Anniversary of LPI Certification in Brazil and remembering Rocket Science


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Nov 24, 2009 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

Seven years ago, in early December, I helped to proctor the first Linux Professional Institute (LPI) test in Brazil, which had been hosted by 4Linux in Sao Paulo. At that time I gave out a "Linux License Plate" made by Compaq (nee Digital) Computer Corporation and a clock made from a CD-ROM signed by Linus Torvalds.

This year I have been invited back on December 5th to proctor another exam, and this time I will be giving out yet another Linux License Plate and another CD-ROM signed by Linus....but alas not made into a clock.

I was wracking my brain trying to come up with an appropriate student gift for the seven year anniversary of LPI Brazil's first test. I did not have time to make a "CD" clock and even if I had the time, I did not have all the parts.

Finally I was stumbling through my house (you have to experience my house to appreciate this statement) and I came across a CD of "Extreme Linux" made many years ago by Red Hat. I think the CD is about twelve years old, as it is based on Red Hat Linux 5.0, which was released in December of 1997, so it pre-dates my work with LPI Brazil, and comes close to pre-dating some of LPI's younger test-takers.

The CD is in a real plastic jewel case (yes, I know it is enviromentally unfriendly, but we did not know any better), with a paper insert telling the history of the Beowulf Systems and why they were important. The paper insert is also funny, as it calls the code "rocket science", due to its linkage with NASA and CESDIS.

Red Hat thought that this would be a "sleeper" product and no one would buy it, but they sold many, many copies. They think that many of the copies were never unwrapped. People bought them just so they could say they had "supercomputer software on their shelf".

Finally, the CD is signed by Mr. Linus Torvalds when he still took the time to write "Happy Linuxing", and sign it with something that was a halfway legible "Linus Torvalds". His latest signature is more like "L" followed by a line, and "T" followed by a line. I still remember the look that Linus gave me as he signed these CD's (probably he was thinking "that crazy maddog") but he likes me so he signed the CDs for me.

I wish I had the time to have Donald Becker of Penguin Computing to autograph the CD before giving it to the student. Don is one of the originators of the Beowulf concept and writer of a lot of the early Linux ETHERNET drivers. Since I have a few more of these CDs, perhaps I can twist Donald's arm to sign them some day over a beer...

Carpe Beerem! (but not right before your LPI exam!)


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