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Read about featured Linux kernel developers in the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report.

The recent Linux Kernel Development Report released by The Linux Foundation, included information about several featured Linux kernel developers. According to the report, roughly 15,600 developers from more than 1,400 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since 2005, when the adoption of Git made detailed tracking possible. Over the next several weeks, we will be highlighting some specific Linux kernel developers who agreed to answer a few questions about what they do and why they contribute to the kernel.

Linux kernel developer

Laura Abbott, a Fedora Kernel Engineer at Red Hat

In this article, we feature Laura Abbott, a Fedora Kernel Engineer at Red Hat.

The Linux Foundation: What role do you play in the community and what subsystem(s) do you work on?

Laura Abbott: My full-time job is working as one of two maintainers for the Fedora kernels. This means I push out kernel releases and fix/shepherd bugs. Outside of that role, I maintain the Ion memory management framework and do occasional work on arm/arm64 and KSPP (kernel hardening).

The Linux Foundation: What have you been working on this year?

Abbott: I did some major reworking on Ion this year and ripped out a lot of code (everyone’s favorite type of patch!). Hopefully, I’ll be able to report that Ion is out of staging in the next kernel report. Apart from that, I’ve spent a lot of time testing and reviewing patches for kernel hardening.

The Linux Foundation: What do you think the kernel community needs to work on in the upcoming year?

Abbott: As a general theme, there needs to be a focus on scaling the community. There’s always an ongoing discussion about how to attract new developers and there’s been a recent focus on how to grow contributors into maintainers. There’s still a lot of ‘tribal knowledge’ in pretty much every area which makes things difficult for everyone. I’d like to see the kernel community continue to make processes easier for new and existing developers. I’d also like to see the discussions about building an inclusive community continue.

The Linux Foundation: Why do you contribute to the Linux kernel?

Abbott: I’ve always found low-level systems fascinating and enjoy seeing how all the pieces work together. There’s always something new to learn about in the kernel, and I find the work challenging.

You can learn more about the Linux kernel development process and read more developer profiles in the full report. Download the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report now.

“Recruiting Open Source Developers” is a free online guide to help organizations looking to attract new developers or build internal talent.

Experienced open source developers are in short supply. To attract top talent, companies often have to do more than hire a recruiter or place an ad on a popular job site. However, if you are running an open source program at your organization, the program itself can be leveraged as a very effective recruiting tool. That is precisely where the new, free online guide Recruiting Open Source Developers comes in. It can help any organization in recruiting developers, or building internal talent, through nurturing an open source culture, contributing to open source communities, and showcasing the utility of new open source projects.

Why does your organization need a recruiting strategy? One reason is that the growing shortage of skilled developers is well documented. According to a recent Cloud Foundry report, there are a quarter-million job openings for software developers in the U.S. alone and half a million unfilled jobs that require tech skills. They’re also forecasting the number of unfillable developer jobs to reach one million within the next decade.

Appeal to motivation

That’s a problem, but there are solutions. Effective recruitment appeals to developer motivation. If you understand what attracts developers to work for you, and on your open source projects (and open source, in general) you can structure your recruitment strategies in a way that appeals to them. As the Recruiting Open Source developers guide notes, developers want three things: rewards, respect and purpose.

The guide explains that your recruitment strategy can benefit greatly if you initially hire people who are leaders in open source. “Domain expertise and leadership in open source can sometimes take quite a long time at established companies,” said Guy Martin, Director of Open at Autodesk. “You need to put training together and start working with people in the company to begin to groom them for that kind of leadership. But, sometimes initially you’ve got to bootstrap by hiring people who are already leaders in those communities.”

Train internal talent

Another key strategy that the guide covers is training internal talent to advance open source projects and communities. “You will want to spend time training developers who show an interest or eagerness in contributing to open source,” the guide notes. “It pays to cultivate this next level of developers and include them in the open source decision-making process. Developers gain respect and recognition through their technical contributions to open source projects and their leadership in open source communities.”

In addition, it makes a lot of sense to set up internal systems for tracking the value of contributions to open source. The goal is to foster pride in contributions and emphasize that your organization cares about open source.  “You can’t throw a stone more than five feet in the cloud and not hit something that’s in open source,” said Guy Martin. “We absolutely have to have open source talent in the company to drive what we’re trying to do moving forward.”

Startups, including those in stealth mode, can apply these strategies as well. They can have developers work on public open source projects to establish their influence and showcase it for possible incoming talent. Developers have choices in open source, so the goal is to make your organization attractive for the talent to apply.

Within the guide, Ibrahim Haddid (@IbrahimAtLinux) recommends the following strategies for advancing recruitment strategies:

  1. Hire key developers and maintainers from the open source projects that are important to you.
  2. Allow your developers working on products to spend a certain % of their time contributing upstream.
  3. Set up a mentorship program where senior and more experienced developers guide junior, less experienced ones.
  4. Develop and offer both technical and open source methodology training to your developers.
  5. Participate in open source events. Send your developers and support them in presenting their work.
  6. Provide proper IT infrastructure that will allow your developers to communicate and work with the global open source community without any challenges.
  7. Set up an internal system to track the contributions of your developers and measure their impact.
  8. Internally, plan on contributing and focus on areas that are useful to more than one business unit/ product line.

The Recruiting Open Source Developers guide can help you with all these strategies and more, and it explores how to weave open source itself into your strategies. It is one of a new collection of free guides from The Linux Foundation and The TODO Group that are all extremely valuable for any organization running an open source program. The guides are available now to help you run an open source program office where open source is supported, shared, and leveraged. With such an office, organizations can establish and execute on their open source strategies efficiently, with clear terms.

These guides were produced based on expertise from open source leaders. Check out the guides and stay tuned for our continuing coverage.

Also, don’t miss the previous articles in the series: How to Create an Open Source Program; Tools for Managing Open Source Programs; and Measuring Your Open Source Program’s Success.

Do you use or contribute to open source technologies? Or, are you responsible for hiring open source professionals? If so, please take a minute to complete a short open source jobs survey from Dice and The Linux Foundation and make your voice heard.

During the past decade, open source development has experienced a massive shift, becoming a mainstay of the IT industry. Flexibility in accommodating new technologies and adapting to a changing market make open source software vital to modern companies, which are increasingly investing in open source talent.

To gather more information about the changing landscape and opportunities for developers, administrators, managers, and other open source professionals, Dice and The Linux Foundation have partnered to produce two open source jobs surveys — designed specifically for hiring managers and industry professionals.

Take the Hiring Managers Survey

Take the Professionals/Candidates Survey 

As a token of our appreciation, $2,000 in Amazon gift cards will be awarded to survey respondents selected at random after the closing date. Complete the survey for a chance to win one of 10 $100 gift cards, or one of two $500 gift cards. 

The survey results will be compiled into the 2017 Open Source Jobs Report. This annual report evaluates the state of the job market for open source professionals and examines what hiring managers are looking for and what motivates employees in the industry. You can download the 2016 Open Source Jobs Report for free.  

Survey responses must be received by Thursday, July 27, at 12:00 pm Eastern time.

Lorien Smyer is a former bookkeeper who decided she wanted to start a new career in computer science. She was one of 14 aspiring IT professionals to receive a 2016 Linux Foundation Training (LiFT) scholarship, announced in August.  

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Lorien Smyer

Lorien Smyer, LiFT Scholarship Winner

Lorien completed a six-month web development bootcamp, followed by Intro to Linux through edX, where she achieved a 100% grade. She hopes that the additional training provided by this scholarship will increase her chances of finding a job that will allow her to exercise her love of coding.

Linux.com: Why are you switching careers, and why did you choose technology?

Lorien Smyer: I was a bookkeeper for many years. Long ago, I had to hand-enter all data to a paper spreadsheet with a pencil.

When my clients started getting computers, I was fascinated by everything about these amazing tools: the hardware, the software, how customizable it all was. In my spare time, I started taking occasional computer-related classes at my local community college, and doing many IT-related tasks for my clients, in addition to the bookkeeping I was already doing for them.

In 1995, I met the man who became my husband. He got a personal computer that same year, and happily allowed me to become our home IT expert.

A few years ago, the company I had been working for as a bookkeeper and occasional IT tech informed me that my office would be moving to Santa Cruz. Since I didn’t want to move to Santa Cruz, I needed to find something else to do. They were kind enough to give me a year’s notice, so I increased the number of computer-related classes I was taking at my local community college, thinking I might be able to ease into a job in some tech-related field.

When the year was up, initially I continued working generally in bookkeeping/office managing, with some tech responsibilities; but I still hadn’t made a full career switch. My husband and I then agreed that I could start studying full time, in order to try and make my tech career switch possible. I still enjoyed bookkeeping, but really felt most engaged professionally when I was involved in tech-related tasks at work.

The first class I took after starting full-time studying was the Introduction to Linux class on edX, which had just become available. I finished the class in two weeks, with a score of 100, and got my verified certificate. Completing that course gave me confidence that I had made the correct decision to pursue a job in tech.

After that, I completed a full semester of computer science and web development classes at community college, then attended a six-month, 70-hour-per-week immersive web development program at Galvanize.

I am now in the process of trying to pick a field within tech to pursue professionally. I have studied many different areas, and I think they all have attractive aspects.

Linux.com: What is your ultimate dream job, and what are you doing to accomplish it?

Lorien: My ultimate dream job would have a great team of co-workers. I believe, with the right group of people, who all share the goals of working together to help the company succeed and genuinely care about each others’ well-being, I could be happy doing many things.

As previously mentioned, I enjoy pretty much all aspects of the tech field. My dream job, practically speaking, is one that is interested in hiring an older female career-switcher, so it would have to be a job that needs juniors, and has some mentoring and onboarding for new hires. Beyond that, I’m pretty open to what kind of company I work for.

What I’m doing to accomplish finding my dream job? Right now, I’m continuing to add to my skills, and looking at many job listings every day, to see what kind of skills are in demand in the SF Bay Area (where I live).

Linux.com How do you plan to use your LiFT Scholarship? How will it help you advance your career?

Lorien: I plan to use my LiFT Scholarship to take the Linux System Administration (LFS201) virtual course, and then take the LFCS exam. There are many Linux System Administrator jobs available in the SF Bay Area, and I will be very happy to be able to put that skill on my resume.

Interested in learning more about starting your IT career with Linux? Check out our free ebook “A Brief Guide To Starting Your IT Career In Linux.

[Download Now]

 

This week in Linux and open source news, the popularity of blockchain amongst banks will continue to surge through 2017, Linus Torvalds refelcts on the anniversary of Linux at LinuxCon Europe, and more! Read on and stay in the know!

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Open source jobs report

A new report from The Linux Foundation & Dice finds that Europeans working in open source are well situated in the global job market.

1) Four out of 5 banks will be using blockchain tech by next year, according to the World Economic Forum.

Why J.P. Morgan Chase Is Building a Blockchain on Ethereum– Fortune

2) Linus Torvalds shares thoughts on the past 25 years of Linux at LinuxCon Europe. Legends of Linux Part 1: Linus Torvalds– The Inquirer

3) A new jobs report from The Linux Foundation & Dice shows that open source employees in Europe have it even better than the rest of the world.

It’s Good to Be an Open Source Pro in Europe– ITProPortal

4) With just a mere 48 characters of code, Linux admin and SSLMate founder Andrew Ayer has figured out how to crash major Linux distributions by locally exploiting a flaw in systemd.

Hack Crashes Linux Distros With 48 Characters of Code– ThreatPost

5) Google’s 2D & 3D library for mapping movement in space goes open source.

Google Open-Sources Cartographer 3D Mapping Library– VentureBeat

Open source careers may be even more in demand and rewarding in Europe than the rest of the world, according to new data from the 2016 Open Source Jobs Report released today by The Linux Foundation and Dice. European open source pros are more confident in the job market, get more incentives from employers, and more calls from recruiters than their counterparts worldwide, according to the data.

The full report, released earlier this year, analyzed trends for open source careers and the motivations of professionals in the industry. Now, the data have been broken down to focus specifically on responses from more than 1,000 open source professionals in Europe, and how they compare to respondents from around the world.

“European technology professionals, government organizations and corporations have long embraced open source,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, in a press release. “The impressive levels of adoption of and respect for open source clearly have translated into more demand for qualified open source professionals, providing strong opportunities for developers, DevOps professionals, and others.”

Europeans are more confident than their global counterparts in the open source job market, according to the data. Sixty percent of open source pros in Europe believe it would be fairly or very easy to find a new position this year, as opposed to only 50 percent elsewhere in the world.

Employers in Europe are also offering more incentives to hold onto staff. Forty percent of European open source professionals report that in the past year they have received a raise, 27 percent report improved work-life balance, and 24 percent report more flexible schedules. This compares to 31 percent globally reporting raises, and 20 percent globally reporting either a better work-life balance or more flexible work schedules. Overall, only 26 percent of Europeans stated their employer had offered them no new incentives this year, compared to 33 percent globally.

And recruiters are more active in seeking open source talent in Europe. 50 percent of Europeans reported receiving more than 10 calls from recruiters in the six months prior to the survey, while only 22 percent of respondents worldwide reported that many calls. While worldwide 27 percent of respondents received no calls from recruiters, only five percent of Europeans said the same.

Application development and DevOps skills are in high demand in Europe, similar to the rest of the world. Only in Europe, app development was in higher demand with 23 percent of European open source professionals reporting it as the most in-demand skill, compared with 11 percent of professionals elsewhere.  DevOps was the highest in-demand skill worldwide, at 13 percent, but second among Europeans at 12 percent.

Regardless of where they live in the world, however, all open source professionals said they enjoy working on interesting projects more than anything. Thirty-four percent in Europe, compared with 31 percent globally, agreed this was the best thing about their jobs. However, while respondents around the world said the next best things were working with cutting-edge technology (18 percent) and collaboration with a global community (17 percent), European professionals selected job opportunities second at 17 percent, followed by both cutting-edge technologies and collaboration tied at 16 percent each. Five percent of European respondents said money and perks were the best part of their job, more than double the two percent who chose this response worldwide.

For more information about the worldwide open source jobs market, download the free 2016 Open Source Jobs Report.

 

Yasin Sekabira is a graduate of the computer science program at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, where he taught himself Linux through the free Intro to Linux course on edX and other online resources. He was one of 14 aspiring IT professionals to receive a 2016 Linux Foundation Training (LiFT) scholarship, announced last month.  

He is in the process of bootstrapping a startup and a technology hub to introduce technology to local children who do not have access to computer science education.

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Yasin Sekabira

Yasin Sekabira is a 2016 LiFT scholarship winner in the Linux newbies category.

Linux.com: Can you tell me more about Kampala?

Yasin Sekabira: Kampala is Uganda’s national and commercial capital city, and it’s a hotbed for young tech entrepreneurs and independent business people. I was born and grew up in KATWE, one of Kampala’s finest suburbs and a center of many DIY technicians, craftsmen and artisans.

Linux.com: What kind of technology training is available?

Yasin: Kampala is surrounded by an increasing number of higher institutions of education offering technology-based degree courses, and short professional courses. Plus, there are also tech business incubators that have done a great job, helping university students to really work on interesting projects. Through these hubs, most students have turned their ideas into tech startups to fully funded tech businesses.

I’m currently working hard on my hub Katwe COLAB. In KATWE, many young men resort to minor theft and it grows from there. Many kids drop out from school mainly due to fees and bad urban tribes. And I just wish the Hub can change that through technology innovation.

Linux.com: What kind of business is your new startup?

Yasin: We are iterating in search of that Facebook Million Dollar idea. But our business is focused at the moment on designing and developing Mobile/Web Apps and providing IT Consultancy to our clients.

Linux.com: How did you start it?

Yasin: It all started back in the hood, in Katwe where I grew up, many young men are independent business owners, I grew up really with these big dreams to follow the lead. Then we were lucky: our big brother bought us an IBM Pentium 3 Desktop PC. I loved it. It changed our thinking. I played a lot of games and really learned how to use a computer, then my other brother had just finished form six (high school), in his vacation he joined a small institution to learn computer networks, then luckily he taught me IP addressing. I was just 14 years old.

Then my brother figured out how to make money with computers and he started a Computer Repair Workshop. It was fun, it paid us, and we established ourselves. This helped me to start, in 2011 during my first year at college, an internet café and it helped shape my little admin skills. I didn’t focus on it very much. College was fun and I fell in love with programming and Linux. The splash screen during booting blew my mind, and I jumped on the OpenSuse wagon.

And then in 2012 me and my buddy won the Orange innovation awards from the French telecom, Orange, which sold their Ugandan stake to Africell in 2014. Orange Uganda organized innovation awards every year for the most impressive ideas in mobile app development. These awards allowed young developers in Uganda to suggest an innovative application that could be used in agriculture, health, or education. The award came with a stipend and an internship at the telecom giant. Plus, lessons on how to do a legal entrepreneurial business and ace your startup.

We started a business, but doing a startup is not romantic. It takes commitment. Long hours of work, money problems, all of these things force you to get employed and maybe do a startup part-time. Especially in UG where tech is still in its infancy. Many people are changing slowly, and change takes some time. You have to be patient and stay focused.

Linux.com: How do you plan to use your LiFT Scholarship?

Yasin: Being a LiFT Scholarship 2016 recipient on paper is like a dream come true. It’s an opportunity to work even harder, train harder, and stay competitive in what you really do best,

Today open source and Linux are absolutely up there in the top, it’s an opportunity to sharpen my open source skills from newbie to Ninja Pro. With The Linux Foundation and Linus Torvalds, you just feel like you’re learning and mastering Kung fu from Bruce-Lee.

The LiFT Scholarship will help me to prepare for my LFCE (Linux Foundation Certified Engineer), and hopefully pass it and add it to my belt. The LFCE badge really shows the world that you can play like Messi or Score like T.Henry of Arsenal.

Linux.com: How will it help you advance your start-up?

Yasin: I think I always wanted to work on an open source project, and down in my mind I always felt like I don’t have the skills. With the LiFT Scholarship, it has motivated me ever since I received the mail that I was a winner of the LiFT Scholarship 2016. Since then, I have been reading a lot and I think I’m leveling up. I just feel the energy, and hopefully I can tinker with any open source project at my start-up.

Secondly, I think LiFT Scholarship will help me to pimp my Katwe CoLAB that I’m recently working on and hopefully inspire the next generation in KATWE to think differently.

Interested in learning more about starting your IT career with Linux? Check out our free ebook “A Brief Guide To Starting Your IT Career In Linux.”

[Download Now]

 

Ksenija Stanojevic first became acquainted with the Linux kernel community after being accepted for an Outreachy internship. She was one of 14 aspiring IT professionals to receive a 2016 Linux Foundation Training (LiFT) scholarship, announced last month.   

After experimenting a bit with the kernel, Ksenija quickly began submitting patches, specifically working on splitting an existing input/output driver to better support a multi-function device (MFD). She is looking forward to learning more about device drivers, and eventually writing her own drivers.

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Ksenija Stanojevic, 2016 LiFT Scholarship winner

Ksenija Stanojevic, is a 2016 LiFT Scholarship winner in the Linux Kernel Guru category.

Linux.com: How did you learn Linux?

Ksenija Stanojevic: A few years ago I decided to try Linux and it was surprisingly easy to install and use. Since I started with Ubuntu there were already lots of tutorials online for beginners. Initially I was interested in learning about the Linux kernel but using Linux led me to discovery of new tools such as vim, git, and bash shell.

I started experimenting with the kernel over a year ago when I wrote a simple hello module and loaded it into the kernel. After that I started making simple fixes using scripts such as checkpatch.pl and submitting patches. My confidence grew and eventually I joined the Eudyptula challenge to deepen my knowledge and I started making even bigger changes to the kernel tree. After being accepted into the Outreachy program, I had the opportunity to learn more about driver development and also got to work on embedded ARM devices running the Linux operating system.

Linux.com: How did you get involved in the kernel development community and how are you contributing?

Ksenija: My first interaction with the Linux kernel development community was over a year ago, when I decided to apply for an Outreachy internship. In a short period of time I became familiar with sending patches and using vim and git, tools that were previously foreign to me.

During the internship I worked on splitting the existing I/O driver into MFD with adc and touchscreen parts (patchwork: https://patchwork.kernel.org/project/linux-input/list/?submitter=130571). This was very exciting because I got to work on embedded hardware and test my patches. Also I contributed to the y2038 project led by Arnd Bergmann, preventing the crash in year 2038 on certain 32-bit systems.

I learned a lot by working with the community, especially from comments made by other developers, which are usually very detailed. Every time a patch got accepted I felt happy and driven to continue contributing. I want to learn more about device drivers and make more valuable contributions, and maybe eventually write my own driver. You can see my accepted patches.

Linux.com: Why do you want to be a kernel developer?

Ksenija: I love the idea of making code that will make certain functionality of hardware work and that gives me a sense of accomplishment. That also pushes me to have a deeper understanding of the underlying hardware and I like the challenge of using a wide variety of skills and components.

Linux.com: What is your dream job and how will the LiFT scholarship help you achieve that?

Ksenija: I am currently seeking a full-time position as a linux kernel developer, preferably in open source. This scholarship will directly help me achieve my goals. Apart from giving more job opportunities it will allow me to work in a field that I love and am passionate about.

I want to be a more valuable contributor to the Linux kernel open source community and eventually a reviewer. I believe that hands-on contributing is one of the most effective ways to learn, because it allows interaction with more knowledgeable developers while giving back to the community. This Training Scholarship could help me get closer to that goal. I’m very hard-working, passionate and curious and also make the most of opportunities presented to me.

 

Interested in learning more about starting your IT career with Linux? Check out our free ebook “A Brief Guide To Starting Your IT Career In Linux.”

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Kurt Kremitzki, who is in his final year of studying biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M, visited a Mayan community in the Yucatan this spring to help design irrigation systems. He was one of 14 aspiring IT professionals to receive a 2016 Linux Foundation Training (LiFT) scholarship, announced last month.  

Kurt was inspired to take the project a step further when he realized that a system of Raspberry Pis with cell phone connectivity and open source software could create an automated irrigation system based on weather reports and sensor readings. He is now working with a local university in Mexico to develop such a system, which is just the first step in his dream of using technology to find new ways to meet the world’s growing food needs.

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Kurt Kremitzki

LiFT scholarship recipient Kurt Kremitzki

Linux.com: How did you learn Linux?

Kurt Kremitzki: I was introduced to Linux in the era of Red Hat Linux 9, but I thought it *was* Linux, and when “Enterprise” was added I stopped using it. Several years ago, I picked up Ubuntu and started using it full time. More recently, besides use at home, I applied what knowledge I have of Linux to a robotics competition, using the Raspberry Pi, hosted by the American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers in New Orleans last year. When a similar competition was assigned to an introductory Control Theory class I took last semester, the professor opted to have me assist the TA and all my classmates in teaching basic Linux skills and Python programming to do a simple maze following project.

Linux.com: Why did you become a developer?

Kurt: Originally graduating high school at 16, I chose to explore my talent working with computers by studying Computer Science, but found that studying it for its own sake was uninspiring. I didn’t finish but ended up with a job as a developer anyway, until several years ago. I decided to go back to school for Biological & Agricultural Engineering, where I could use my computer skills to solve pressing challenges, like the need to feed almost 10 billion people by 2050.

Linux.com: How do you use Linux now?

Kurt: This spring, I visited an impoverished Mayan community in the Yucatan to assist in design and repair of backyard irrigation systems. I was inspired to work further with them, and one particular way I want to use Linux to make a difference involves my (hopeful) senior design project plans.

When I visited that community, the potential benefit of Linux, and in particular something like the Raspberry Pi, was obvious. Although water was abundant, knowledge about agriculture has largely been lost as a result of the near-slavery conditions of the hacienda system, and so a simple base of a Raspberry Pi and cell phone network connectivity could serve both as an educational platform and the heart of an irrigation automation system. However, since technical knowledge in the village is limited, my team and I would have to work with the local university to (a) prepare open sourced teaching tools on how to use and repair our (also open source) irrigation automation system and (b) come up with an extremely resilient system that is easy to repair (e.g., create a simple, dedicated SD card flasher from another Raspberry Pi and a button.)

Using wirelessly gathered sensor data and local weather readings, the irrigation system could efficiently use water, and also serve as a guide for planting and harvesting, making the best use of two of our most precious resources: time, and the free energy of the sun. The local university has  been working on backyard irrigation systems with small Mayan villages for the last 6 years, and there is tremendous potential to expand this program, both for the Mayan villagers and the students at the university.

Linux.com: How can Linux help solve the problem of food scarcity?

Kurt: Closely related to Linux and the notion of open source software is the idea of empowerment. One of the most pressing issues in my field is the need to feed 9-10 billion people by the year 2050, and because of inefficiencies in our global food system, that means an increase in production of 70 to 100 percent. We may need to double our global production with no new cropland being discovered (in fact it’s being eaten up by cities) and less water being available.

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LiFT scholarship

Solving food scarcity with Linux and open source.

One of the only ways I foresee this being done is with the help of Linux and open source tools, since no one person can possibly tackle a problem that large, and even when solutions will be found, they will not be like the “cathedrals” seen in agriculture today, with large, “black box” tractors where farmers have neither the right to repair nor the ability to understand what’s going on in the system that’s essential to their livelihood.

Instead, new developments in Linux, like nascent drone/UAV technology, things like Automotive Grade Linux, and the general ethos of collaboration will be essential. Linux and its associated tools and ecosystem will be pivotal in tackling the challenges of tomorrow, and in empowering people across the world to unlock the full potential of their computer resources to advance mankind, whether it’s in the agricultural sector or otherwise.

Linux.com: How do you plan to use your LiFT scholarship?

Kurt: Although I have quite a bit of experience using Linux as a programmer, there are gaps in my knowledge, as it’s mostly the result of searching for the solution to problems as I come across them. As a developer-turned-biosystems engineering student, I’ve realized this isn’t enough. The problems in my field, while vast and staggering in scope, are about 95 percent human and 5 percent technical. By seeking out formal training, I can cover the gaps in my knowledge, make myself more employable once I graduate, and most importantly, I can spend less time worrying about how technology works, and more time worrying about how technology can help solve human problems.

Linux.com: How will the scholarship help you achieve your dream of helping to solve the world’s looming food scarcity crisis?

Kurt: The estimated doubling of food production that will be needed to feed the world in 2050 is likely not going to come from the corn and soybean fields of Illinois or Iowa. Trying to get more productivity from that style of farming is a little like getting blood from a stone. Instead, some of the places most likely to contribute will be mountainous regions and small villages of China, Latin America, and Africa, where huge tractors and industrial farming practices don’t make physical or economic sense.

Advances in things like agricultural drones have huge potential to empower subsistence farmers; Linux and The Linux Foundation are already forging ahead in that field with work like the Dronecode Project, an open source UAV platform. Besides drones, bringing the wealth of the world’s knowledge in the form of Internet connectivity will have a huge impact for rural farmers’ productivity and for the happiness of rural people in general. Large strides are being made in this domain as well with projects like Rhizomatica in Mexico and Guifi.net in Spain where Linux is once again front and center.

There’s no shortage of work to be done to make the world a better place; Linux and the open source philosophy behind it is one of the best force multipliers to making things happen. With Linux, I can have complete control of computing resources from the physical layer to the presentation layer; I can choose to make and use technology that will help the most people.

 

Interested in learning more about starting your IT career with Linux? Check out our free ebook “A Brief Guide To Starting Your IT Career In Linux.” [Download Now]

 

Luis Camacho Caballero is working on a project to preserve endangered South American languages by porting them to computational systems through automatic speech recognition using Linux-based systems. He was one of 14 aspiring IT professionals to receive a 2016 Linux Foundation Training (LiFT) scholarship, announced last month.  

Luis, who is from Peru, has been using Linux since 1998, and appreciates that it is built and maintained by a large number of individuals working together to increase knowledge. Through his language preservation project, he hopes to have the first language, Quechua, the language of his grandparents, completed by the end of 2017, and then plans to expand to other Amazonian languages.

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Luis Camacho Caballero

Luis Camacho Caballero has started a project to preserve endangered South American languages through automatic speech recognition using Linux-based systems.

Linux.com: Can you tell me more about Quechua, the language of your parents and grandparents?

Luis Camacho Caballero: Quechua was the lingua franca used in South American Andean between V and XVI centuries. It’s strongly associated to Inca culture (1300 BC – 1550 BC) but is clearly older than that. It is still alive and used by about 8 million people distributed among Ecuador, Perú and Bolivia. However, it’s under risk of extinction because, put in practice, the only language supported by government is Spanish. Don’t misunderstand, of course, there is a national agency for heritage preservation but it hasn’t gotten momentum yet. The process of substitution is running faster and stronger than initiatives of preservation.

It’s a shame, I speak just a bit. You can taste a piece of Quechua in these funny clips: 1, 2 and 3 and even hear some famous songs here: Heaven, The way you make feel (below), and bonus track.

Linux.com: What is your process for recording and digitizing the language?

Luis: It’s a hard process. Basically, it is composed of two parts: building a text/voice Corpus and the language processing itself.

In regard to the first part, the challenges are 1) linking both Corpora, get a exact matching of voice and text and 2) In order to make the corpora more useful, doing part-of-speech tagging, or POS-tagging, in which information about each word’s part of speech (verb, noun, adjective, etc.) is added to the corpus in the form of tags.

In the part of the automatic speech recognition (ASR) itself, we are testing Artificial Intelligence algorithms looking for the one that matches better with features of the Quechua language.

Linux.com: How did you get involved in this work?

Luis: Since that first time I was exposed to English ASR, maybe six years ago, I knew that I had to do ASR for Quechua, it’s my contribution to preserve my heritage.

Linux.com: Is this a hobby, or a job for you?

Luis: Nowadays I am with PUCP, I wrote a proposal and fortunately it was granted by the Peruvian Science Foundation, so, I have resources for developing this project until Christmas 2017. Part of my job is networking with all the stakeholders and looking for more funds until we reach a complete ASR system, one at the same level of well-supported languages like English.

Linux.com: How do you plan to use your LiFT scholarship?

Luis: Linux is a wonderful platform, almost all language computational portability technology is developed over Linux. I’ve not decided yet which course fits my current needs of Linux support.

Linux.com: How will the scholarship help you?

Luis: I think the scholarship help me at least in two ways: 1) getting in touch with the more renowned expert Linux trainers and 2) getting a valuable knowledge that would otherwise would be expensive or inaccessible.

 

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