I remember when I first switched to Linux. My incredibly powerful gaming laptop was torn asunder by Iranian computer viruses and spyware. A friend had mentioned linux, and I had an Ubuntu 8.10 CD lying around, so I popped it in.
Installing was simple enough, just keep clicking "next" on the screen, and other minor clicking. Nearing the end of installation it asked for an internet connection... I was in Iraq at the time, and to log onto the internet I needed to open a browser and put in some data, so I clicked past it. A few moments later, I discovered the horrible truth... my laptop's networking chip was part of the graphics chipset, and the Ubuntu CD did not come with Nvidia drivers. Put plainly, to get my computer on the internet, I needed the internet.
For months I hassled with my laptop, fiddling with settings, trying to bypass the requirements. I could not download games, programs, or browse online. My nice and expensive gaming laptop was reduced to a typewriter... except I could not get printer drivers either... Many months later, I took a pass (short vacation) to Qatar, and, hoping to find some wired internet there (the Iranians I got the internet from in Iraq had a login system that did not work with linux even if I plugged directly in, they fixed this eventually).
Sitting in Qatar at one of the tables I pulled out my laptop to play some simple game that came with it, like minesweeper, or draw a photo, I can't remember. It was never super amazing anyway. My laptop has a 16-17 inch screen and was displaying at 800x600, the highest it could go. I had gotten used to it... But today, for some reason it connected to the internet wirelessly. Did the router there use some other frequency that the base drivers could use? Did I accidentally change some setting? I have no idea, but I still could not log into their paid internet thing, though this time it was because I did not waste the money on a prepaid internet card, when my internet did not work.
That day I found out something beautiful...
Paid internet services don't block the ports used for updates... and all of the software downloads are processed though the same ports.
Joy, I had never felt such joy.
For hours, perhaps the whole night, my computer downloaded updates. I did not know at the time that I could get games, the software catalog had never downloaded. And the whole time I sat there watching in 800x600 as the download bar grew, and the programs were installed in the terminal. It was the first time I saw a download speed get up to 2 megabytes a second, I did not even know things could go that fast.
Of course it needed to be restarted, I don't think you can triple the data on your hard drive and not need a restart, but before I would I searched through the software, downloaded Wine, The Battle For Wesnoth, every other game I could find! Video codecs, things to play DVDs, EVERYTHING! It was an orgy of installation.
When I restarted my computer, the true glory of the open source world exploded onto my screen. I had forgotten that my computer screen was the highest definition on the market, I had forgotten that draw speeds could go faster than you could see. I had forgotten about the internet, and I had forgotten about games...
But I never forgot that it was all free.