This is how I started my GNU/Linux journey in 2003. Back then it was impossible to download a full distro because of my slow internet connection.
I had to buy SuSE Linux in the box with CDs and books inside (€89.90 in 2003 – not that cheap at the time).
Looking back, that distro feels quite primitive while it was considered among the best and user friendly!
A few months later (perhaps early 2004), I bought the book "RH Linux & Fedora Unleashed" which included a DVD with the full Fedora Core (first release ever). This was far superior compared to SuSE 8.2
I was quite a geeky kid and by my ealy teens I was able to write code in many languages, including an attempt to code in Z80 assembly on my Amstrad CPC 6128 around mid/late '80s.
Over the years, and with the domination of Windows, my passion for computing deteriorated. Even though I would say that "I loved windows 95/98," I may have been disappointed by the lack of fascinating technologies from anyone other than Wintel.
Linux (re)opened a whole world for me. Not least because of its free/libre nature but also about the transparency of everything. Code transparency is translated into user/developer choice from the shallowest to the deepest level of any technology – don't forget that all developers are users too.
I have been using GNU/Linux (various distros) exclusively at home and in my professional setting, where the choice is exclusively mine, for the last 15 years. I have to use windows for the companies that I work for and even there, I have the choice to work on my personal computers on some projects.
A big, HUGE THANK YOU to all the people who have made this wonderful computing world a reality for all the geeky kids (or gen-Xer in my case) like us!