Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
I still see people arguing about whether GNU/Linux is “ready for the desktop”. The truth is, it really depends...
For me, I switched almost “cold turkey” from Windows 3.1 to Debian “Slink” in about 1999 or 2000 (at the time, I liked to say I “upgraded from Win 3.1 to GNU/Linux”).
I just didn’t like the look or smell of Windows 95, which is why I had resisted upgrading for 5 years. I was poor, and always ran slightly out of date computers, for money reasons. So I was particularly turned off by a new “improved” operating system that took 3 times longer to do 1/3 of the work. I had seen references to GNU/Linux for a few years, and knew that there was free operating system out there. But I figured it was mostly a “hobby” thing. Like most people, I didn’t see how “free software” could work (beautiful ideal, but how could programmers sustainably produce such a thing?). I’d read Stallman’s Gnu Manifesto and other sources on the subject. But it took me a while to warm up to the idea (I hadn’t really been that impressed by “shareware”). Still, ever an idealist, I wanted to try the proof of principle—that’s why I picked the Debian distribution: it embodied the same ideals that went into Linux and the GNU project.
Then of course, there was the fact that GNU/Linux, as a Posix-compliant operating system (“Unix” to speak sloppily—but SCO has demonstrated the danger of that kind of sloppiness), would run code I knew from college. In fact, it really brought back some memories the first time I saw that prompt on my home computer (that was kind of a thrill, since I associated Unix with high-end systems at the university).
Of course, it was a pretty brutal transition.