Volunteer Spotlight: Ben Koenig
If you came to this year’s HoliDistro disco party, you would have found Ben Koenig in the classroom leading some gaming activities and showcasing Free Geek’s new release of Xubuntu 12.04 free and open source operating system. How did Ben attain this prestigious and important role? He started volunteering at Free Geek about three years ago, quickly advancing through the Build program, and moving on to intern in Tech Support, where he continues to serve today.
Ben’s higher focus since November of 2011 has been the Distribution Committee, or “Distro.” Along with fellow volunteers Larry, Tim, and Tanvi, Ben was tasked with testing and choosing the best Linux OS distribution for Free Geek to replace Ubuntu Lucid 10.04. “Mostly our target has been to find a distro amongst a set of predetermined user-friendly distributions,” says Ben.
In addition to all his great work on the Distro Committee, Ben also teaches the Linux Playground class. In this class, Ben sets up eight laptops with a different Linux distribution on each so volunteers can experiment with them. He describes it as “a lot of fun, and a great way to see and use a particular distro before you install it on your own machine.”
How did Ben become so Linux-savvy? His father is an avid Linux user and got him started at an early age. Ben now has three operating systems on his computer and has even created an app for android called Freedom Zing. He designed it for elections and it comes with 70 random zingers to use against either conservatives or liberals. Equal-opportunity zinging can be accessed via a quick search of “Freedom Zing” on Google Play.
Some fun facts about Ben that you may not know: he has lived in every corner of the US, takes three buses and a Max to Free Geek, and not only teaches chess to youth, he can even play it blindfolded! He told the interviewer that his favorite thing about volunteering at Free Geek is “being around all the computer and open source stuff and talking to people who also know about Linux, and having the community to interact with on that level.” Thanks to Ben for being such a star volunteer!