holiday pass are two weeks of holiday activities
packed with exciting and entertaining activities. Usually, those
activities are free of charge for the participating kids and
teenagers, and typically, at least at Kreuzlingen, the city at
lake Constance, they are outdoor activities. This year, though,
marked the second appearance of an IT-related holiday activity:
Software development for girls and boys, with Free Software and
Create awareness and multiplicators
Peter Bittner, a Kreuzlingen-based software developer and DevOps engineer, held a 4-day course with 5 participants. The main goal of the event was to create awareness of the existence of a Free alternative to Microsoft Windows and Apple's macOS, and the important and dominant role Free Software plays in today's modern cloud-based software development.
A real software developer's journey
Five boys, aged 12-14, learned to overcome the challenges of a BIOS to boot our beloved GNU/Linux from a USB stick. A major hurdle they all managed to handle with their own notebooks after some significant effort.
Next stop, knowing the tools and services software developers use
– Git, GitLab, Codium, Slack *sic* – and working
in the terminal with Bash commands, navigating through the
directories, adding, committing, pushing code and investigating
change logs. This journey was driven by the quest of
website!, guided by the W3's HTML validator service. Because
we want the Web to be a safe place, with only working software.
After another day of moving the initial manual QA procedures to tool-driven and later automated processes, using CI pipelines, all participants managed to publish their masterpieces using the free GitLab Pages service. (Unfortunately, GitLab now requires you to enter credit card details to access their free tier – to guard against abuse, as they explain.)
The final day was about, what some call,
Coding Python. We used Firefox and Selenium driven by Python code
to automate the login process on malicious social media websites.
A fun problem solving exercise, which combines deciphering error
messages and navigating through HTML and CSS code, practicing the
use of the Web browser's Inspector just as much as getting to
know the dirty tricks of website optimization and defence.
We need our kids to know what school doesn't teach them
The participants were quite young and the free Linux operating system was new to all of them. It's important that we go the extra mile to show them what they need to know to form a free society, built by technology that respects and promotes freedom, not from corporations that pursue their own ideals for the sake of profit. We need more of these drops in the ocean.
provided stickers that the kids were a big fan of! Healthy food
for the breaks was
sponsored by Peter and some of the kids'
parents, accompanied by Kreuzlingen's wonderful tap water. Cheers!