StudentProject keyword in Fedora Bugzilla Wed, Nov 11. 2009
One challenge of teaching inside an open source community is finding projects which are appropriately for students to work on: they shouldn't be really trivial, because that won't provide a challenge or allow the student to engage with the community; they can't be huge, or the student won't finish them within the semester; and they can't be blockers or part of the critical path to a release, because the student may not be able to complete the project on the community's timeline.
My colleague David Humphrey introduced a new keyword into the Mozilla bugzilla tracker last spring, and it has been successfully used to identify many potential student projects (108 at the time of writing).
Good ideas are worth copying -- and since I'm bringing students into the Fedora community, and the POSSE-APAC professors will bring even more, I asked Dave Lawrence to add the StudentProject keyword to the Fedora/Red Hat bugzilla (thanks Dave and Paul!).
Kids vs. Students Sat, Nov 7. 2009
I stopped using the word "kids" to refer to students for several reasons -- including the fact that I had a student twenty years my senior, and another who was a fully accredited Civil Engineer in his home country -- but the main reason that I dropped it was that it is simply incompatible with the way open source communities work. In open source, roles are defined by contribution, not age or formal training. Some of the youngest members of the community are the most active, and make crucial and valuable contributions.
If we're teaching inside open source communities, then it's important that we value students as full members of those communities -- and I think that the term "kids" is dismissive of their abilities.
Fedora 12 Toronto Release Party Alternative Fri, Nov 6. 2009
Fedora 12 is almost here!
For the past several releases, we've held a release party in Toronto, complete with freshly-burned discs and origami disc covers. This time around, we'd like to invite all Toronto-area Fedora users to instead come out to FUDCon Toronto 2009 (where, in addition to great presentations, discussions, and hack sessions, I'm sure there will be real pressed discs with printed labels and real sleeves!).
Please help us get the word out! Point your friends, colleagues, and neighbours to http://tinyurl.com/fudcon
FSOSS Presentation Slate Wed, Oct 21. 2009
The presentation slate for FSOSS 2009 has been finalized, and it looks like a interesting and diverse line-up including such topics as:
- Apache Qpid (AMQP)
- technical writing and documentation
- Mozilla Dehydra and DXR tools
- open source in South Africa's universities
- communication in open source projects
I'm looking forward to a great conference! If you're within driving distance of Toronto, please consider joining us on October 30. Advance registration -- and the corresponding discount -- ends this weekend as the Toronto Open Source Week gets underway.
Thank you, Jesse Keating! Tue, Sep 22. 2009
A big thank-you to Jesse Keating for being a virtual guest in our SBR600 Software Build and Release class via teleconference last Thursday! Jesse is the Release Engineer for the Fedora Project and candidly discussed his role in getting Fedora into the hands of millions.
With his permission, a recording of the interview is available.
The Best Open Source License... Wed, Sep 2. 2009
I have had the honour of informally judging a debate entitled "Which Open Source License is Best?", held this past Monday by the FOSS Learning Center. Unfortunately I could not watch the debate live, so I've had to wait for the videos to be processed and posted - my apologies for the delay.
Each debater made an excellent case for the license they represented:
Michael Milinkovich, Executive Director, Eclipse Foundation - Eclipse Public License (EPL)
Matt Asay, VP Business Development, Alfresco - GNU General Public License (GPL)
David Maxwell, Open Source Strategist, Coverity - Berkeley Software Distibution License (BSD)
I come to this debate not only as an professor, but as a software developer, a consultant to the SME sector, and as a participant in the Fedora project. There was at least one point made in favor of each license that I found notable: that the EPL guarantees perpetual freedom of code, but enables proprietary products to be constructed on top; that the GPL fundamentally creates an atmosphere of trust; and that the BSD license's brevity and simplicity provides reassuring clarity and confidence.
Of the three cases presented, I found the case for the GPL to be the most compelling. I hadn't previously considered that the GPL creates an environment of trust, but that resonated deeply with my experience and particularly with my observations within the Fedora project and as a consultant.
But more importantly, as the debaters concluded: each of these licenses has a place in the Open Source ecosystem, and the users of each license generally agree about much more than they disagree. Long live Open Source!