Early 1995 was the year I discovered the game Doom by accident, and I was in awe. That motivated me to get my very own first computer, which I built myself. It had a whooping 4MB of ram! So in order to play games, I had to use Windows.
Over time, my addiction to games exploded, and I built myself a new computer every two years or so, salvaging whatever was still usable from the previous box. That also made me known to friends and relatives as someone who could help them with their Windows problems.
The well known Windows vulnerabilities meant I always had work fixing other people's PCs, almost always for free. That in itself was terrible enough, but I also knew darn well that all my precious pictures and songs and documents could go up in smoke anytime if left in the custody of Windows. I was fed up, but had heard of no alternatives.
The first time I heard about Linux, and in fact about other OSes like BeOS, was in a magazine article. The magazine was Boot, later renamed MaximumPC. To be honest, BeOS impressed me more, and I bought it, and used it for a while. But then it went to OS Heaven, and I had to look around for another option.
So I tried this Linux thing.
First I tried Libranet, but then the only maintainer died. Then I tried Mandrake and stayed there for a year or two, until for some reason I don't remember now, I switched to PCLinuxOS.
I've been a PCLinuxOS user since the late betas, release candidates or whatever they were called. I have been a forum member under different names for nine years now, and I can sincerely confess to you, after all these years, that I LOVE IT HERE.
Let me count the ways (in no special order):
Safety, security. Well, no surprises here. Using free and/or open source software is peace of mind.
Command line is optional. I work supporting IBM mainframes. A mainframe console is... like the equivalent of a Linux terminal only, 1) you get to see the equivalent of the Linux syslogs (everything that happens in the OS and applications) onscreen, in real time, and 2) You can't see the console history like a Linux terminal can. I work on way more than 100 LPARs, so yes, that's a lot of console work. So I'm not afraid of working on the terminal on Linux ... it's that ... after doing that all day at work ... really, I'm not in the mood of using it at home. The fact that I rarely have to use the command line here, if ever, is a big plus. But the option to use it is always there, for when the need truly arises. Fine with me!
Hardware support. On all the hardware I've bought over the years, PCLinuxOS has always worked right, except once, and because I bought something too far ahead of the curve, so Linux had had no time to adapt to it (it was sound on a motherboard).
TVtime. PCLinuxOS has always included TVTime as default, which works wonderfully with my TV tuner card. There's no other TV tuner software on Windows that can look as good, or switch channels as fast as TVTime. It's the best TV application, bar none!
Rolling release. I keep telling my 7-month-old son David (even though he still can't understand, I know): "Son, you seem to love that bottle too much, but once you get to taste bacon, butter, avocados, tomatoes, etc, you won't miss that bottle one bit." On the software side, it's the same thing: Once you get to live PCLinuxOS' true rolling release update methodology, you can only wonder how you could keep up with all that install-the-new-version-of-a-distro-every-6-months other distros use, all along. This is a KILLER FEATURE of this OS, and NO ONE ELSE DOES IT BETTER.
In fact, IMHO, the motto of this OS should be The Rolling Release Experts.
Repositories. The repos are very complete. The only thing I wish that could be there that isn't, is Plex Server, but that's not in your hands to do so, so that's fine.
Easy installation of new kernels, graphics drivers, other desktop environments. I REALLY LOVE THIS! Different kernels, Nvidia or Radeon drivers, and other desktops like Openbox, Mate, etc ... are found in Synaptic like any other software. You just install them and the system does the rest! No fiddling with text files! Of course, on first boot after that, the startup process takes longer than usual, but that's just once and so, it's a very minor inconvenience.
The forums. The forums are terrific. The camaraderie, the humor, the anecdotes, the help to others who have questions or personal problems ... This is the best forum I've even been to, only equal to the now defunct Laser Squad Nemesis forums.
The magazine. I didn't think much about the magazine the first few issues, let me tell you. But this last year I've grown to read it cover to cover. One article in the latest issue was so good and eye-opening that I wrote a thank-you message to the author. My personal favorite section: Community member profiles!
Steam. Steam works smoothly!
Texstar and team. Here's a brilliant guy who takes no BS from anybody, and yet, zero bad attitude. His work of love is palpable. We couldn't be in better hands. And the team around him is awesome too.
I've always tried to send a yearly donation, but now that I can do it monthly, contributing is easier. It's money well spent. Or should I say, invested, in my peace of mind.
One last confession: During my daily commutes, I daydream. I fantasize that I win the Texas lottery, and donate Texstar enough millions to fund PCLinuxOS. I imagine how he first pays up his mortgage, then buys some land near his home and builds the PCLinuxOS Test Labs: A building where he assembles computers with the newest parts, and installs the OS to test that everything works right. I've imagined the Lab in many shapes and configurations, lately, in high pillars to defend from floodings, with solar panels nearby to save on the utility bills. I envisioned the interior as circular, with all desktops organized in circles at different heights, and Texstar's main desk as above all the computers, attached to a rail in the wall, and that he can move the desk along the rail and around the Lab, so he can be closer to any point inside, or to look outwards towards his home, or towards the solar panels, or the emergency power plant, or the parking lot, etc.