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Distro Dilemma of a Linux Nerd

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I first saw a linux distro when I was 12. It was a Red Hat that my cousin had brought to install on my desktop (because he was too scared to do it in his own computer). He installed it using five CDs while I watched Anaconda do it's job. When the computer finally booted, we came to know that the whole of my 40GB hard disk had been wiped.

From what I remember I guess the desktop was KDE. I was so impressed with it all, the customization (you could choose the login and the boot screen in the settings!), the user interface in general and everything was so new and different and awesome for me as I had only experienced XP and 98 at that point. But I could not hold on to it due to various reasons (1. I could not get the dial-up to work, 2. My media did not work).

Fast forward a couple of years and the same cousin shows me Fedora 7. I went on full linux hunt then: I collected magazines that included CDs and DVDs with various distros on them, I ordered them from many people, I got one of…