Hi All I hope everyone had a great christmas.
Over the break I set myself two goals Learn Ruby on Rails and Get a patch accepted to a open source project and it seems I achieved both of them. This blog post will be dedicated to my first foray into the open source world and a review of my experience so far.
Opensource software is software in which the source code is freely avaliable for anyone to obtain and use. Freely avaliable does not necessarily mean you can take their code and start a for-profit company, certain liscences make it impossible to profit from their code.
The opensource community is thriving with thousands of projects on the go sites like http://sourceforge.net/,https://bitbucket.org/ and http://github.com/ host the source code. Having a computer science degree I thought this should be easy ill just open up a projects source code and fix some stuff and wala my code will be added to the project.
The first thing I did was search around for help about how to get involved and picked the Gnome project as they seemed to have some decent begineer documentation . The gnome projects started in 1997 and their major focus was to create a free desktop enviroment. The project have grown large and the gnome name now has many projects from graphics libraries to media players. If you have used linux before you would have most likely used something from gnome and many of you would have encountered their desktop environment as it a common on many linux distributions.
At first it feels like you are clmbing everest with no arms but that feeling soon disuades. Gnome has a great begineer site(Gnome Love) for newbies to learn the ropes and hopefully contribute. Although my short-lived experience so far is with Gnome many other large projects also provide similar services.
Following the provided guides and downloading the source code of the gnome projects and building the projects on my local maching was where I went from there. After some playing I picked a project I thought looked cool. I found and downloaded the banshee media player as I felt it could be a solution to my having and ipod but not wanting to use itunes problem. I found a few errors when building on my system and after some searching and googling I found a solution to a bug. I submitted a patch and they accepted it and now my name resides on the banshee media player commit list. The process up until this simple bug was a great learning experience and I think i might now be hooked on the open source world.
Where to go from here.
Now I have finally given away my bug fixing virginity the scary part is over, its just fun now. I am really looking forward to learning more about gnome projects for the meantime and helping wherever I can and maybe filling a feature request on their bug tracker would be my next step.
Here are the two bugs I fixed in the banshee music player. The bugs are simple build error bugs on the latest versions of GNU make once the change was made within a few hours I got a email thanking me and that my fix will be added to the repo immediately a really satisfying feeling.