My story how I acquired the knowledge of programming & computers has it’s roots in my desire to have a website when I was in 9th grade/standard (secondary school), to share knowledge. To have such a desire in 9th grade was quite unusual in my days. I used to spend hours in the school library reading programming books and tech magazines like Digit. They used to supply a handbook of something special with every edition. That’s where the website thing caught me.
Back then, there were lot of websites offering free web hosting but they used to show ugly ads on your site. But nevertheless that was the starting point – I tried my hands on with HTML and stuff but couldn’t do much with that. Digging around, I came across PHP – which happens to be a popular programming language for writing applications even today. As you may have guessed already, this didn’t go far, but around the same time I was member of some forums and chat groups from where I got know about content management systems like WordPress and Drupal.
I tried both of those and then started using Drupal for my site, which used to run off a Pentium 3 500 Mhz machine sitting at my home and the site was being served over a 128 Kbit connection! In the whole process I learned how to run a web site using Linux, how to configure web server, database, etc. Eventually the site was migrated to a VPS.
In those days the cloud thing we have now didn’t exist (?) and much of the server configuration work was manual, at least I think so – hence I could get some freelance work for managing servers which turned out to be a huge learning opportunity for me. With the same knowledge, I started a small business to sell web hosting, where I configured dedicated servers with the standard LAMP stack and Email as well. I ran it for about two years and shut it down later due to time constraints and other issues at almost break-even.
Initially around 2007 or so, I had this Pentium 3 box on which I was running Windows 98 or XP. But the system used to be very unstable and hang often, so I decided to ditch Windows and try Linux. I installed Fedora Core 6 and that was turning point where I would learn a lot about Linux – switching OS isn’t easy when you don’t know much about where you’re going. in addition to that, Linux wasn’t very stable for desktop use in those days so you had to dig pages on Google and mailing lists to search for a solution when you had a problem.
My Linux/BSD journey started with Fedora Core 6, went via Arch Linux, Gentoo, FreeBSD, Ubuntu, Debian. Currently I use Windows 10 on my desktop and Fedora on my laptop. During this I also discovered the magazine Open Source For You (formerly Linux For You) and when reading I found that I could also contribute to the magazine. I’ve written a handful of articles for them which has given me significant popularity, and landed me a job as well when I had no engineering degree.
I have an interesting ability to learn new programming languages easily – it’s something most people find difficult, or perhaps that’s because I was quite good at logic reasoning and basic math in school.
For two years during college, I had tried to run a web hosting business with focus on performance and speed. I used to manually configure the server with parameters for PHP-FPM, Nginx and such so that customer’s sites would load fast, really fast. We did business for about 1-1.5 years, then eventually I closed it down due to time constraints and because we had been promising a control panel to customers for quite a long time which we couldn’t deliver. The venture failed, but I don’t mind it much given it had taught me a lot in terms of management – acquiring customers, providing support, keeping them happy and the technical aspects of networking & server management too. They say, failure is a stepping stone to success.