In my previous post I wrote about my years at Collège Calvin. I have fond memories of Geneva, but I particularly cherish those years. It was at this high-school that I met my first girlfriend, Karine and it was also there that I worked on my first mini computer. The system was built by Prime Computer that was running an OS that vaguely resembled UNIX, which is not surprising once you know that some of the company founders had previously worked at MIT on Multics. The sys-admin was particularly proud of the two 5GB hard disks that he had named Castor and Pollux. At the time that was a lot of capacity but students still had to buy 8” floppy drives to store their own data as disk space was severely restricted for regular accounts. Despite its flaws, the system was cutting edge in 1981, specially if we consider the fact that all public high schools were part of the network. Students used the system to learn assembly language, Pascal, Fortran and Modula-2 programming. As a result, Geneva has produced many great developers who have continued their education at world class institutions like the EPFL or the University of Geneva. One of the best known Mac developers of that generation is Antoine Rosset, creator of OsiriX, who I met a couple of times through a common friend. He seems to be back in Geneva after living a couple of years in the bay area like another of my friends Pierre Demartines.
The fact is that Geneva has always invested a lot in education and I will always be grateful for that decision. I am happy to see that this tradition goes on. I was reading one of the local papers yesterday (La Tribune de Genève) when I saw this article (in French) that talked about the local government decision to dump Windows in favor of Linux (Ubuntu) on about 9,000 PCs in public schools. Athough Geneva is not the first canton (state) in Switzerland to take this decision, that honor goes to Solothurn (or Soleure in French) which took the same decision one month earlier, it is still a very significant step forward that others will probably follow in the near future. Good for them!