Friday, October 10, 2014

GHC14 Day 1 - Open Source Day

I have had mixed thoughts on this years Opensource Day from the initial announcements.

The last 2 years that I attended, it was a separate activity on Saturday after the conference.  This year it was a part of the conference on the first afternoon. My first instinct was the competition with the other tracks and activities might detract from the participation but in the end I thinks it worked out well.  A large part of the great participation was the parallel general conference tracks that were located in the same area.  Like previous years there was a separate advanced sign up for the limited space of the code-a-thon.  The rest of the sessions, labeled as a "101" series were all about how to get involved in Opensource communities and were first come first serve general conference sessions. These sessions were very well attended despite being in the South building away from the other tracks.

GHC Opensource Day has always had a service theme.  Most of the projects represented have an humanitarian impact on the world ranging from working on software to help located love ones after a natural disaster to bringing technology to women off the communication grid to helping teachers better serve struggling students. I have no issues with this theme and I hope it does continue. 

My biggest complaint with opensource day over the three years centers around the following all to frequent conversation:
Me: Are you coming to open source day?
A: no, I don't code.
Me: [thinking AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGG]. You dont have to write code to be an opensource contributer.  Think design in artwork and usability or testing. How about marketing, documentation, and project management?

Each year that I have been involved has appeared to have a smaller number of projects participating and has become more code-centric.  The first year I was working on a project with my documentation and tagging skills.  Last year I made more use of my teaching skills with what became a getting started with OpenStack session.  This year, other than the return of the OpenStack project, everything appeared very code based. Begin-er programmers were welcome but it was not inviting to someone who prefers to contribute in other ways.

I would like to see the return of projects that are inviting to even the non-coders.  [I suppose I should make the time to join the committee rather than just complaining about it in a blog post...]

I did attended three of the 101 sessions:
  • The OpenHatch How to contribute to Open Source was well covered in the following Red Hat Community blog post:
  • The Intro to FreeBSD caught my interest just see how that project is different from the Fedora and Apache projects that I follow. It was nice to see another documentation focused person sharing how to get involved.
  • The Using github presentation provided a great git cheat sheet on quality card stock.  It also did a good job of making merging less scary.

All showed along the way that contributors do not have to be programmers.  Thank you for that.

I also stepped out of the Linux Kernel Hacking 101 session to make room for others that were being turned away due to room capacity.

Overall, despite my disappointment with the projects living up to the code-a-thon name, I think it was a successful opensource day. It was definitely great to see so many people interested in learning how to get involved.  Now it is up to the communities to take the time to welcome a flood of new energy and talent to their projects.


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