As one of the instructors for the "Make Your Own Computer" class at Artisan's Asylum, I have been meaning to take some time to review what we did during the February 2018 session of the class.

There were many exciting things, notably a visit from the lead developer of Trisquel (a fully-libre distribution of GNU/Linux) and a father who left the class with a small laptop running Sugar (an operating system and suite of learning activities for kids) for his daughter to play with.

Lead Developer of Trisquel visits FCL's February class

Ruben, Developer of Trisquel visits our class

We started the session off with a visit from a very special guest. Ruben Rodriguez, the lead developer of Trisquel, a fully-free/libre distribution of GNU/Linux visited the class, spoke a little about his work and answered a few questions.

What made this such a special moment is the fact that a person who works so intimately with the code that is running on the computers of many people was able to attend our class. Maintaining an operating system is no easy task. Furthermore, since the operating system is free/libre it affords freedoms that proprietary operating systems (i.e. Microsoft Windows, Apple) do not--for example, the freedom to study and modify the source code. We are fortunate that Ruben lives relatively close to Artisan's Asylum, where the classes take place.

We were also joined by Mariah Noelle Villarreal, the executive director of Libre Learn Lab and a two other staff members from Free Software Foundation. We plan to continue to connect with the broader free software community, which is a special thing that the free software culture affords.

Students take a computer apart

Student opens up a hard drive

Students this session took the computers apart--we really took them apart. We even used the back of a hammer to pry the heatsink off of a CPU. Our class sessions dedicate an entire day to taking a computer apart because it is fun and because it is a memorable experience that you can really learn from.

A student prepares his laptop for his young daughter

Student Playing with Sugar OS

One of the students wanted a small laptop for his young daughter (8 years old if I remember correctly). When we started the class session, we did not have any laptops. However, a donor stepped up and provided some laptops before the end of the session. One of the laptops donated was a perfect size for a young person, so we installed the Sugar operating system (also fully free/libre; with the aim of education for youth).

Happy Student

The student who wanted the laptop for his daughter was able to take his computer home loaded with applications for teaching/learning. As you can see in the picture, he was a very happy student on the last day of classes.

All in all, we had a lot of fun, connected more with the greater free software community (thanks to Ruben R. and others from the Libre Learn Lab and Free Software Foundation), broke some stuff, fixed and liberated some computers, and made a little laptop come to life for a little girl to learn with.