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Most people who have appeared in Lift’s youth of the week became successful partly because they have known what they loved for a long time and have been working towards success since they were young. Thim Chanrithy, 18, however, didn’t know what his passion was until 2008 when, as a ninth grader, his interest in computer science inspired him to create the operating system called MoonOS, which has since been used by computer geeks around the world and been praised for its originality.
The freshman at the Institute of Technology began creating MoonOS after joining an exhibition on Khmer Unicode in 2008, where he was given a disk containing Linux, an open-source operating system that can be easily manipulated by designers. At that conference he also met a man who worked at the Open Institute who allowed him to use their facilities for his own research.
After using Linux for a while, Thim Chanrithy became curious about how he could use the program to make his own operating system. He would spend half the day at his high school classes and the rest of the day, and night, surfing the internet and taking online tutorials about designing operating systems.
“I spent 3 hours every night studying and creating MoonOS,” he said. “But I put 70% of my effort into, whereas I only put 30% into my studies.” Thim Chanrithy said the more he worked on the project the more he loved it, and after three months he decided to make his experimenting public and he uploaded the operating system onto moonos.org, where anyone can find out about the operating system (OS), download it for free and ask him questions about it.
His first version didn’t get noticed by many people, but his second version, which he admits was much more attractive than the first, made it onto the first page of a popular software site called softpedia.com in February of 2009 and soon his OS was well known among the software-developing community. Later that year, after thousands of people had downloaded (he’s not sure how many people downloaded, but just knows the number of people visiting the website) his creation, he applied to have it officially licensed and it became the 44th operating system in the world.
In 2009, he released another version that was better yet, and was invited to the Gnome Summit in Vietnam to give a presentation about MoonOS and share his operating system expertise.
The Sabay Company is now sponsoring his work to develop an even better operating system and has promised to put it in their computers. Thim Chanrithy expects his designs to become even more well known as Cambodia’s technology sector develops and more people recognise the value of his unique achievement. “I hope the government will recognize MoonOS and install it in schools nationwide,” he said.