Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dumaguete-Kuwait Linux Connection

The letter below is from a friend and fellow Dumagueteno who's working in Kuwait. I thought I'd reproduce it to show commonalities in how Linux advocacy organizations form. As one can see, they usually start out as underground organizations. See also Romance of Subversion.

I want to share this with the group, I just happen to know the Linux group founders and organizers of Kuwait Linux Users Group better known as the "Kuwait Linux". The funny thing is that we are working in the same company and never knew that they were Linux advocates until this week.

Keith and James are both retired US military men but are now working in a private company where I also work. But both are in the Contracting division and not in IT. I have known them for 9 months now but never expected them to know anything about Linux until this week. It all started when we were talking about Mozilla Firefox and Open Source then I asked them if they heard of the Linux OS, you could see from their faces that they were so proud to say, "sure we do"!

Kuwait Linux started in 1997 when James, a retired US Navy, received his first Red Hat Linux 2.0 Installer from the states and started to install it on his PC. He was impressed with the new OS and called up 2 other friends, Keith and Russel, and told them about Linux. The 3 of them got their PCs together, rented out an apartment and built a mini computer lab. They spent whole day and night experimenting on other stuff like printing and networking. Keith at that time did not have any knowledge about computers but because his friends were so hyped with Linux, he learned to assemble his first PC and learned his first OS which was Red Hat Linux.

In 1998 the group grew and was mostly composed of young IT enthusiasts or others may call it "IT Undergrounds". Some of the young members were also involved in hacking activities. Kuwait Linux managed to get support from Mandrake and SuSE at that time and proposed various projects to the government. The group grew big and were involved in different activities in promoting Linux. The young Kuwaiti's took over the group and is now composed of Kuwaiti's and expats.

Today, both government and the private sector are doing their transactions online, some of them use UNIX/Linux for the backend servers.

This story just tells me that you don't have to be a geek to learn Linux, only interest and hard work.