Crashing Servers Teaches Linux - Realizing the Passion in Indonesia

Possibly, a productive way to learn computer use may be fiddling with it, however many may disagree but for Yohannes Baptista Agusnugroho, IT Coordinator of Formasi, Indonesia, it may really have been true. "Even though I was a student of Psychology, that didn't turn out to be the career track for me since I actually fell in love with computers" narrates Yohannes as he recalls the track he followed to aqcuire his Linux and FOSS skills.

"In 1985, around age 6, my father bought me a XT generation computer that helped evolve my love for games including Digger for DOS, this, probably, a very long time back when games came on large Floppy Disks hardly seen today. One day, while at the store where I went to buy games, a guy told me to learn programming and I questioned him that why should I, he replied, if you do so then one day you will program a game yourself and people may even buy it if its good.

The passion for programming was born driving me towards learning the Basic Programming Language and further in high school a computer teacher taught me computer software and hardware. In 1997, I attended college in Semarang, Central Java and initiated work as a part-time Internet Administrator for Internet Cafe's in the region and that was the first time I used Linux but passed through a very bad experience. I made some changes to the Linux Server and somehow later that day, the server crashed however, the owner called in a System Administrator who fixed the problem easily but that intrigued me to further explore Linux and strenghten my grip on the technical aspects.

After resigning from my Internet Cafe' job, I took up System Administration helping organizations with Linux but also tried other areas such as working as a Graphic Designer for a commercial newspaper while several other companies called me occasionaly to provide technical support visits to them. Later on, I met a programmer and learnt from him HTML growing my skills on to PHP and various FOSS CMS applications. In 2005 I stepped into the NGO sector with Jakarta as IT Staff that lead me to joining Formasi, in 2006 as an IT Coordinator responsible for assembling and leading a seven member IT Specialists Team but they still have been working on Windows due to some unavoidable constraints that I am tackling.

Yohannes's organization, Formasi, also known as the Indonesian Forum For Cooperatives Development is network of cooperative organizations and lobbies for the Government to develop polices to help Cooperatives grow in Indonesia and also supports its network to gain access to financial institutions. Formasi helps cooperatives grow bigger and is now including a focus for empowering these organizations with ICTs. Formasi's focus on ICTs is driven by the fact that Cooperatives are still ignorant of the benefits of ICTs especially FOSS, mostly still using manual data entry methods and if they anyhow manage to use computers, its only for donkey work, that is, data entry into a Spreadsheet Software without digital calculations and formulas.

Shares he: "Organizations cannot affored the burgonong costs of licensed proprietary software within the NGO sector and FOSS is an immediate and evident solution to remove that barrier therefore I have vision for this year to push the agenda of FOSS and Linux in particular for both Formasi and its cooperative members network since they have no exposure to FOSS attributed to the fact of lack of FOSS Resource Persons and limited budgets to support the organization of FOSS Capacity Building Programmes. I will be initially reducing the gap by training the inhouse staff at Formasi on FOSS right after Asia Source 2".

Yohannes has also faced certain problems promoting the use of FOSS in various other organizations, "It is a common perception in Indonesia that if the software Source Code is open and available with the software, it makes the software very insecure for use and to change that perception, I am building knowledge and technical partnerships at Asia Source that will help me in countering those misconceptions practically with enhanced knowledge and appropriate skills".

FOSS Inspiration, "For Indonesia, Onno W. Purbo is an inspiration for our young generation whom I met at the Security and Hacking Conference in Jakarta. in 2002. He has always been there to provide help, support and awareness on various occasions anywhere and anytime".

author: Fouad Bajwa

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