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I'm a Linux noob. A newcomer. A beginner. Call it what you like, the fact is I'm new to Linux.

And, three years ago I was new to open source, too. It's not uncommon for my generation—my peers—to have PCs and Macs, use Windows exclusively, and not really understand why someone would choose not to own an iPhone. But these days, the people I compare myself to and strive to be more like are most often my work collegues. And they have Thinkpads and run Fedora or Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and have a notable number of open source-related stickers on their laptops. They have Android phones, the newest version. Some could even be caught with a 3D printed figurine or two in their backpacks.

The point is, I wasn't weird, but now I am. It's a challenge that I feel almost destined to have come up against.

Since my copy editing days for three years ago, I've developed a deep respect for the open source way. From the moment I read its principles, I just flat-out agreed. The only question I had was how? What I would quickly realize as copy editor is the answers were trickling into my inbox everyday in the form of article submissions. People's experiences. Their projects. Their hope and dreams. Their failures.

Over the years, the open source way has been the foundation from which I've spurred new journeys into open source. And although I wish there were more hours in the day for the little stuff, I am growing—using open source tools to write, and taking classes. I completed the free edX course, Intro to Linux, and wrote about what it was like to wade through that broad and deep swath of information. In a few weeks, I'll attend a Python workshop at CityCamp NC. And, one day I hope to give a talk about Why Your Open Source Story Matters.

And yet... these personal plans sit like boulders among the shining gems that are the hundreds of open source stories that come across my desk every month. They are the open source lessons that have meant the most to me. As content manager for, I've learned more about how other people use open source than even the most technical user is likely to know and understand.

That's my gift. To the open source community, I may not share open source code or develop an open hardware device, but what I have to contribute is the expertise and know-how to turn someone's desire to share into something tangible. A story on the page, and something they're proud of.

My Linux Story

This article is part of a series called My Linux Story. To participate and share your Linux story, contact us at:

Jen leads a team of community managers for the Digital Communities team at Red Hat. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.



Thanks for your work. Thanks, too, for encouraging others. Keep at it.

I own an iPhone and a Mac, but I also own a laptop that just runs Linux. I typically only use or more recently LibreOffice. A few years ago I earned a second masters degree and during that process I completed all of my academic papers in APA format using only OpenOffice. I helped students create an ebook which was published by LuLu and we used Calibre, OpenOffice and Moodle to complete the task. I frequently use Audacity for recording interviews. Although most of my clients use Windows I usually recommend they use LibreOffice instead of the proprietary alternatives. I'm glad to hear you took the EDX course,I took it last summer as a way to hone my Linux skills and I recently recommended it to a friend who was looking to acquire Linux skills.

More important than all of this however is the open source ethos which I have tried to incorporate in all other projects that I undertake. Giving of yourself to others is the key to success in life and besides it just feels good. Great article.

Don, I own a Mac too (for the first time in my life), but also a Chromebook that runs Linux. And, I've had an Android for as long as I've had a smartphone. But, I agree: I don't think having a Mac or an iPhone prohibits anyone from supporting or actively engaging in the open source ethos. Most of us have multiple devices these days! And the key is learning and growing, and sharing. Thanks for sharing!

In reply to by Don Watkins

Thanks for writing this article. A great reminder of the many ways to be part of the Open Source movement.

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