Amid an imposing and yet inspiring blend of historical and modern architecture at the University of Hull is an often-overlooked treasure.
One might be forgiven for jumping to historical figures, such as Phillip Larkin, the notable poet; Robert Blackburn, the aviation pioneer; or John Venn, who advanced Symbolic Logic amongst other areas of mathematics. However, in my view this treasure lies in plain sight. Yet like a cipher, would be difficult to unravel without the right code. Ironic, given the treasure’s ability to transform students’ understanding of computing, networked systems, and cyber security.
This hidden treasure is called Freeside.
Freeside, run and managed entirely by student volunteers, is the Linux User Group on Campus. It maintains its own Lab in the Robert Blackburn building on campus where students from any degree pathway can get involved and contribute to projects completely free of charge.
In its formative years, Freeside maintained physical servers allowing students to gain hands on networking, security, and maintenance experience. Presently, virtual machines are used to run Freeside infrastructure which is more appropriate for current industry skillsets.
Students can actively partake in administration roles but will need to demonstrate reliability and rational decision making. The key benefit for student participants is for their CV given the rise in demand for reliable, trustworthy, cyber security aware candidates with experience.
Naturally, students do not need to be involved with infrastructure management. There are other opportunities to contribute to projects such as hullblogs.com, a blog aggregator for University of Hull student blog posts which Freeside members planned and built over a few days in the hopes of encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing between departments.
Alternatively, students may engage with the community to learn and consume from the Freeside Student Resources List which gives insight into professional and legal standards, virtualisation, open source and free software amongst a long list of other topics.
Students may encounter notable Freeside members when they participate such as Eur Ing Brian Tompsett and Andrew Hancock – both of whom have contributed a great deal to Freeside over the years; a great example being the 100+ resources added to the Freeside Student Resources list by Andrew to enhance students’ understanding of virtual environments. Whilst Freeside is student run, these staff members have contributed an enormous amount and Freeside is very grateful their contributions.
From an employer’s perspective, candidates with Linux experience have an edge owing to their skillset being extremely transferrable, diverse and time efficient.
At the time of writing, Deutsche Bank for example had multiple job openings available for Linux administrators with the highest salary nearing £80,000 per annum for a senior candidate; the lowest salary on offer being £65,000 per annum. Other employers also had job listings for Linux roles.
To get started with Freeside, simply visit our website at www.freeside.co.uk, join our discord at discord.freeside.co.uk or visit our Lab at RBB-300. Everyone is welcome irrespective of experience level because we know that helping others overcome the ‘cipher’ in their knowledge raises them up and ensures Freeside remains a treasure.
Edward Richmond is a MSc Advanced Computer Science student, continuing his studies at Hull having completed the BSc (Hons) Computer Science pathway. During his time at the University, Edward also undertook internships with international hospitality company Compass Hospitality, during which the company implemented Cyber Security Policies following his advice and Pittaway where he was tasked with planning, building and implementing internal systems. Edward can be contacted via Freeside where he is known as “closebracket”.