Iulian Donici

Looking into the rabbit hole


  • Published by Iulian Donici on 21.04.2018 and updated on 14.01.2020 at 08:54

I’m Iulian Donici, a certified security and PKI system and network administrator. I started off discovering computers while borrowing books from a local library in Galati, Romania when I was around 12 years old.

Local library, SUSE Linux, OpenOffice, Firefox and a Yahoo! e-mail address

I was amazed by those computers! Mainly, because those computers were running Linux (more specifically, SUSE Linux) and as a library member, I was allowed to have free access to them but only 1h per day. Those desktops were pretty well configured and restricted; the point of their existence was to help library members do more research, specifically searching online about their desired subject and eventually print them or have them saved to a floppy disk (which were a pain, back then).

That’s the same period when I first met Firefox on those Linux computers and fell in love with it. Really, in love. There was no browser like it out there. Firefox to me, was like a supernova. Everything I thought I already knew about the Internet, just changed.

I started using Yahoo!’s e-mail service but, a @yahoo.com e-mail address would give you 4MB storage for your e-mails. Well, I remember feeling really smart and proud when I was letting everyone know my e-mail address was @yahoo.ca (from Canada) which offered 6MB!

That local library was the only contact I had with computers for around 3-4 years – not everyone could’ve afforded to buy a PC, in those days. And once I started mastering OpenOffice and the web (through my 1st web browser  love, Firefox), I started being curious about Linux because I wanted to know what was this operating system I was using every day for an hour which was so different from the ones you would normally see installed on PCs that those so-called “Internet-cafes” used to have – to which you had to pay for your hour if you wanted to use them, remember?

Man, I used to love going to that library! I would have every action, every move, everything I would do daily, tightly scheduled around that 1h of free computer use. And after a few months of online research, I found out I could have my own operating system shipped home.

Wait! What? A free operating system with free shipping?

Canonical had started promoting Ubuntu. They were shipping it to everyone who would need it. And, you kind of had to prove that you need it. That’s when I asked my IT school teacher what was it like to run all those school computers? What was it like to administrate that entire computer network?

As she was explaining it to me, I was taking mental notes. Notes that I would then use in Canonical’s web form so they can send me those early Ubuntu CDs. I’ve impersonated my IT school teacher. I told Canonical I needed 30 Ubuntu desktop CDs, 30 Ubuntu server CDs. Two months later, I had a huge Ubuntu box shipped at my door, all the way from U.S.A. to Galati, Romania, Europe for “my students”. Oh, man! The rush I was feeling!

To this day, I still feel the same way about Canonical’s Ubuntu. Everytime I see an article about a Linux operating system (especially Ubuntu-based or Ubuntu-related), I have this urge to test it. I still want to see what’s Canonical’s or any other developer’s next move. I feel like, ever since that first Ubuntu moment, I have to test everything and tell the whole world about it.

Everytime I test something, I feel like it’s my duty to always send my own feedback to the developers. Because Canonical sent me those CDs with a free operating system. Because even to have a blank CD back then, you had to pay for it, even those empty CDs ready to be written data on, weren’t free. Because I understood Canonical’s intention and believed they were well intended. This type of events in a person’s life make you break barriers. You’re hooked. You want more. You have to know what’s behind and beyond Ubuntu. And, please believe me when I’m saying that I had very similar connections or stories with HTML, PHP & MySQL, C & C++, Bash. The same need, urge to find my next connection and actually experience it by testing it, by using it, by becoming part of it.

Take for example, this introduction about Mercury OS. These guys want to actually change the way we think about operating systems. They’re saying that “the desktop metaphor must die”. Well, wouldn’t you want to at least hear their thoughts? Don’t you want to know how you’re going to be influenced (or not) by this type of thinking? How would this type of a very new and original operating system, how would it connect us all? How would it actually, technically, manage to connect us all?

The user, the developer, the system administrator, the network administrator

And, as I’m writing this, I’m realizing I might be too focused on the idea of creating and feeling a connection with everything, in general. But, isn’t that what we desire the most? To actually connect? I can’t be sure you’re on the same page as me but I feel like I’ve reached a point where I can’t just be technical anymore about things. I can’t just be technical about our surroundings, technical about our job, technical about our human relationships. No. I have to get personal. Otherwise, I can’t feel that connection. I’m feeding upon these connections. I feel like they are my purpose. I don’t truly understand a task, a job, a challenge, a relationship until I get behind it, dig it deeper and get personal. Canonical and Mozilla taught me that. The open source code, connected me to people.

That’s why I can always be at the same time the person, the user, the developer, the system administrator, the network administrator. The person. Because I understand why and how these things work behind the interface and I manage to put everything together (personal and technical) and just, connect people via technology. I feel like as long as I have a basic computer with Firefox and HTML, I can do anything. I’m free.