Linux proves a winner

Frank Kruchio has just become one of 24 winners in a worldwide Linux program writing competition for university students.

A few years ago Frank Kruchio was checking out a friend’s new notebook when he noticed it was running an operating system he’d never seen before.

He asked why his friend wasn’t using Windows and although the reply — “Why would I use Windows?” — struck him as arrogant, he realised it was a genuine question.

His friend was running Linux, and a curious Kruchio decided to look into it further. It’s a good job he did; he’s just become one of 24 winners in a worldwide Linux program writing competition for university students.

More than 1400 entrants from 699 universities in 64 countries submitted Linux programs to an international panel of judges in the IBM Linux Scholar Challenge, which was conducted over the internet.

Kruchio, a Victoria University computer science honours student, was already working on a Linux server-workstation optimisation project when Professor John Hine from the computer science department emailed students about the competition. Under the rules Kruchio was able to enter a program he’d written that allows Linux users, especially those new to the operating system, to optimise their PCs for their Linux distribution of choice. The benefits of optimising a system include increased stability and performance.

“Linux distributions for the x86 architecture are far from being optimised out of the box,” Kruchio says. “Red Hat is compiled for i386, SuSE for i486 and Mandrake for i586. This leaves plenty of headroom to optimise your favourite Linux for Duron, Athlon, Athlon XP, Athlon MP, Pentium II, III and IV and Celeron processors.”

The program was written entirely in XML, using the developer Works Toot-O-Matic tutorial generator.

“I had to restrict the Linux distributions to the Red Hat Package Manager-based [RPM] distributions to make sure that the process was simple enough for people new to Linux to follow. For this reason I discarded the idea of using Intel’s icc/icpc C/C++ compiler and decided to focus on the gcc/g++ compiler with RPM’s rebuilt functionality.”

Kruchio was amazed to be chosen as a winner. Since putting his program on the internet, it has been donloaded more than 2200 times.

In future he’d like to work with Unix-like operating systems, networking, software engineering, databases and hardware.

Kruchio’s work can be seen here.

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