This is an ongoing Linux.com series that profiles The Linux Foundation's individual members and begins to collectively illustrate a very important part of the Linux community. Individual members help support the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and other important activities that advance Linux, while getting a variety of other fun and valuable benefits. It is this collective support from thousands of individual members that enables The Linux Foundation to provide important services for industry and community.
Chase Crum is a U.S. Army veteran, a Shriner, an IT infrastructure manager, and a member of The Linux Foundation. This certainly does not capture all that defines Chase, but it begins to illustrate where he derives his ideas about Linux, community and giving back. Chase also represents a growing majority of systems administrators and IT managers who are using Linux both at work and at home.
"I consider myself a Linux FANATIC. I'm one of the mythical people you always hear about when others are dispensing advice about doing what you love and never working a day in your life. I use Linux at work, at home and on my laptop. I love it because I'm never confined to what a manufacturer thinks I need or should have. There are so many distributions and applications to choose from that it is almost impossible to find one that doesn't suit your needs."
By day, Chase administers networks, servers and desktop computers at a major telecom service provider in Atlanta. He says that Linux is an "integral' part of his operations. "Our servers run primarily on CentOS, while our desktops are centered around Ubuntu. We maintain various firewalls and appliances, each with their own purpose and selected variant of Linux. Our communications servers rely heavily on open source projects like Asterisk and MySQL."
Chase lives by three words in his day job as an IT infrastructure manager: "Backup, backup, and backup." He told Linux.com that his advice for others includes periodically reviewing the process and starting over again. "It's entirely too easy to get comfortable with routinely backed up data. Nothing is worse than being in a recovery scenario and discovering that all of your critical data is useless without the various cron jobs and shell scripts scattered throughout the filesystem."
Chase's experience with Linux began in 2001 when he was a demolitions engineer in the Army where he was tasked out to automation. "While we used Windows for all of our systems then, my new circle of SysAdmin friends were playing around with a new 'elite' operating system called Linux. I was given a set of Red Hat floppies and was told that no one was going to take me seriously as long as I was still using Windows."
Fast forward nearly 10 years and Chase doesn't use anything but Linux. But he did recently change his personal desktop distro. "I had Ubuntu on my laptop when I arrived at LinuxCon in Boston. While I was there, I had the opportunity to talk with Markus Rex from Novell. He had a genuine excitement about what his company was doing in the Linux community and that goes a long way with me. I was given an evaluation copy of SLED 11 and installed it while I was there. I was instantly hooked, and for the first time I paid for a licensed copy of an Enterprise Linux distribution for personal use."
What else gets him excited? Asterisk. Which is not a big surprise given his daily work in telecom. What is interesting is how he sees it liberating every one of us. Chase says, "Asterisk is the best example of what open source was meant to do. It allows anyone who's willing to spend the time installing and configuring it to build their own telephony infrastructure. It wasn't that long ago that this kind of technology was limited to the telephone giants of the industry. For me, it's what gives all of this purpose. We're not just building a better, faster operating system. We're creating a community that can provide everyday people with the tools and technology to do more for themselves."
Chase told us that this year has been particularly amazing for him and his ongoing education with Linux, which is one of the reasons he was compelled to join The Linux Foundation over the summer. "I took the position I have now in January of this year. It's the first time I've worked in an environment that was centered around and dedicated almost exclusively to open source technology. I never could have made it as far in life as I have without the long list of people who reached out and helped me along the way. I spend as much time as I am able giving back where I can. For me, joining The Linux Foundation is my way of committing to the open source community and showing as much support for it as it has shown for me."
Giving back is a mantra Chase uses in his personal life as well and hopes that it will expose his children to the importance of contribution. He and his children volunteer with the local homeless shelter and, as a Shriner, Chase supports and helps out the children at the Shriner's Hospitals.