Sometimes things just come together and fall into place.

I’ve been learning Linux for almost 8 months now and it’s been really cool to see how far I’ve come.

When I first told a friend I was playing around with it on my old macbook he asked if I knew how to use Linux. I thought I was just using something like MacOS but open source. And my dad is a sysadmin… Turns out I was kind of right, but still oh so wrong. And I’m still falling down the resulting rabbit-hole.

In fact I have used Linux before. As I said my dad is a system administrator so we typically had a Linux computer in the household growing up. Unfortunately I never opened a terminal.

My computer was always my photography and storage workstation and once I amassed a considerable amount of storage I realized I needed to setup automated backups at this point. As we all know a backup isn’t a true backup unless it is automated. Around this same time my dad sent me a link for “homebrew” for mac. Something called a package manager? I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t really care.

As I learn the command line to learn how to use cronjobs I quickly figure out what homebrew is and start using it. I fell in love immediately. Around this time I dug my old 2012 macbook pro out of the closet. When it was my daily driver my Dad and I replaced its optical cd drive with a 480gb ssd, replaced the original HDD with a 480 SSD, and upgraded its 4GB of RAM to 8GB. I replaced its battery when I took it out of the closet as it wasn’t holding a charge. It was really easy to install Ubuntu on it. Like almost too easy. I went for MATE because it was labeled as lightweight and good for old hardware.

Eventually I distro hopped after borking my MATE install once or twice trying to learn stuff. After trying Manjaro I decided to switch to Arch Linux completely. And I find it runs beautifully. Installing Arch feels like what learning Linux is all about. Partitioning the disks yourself, editing the fstab, installing the repositories, creating the user, etc. Are things I do in my day to day in and it provided a great foundation for learning. I’ve been running the same instance for almost three months now.

Within it, I installed a KDE desktop environment (which people tend to equate to Windows) and ended up making it look like my usual MacOS environment.


I also took an old Mac Mini and put Proxmox VE, a virtualization distro built on Debian on it. It now runs these servers in a variety of Arch, Debian, and Ubuntu LXC containers:

  • PhotoPrism
  • VPN
  • Plex
  • Filebrowser & Fileshare & Main Storage
  • philcifone.com (this website!)


It’s really exciting for me. I’m hoping to host more things when I can figure out what I need. Everthing I have running are things I actually use and are replacing things I previously paid for. There’s so much more including security (which I do employ some of like fail2ban, crowdsec, some firewalls, etc.) You might have noticed some ansible test servers. This is my next endeavor.

But all in all, learning how computers work and how Linux works from the inside out is eye-opening. Especially as technology continues to dominate in the way outside forces dictate the way we live our lives. I didn’t have to buy anything to learn this stuff either. Open source software is liberating.

phil cifone

is a photographer and Linux enthusiast focused on digital archival storage. Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.