HeliOS, Ken Starks: Linux Community Rallies

Written by Eric Finkenbiner

The Linux community rallies around one of its own, Ken Starks. Our Exec Tech Ed Eric Finkenbiner tells how one blog post led to an outpouring of support.

Above, in healthier days, Ken Starks talks about the HeliOS project.

Ken Starks is practically a celeb in the Linux community.  His work in founding and helping run the HeliOS Project — now in the process of becoming REGLUE — has a huge following. So does his blog, the Blog of Helios.

Sadly, the tone of the conversation Ken has been holding with the community recently turned somber of late. Ken announced he is battling throat cancer. The financial and moral support from the Linux community is coming in.

Ken and his blog came to the fore following the very public email exchange that took place between him and a teacher at an Austin school.  The teacher, who believed Ken was illegally distributing software, reportedly told him that “putting Linux on these machines is holding our kids back.”  What?

The situation centered arond one of the HeliOS project’s main goals: to provide computers to children who otherwise could not afford them. The situation did eventually resolve — the benefit was that it brought to light the great work +Ken Starks and the HeliOS project are doing for underprivileged kids in Austin.

Image Credit: The Blog of Helios

Last Thursday, August 16th, Ken’s partner made a blog post providing an update to Ken’s situation. Ken now must minimize his computer usage due to chemotherapy side effects. He gets if he looks at a computer screen for prolonged periods of time.

Following Diane’s post on the Blog of Helios, a handful of organizers created an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money for a computer screen which Ken could use without feeling sick.

Users responded by contributing over $10,000 — the stated goal of the campaign is now $50,000 US — in less than 24 hours.  Now with six days to go in the fundraising efforts, organizers are focusing on a new goal. They are hoping to raise at least $50,000 in order for Ken to receive a potentially life saving surgery.

Amidst the rush of support Ken still remains the same blunt and straightforward guy that those who follow him know and love.  His latest blog post clearly indicates that he does not plan on giving up anytime soon.

While it is uncertain whether organizers will be able to raise the funds Ken needs — here is the donation page — it is clear that the Linux and open source community is standing firmly behind one of its biggest promoters. That’s nice to see.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m Eric Finkenbiner.

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