Wednesday, December 26, 2007

FOSS.IN '07

FOSS.IN was right in the middle of my winter vacations, which as such was no more than 17 days. Still, I decided to attend this event, in a hope that I might find out "how exactly" I can contribute code to an open-source project. Well, the event taught me two things :

1. I can't directly start contributing code to any project, until I know how the community that maintains that particular project works. In other words, I must hang out on their IRC channels and find out how bugzilla works for that community.

2. I must try to answer questions on IRC channels and try to squash bugs. This really is the way to contribute code to any project, unless I already know certain things, which I know I dont know.

Though a lot of things, that were discussed at the event, went over my head, I got an insight into how things are. This, I would never have learnt if not for the event. Among many sessions, a few that stayed in my mind for a long time are below:

Making Gentoo Tick: Anant Narayanan, a B.Tech. student from NIT, Jaipur, is also a Gentoo Linux developer. He spoke about Gentoo linux and I should say he impressed us all, not just with Gentoo, but also with his knowledge about it and his public speaking skills.

GCC Internals: An IIT Bombay professor, by name Abhijat Vichare, explained on a conceptual level, the internal stages of the GCC compiler. It was very informative. The hall was jam-packed and I had to sit on the steps to attend the session.

The Mozilla Project: Mitchell Baker, the CEO of Mozilla Corporation, explained the various levels at which we can contribute to Firefox. She also explained how Firefox needs to work on Windows too and how that needs to be taken care of by the developers. I was amazed to note that more than 95% of the contributors to Firefox are from Windows users. I then realised the power of free software and the power of its freedom.

Hacking the Fox: If I have to title one session as the most informative session as far as I'm concerned, I will give it to this session, which was neatly and interestingly handled by Myk Melez. Myk is also from Mozilla. He made us understand the simplicity with which the Firefox's front end is built.

All in all, the event was a grand success, which was obvious to anyone who attended it. But if I have to answer how much I learnt from the event, I will say I dont know. But all the same, I know I learnt things that will help me a lot in my path to FOSS contribution.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Entering Semester 8

Its been a month since I last blogged. Well, in the vacations, I sat in front of the TV mostly, except for 5 days, when I went to Bangalore for FOSS.IN (will be posting photos soon).

I arrived at college on the 16th (sunday), did registration on 17th (after standing in the queues for over 4 hours), got terribly sick on 17th night, flew to Bangalore with the sickness (Calicut to Bombay to Bangalore) on the 18th, messed up my interview (atleast I dint throw up during the interview) with Google on 19th, flew back to Calicut (Bangalore to Cochin to Calicut) on the 20th, cancelled my trip to Kottayam for ACM ICPC '08 (the train was for 20th night) on account of severe health conditions, rested (slept the whole day) till yesterday and woke up this morning at 7am hoping to get to my first class for the semester, but only to find out that all classes for today have been cancelled. So here I have 2 more days at my disposal. Ya right. All I can do is take more rest. Not to mention, Im terribly weak.