My Linux story: From Linux user to contributor

Open source communities welcome a diverse group of contributors, from every background and skill set.
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128 readers like this
Penguin, stylized, contributor spotlight

Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

I am an IT professional with over 15 years of experience in a number of different roles—systems administrator, senior Linux administrator, DevOps engineer, automation consultant, and senior scrum master. I started learning Linux on Ubuntu but shifted to CentOS as a sysadmin, and later I moved to Fedora for personal use. But my joy for technology started much earlier than my first Linux distribution, and it came in the form of a movie.

My favorite movie is Hackers. The best scene occurs at the beginning of the movie. The movie starts with a group of special agents breaking into a house to catch the infamous hacker, Zero Cool. We soon discover that Zero Cool is actually 11-year-old Dade Murphy, who managed to crash 1,507 computer systems in one day. He is charged for his crimes, and his family is heavily fined. Additionally, he is banned from using computers or touch-tone telephones until he is 18.

Paul Cook a.k.a. Lord Nikon, played by Laurence Mason, was my favorite character. One of the main reasons is that I never really saw a hacker movie that had characters that looked like me, so I was fascinated by his portrayal. He was enigmatic. It was refreshing to see, and it made me really proud that I was passionate about IT and that I was a geek of a similar sort.

Taz with astronaut

Becoming a Linux contributor

I first started using Linux about 15 years ago. When I became a Linux administrator, Linux became my passion. I was trying to find my way in terms of contributing to open source, and I didn't know where to go. I wondered if I could truly be an influencer because the community is so vast, but once I found a few people who embraced my interests and could show me the way, I was able to open up and ask questions and learn from the community. The Fedora community has been a core part of my contribution ever since.

I am relatively new to contributing to open source. My idea of open source changed when I realized I could contribute in ways other than code. I prefer to contribute through documentation, as I am not a software developer at heart, and one of the most pressing needs in the community is often documentation. Remember: user skills matter as much as developer skills.

What about the hardware?

Hardware matters too, and almost everything can run Linux these days. My current home setup includes:

  • Lenovo Thinkserver TS140 with 64 GB of RAM, 4x1TB SSDs and a 1TB HD for data storage, currently running Fedora 30
  • Synology NAS with 164 TB of storage using a RAID 5 configuration
  • Logitech MX Master and MX Master 2S for input and output configuration
  • Kinesis Advantage 2 for a customized and ergonomic keyboard
  • Two 38-inch LG ultrawide curved monitors and a single 34-inch LG ultrawide monitor
  • System76 16.1" Oryx Pro with IPS Display, i7 processor with six cores and 12 threads

I love the way Fedora handles the peripherals like my mouse and keyboard. Everything works seamlessly. Plug-and-play works as it should, and performance never suffers.

Fedora double monitor setup

And software?

Using open source software is essential to my workflow. I rely on:

  • Fedora 30 for my go-to Linux distribution
  • Wekan, an open-source kanban, for my projects
  • Atom as my text editor
  • Terminator as my go-to terminal because of grid arrangement as well as it's many keyboard shortcuts
  • Neofetch to show off system information every time I log in to the terminal

Last but not least, I have my terminal pimped out using Powerline and Powerlevel9k and Vim-Powerline as well.

Multiple fedora screens

Linux brings us together

America is a melting pot, and that's how I see Linux, too, as well as specific communities like the Fedora Project. There is plenty of room for diverse contributions in every Linux community. There are so many ways to be involved, and there is always space for new ideas. I hope that sharing my experiences over the last 15 years in open source can help underrepresented members of the tech community learn about the amazing commitment that open source communities have to diversity and inclusion.

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Editor's note: This article is an adaptation of Taz Brown: How Do You Fedora? and is republished with permission.

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Taz Brown, is a Sr. Technical Scrum Master & Agile Expert at Cisco Systems as well as a Product Manager  working with DevOps and Software Development teams.  She is an avid writer and speaker with a diverse background in Scrum, Agile, digital product management, Linux systems engineering, management and deployment of DevOps solutions.  

1 Comment

I love your story, it inspires me, I hope I can share this with young girls and boys I mentor.Thanks for sharing

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