This semester is the fourth time that I've run the Software Build and Release (SBR600) course at Seneca College, and we have record enrollment – a full house! This course is one of a number of open source courses connected with the Centre for Development of Open Technology; it is a professional option in our Computer Systems Technology program, which focuses on network and system administration, and it has two goals:
Teach software build and release (aka Release Engineering/Build Team) principles, technology, and skills
Teach how to contribute effectively in an open source community
In this course, I use the Fedora build and release process as a illustration of how large-scale build and release works, something which is only possible because of the transparent nature of open source processes. I also use Fedora as a community which is open to worthwhile contributions from any interested participants. In these first three weeks of the course, we've examined building from source, RPM packaging, the use of mock for build dependency testing, the use of koji for multi-platform testing, signing packages, and creating package repositories. The remainder of the semester is largely project-based.
The students are currently researching and selecting projects from a short list of potential projects which have been screened for manageable size and practical real-world value. This semester, many of these projects are focused on the Fedora ARM secondary architecture, since the ARM buildsystem is physically located at Seneca, but some projects are related to different areas within Fedora (or, in one case, Fedora+Mozilla). In all cases, the students are expected to work with the community, use community communication tools and practices, and ultimately, advance the state of the respective area to which their project contributes. That means that if new software is packaged, it will be put through package review and end up in Fedora; if scripts or programs are written, they will be reviewed and committed upstream; and if documentation is written, it will end up in an appropriate and accessible place such as the wiki.
On Friday, ten SBR600 students will be traveling with Paul Whalen and me to FUDCon Tempe – eight students from the current semester and two from the previous semester. They're looking forward to making connections with other Fedorans, hearing about the latest and greatest technology, hacking, and generally starting down the road to becoming active contributors.
Please join us! -- I invite you to check out what we're doing, either in the usual Fedora places or in the #seneca channel on Freenode, on the Seneca wiki, or on Planet CDOT.