“Official” Bio

Richard Johnson is a long time, active, contributor, developer, advocate, and author of the Open Source community. In recent years he has spent his time both contributing to and leading various projects within the Ubuntu, KDE, and Debian communities. His professional career started after a stint in the United States Navy working as a developer in the control’s automation field. From there he grew fond of the system’s administration world and worked for small hosting companies all the way up to one of the United State’s largest data centers. While building out systems for the data centers he became heavily involved in the hardware engineering world and started modifying off-the-shelf hardware to meet his standards. Then around 2005 he became interested in development again and dove in, some would say over his head, in Open Source software development. In his spare time he is a budding entrepreneur and a wanna-be cyclist.

“Real” History

I was born in southwestern Michigan in the early 70’s, and transplanted to Chicago, Illinois a few years later. My dad was an engineer all of his life and I guess that trait kind of hopped from him to me. I enjoy tinkering, or hacking, on things to make them work the way they should, just better, or make them do what they weren’t meant to do.

Growing up I was into sports big time. I started with T-Ball and continued playing baseball all the way into the United States Navy as well as football. Other sports I played were basketball, track and field, and golf. I was also an avid BMX Freestyler and skateboarder, but that all ended once I hit the age of 16 and could drive.

While growing up I was also introduced to the world of computers at a very young age. I remember the TRS-80 had just come out and my dad had gotten a couple of them through work. I remember using an old tape player to record programs I wrote and to play games from. I started out in BASIC and was a mean graphical designer by placing blocks all over the screen, probably writing dirty words or something. My best friend at the time had a Commodore 64 and writing applications on that were so much more fun. You could actually write real applications that did stuff, and him and I would stay up all times of the night geeking out back then. From there the family did the typical route of a 286, 386, and a 486. Then when I had joined the Navy, I walked into the Exchange in 1994, and there it was, a Packard Bell PC. I flopped down like $2,000 USD for like a 70 some megahertz processor, a few megabytes of RAM, and an insanely slow modem.

Laugh at that old PC all you want, I can pull it out now and it will fire up. It has some very old version of Debian on it with some sort of STEP window manager on it. Lucky for me, my last tour of duty put me on a base loaded with information technology. It was the hub for aviation and IT, and that is when my addiction really began. The place I was living at the time was one of the first locations in the United States to roll out broadband for your home. So I signed up for a Com21 cable modem, and at that time, I was one of the only ones on it, and it was super fast. Mind you, this was the mid 1990’s, so it made downloading Slackware or Debian floppy images really fast.

Also during the mid 1990’s I gave marriage a shot and it just wasn’t for me, though I got a beautiful baby girl.Now she has grown up into a rampant, boy-loving, teenage girl. ¡Ay, caramba!

Now you will find me dedicating a lot more time these days to my cycling team, Athletes By Design. Who would ever think a big guy like me would be into bicycle racing. I have directed race events, volunteering, training, and racing now since 2010 with the team. It is a very expensive hobby or passion, one I can hardly afford, but it is so relaxing and so much fun, that I don’t care. When you are writing code or documentation, and come to that point where you just freeze up, cycling is there to clear your mind. It has definitely made me a better developer.

Professionally I am a consultant at this time. The economy here in Chicago hasn’t been so great, and consulting has helped pay the bills. I am not making Bill Gates money, that’s for sure, but it is fun being able to make your own hours and pick your own projects. I will admit though, I do miss working for that small company. The Linux operating system is the basis for most of my consulting work with a bit of website development or maintenance here-or-there thrown in. While doing this, I am trying to learn new languages and have started a “Learn n languages in n amount of time.” Some languages I am playing with are C/C++, Java, Python, JavaScript, Ruby, OCaml, and more. I have grown fond of Python of late, but still enjoy C++ and Java. Ruby is really fun and it is neat seeing just how easy it is to get up and running with just a bit of code these days.

My dream is to fully blossom as an entrepreneur and become successful at it. Open source software is what I am passionate about and I hope any future company I work for is as well. Here is to the future!

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