Too old for Linux? Nonsense! Too young? Please. Linux is for anyone of any age.
Consider James Anderson. He's an 84 year-old volunteer at Free Geek, a Portland, Oregon non-profit organization, which rebuilds old computers for users who need them. As shown in a Linux Foundation video, he works there every Friday to rebuild laptops using Linux that can be sent to Africa.
Anderson has been playing with electrical equipment since he blew out his grandmother's fuses and has been using computers since the "luggables" of the 80s. He's never worked in IT, though, until he came to Free Geek. He had spend 13-weeks in Zimbabwe and saw how students there needed computers.
Through Free Geek, he found a way to get free computers to them. At Free Geek, Anderson said, "Every computer that goes out is Linux-based." He love the community and he plans to "keep working there for as long as they'll let me."
In an interview, Anderson explained:
It's hard to imagine having to use expensive, proprietary software for the computers we rebuild and send to high-poverty places in Africa. Linux being free and open is a boon for those kids who get the computers. Being virus-free means no necessity of costly virus-prevention software in a location where almost any cost is prohibitive. I visited one location where our computers were in use and found, to my dismay, that a popular operating system had been downloaded from street-purchased CDs. Several computers were so slow and unresponsive that they had been stowed as unusable. A friend and I took responsibility to stress the advantages of learning and continuing to use Ubuntu.
Far, far away on the other side of the generation gap, there's seventh-grader Zachary Dupont. He's been working with Linux since Ubuntu 12.04 showed up. Dupont says he doesn't know much programming, but he's interesting in learning more and is considering becoming a sysadmin.
So far, he's not that different from many other young people with an interest in tech that goes beyond racking up kills in Call of Duty. What made Dupont different is that when he was given a school English assignment to write and send a letter to his hero, he chose to write to Linus Torvalds, Linux's creator.
He told Torvalds his favorite distro is Arch Linux because it was a rolling release operating system. He also asked Torvalds what Linux distribution he uses. Linus is still using Fedora by the way. Dupont didn't think he'd hear from his hero. No one else in his class had.
In his case, though, he not only heard back from Torvalds, but The Linux Foundation flew him to Linuxcon 2014 in Chicago. There he met Torvalds who shook hands with him, autographed his book, and he got lots of swag.
Dupont's thoughts afterwards? "My future is going to be great."
He's probably right.
In an e-mail interview, Dupont added:
I like the fact that the development of the Linux kernel is not just controlled by one single entity, but rather it is a collaborative development process ranging from multiple corporations to just some guy that decided to fix a bug. There are so many distros out there with many different configurations, and I also love all of the free and open-source software available in Linux. I'm thinking of working on multiple things: one of them is a new PC build that runs a Linux/Windows dual boot as well as a Linux-based community forum/blog website that I am currently working on.
"Linux is supported by a massive, global community. It is stories like those from the 84 year-old James Anderson to the 13 year-old Zachary DuPont that remind us that Linux is about both code and universal connection," said Jim Zemlin, The Linux Foundation's executive director.