I'm Adam Holland. My user ID with the Toronto Free-Net is do645. I started volunteering with the Free-Net in March 2013. I also am a Linux user and I like that the Free-Net supports Linux as well as the other popular operating systems.
Learning about computers has been a lifelong hobby. The first time I had a computer of my own was at the age of 8, some time in 1996. It was an old 286, running MS-DOS. I learned how to use the whole system via command line, including formatting disks and configuring startup files. I also learned how to take all the parts out of the chassis, and to successfully put them back in.
I started using Linux in 2009. I was trying to set up a second computer for hobby use, and I became aware that I would need to pay for a second license in order to legally install Windows. Instead of obtaining a pirated copy of Windows, I figured that other computer hobbyists out there must have gotten fed up with Windows by now, and I looked for something better, that gave me the freedom to study and learn without restrictions. I went with Ubuntu Linux, and since then, I haven't looked back!
Having fallen in love with Linux and the GNU principles of freedom, I began teaching myself as many aspects of Linux as I could. At first, I wanted to replace all the activities I previously did on a Windows system. Later I started doing brand-new things like compiling software and configuring server software. It has been challenging, yet the reward of accomplishing a difficult task has kept me motivated to learn even more.
The open source community in Toronto is quite accessible. I started reaching out to the community to expand my horizons. A great start was the GTA Linux User Group website. The first group I became a part of was PlanetGeek, a tiny operation that installs Linux on donated equipment and gives it away to those who need it. Planetgeek has been a great place to apply my skills, and challenge myself to learn new things. And it is all for a great cause.
Every month I have the chance to attend meetings at GTALUG, as well as meetings of a group called Unix Unanimous, who's intrests include Linux as well as other Unix-like operating systems.
I also volunteer at the Toronto Free-Net Office. On a typical day, I might spend some time answering the phone, dealing with member's questions or providing technical support. In turn, I am aspiring to be one of the System Administrators for the Toronto Free-Net. Each week I receive a bit of tutoring in Linux shell scripting, and take away homework. Of course I don't complain about the homework, since it's my favourite kind. Some of the things I've learned allow me to volunteer my time at home, working on systems remotely. But I find that it is easier to focus when I'm present at the office.
It takes a lot of volunteer hours and a wide variety of skills to run a community Internet service. I have even participated in residential installation of our Internet service, a first-time experience for me. There isn't really anywhere else in the city that I could learn these things in the capacity as a volunteer.