I’ve told this story to a lot of people who have asked me why I use an old-and-crusty distro like Slackware. I do have some pretty good reasons, and most of them lie in this tale.
A long, long time ago — back in 1999 or so — I had a computer that gave me nothing but trouble. It was one which I had bought from a vendor that did business with my employer then, so I got it for cheap. It was a Pentium 3 450 MHz (slot CPU, not socket!) machine with 256 Mb of RAM and a 10 GB hard drive, in a nice coffee-stain beige tower. When I bought it I also bought a Windows 98se license (and they actually shipped it with the full install media!!!!! Remember back in the days when computer vendors still did that?), and that’s what I set up on it when I got it.
This computer sucked. Well, I should say, Windows 98 sucked. Those of you who remember 95/98/Me will know what I’m talking about. This f@#king thing would not stay running longer than 5 hours without bluescreening or just freezing solid.
Over time, I replaced the video card (twice), the RAM, added cooling fans (thinking that might be part of the problem, since P3s did run kind of hot), and reloaded Windows who-knows-how-many-fricking-times, to no avail.
When Windows 2000 Professional came out, I bought a copy of it for cheap (also through my employer, who got great deals on such things), and installed that instead.
While this was better, it still tended to be pretty flaky. Lots of reboots were necessary to run with any level of efficiency, and I got to know the guts of Windows 2000 as a result.
By about 2001 I had pretty much come to the end of my rope with Windows in general (and running it on a flaky machine was really just about intolerable), so I had begun looking to Linux as an alternative. The way I saw it, it appeared that Linux wasn’t going away any time soon, and I figured that the best way for me to become acquainted with it (in a way that might help me professionally, even, down the road) was to use it on one of my home computers as my every day OS.
I did some research and found that the field was pretty broad. The one getting the most attention at the time was Red Hat, and though I could have downloaded install ISOs for it, I figured “what the hell”, and just purchased a full copy of Red Hat 7.2, which, for the price of admission got you a bazillion disks, a copy of StarOffice, a fairly decent manual, and several months’ worth of support, which I figured I’d need, as a Linux newbie.
I partitioned out a dual-boot arrangement on this problematic computer of mine and installed Red Hat on the new space.
Since Red Hat was asking me what to name this machine, I was pondering a hostname and couldn’t come up with anything creative at all. Stumped, I asked my wife what she thought, and she instantly said “why don’t you just call it ‘Damnthing’? That’s what you call it all the time anyway…”
So Damnthing was born, in 2001, on Red Hat Linux 7.2. And that son of a bitch lived up to its name, I can tell you.