If you run a FLOSS development project and you notice D0n1elT appearing on your IRC channel, please give him a warm welcome. D0n1elT is a young man highly talented in various FLOSS related topics already. He probably needs some guidance at the beginning and I hope he won't be too shy to ask for it. But you can be sure: your channel has been joined by someone you should consider as a future resource.
The Long Story
During the last two weeks I had the great pleasure of supervising a fine young man (very young, still, indeed) in all sorts of IT topics. This young man turned out to be so skilled and interested in various FLOSS related areas, I really want to introduce him to all of you.
The young man's real name is Daniel Teichmann. On IRC he may appear under his nick: D0n1elT. His GnuPG Fingerprint is: 6C6E 7F8F F7E8 B22E FC76 E9F7 8A79 028F DA56 7C6C.
Daniel goes to a local school here in Nothern Germany, near where I live. He attends the 9th grade at his school, and as common for students of his age and grade, practical training was scheduled for the last two weeks.
Daniel had originally applied for practical training at some other business near his place of living (which is quite far off from the school, actually). However, that company cancelled his training position two work days before the training was supposed to start. Daniel's teacher rang me up and asked for help. He advertised Daniel as someone who is far advanced in IT topics compared to his co-students. "He even writes his own programs (in Java and C++)."
Spontaneously, Andreas Buchholz (CEO of LOGO EDV-Systeme GmbH) and I decided to accept Daniel as a trainee. Without having met him, with no application interview beforehand. The deal was: Daniel comes to Andreas business location in Kiel (40-50km away from Daniel's place of living) and I (working as freelancer for LOGO on a regular basis) do the supervising part.
On day one and two, as a warm-up, Daniel installed a Debian Edu Main Server, worked himself through GOsa, LDAP, SSH, GnuPG, Jabber and IRC and configured two routers. All topics were new to him and I could hardly think of new tasks to give to him. As means of communication we set up a Jabber account, then an IRC account (as backup). However, it turned out that Daniel really got a hang of IRC over the next couple of days, so we used that as primary communication channel.
Daniel had already programmed various projects in Java (whereas I have never touched Java, so far :-( ). He has written plugins for Minecraft servers. He knows well how to implement object oriented coding models. His coding style looks very good and clean (esp. for someone who has never head a nitpicking code reviewer). He started coding at the age of 9.
Instead of diving into Java (where I would not have been of much help, anyway) I decided to provide him with some really basic and Unix-like knowledge: Bash scripting. I wanted to see how he handles another "language" and how he applies his Java knowledge to a lower level, syntactically weaker language. Guess what, he managed that assignment very well.
Working on Impressive Display
At Daniel's school we run substitute teacher info screens based on a fancy Bash script, named impressive-display, and the impressive PDF viewer. The Impressive Display tool is available in Debian testing/unstable under the same name.
So over the next couple of days we worked on Impressive Display. Daniel contributed so many new code passages, conceptual ideas and security concerns, that I decided to make him co-copyright holder. Every change contributed by him received intensive testing before committing to Git. While working on Impressive Display, collaborating with Daniel via Git was a mere pleasure. In his spare time Daniel likes watching Github tutorials. Quite extraordinary.
The result is a new major release of Impressive Display: Version 0.3.1 (bumped up from 0.2.3). We added the feature of handling info screen farms based on PXE boot images. It is now possible to configure as many different info screens as needed within the same PXE bootable chroot.
Furthermore, Impressive Display now has a PDF presentation (written in LaTeX Beamer) that documents how to setup your own info screens. The PDF presentation is the default PDF that comes up when you start Impressive Display directly after installation.
Investigating other Realms
We also took a deeper look at remote desktop stuff, one of my most favourite topics. By that impulse Daniel set up his first Vserver machine at some hosting provider. He figured out how to run X2Go Server on that machine with an XFCE desktop. Next step was to run the irssi instance from his notebook inside a screen session on the Vserver. Some days later, Daniel PM'ed me: "I have an IRC bouncer now...".
It was a great pleasure meeting this young, highly curious and already highly skilled young man over the past two weeks.
Daniel, it was an asset to me working with you. You are such a fast learner when it comes to getting accustomed to new working environments, it is amazing. I cannot deny having observed the tendency of preferring rather geeky tools. I was highly delighted, that What's-That and Facebook are nothing that rocks you so much. Unfortunately, all of the above makes you quite unique and non-mainstream among people of your age.
My wish for you (and the FLOSS world) is that you start getting in touch with other (FLOSS) developers, maybe of your age, maybe older, and that you (if this is what you want) become an asset to the world of Free Software. The Free Software world can be a world where technical, political and spiritual work become one with friendship among people.
Take care and farewell! I am sure, we will meet again.
light+love Mike Gabriel (aka sunweaver on IRC and debian.org)