When people ask me, “Nikolay, why did you leave the bleak, Russian interior for the warm, mediterranean beaches of Limassol?”, I normally chuckle and wait while they think about what they’ve just said. A few seconds later, they’ll smile. Then they’ll say, “Why here? Why not some other warm place?” Here’s what I tell them.
Cyprus is a short flight from Kazan, my home city. I still have a house, family and friends, so it’s important to be able to hop back whenever I want to. Everyone here speaks a bit of English, so there’s not much of a language problem. In recent years, many Russians have moved to Limassol, perhaps 1 in every 10 are Russian, so I can still find the foods I miss, like grechka and some of our famous soups. It also means our 15-month-old daughter had no trouble finding playmates. It’s here she learned to walk, and she’s part of the reason for coming. Learning to walk in the snow isn’t much fun for a toddler. It seemed a shame to keep her indoors during this important phase in her life. So, my wife and I, we decided to spend some time somewhere else. Not long after we arrived in Cyprus, she (my daughter, not my wife!) was joyfully scampering around the garden, kicking up eucalyptus leaves and savoring the warm air. So, just to see that, it was worth coming.
You might think an island like Cyprus would have slow internet. But it doesn’t, and I can work just as well here as anywhere else. There’s many thriving co-working spaces here, too, for the times when I need a change of scenery. I’m a triathlete in my spare time, and this is a great place to be one. Swimming in Kazan isn’t much fun, especially in the winter months. Running and cycling are much nicer here too, although it’s strange to be on the ‘wrong’ side of the road (for me). But I got used to it—I had to, because I did two big sporting events last March: I ran the Limassol marathon; and I cycled in the Cyprus Gran Fondo.
I joined CloudLinux in February 2016, originally as a member of the Imunify360 team, later transferring to the KernelCare Python Team. Python is what I use most, but working with Linux gets me into all sorts of tech. I studied IT at university and joined the industry without the usual detours many friends and colleagues enjoyed (or suffered). After graduating, I worked for 10 years, moving around various IT companies in Russia, getting a lot of experience under my belt, and quite a few programming languages, too. Of all them, Python remains my favorite. It’s easy and powerful and one of my most-used tools here at CloudLinux. I use it mostly for routine tasks: testing, tracking, but also for more substantial projects as well. For example, I recently wrote a nice backend for our CVE tracker system using Python. (You’ll see it soon, I hope.)
I have an official title but it doesn’t tell you what I do. It’s actually a bit complicated to explain. We call it ‘stub optimization’, which will mean nothing to you unless you’re a low-level Linux kernel developer working on live patching. (If you are, why aren’t you working here?!) But in simple terms, I make sure KernelCare patches work with every new kernel version we support. And, by the way, Python is just great for this kind of work too, where I write code (with Python) to write more code (in C). Whenever a vendor issues a new kernel, my tools automate patch migration from the old to the new kernels. And, naturally, automated testing is part of what I do. We have to automate it, because KernelCare is the only live patching product that supports lots of different vendors’ kernels. Traditional programming is just one of the tool sets I use here. I also use Jenkins, Ansible and various other utilities. They make life easier, and our products more reliable. I guess it’s the same for a lot of us in IT nowadays. No one spends their whole day just using one language anymore.
Coming to CloudLinux gave me a lot of extra vitality, and I’m enjoying a lot more sports and travel. The last time I worked in an office was a little over 3 years ago, and I don’t miss it one bit. Remote working has its pros and cons, but for me, the freedom is awesome, and I’ve never been so fit! I now train 6 days a week, which I do in the morning before work. I’m already wondering which country to try next. All I know is, it has to be somewhere warm. Spain, perhaps?