When Mahdi Mokhtari was a young student growing up in Tehran, Iran, he never thought FreeBSD would help him meet other people outside his home country, and that some of them would become as close as family for him, or that it would eventually lead him to leave the Middle East for a new life and job in Europe.
“When I first heard about FreeBSD, I was software and computer engineering student at the University of Tehran and began chatting online with people all over the world,” said Mahdi. “I started learning about open source operating systems like FreeBSD and Linux from my new friends in other countries, and even began sharing my own knowledge with them. And that’s how the change in my life started happening,” he said.
One of his online FreeBSD friends began to appreciate Mahdi’s knowledge of servers and IT issues and offered him an internship opportunity in Dusseldorf, Germany, for Netzkommune GmbH, a hosting and network solutions company, which he readily accepted.
Getting his international visa and paperwork ready to leave Iran was not easy, but the internship was a success and opened his eyes to the FreeBSD community in Europe. “During my time in Germany in the summer of 2017, I was able to attend several conferences and learned many new ideas that I was able to incorporate into FreeBSD,” he said. “I wanted to stay in Europe and learn and decided to continue my computer studies here.”
Mahdi entered the Computer Engineering program at Université Grenoble-Alpes in 2018 in Grenoble, France, with a focus on networking and infrastructure. Now in his last month of studies, he is completing his final thesis and his internship with infrastructure giant Platform.sh in Paris, France.
Mahdi credits the FreeBSD Project and Foundation with giving him the experience and resources he needed to create the career path he is currently pursuing. “I’ve learned a lot about infrastructure, OS development, and software lifecycle and maintenance from FreeBSD. It has all been more than useful,” he said.
Currently Mahdi is working on several aspects of the FreeBSD OS base system, including improving the FreeBSD libc and msun libraries, implementing Linux syscalls in Linuxulator, and improving the test framework for Linuxulator. He also maintains nearly 40 ports, fixes bugs in Bugzilla, and serves as an admin team member and mentor in the Google Summer of Code program.
He hopes to one day be able to visit and see the United States too. “Most of the films and cartoons I have watched since my childhood take place in the U.S.A. It would be a dream for me to visit and see those places there” Mahdi said. “Also, I’ve made a lot of friends in the FreeBSD community who live there. I’d love to meet them in person!”