A weekend with Matt MacKall

Once in a while you meet these rare individuals who remind you where you’re coming from. Following the Linux Developer Symposium a few speakers stayed a couple of more days to visit the Great Wall, the Forbidden city and other Beijing Landmarks. I helped organized a visit into a training center for embedded Linux on Friday together with Matt and this is how it all started.

I’d say Matt is a very reserved individual at first, very serious and focused (that’s just my impression). The Friday morning visit gave me a chance to listen more closely to his presentation to a class of 50-60 Chinese students and exchange ideas about attracting more people to Linux. I would honestly say that the whole trip was very successful, the class had Jonathan Corbet book on every single desk (Jonathan was also a speaker at the conference) and Matt motivated every one of us. Afternoon was free and we met again for dinner.

The next day, Matt being into art (something I discovered), we visited 798 factory and discussed about art, Burning Man ,how Matt has been attending the event for the last 8 years, what kind of technology he uses for his art and all sorts of things. Then a bit of food shopping, famous Chinese Hot Pot, more talks between during and after, and off to bed.

Matt happens to be a vegan as well as a Linux user and contributor (and an artist, and probably many other things). Why? Because he cares. In fact the whole 2 days discussion was about caring, and how you can transform your principles into actions, how you live up to your believes and how even small contributions can make a difference.

As I mentioned in my introduction I was really glad to have these talks, re-energize myself with someone who could explain himself with passion about what he believed in and would take the time to share his views without forcing them on me.

We all believe in something, but what do we do about it? And is it enough to make that difference we were talking about? I often ask myself this question…