The Linux Foundation’s Training Scholarship Program has awarded 34 scholarships totaling more than $100,000 in free training to students and professionals during the past five years. In this series, we share the stories of recent scholarship recipients with the hope of inspiring others.
For this installment of the series, we talked with RJ Murdok, who is 15 years old and received a Teens in Training scholarship. He is currently in high school in the United States and started studying Linux in 2012. RJ, who is legally blind, says he spends a lot of time contributing bug reports to Bugzilla when he’s not in school. One day, he would like to convert industries and schools over to Linux as well as teach a computer science class at a university.
How did you become interested in Linux and open source?
I first started using Linux about three years ago when my older brother introduced me to it. I tried multiple distributions and compared their capabilities, and to be honest it was only a year ago that I started using my distro of preference, openSUSE Tumbleweed. The issue with most distributions, for me at least with a visual impairment, has always been accessibility.
I think OpenBox is a great desktop environment as customization is limitless, but it lacks a full screen magnifier (speaking of which, why does Unity, Ubuntu's flagship desktop environment, not have one?). So, a few months ago, I opted to use Plasma 5, which I feel gets accessibility just right while respecting the user’s freedom of customization. I contribute a bug report or two every few months or so, if I feel the issue is immediate.
Most recently, I contributed a bug report to Gnome developers about the magnifier redrawing its overview, which caused flickering and the relocation of the overview, and which as you can imagine is highly unpleasant. What interests me most is the Linux kernel itself. It's amazing how far it's come between 4.2 and even something as recent as 3.16.
What Linux Foundation course do you plan to take with your scholarship?
I am taking LFS201 (Essentials of System Administration), so as to have a better foundation for system management.
What are your career goals? How do you see a Linux Foundation course helping you achieve those goals?
I'm currently in high school, and I plan to start up a small business surrounding Linux technical support for money on the side. In the future, I would love to have a career within the fields of system administration or possibly even that of kernel development. Due to the open source nature of Linux, the options available are limitless.
As it stands, I'm exploring virtualization with KVM, and it's great. I was considering creating a Linux distribution for the disabled and writing software to assist them; however, I need time and developers dedicated to the project for that.
What other hobbies or projects are you involved in? Do you participate in any open source projects at this time?
I don't participate in any single project, however, projects I feel are the best are openSUSE, GIMP, Kdenlive, the kernel itself (obviously), Moonlight, Plasma, Chromium, and a project called Eagle Eye. I think through the course generously gifted to me via The Linux Foundation, I will go far in the career of my choosing. I really appreciate the opportunity of obtaining new knowledge that I would otherwise never received. Thanks for everything.