The first time I know that I was using open source was when I first got my Macbook, which did not had Microsoft Word. Mac MS at the time was more expensive than the PC MS. So… I downloaded OpenOffice instead. The second time was when Adobe Creative stop working for the new Mac OS – less than a year after I brought it. Instead of relying on a product that was clearly unreliable, I downloaded GIMP. It’s been 7 years, and I have never look back.
When I learned about the Open Source event coming to CCSF from my friends on Facebook, my reply was “That sounds fun! I am in!”.
Besides, there is free breakfast and lunch. What college students says no?
The talk started with explaining what open source is and showing logos of known open source projects. The presenter, Asheesh, joked that the logo was “Probably the most things people remember about Openhatch” as he waved the penguin(?) sticker. Mental nod here – I know the penguin before I know OpenHatch.
He went onto introducing ways to contribute. One of the ways for new coders was simply to point out issues. The presenter then went on to Issue Trackers and communication methods. When he opens the IRC program window.. wow, instant flashback! It was a chat room, and I haven’t been to those since middle school.
I went in the workshop expecting talks about programming, but instead the first demo was a chat room. It was very telling about how open source works. One of the greatest difference open source has with private companies, from what I experienced in this workshop, was its sense of community despite diverse locations of its members. A company strives to find the ideal personality in the same location, whereas open source projects is about those who can find them on the virtual realm and is offer their time and dedication.
After some laughs about the chats (the people in the chat room realized quickly a class was going on. Silly conversation and jokes ensued), we moved to some Github work. While I have been using git and Github to record the status of my self-studies and side projects, I have never had the chance to collaborate there. It was the first time I forked and the first time I pulled an updated project. I found it pretty awesome to see how, when the project was merge and my submission contained “Fixed #5”, the issue #5 that I fixed would close on its own.
After that, the mentor went around the tables to talk about their open source experiences. We heard stories of how it begins, what they learned, and what got them there. The first person talked about the importance of knowing how computer works, not just the language. One talked about his love of the open community. Another talked about how program vulnerability has a ripple effect on private companies that uses open source technology. The final person talked about how open source can solve real life problems. Their stories varies, but they have this in common: in some ways, programming and open source has changed their life.
Then, it is the last session – projects! The mentors summarized their projects and then find an area to stand so we can, as a mentor joked, “flock” over to them. I debated on my choices. In the end, I decided to went with one where two mentors teamed up to talk about Ubuntu technology and creating new OS. The idea of creating OS is just too cool to miss!
The interface and customization of GNOME was beautiful to watch. I enjoyed the discussions behind the creation and community teamwork of GNOME, and how it interacts with and affects third party distributors like Ubunta and the two other OS. They showed us various projects and widgets that could use some help. In the end, I installed GNOME via Fedora and VirtualBox on my Macbook for the first time. It was ridiculously easy after the agonizing experience I had with installing VM on our school computer for my Linux Admin class, though the later was probably so complex because they want us to know the steps and details. Plus, I don’t have to worry about remote access for this one!
This is purely about exploring the various features of the system, which I can’t wait! Contributing to the GNOME can be simple as just exploring and pointing out bugs. For those who are more advanced in their programming skills, they can help with solving existing issues. The mentors recommended wiki.gnome.org/GnomeLove for those whom wanted to learn more. For now though, I am probably just going to try the OS out and see what happens!