Just about these days it's my 10th anniversary as a GNU/Linux user and it all started, irony of ironies, as a consequence of BSA's activities (or so the gossip said at the time). I was doing my internship at a small Java development company in Mérida, Venezuela, a rather small city but with a promising future (at the time) in the technology field. Those days BSA was pretty active arriving at businesses and asking for licenses of which, in what is pretty normal in Latinamerica, businesses didn't have any. Material raided plus fines, etc etc. You know the story.
Given that this small office had licensing problems of their own, it was decided that some of the computers at the office had to be switched to GNU/Linux.... so a few days later I arrived at the office and my computer had been switched to Mandrake. And let me tell you something: it was hard! Fortunately I was working with Francisco Andrades, who we used to call JGuru and not only was he good at java but on GNU/Linux as well. So I bothered him as much as I could to try to learn what I could. A few months went by and I headed back to my beloved Maracaibo to finish my engineering degree stuff.
I didn't install GNU/Linux on my computer for a few months... but I certainly had the will to do it. So when I wasn't doing anything important on my personal computer I installed Mandrake on it (about 6 months later) to try to get used to it. First months I had to force myself into using it... really. When there was something I couldn't do on GNU/Linux, I went to Windows and when I finished it, I headed back to Mandrake. In the beginning, I switched often but as months went by, it was less frequent... eventually I just didn't do it anymore.
From my first experience on GNU/Linux in Mérida, I remember very clearly the sensation of not being under control of the computer (unlike another popular OS for end users were one is at the mercy of it). I felt the power was there, at my fingertips and I just didn't know how to take advantage of it... but exploring the power would take time... and eventually I did learn how to use it.
In these ten years I have learned many many things, hacked a broken RAID to get back from it plus a lot more.
Bottomline: BSA, I want to thank you for putting me on this track... I'm sure that's not the desired outcome you have in mind when you go after license violators everywhere. I just hope more people follow suit.