Some nice things happened on the way through life.....


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Oct 29, 2009 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

Recently a couple of very nice things happened to me.

I needed a favor, and a friend of mine reached out to help me.

They were person who I have known for about ten years, and although they have always been nice to me, this last "help" was just when it was needed most.

As I thanked him, he reminded me that I was instrumental in getting him into Free Software, and that this had made a huge, positive difference in his life.

He reminded me that I had invited him to join me at dinner with the CEO of a company where he soon found employment.

He reminded me that I had taken him to visit my two goddaughters, and as we sat on the floor playing with them, their father, Linus Torvalds, came into the room and talked with us a bit. Afterwards we left the house and he said that I was "never to do that to him again". "Do what?", I asked, "I told you I was going to see my god-daughters...."

I had "forgotten" about these times, but of course I remembered them when he told me. I am glad when I can influence someone's life in a positive way.

When I met Mark Spencer, the creator of the Asterisk project, he told me that a talk I gave at a conference in 1999 convinced him to make the project Free and Open Source. It is revelations like this that keep me going.

Last week I met a man at a conference. He told me that he had listened to me at a convention one time, and he started to move his company to work only with Free Software. Now he had completed that task, and he found that he could do more with his software because he could modify it to meet his needs. He was not a programmer, but he could hire people who were, and since he had the source code for his software, he could have them change it.

I asked the gentleman if he had ever written an article for a magazine about his use of Free Software in his business. He looked surprised and asked me if anyone would really want to read it? I answered that there would be lots of people interested in such an article. Perhaps they were people whose business was a bit different from his, but they would find inspiration from his success.

He promised me that he would write such an article.

And so it goes...we influence people in big ways, and often we do not realize it. You may think that what you say about Free Software has little impact, but you may affect someone....

Carpe Diem!


  • You impacted my life too

    I met you near JSC - Houston around 1993 (I could be off a yr or so). My team was building the new mission control center for shuttle and space station missions using DEC Alphas and you'd just come back from some conference where you'd committed to get an Alpha to Linus. There were about 4 of us in the tiny room chatting about our needs. I was porting code from SPARC/SunOS to Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, Irix, Win32, and Mac - basically, we needed to have royalty free universe-wide distribution of our code. Yes, it runs on the space shuttle and station too.

    My memory is fuzzy now, but I think you said we could stop developing for all the different platforms and should concentrate on Linux. Linux would run on almost every hardware platform. You were certainly a visionary ... I use Linux and FOSS almost exclusively (Damn MS-Visio!) now.

    Although you probably don't remember this meeting, it made a huge impact in my life. Oh, and thanks for the "Born to Do Linux - Alpha" temporary tattoo.
  • Markers

    We all walk through life carrying a box of markers.
    Sometimes, its indelible ink we leave on everyone we meet...
    Scrawls reminiscent of something a two-year old would make on the living room wall...
    Other times its a wax-crayon with just a smudge on your cheek...
    but marks we leave none the less.

    Walk softly through life carrying the super-sized-every-colour-you-can-image box of crayons.
    Use wisely.
comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More