From USB Modems to FOSS: Roberto Guido’s Journey

From USB Modems to FOSS: Roberto Guido’s Journey

Hello everyone, Roberto here! My relationship with Linux started quite unexpectedly, all because of an ADSL USB modem. I was 16 years old when I got my first PC, and shortly after that, I learned about Linux from a magazine that came with a CD of Caldera Linux.

At that time, USB modems were popular, but they didn’t work well with Windows. Frustrated with the connectivity issues, I started exploring alternative options and discovered that Linux had better support for USB modems. This was the turning point that led me to dive into the world of Linux and open source software.

Personal and professional advancement

I began learning the basics of the C programming language by reading online manuals, but my breakthrough came when I challenged myself to read and modify the source code of XFCE, a popular Linux desktop environment. Through this process, I learned how to code by studying open source code written by others, which was an eye-opening experience for me.

As I progressed in my Linux journey, I had an opportunity to teach Linux programming to fellow students as a self-organized course during my third year of university. Just a few months later, a company near my department was looking for a C programmer with Linux experience, and I was hired for my first job in the tech industry.

Four years later, I was hired by a startup in Milan that discovered me based on my contributions to an open source project related to my tinkering with XFCE’s source code. A few years later I worked as a webmaster for Arduino when it was still a relatively small project. This opportunity came through networking and volunteering, which taught me the power of open source communities and collaboration.

Since then, I have been working as a freelancer for the past seven years, exclusively using open source software for my projects. I have numerous anecdotes to share about how open source has been beneficial to my professional career, and how it has become a financially rewarding approach for me. In fact, every year, I donate 1% of my earnings to the open source projects I rely on for my work, as part of the “Unopercento” initiative.

Free software activism

One of the most fulfilling experiences in my open source journey has been my involvement with the Italian Linux Society (ILS), where I currently serve as the President. ILS has been a driving force in promoting Linux and open source in Italy, organizing events, workshops, and conferences to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing among the community.

In addition to my professional career, I have also been involved in running a weekly help desk in Turin called “Officina Informatica Libera,”, which was founded in 2009 with the primary goal of hardware recovery, but also served as a platform to promote and spread Linux. Over the years, we have had a diverse group of people, including students and Linux enthusiasts, participating in the weekly help desk, where we have developed a tradition to gather for pizza after the sessions.

Looking back, I am grateful for the series of events that led me to Linux and the world of open source software. It has not only enriched my professional career but also given me a sense of community, collaboration, and purpose. Linux and open source have truly changed my life in profound and positive ways, and I continue to be an avid advocate and contributor to the open source movement.

About Roberto Guido:

Roberto Guido lives in Turin, spending most of his days in front of the PC, and swapping between, or mixing his professional job as a freelance software developer and his role as activist for digital freedoms. Nonetheless, he rarely declines an invitation to a beer with friends.

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