Young Network Engineer

This is a story of a teenager who is only 18 years old. In 1993, 13-year-old Lin Xinglu dropped out of school and decided to devote himself to IT as his career. In the past five years, Lin Xinglu has become a network engineer through his own efforts. His story tells us a truth: where there is a will, there is a way.

My heart was pounding fast when I was using FORMAT to command

I am Lin Xinglu, others call me Xiao Lin. I am a network engineer who is radically in love with IT. I started learning to use computers in 1993. I didn’t know anything about it at first. My father bought some books about introduction to computers to me. This is how my path in IT started.

Learning computers always starts with the DIR command, and then writing commands step by step. After a month, I started having some clues. At least I was proficient in using 14 internal commands. But the following tasks were not easy any more. Within two or three weeks, I formatted or Fdisked once. The process was like riding a roller coaster, and finally my computer was broken. Then I turned to my cousin to repair the computer. He held a bunch of 5-inch discs, then he installed a DOS and used a command Restore which is used to restore the files produced by the Backup.

As the old Chinese saying goes: nothing ventures, nothing gains. If you haven’t tasted the above-mentioned failures, you won’t get a lesson or it’s hard to improve yourself. That is so called no pains, no gains.

My first homepage was about Mother’s Day

In 1996, all kinds of books and newspapers began to be flooded with the Java boom as if the C++ language would lose its all status. I am a person who likes embracing new things but also don’t forget the old ones. Of course, I wanted to have a taste of what Java was like. At that time, the main trend was Java Applet of Step Internet, so I also followed up. However, the Internet came to us soon after when I just began to be skillful in Java Applet. When I looked at http:// or on the newspaper, I felt excited to begin another new game.

On December 16, 1996, InfoHighWay SpaceTime was launched simultaneously in eight cities across the country. On January 1, 1997, when I went to the computer market, I discovered that the mysterious InfoHighWay Company was across from where the market was, so I went to the Science and Education Center for more consultation. I listened very carefully of their introduction about the product. Because I knew that it was the time to step into Internet age! What’s very attractive was that it’s all in Chinese, which was very helpful to me. On January 7th, I excitedly went to the Science and Education Center to register and bought a MODEM card. At that time, my machine was still working Windows 3.2, and there were tones of problems every day. Later I changed to Windows 95. Since then, I have had a preliminary understanding of the network. I participated in several large-scale netizen gatherings later and gradually I could say I became a half-qualified expert. At that time, I found that many netizens around me had personal homepages, so I also tried to make mine. My first homepage was released on Mother’s Day in 1997, it’s about Mother’s Day. In addition, because of my special interest in MIDI music at that time, I named it “MIDI Music Space” which provided some MIDI music for downloading, and also there were some popular stars and fans’ URL, etc. My first homepage was made in Notepad, and the effect was not very good. But maybe because that was an initial decision, and the various effects can be achieved in Notepad. Therefore, I had been writing HTML in Notepad until I started using Frongpage97.

I finally became a network engineer

In 1997, I entered the Marketing Department of InfoHighWay Co. and served as a technical support in the marketing department. Soon, I transferred to Customer Service Department.

InfoHighWay developed their dedicated client program by themselves. When there may be still some errors, I was appointed to check the program. After a whole day checking, I wrote all the cases into a report to the CEO. Then the company used the Update program I wrote. In Customer Service department, I felt that the biggest gain was that I had accumulated a lot of experiences. But these are just the application layer of the Internet world, I want to get more exposure to the kernel part. Suddenly, I had an idea that I wanted to be a network engineer. This might sound ambitious, but as someone who works in the high-speed changing field, I have to learn as fast as I can. My first thought was to pass a certification exam. This idea worked. The popular exams included CNE of Novell, MCSE of Microsoft, etc. I decided to test CNE first, although the future world may be Microsoft’s, but testing CNE was not a bad idea. Then I started looking for people to borrow books from for the books were too expensive. And then I did self-study. Due to limited time, I have only passed CAN so far. And there is still a long way to go to take the CNE. And I know the only way is to continue to work hard.

After learning some theories, I began to ponder the servers so that I can use it when I enter the operation department, which is the only way to be a network administrator at that time. I tried to use three computers to make a small LAN at home. I have tested a lot of server software. It was fantastic when I put the Proxy Server in the LAN and connected it to the Internet. Later I installed IIS, and various servers like Web Server, FTP Server, Mail Server, News Server, etc. What made me extremely happy was that some of the free server software came with source code, which has played a big role in further programming of Winsock.

A new day had finally come. The CEO approved me of entering the operation department. The operation department is the highest technical department of each branch. It belongs to the same department as the system integrated. Then I finally became an admirable network engineer. As an engineer, naturally I need to be familiar with all servers. What I desperately wanted to know was still its core technology, not just its application. So I have tested each and every kind of server.

After I entered the operation department, except for my daily work, I also picked up a few old books about C++ from time to time. And I often developed some CGI programs, at the same time I had the idea of learning ASP. Then I developed a Unix-like Send Mail for NT version, and also released the first small mobile advertising network of 88×31 size in China which was similar to the network alliance “Star Network Love LOGO Interconnection” (

As for the future plans, I am still ambitious. I am studying the List Server and Web Mail system. I hope that I can create a similar system one day. If you ask me whether I can make my dream come true, I would say it’s difficult to know. But I believe that as long as I keep my zeal in IT and never give up, there is a possibility to realize my dream.

From: Popular Computer Week (September 29, 1998)

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