In my few years of distro-hopping, I’ve developed a sense for “the little things” that pop up every once in a while that shoot through the noise and just make life better. These things are situational. They don’t appear to everyone, just the person that needs it at that particular time. Here are some of mine:
Knoppix: I had to transition from proprietary DOS based CNC controllers to something that would run on contemporary architecture. The ability to run a live knoppix install gave me the ability to test and transition to linux based software. My first (and no way last) major lesson in dealing with salesman pitching a $200,00 solution to a $100 problem.
Gnome2: I’m still in awe of the category based menu system. In my early years, while I was discovering apps, this made navigating a linux desktop easy for a windows user.
Wubi: I probably wouldn’t be here were it not for wubi allowing me to install Ubuntu on my windows installation. Around this time I started my journey with Gimp, Blender, Inkscape, Scribus, and Open Office.
Mint: While I will always owe a debt of gratitude to Canonical, Mint/Mate came along at a time when I was still an occasional Linux user and definitely not interested in experimenting with a new UI.
There are more, but these are the early formative experiences where Linux made a difference in my work.
Needless to say, BDLL continues to shower me with droplets of pure joy.