia.Oh yes before that incident happen I was given a book or two about UNIX operating system and I went through them ..but little infer.
My real hands on interaction with GNU/Linux came in year 2000,when I brought my desktop(IBM Netvista A22p black model with 128 MB RAM with P4 processor).I bought a book called "Linux Bible" by Christofer Negus..that book come with CD-Rom of Redhat Linux.So I went on to install that into my desktop.Yes it was not so smooth,because of my lack of knowledge regarding GNU/Linux that time(Yes,I was late by 8 years by that time...Linux invented on 1992!).But somehow manage to install it with lot of pain and with lot of manual tweaking with the system.Because in that time installing GNU/Linux on the computer was not so easy..lot of thing were missing from the installation which had to be added later.Nor I was blessed with an internet connection..it was costly and rare in India.
So my journey started with GNU/Linux ..still continues till today.I have had been to different situation to tackle GNU/Linux in different environments.And I enjoyed every bit of it.Sometime it bring down to my knees and sometime it gave a real pleasure to accomplish some and share it with others fellow thinkers.
This is my 4th laptop(yeah too frequent you can say!)..every time I went to a shop to buy a laptop..the people around said it doesn't support GNU/Linux(yes ,till few years back it was headache to install GNU/Linux in the laptop but not the case now!!) .So the first thing I did (as all the laptop come with a proprietary OS install in it),erase the OS from the HDD and install GNU/Linux on it( I always carry a Live CD/DVD with me) and believe it or not every time it works(yes I might be the lucky few!).
Yes , I had to do lot of tweaking to work it as I like ..but worth the effort and time..in turn it enhances my understanding about GNU/Linux.
I have had tried and tested hell lot of GNU/Linux distro time and time again..just to look into it and try to figure out how it work differently from one distribution to other.And of late doing the same thing with a technology called "virtualization".
I have four GNU/Linux distribution running in my laptop,namely Arch Linux , Gentoo , Debian , Fedora .
Along with that I also run Slackware , openSUSE through virtualization.
I love all of them..but running Gentoo gave me a different kind of pleasure.Because one has to do lot of thing by hand( which is automated by the binary OS isntall i.e fedora).My impression is that running a source based distribution gives anyone much more insight into the OS then a binary distribution.But the basic fact remain the same that all of them running Linux kernel underneath.
Oh yeah the corporate experience!
Basically corporate houses buy or run something which is quite stable and proven track record and should have paid support.The reason behind this is that business data are absolutely crucial to the business and which will fetch revenue with that.
I had have the exposure of handling production box running RHEL(Enterprise version of REDHAT), SLES(SUSE Enterprise version),CentOS(derived from RHEL source) and to my surprise! Gentoo for one of my job assignment.And in the very same place Debian for hosting server.
Handling live production box gives me different kind insight into it.Because most of the cases the underlying kernel(Linux) is tweaked by the vendor to suit their business needs,so many thing has been added for the usability.
Managing production require very much methodical approach(which is a good thing and should be applied for whenever possible) and have to follow the certain procedure sometime employed by the vendor,sometime by the organization one works for.
As the big guns are pushing GNU/Linux for their business and TCO(total cost of ownership)to deploy GNU/Linux into their infrastructure,namely IBM,HP,Intel,Oracle to name a few.I was lucky enough to be work with of those big fish and get to see and work in their GNU/Linux infrastructure.It was awesome experience for a small fry like me...saw a lot and of course learnt a lot.
As I have had met some people running GNU/Linux have a preconceived notion in their mind that running GNU/Linux make their system secure(I am surprise by fact few people handling corporate production system have that kind of idea..phew!).That's not correct.It is an open system and onus has to with owner that how to make his/her system secure.It's an ongoing procedure to make system secure..constant vigilance is required.
Now One important point I want to share that if someone choose to dive deep into it(read GNU/Linux) be prepared to help yourself and get the help from others(without being egoistic).Do a lot of research and applied tactics of your own before one can ask question to people,who have better idea about the problem.If one demonstrate that quality people will get interested on him/her to take the problem seriously.Why I am saying this because I have seen lot of people just throwing the question in an expectation of an answer..which is not correct.The person they are asking to solve their problem are not bound to answer them..so please do your part.I am never ever shy of asking questions ..but I am honest that sometime I won't get pleasant answer or attitude .But one has to have the understanding that the person is ready to help..but might not be the attitude you expect.
You can find me most of the GNU/Linux forums asking question about my problem and giving back the answer to people if someone approach to me.That;s the way it should be. Yeah I do follow lkml very closely as well looking at the other kernel related discussion very frequently.