“A lot of knowledge is necessary to master technology, and open source software allows this to happen more quickly”.
Jon “Maddog” Hall, considered Linux's ambassador to the world, gave a talk to HackerTeen students on the morning of May 22, 2006. The president of Linux International spoke about the IT job market, giving tips and offering practical examples. More than 40 students were present and listened attentively.
Maddog emphasized that the present moment is favorable for programming and systems management professionals. He explained that, because the old supercomputers were large, slow and expensive - “the size of automobile showrooms” - the changes in the industry have created a larger IT job market because companies are incorporating ever more technology now.
In automobile design, for example, animation is used to simulate accidents, and all of this is done on computers, with various processors running simultaneously. “Real tests would be much more expensive; imagine a Ferrari banging into a telephone pole every time a test was conducted”, Maddog compared.
Another example which Maddog presented, emphasizing the growing use of technology, was the film Titanic. For the special effects, 1,060 processors were used. It took 1 year to index all the scenes. If this had been done using only one computer, it would have taken 165 years. “Perhaps Leonardo diCaprio wouldn't be a leading man any longer”, he joked.
Certainly, one needs a lot of knowledge to master these technologies, correcting and detecting mistakes. At the same time, he was able to pass on some good news to the students when he said “open source software has an open code and, for this reason, enables one to build up that knowledge much more quickly”.
“I'm a neurosurgeon and your problem is in your brain. How much are you willing to pay me?” asked Maddog, to highlight the fact that knowledge reflects decisively in the salaries of IT professionals.
“When I began with computers, this business called networks didn't even exist”, Maddog remembered. He added that, today, the network is as important as the computer itself. He also said that network administration is extremely important to companies, that professionals in the area are very respected, and that this is because they evaluate new technologies and propose changes that are reflected throughout a company's entire system.
Recognized internationally for his defense of Linux, Maddog did not miss the opportunity to speak about the open source operational system. “In the IT industry, being open means documenting and, much more than that, it means saying that even your competitors should know your codes”, Maddog explained. He then presented some promising data for the students: that 60% of the 500 fastest computers in the world run on Linux.
He highlighted the fact that computer security is a market which is still expanding. Before, computer security used to refer to the door which locked the computer room. Today, it is something extremely important; it's a job which is carried out right alongside systems administration.
As a last piece of advice, Maddog reminded the HackerTeen students of the importance of having a variety of skills in order to become a successful professional. “A lot of people think that learning a programming language is enough, but one needs much more: a good working knowledge of software, hardware and one has to have good interpersonal relationships, too, because one has to deal with people”.
Cláudia Souza Bom