I started using linux back in 1997. I first installed slackware and it took two weeks to download all the floppies on my dialup connection. Then, it took another two weeks to actually configure it and get back online. I had no internet access in those two weeks and had to figure it all out on my own. That was very common back then. You took what notes you could before starting the process, but your computer was your only way to access the internet. Your phone certainly didn’t. So, once you started the process, you were on your own. You had to recompile your kernel to support your hardware and do everything yourself. So, after that month of work, I got back online only to find out that Redhat was another linux distribution that was available, it was much easier to install, AND it was available at CompUSA. We didn’t have google to make searching easy and I had just wasted an entire month.
How do I know it was 1997? Well, thankfully, one of my early mailing list messages is still online. Check it out here. Things weren’t as easy or simple back then. As you can see from that email, files were often left out of packages, packages didn’t check for dependencies such as with my problem less than a year later here and it was often a struggle just to keep things running. Thankfully, linux has improved tremendously since that time. I have been running linux in some scenario ever since 1997, except for a period of 3 years where I ran Mac OSX (which is a UNIX).