We’re Looking for a Super SysAdmin

The Problem

Over the course of 2008, OLE Nepal will implement OLPC at a number of schools in Nepal. Some important technical aspects of deployment are the updating the XO’s, back up of student data, maintaining mesh network, and web caching. Much work remains to be done in the general area of the School Server. The School Server is currently under active development and will likely be so throughout 2008. OLPC recently made a great decision in hiring Martin Langhoff to serve as the School Server Architect. Here in Nepal, we need a rockin’ sysadmin that can work with our Kathmandu-based team and with OLPC to implement a school server solution that meets the needs of kids and teachers in Nepal.

We need this person to can commit 5 months full-time here in Nepal. You need to be local because working remotely won’t expose you to the real requirements of schools in Nepal. This is a volunteer position. We operate on a shoestring and volunteers already do a good portion of our organization’s work.

Your Skills

  • You dream in Bash
  • IPv4, IPv6, Wireless Mesh networking? No problem! You know linux networking inside and out
  • Extensive knowledge of BIND, DHCPD, Squid, Apache, security, etc.
  • Experience working with Moodle would be most excellent
  • Adept with Python scripting or could learn it quickly. OLPC has standardized on Python for scripting
  • You look to implement a practical solution that less skilled sysadmins can easily maintain over a cooler but more complicated solution.
  • You play well with others. You don’t alienate collaborators with rude e-mails that assert your technical superiority (even though you are)
  • Your primary concern is meeting the educational needs of kids and teachers. Your rate technical awesomeness a distant second to meeting those critical needs.

What you Would Do

  • Work with our deployment team to set up and maintain School Servers, customized XO builds, and the Active Antenna
  • Collaborate closely with Martin Langhoff and John Watlington of OLPC to enhance the mainline School Server distribution, move our local additions into the main distribution, and communicate Nepal’s requirements to OLPC
  • Over the course of your stay, work to make the School Server as stable and easy to maintain as possible
  • Document our configurations for our own reference and the use of other OLPC deployments

Your immediate colleagues would be

Dev “Where’s the Party Yaar?” Mohanty, in charge of connecting the schools to the Internet

Sulochan Acharya (me), general troubleshooting of all technical problems at the schools

Bryan Berry, leads the deployment team, does planning, budgeting, and basic system administration among other duties

Who Should Not Apply

If you are looking for a vacation in an exotic locale, go to Thailand. We work hard, very hard. We have a lot of fun too.

You are only interested in OLPC’s technology and have little interest in its educational goals. As Nicholas Negroponte frequently repeats, this is an education project not a laptop project. If you are not genuinely interested in meeting the needs of kids and teachers, please do not apply. This is worth repeating. If you are not genuinely interested in meeting the needs of kids and teachers, please do not apply.

You are not able to commit to a 5-month stay in Nepal.

What we can offer you

A fantastic opportunity to work on a really important project. A chance to radically enhance the quality of education in Nepal. A contribution to a larger global initiative. I could go on forever . . .

Now, we would love to pay you but as mentioned earlier our operation runs on a financial shoestring. This is a volunteer position. We can put you up in the OLE Nepal house together with Ties, Dev, and Dev’s lovely lady friend Manisha. Living costs in Nepal are __quite__ low. You can consult our current volunteers Ties, Dev, and Bryan about their expenses.

The Outcome

You walk away from Nepal having implemented a turn-key school server solution that helps kids and teachers collaborate, discover important ideas, and create things that matter to them. Your work will be replicated across OLPC deployments.

If you are interested please send an e-mail to info at olenepal dot org

12 Responses

  1. Nothing is Free March 4, 2008 / 10:36 pm

    Is this some kind of joke? You want to have a super sysAdmin and you don’t want to pay a penny to have the guy on board?

    This is not even funny. Do you yourself work for free?

  2. Thomas Stromberg March 5, 2008 / 1:04 am

    I think this actually sounds kind of tempting. Depending on the cost of living, living for free for 5 months really isn’t that big of a deal, especially if housing and plane tickets are taken care of. If it’s only $5 a day to live there, that’s just $750 out of your pocket. This does not of course cover however much money you would have expected to put in savings during this time period.

    Of course, if you are only gone for 5 months, you’d probably be tempted to keep paying for your housing in your original country. That’s where the lack of income is going to hurt the most.

    All said, it sounds like a great gig!

  3. bryan March 5, 2008 / 8:44 am

    I have worked for free for the last 21 months, 6 of those months full-time. The low cost of living in Nepal makes this possible. 6 months of living costs in Nepal= 1 month in the Boston area, depending on your lifestyle.

    Thomas, we can’t take care of plane tickets but we can take of housing. You can stay longer than 5 months if you wish to. The other volunteers and myself plan on staying longer than 5 months.

  4. ThatTallGuy March 7, 2008 / 6:23 am

    That sounds seriously cool. And I’m even able to take the 5 months out. Problem is, I don’t think I’m quite qualified… I know most of the software you describe from a user perspective but “inside and out”? No. [sigh]

  5. Ashish Batajoo March 9, 2008 / 1:28 am

    Can Nepali guy apply for above job??

  6. bryan March 9, 2008 / 7:49 am

    Absolutely. However, we know of very few Nepalis (living in Nepal) w/ these particular skills that can afford to work as volunteers full-time for 5 months. Please refer anyone to us that you think would be interested

  7. Chief Mike Kouklis March 9, 2008 / 3:06 pm

    I have the time only I wish I was a lot more qualified, but I’ll pass your request around here in the Philippines 8)

  8. Timothy March 10, 2008 / 10:32 pm

    “You are more interested in OLPC’s technology than its educational aims. As Nicholas Negroponte frequently repeats, this is an education project not a laptop project.”

    I’m thinking there’s a typo in that. Do you mean to say “more interesting in OLPC’s education aims than its technology?” I can see why you’d want a tech person more interested in the tech, its just that the the Negroponte line seems to contradict the first line.

    I have a friend who might be game, and I’ll pass this along.

  9. Wayan March 11, 2008 / 4:56 am


    Its somewhat confusing, but this section of OLE Nepal’s call to action is the “We _don’t_ want you if” part. So if the volunteer is only interested in the technology, and not the educational aspect, they need to move along to another project, and not apply to this one.

  10. Brittany Sears July 26, 2008 / 1:05 pm

    I had to write to you. Having travelled in both Asia and Africa, I was immediately struck by a sense of safety and comfort upon my arrival in Nepal almost one year ago. Though I was supposed to stay only five months, something about the friendly, smiling faces made me stay longer. I taught English, made a library, travelled around the country. Then, I began to work with INFO Nepal that organizes placements for foreign volunteers as Volunteer Coordinator. I had responsibility, freedom, and variety in my work.

    Then, things went very, very wrong. I arrived at work one morning to an e-mail from two of our volunteers placed in Prabatipur, Chitwan. There had been a horrific sexual harassment incident in the home where they were staying with INFO’s host family. What followed was a long saga of misunderstanding between my employers and I over the question of refunding the volunteers who pay 125 euros a week to be in Nepal. The incident opened my eyes and I saw the organization for what it was: a business, a money-making enterprise, disguised as an NGO. Volunteers weren’t valued, appreciated or respected. Prior to arrival, the volunteers were promised the moon but once they got here and paid their fees, the attitude changed dramatically.

    This is only a brief summary of one organization dealing with volunteers. This has resulted in foreigners, myself included, beginning to lose trust in Nepalis. Certainly not all Nepalis are this way, but I have become skeptical. This is a problem for the entire country, and thus should be taken seriously by all Nepalis.

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