When I first leaped into the Linux ocean I was struggling to keep my head above water. I would dog paddle and make a bit of headway only to be dragged back down to the bottom desperately trying to make it back to the top to gasp a wet breath of air. It was Red Hat 4.2, and my (unbeknownst to me at the time) winmodem simply wouldn't work.
Fortunately, I found an open source big brother to help me along. His name was Mark and he tossed me a life raft that I floated on for a long while. He first helped me to realize why my modem (an old US Robotics external beauty) wouldn't stay connected. Then, he helped me write a script that would get it up and connected. Once I was consistently connected, he taught me the ways of AfterStep (I was using the hideous fvwm95 at the time). He taught me how to install from source, make everything pretty, write scripts, the beauty that is aterm, and so much more.
He was my Guru. And if it weren't for him, I wouldn't been a 10-year veteran of Linux and guru-ing my own little brothers.
Over the years I have made a point of helping people out with Linux. That means either teaching them how use it or helping people overcome problems. I do this in honor of Mark - my guru. I do this because I know the open source community's bread and butter is the guru system - the big brothers of computing.Many IT departments don't spend their budgets on Linux because there is no support. But I beg to differ. What better support is there than the guru? You can just scan the pages of these blogs: People like Jaqui who are always there to chime in with a helping hand. And these people don't do this for profit - they do it because (more than likely) someone once did it for them. It's an honor system.
I remember my old guru Mark telling me once that someday, you'll be in my position and you'll know exactly why I helped you. He knew he was converting someone - and not temporarily.
So to those of you out there with the skills, find someone struggling with Linux (or any open source software) and help them out. Pick them up off the ground and be their Open Source Big Brother, their guru. Who knows, the person you are helping might wind up selling his whole IT department (or company) on the idea of Linux (or open source) just because you helped him out.
I ask you, tell your Linux big brother story. Show us the power of the guru.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.