Since we started organizing and hosting events, we made it a priority to reach out to new speakers and attendees and make our events welcoming to everyone. A few years ago, we started the The Linux Foundation’s diversity scholarship program to support those from traditionally underrepresented groups in the technology and/or open source communities. Not everyone has access to corporate or personal funds to attend these conferences, so we wanted to ensure that if someone was interested and had something to offer, we could help them attend.
A few days ago Bonnie King, a Linux administrator at Fermilab, reached out to thank us for sponsoring her through our diversity scholarship program. She attended this year’s LinuxCon (and the co-located CloudOpen and ContainerCon conferences), and I thought it would be great for people to meet one of the many who have taken advantage of this program in hopes to encourage others to apply as well.
King is a long-time Linux user who currently supports scientific workstations and online systems for physics experiments. She also contributes to Scientific Linux -- building and maintaining packages and managing and publishing security errata for the distribution. We asked King to tell us more about herself and her experience with Linux.
Q: Please tell us a little about your background.
I'm a long-time home Linux user and went to art school with a major in Drawing and Painting. After graduating I worked in my college's computer lab, which was populated with some of the first Mac OSX desktops, so I was able to use some of the scripting and administration skills I had learned as a Linux hobbyist.
After a stint at Google as a datacenter technician, I became a Linux sysadmin. I would say I'm self-taught, at least in the beginning, except for the countless hours spent on IRC getting help from strangers.
Q: How did you become interested in Linux and open source?
My interest in Linux began when I got sick of looking for cracks for Windows 98 programs and installed Debian Potato.
Around that time (the early 2000s), I became interested in wearable computing and augmented reality. It was clear to me that the more we integrate technology with our bodies and minds, the greater the need for openness in hardware and software. I think that's only more true today.
Q: How do you currently work with Linux? Are you involved in any open source projects?
I'm a sysadmin and support data acquisition computers and scientific workstations for physics experiments. My team also produces Scientific Linux, a Red Hat Enterprise Linux rebuild.
I'm also interested in open source and programming outreach. I've taught Python to women and their friends at the Chicago Python Workshop and led Bash and Linux classes. I'm also a fan, user and supporter of Open Source Hardware.
Q: What was the most meaningful part of LinuxCon for you?
Aside from the quality of the talks, it's great to be able to attach faces to the names you've been seeing for years.
Josh Triplett's talk on BITS, a Python interpreter that runs in ring 0 in GRUB (you can poke and peek at the firmware) pretty much blew my mind!
Q: Can you tell us more about your experience there?
I do wish there were more diversity at events like Linuxcon and really appreciate the Linux Foundation's efforts in this area. I think seeing people like you in the community goes a long way toward feeling like you belong there.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
Finishing the Eudyptula Challenge.
If you’d like to apply for a diversity scholarship for the upcoming LinuxCon + CloudOpen + Embedded Linux Conference Europe event in Dublin, click here.