This video popped up in my subscriptions the other day and I’ve since watched it a few times and also tweeted about it, because it is very Relevant to my Interests. It is, in fact, how I spent a lot of my tween and teenage years. Yes, specifically installing Slackware from floppies, because even when I got a CD that had Linux (Slackware 3 if memory serves - Linux 1.2.3!), my computer didn’t have a drive for it until later. (And it was a glorious one at that - a NEC reader, connected via IDE that was also one of those fancy 4-disc changers that fit in a single 5.25” bay.) And yes, it was indeed a 40MHz 386, though the ones I tended to have were DX models. (DX models were more common in the US, and lest you forget I did grow up in the Los Angeles metro so computer parts and such weren’t too hard to come by.)
One thing that stuck out: the software included, in its own disk sets, even. I did a bit of idle Googling to see what became of some of these things, and… yeah. ObjectBuilder? The name now belongs to some Pokemon thing, it seems; I could find pretty much nothing about what Slackware shipped with. XView and InterViews (not related)? IV is still around, sort of, but no idea about XView. And that whole thing about actually paying for an X server? Man, so wild.
I also enjoyed the dire warnings about making sure, no, really, really sure, you were selecting the right options for your monitor. Anyone who complains about Linux being obtuse ought to go back and look at that -you really, honestly, could damage your monitor, which was a big vacuum tube type thing at the time, with the wrong options. You had (almost) full control over the timings of the electron beams that drew the image on your screen. If you got it wrong, it might catch fire! (You could exploit this if you wanted to. The X-Modelines HOWTO was my friend for a while. I did not explode my monitor, but I used to also be better at math.) It was another time.. not one I’d like to go back to but fond memories nonetheless.