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Max Spevack interviewed John McLean, the 2009 recipient of the Fedora Scholarship.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How old are you? Where are you located? What are some of the more interesting classes that you took in high school?

I'm currently 18, and I live in Cary, North Carolina. I'll be graduating from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in early June. A few of my favorite classes from high school include Graph Theory and Networks, Galaxies and Cosmology, Multivariable Calculus, and Western European Cultural Studies. These were the classes that really challenged me to excel. I also really enjoyed being a part of my school's robotics team this past year, working as a programmer.

When and how did you become involved with Linux and/or free software?

A good friend of mine introduced me to Linux (Ubuntu 7.10) my junior year of high school. I was in his dorm room one night, and he offered to install Linux for me. I had no prior experience with Linux, and really very little knowledge of the computing world in general. However, once I started using Linux, I loved it. It was about that time that I started getting interested in programming, starting off with python and then moving to C/C++. My professors at school encouraged me to learn as much as I could and broaden my horizons.

What made you want to actually contribute to OSS, and what led you to the Fedora Project?

Again, the internship at Red Hat was really the jumping off point for my interest in contributing to FOSS. I worked a software developer/packager for Fedora. Before that internship, I used Linux but was largely unaware of the philosophy and huge community behind open source.

Tell us about some of the Fedora contributions that you are most proud of. Don't be shy!

While I was at Red Hat, I continued work on Greg DeKoenigsberg's translation bot (lingobot originally, and now transbot) for IRC, porting it to python, expanding its capabilities, and packaging it for Fedora. The last two months at school, I worked with a group of my fellow students to develop a multi-lingual IRC client, that essentially does the job of a translation bot, but behind the scenes through the role of a client.

I had the opportunity to work with the Fedora Robotics Special Interest Group to develop a demo program for the robotics simulation and development software Player/Stage/Gazebo. I started work on this project in the last half of my internship. Unfortunately, the rigorous school environment meant that I could not continue work on it throughout the school year, so it is still not properly finished.

While at Red Hat, I also packaged a few miscellaneous programs such as figlet (ASCIIart generator), cmus (C Music player), and python_nxt (python libraries for the Lego NXT robotics environment).

Where are you going to college, and what do you think you will study?

I am looking forward to attending Duke University in the Fall, and as of now I plan on double majoring in Computer Science and Religion. An odd combination, I know, but I thing it will promise to be an interesting one as well. I'm looking forward to seeing how Duke is involved in the open source world.

Have you started to think beyond your undergraduate days yet? Do you have in the back of your mind a career that you'd like to pursue?

I haven't thought too much beyond my undergraduate days. There's a good chance I'll go straight into graduate school, but I don't know how the next four years will play out. We'll see, I suppose. I plan to stay involved in the open source community as much as I can while in school, so I know that will play a role in my long term plans.

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