Positions open in the Open Source world
Shankar Iyer
Saturday, April 1, 2006
There are few individuals on this planet that have had the opportunity to create history. Even fewer have had the privilege to contribute to the society with their powerful innovations. A quick look at the rapidly growing global Open Source community reveals dozens of outstanding people that have achieved both these distinctions.

The worldwide phenomena now commonly referred to as “Open Source”, reached its inflection point during the birth of the Linux operating system. In 1991, Linus Torvalds, a student of Helsinki University developed an operating system from freely available lines of software. His creation, called ‘Linux’, has today become the world’s fastest growing operating system. Linux started out with only 10,000 lines of code back then. Today, it has grown to over 10 million, thanks to the global, million plus developer community that largely consists of students.

Open source software development has proved to be a perfect solution for harnessing the untapped potential of millions of talented individuals scattered all over the globe. The methodology of open source is simple: Allow talented individuals to participate in software development projects through the Internet, and make the source code of software available to others so that they can both learn from it and modify it as per their needs.

Given the right grooming, the next Linus Torvalds could emerge out of India. As India evolves up the value chain, our students no longer want to march to the beat of a particular drummer. They no longer want to develop software according to the specifications defined by others.

Globalization, thanks to the Internet, has made this possible. In his immensely popular book, “The World is Flat”, Thomas Friedman lists “Open Source” software as one of the ten great forces that have flattened the world.
For students looking to make a career in open source, it could never be easier. As graduation and post graduation often leave very limited time for doing anything else, students can look at taking ownership of an actual open source project as part of their final year project submission. Besides global recognition upon taking challenging projects, there is also a monetary reward that they can look forward to.

For graduates looking at making a career in Linux, it would be ideal to opt for a certification that is acclaimed and widely respected in the market. Some industry recognized certifications include the Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT) and Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE).

Linux is a major disruptive technology, which has practically redefined the server market. IDC predicts that the overall market revenue for desktops, servers, and packaged software running on Linux will exceed $35 billion by 2008. Today the Fortune 1000s run critical areas of their business on Linux. In India, a majority of the leading banks and large enterprises run Linux within their infrastructure for mission critical applications. The HR managers within these large organizations are increasingly demanding certifications, or ‘proof-of-knowledge’ documents from potential recruits.

Certifications can give a strong definition to an individual’s career, as every HR manager today knows that certification courses involve a 100 percent practical exam, which only the genuinely skilled can pass through. There’s absolutely no room for error, and organizations can blindly pick certified professionals on face value. Not everyone who opts for an exam walks out successful.

These large corporates are always on the lookout for competent system and network administrators, project managers, developers, solution architects and security specialists.
For students the right approach would be to first follow the Open Source community by becoming a part of online communities like Linux User Groups (LUGs) and then actually become active participants through personal contribution and innovation. The fastest way to get there is to passionately learn and practice as much as possible.

Linux and open source give young minds the power to think differently. The power to unleash powerful innovations that defy market belief. With our immensely talented community of young, energetic students, who are driven by a passion to succeed, it is only a matter of time that India will emerge as the number one contributor to the world of open source.

Shankar Iyer is the Head - Learning Services, Red Hat India.
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