The First Operating System I Ever Entered “Alpha 3” Stage of Development Over 16 Years Ago

[Image: Wikimedia Commons]

You can thank my grandfather for this, but the first operating system I ever used wasn’t Windows. It was actually Ubuntu 8.04, code-named “Hardy Haron” and released in April of 2008. Well, the 16th anniversary of its third Alpha release was on the 10th of January, 2024, and I wanted to mark the occasion with some sort of post since it’s such a huge part of my story and why I love computers so much.

The operating system launched with GNOME 2 as its desktop environment, Firefox 3 for web browsing, OpenOffice 2.4 for its office suite, Transmission for torrenting, and–perhaps most notably–system sounded routed through the (at the time somewhat new) PulseAudio subsystem.

Since Ubuntu 8.04’s release, Microsoft’s choke-hold on PC operating system market share has only grown. In fact, according to GlobalStats, Microsoft Windows holds around 72% of global desktop OS market share as of December 2023. For the same time period–Apple’s macOS (OS X) holds around 16.3%, and Linux holds around 3.8%. Windows’s marketshare is down around 3% (from around 75%) in December 2022, while macOS gained roughly 2% marketshare and Linux gained about 0.9%, give or take.

My best guess as to why macOS and Linux are gaining users? Microsoft’s bloatware and privacy-invasive practices. The fact of the matter is that Windows is considered by many in the tech industry to be spyware, and they’ll go out of their way not to use it. Microsoft made this worse with recent versions of Windows 10 and 11, which barely let you switch off any telemetry, and whose browser–Microsoft Edge–will steal your data from other browsers on your system, too. I have a whole blog post about how I feel about the company here.

I both miss (and don’t miss) how simple computers were back then, and I wish Linux-based operating systems started taking off much sooner than 2023. But now that there’s real competition in the space with Valve’s Proton compatibility layer, among other things, I’m excited to see Microsoft lose its foothold.

And hopefully, with some regulation, their privacy-invasive practices will cease. Maybe one day…