Robert Basic's blog

Posts tagged 'open source'

Recording screencasts of OSS contributions

by Robert Basic on April 19, 2017.

I enjoy contributing to open source projects, and I learn a lot while doing it. When someone asks me for advice on how to improve as a programmer, I usually tell them to find an open source project that interests them, and start contributing.

Easier said than done.

I’ve been contributing since… early 2009 I think, when I joined the Zend Framework mailing list.

To try and bring closer contributing to beginners, I decided to start recording screencasts of me doing open source contributions. To give a glimpse of how I do it.

So far I have created 4 of them and uploaded on YouTube. The quality is not perfect, but I think it’s good enough. There’s no video editing, I want to show how I really do it, no fixing of mistakes, no retakes. I use zoom to start a “meeting” and then share and record the screen. It’s actually the best screencasting software for Fedora I’ve found, and it’s not even a screencasting software ¯\(ツ)/¯

While doing these screencasts I also realised that I quite enjoy doing this and the whole process has the added bonus of me actual doing rubber ducking, because, well, I talk all the time as I do things.

Also, potential clients and employers can get a peak at how I work.

Happy hackin’!

Tags: about, open source, php, screencast.
Categories: Blablabla, Programming.

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Contributing to open source

by Robert Basic on March 17, 2011.
Heads-up! You're reading an old post and the information in it is quite probably outdated.

Often times people ask me why do I contribute to open source, why do I “waste money and time” on free stuff when I could easily do the same thing for money? Don’t have I enough of staring at the computer at work where, well, I do the same thing - hack on code? Ummm. No.

Honestly, I don’t earn much. Enough for the rent, bills, food, but giving the fact that I don’t have a family, it’s enough for me, for now. So, I don’t make a s**t loads of money, but am still willing to work for free? Ummm. No.

Thing is, I really don’t consider this to be work. This is fun. This is hacking. This is creating stuff. This is solving problems. This is my passion. So no, I don’t work for free. I don’t work. I code, I hack.

But why open source?

Giving back

Giving back is nice. Not necessarily giving back to the same project, but just giving back to the open source community in general. It just makes you a better and nicer person :)

Knowledge

Both in high school and in college the fastest way for me to gain knowledge was to learn, collaborate with other students. Open source gives me the chance to share knowledge with hackers from all over the world; from Portugal, via Nova Scotia to Texas. It gives me the chance to be taught and to teach.

Experience

Open source gives the opportunity to work with people from every part of the globe. Getting ideas across by the means of email, chat, irc can be hard. Open source gives me the chance to improve my communication skills. Heck, I sometimes even have troubles explaining my ideas to my co-workers who sits right next to me.

Reading other peoples code, fixing bugs, writing documentation, adding new features, testing. Hack skills ++

Also, each and every accepted patch and merged pull request gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

Contacts

Open source introduces you to new people. Who knows what can come out of these random introductions? Can’t be bad, that’s for sure.

This is why I contribute to open source: it is fun, it is hacking, it is creating stuff, it is solving problems.

It is my passion.

Tags: contributing, hack, hacking, open source, random.
Categories: Blablabla.

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Moblin, Linux for netbooks

by Robert Basic on May 21, 2009.
Heads-up! You're reading an old post and the information in it is quite probably outdated.

Moblin got me curios and I wanted to test it out:

Moblin is an open source project focused on building a Linux-based platform optimized for the next generation of mobile devices including Netbooks, Mobile Internet Devices, and In-vehicle infotainment systems.

Cause I don’t own (yet!) a netbook, I installed it under VirtualBox (VB from now on). The image is 666 MB big and it comes not in an .iso, but in a .img format. But, VB, a really awesome software, had no troubles booting from it. As with the majority of Linux distros nowadays, Moblin image is also a Live CD, which means you can run it, without installing it.

The preinstall process is made up from 6-7 steps: choosing the language, the keyboard layout, the timezone and, of course, the partitioning. Basically, it’s just another boring “Next-Next” process. The installation itself took around 6 minutes to finish. When it’s done, it asks for a username and a password.

The first boot went pretty quickly, considering that booting under VB takes longer than booting under regular installations. The thing about VB is that it needs, the so called “Guest Additions” installed on the guest machine, so that the guest machine can be used normally. In this case, I failed to install it: Moblin comes with one version of the Linux kernel and the additions are for another version of the kernel. This prevented me in my quest to test Moblin fully. Anyway, I’ve managed to take a few screenshots of it, all are uploaded to my Picasa profile.

There was one thing that was strange. It has a “Status panel”, from which you can update your profiles on social networks. A really useful stuff. I just opened it up and updated my Twitter profile. Almost. I wasn’t logged in to Twitter from it and Moblin didn’t say a word about it. It just happily said that my status is updated. Once I found the “Web services” panel I logged in and this time I was really updating my Twitter stream.

I really was hoping to test it normally and write a detailed review of it, but this guest additions thingy thought otherwise. Moblin is a great distro, even in this beta stage I believe it’s useful. What do you think? Did you test it already, saw it in action?

One thing’s for sure: when I’ll get myself a netbook, it’ll run on Moblin.

Cheers!

P.S.: Check out the Moblin intro, too!

Tags: about, introduction, linux, moblin, netbook, open source, random.
Categories: Blablabla, Free time, Software.

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about:license

by Robert Basic on September 13, 2008.
Heads-up! You're reading an old post and the information in it is quite probably outdated.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really good with all the legal mumbojumbo. All these licenses and agreements, they sound to me like they are not written to be read by human beings. Not to mention a bunch of terms that sound similar, but are not at all. As a person who makes and uses all kind of software, I feel like I should know more about licenses; what can and what can not be done under a specific license.

There are 2 major group of licenses: for proprietary and for open source software. Currently, I’m not interested in proprietary licenses, so, I won’t write about them; you can read more on Wikipedia: Proprietary software.

On the other hand, I’m very interested in Open Source Licenses…

Some terms explained...

It is easy to mix terms like free software, open source software, freeware and such, so I’ll try to explain them as I understood them. My main reference for this is Wikipedia.

  • Free software (FS) “free” as in “free” speech, not as in free beer. FS must be free to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve by users. With every distribution of a FS, it’s source code must be provided also. FS can be charged. Read more detailed about the philosophy of FS.
  • Open source software (OSS) — the difference between FS and OSS is very little: if I got it right, besides the philosophy, the difference is that OSS can not be charged. Read more about OSS definition and about the differences here and here.
  • Freeware software (FWS) — in most cases FWS is a proprietary software made available free of charge, but the source code is not published.
  • Shareware software (SWS) — this kind of software in most cases is available on a trial period, or it’s use is limited in some other way. To use the full software, without trial periods and limitations, users must buy the license for that SWS.
More about software categories can be found on the GNU Project page.

The reason we are here...

On the website of Open Source Initiative there is a list of (probably) all open source licenses out there. I won’t get into all of them, just the most popular ones and ones that interest me.

GNU General Public License

Probably the most used one is the GNU General Public License, with it’s latest version 3.0. The author of this license is Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation.

This license guarantees freedom for software authors and users; freedom to (re)distribute, modify, give and receive source code of the software and use parts of its code in other free software. If wished, free software can be charged, but must guarantee these freedoms to users of this software. Any redistributed or modified version of the original free software must stay under this license. If a free software is changed by another author, it must be marked as changed, so if any problem occurs with the changed version, the problems will not be attributed by mistake to authors of previous versions.

Software under the GNU GPL can be linked only to other software which is also licensed under the GNU GPL. Software that links to a software under the GNU GPL must also be under the GNU GPL.

If someone sees a violation of a GNU GPL, here’s what he should do: Violations of the GNU Licenses.

GNU Lesser General Public License

GNU LGPL is a more permissive version of GNU GPL. It is mainly used for software libraries, but can also be applied to some stand-alone applications. A software under the GNU LGPL can be linked with software that is not under the GNU GPL or GNU LGPL; that software can be another free software or even a proprietary software.

Using GNU LGPL for libraries is discouraged.

The BSD License

The BSD License is a permissive license; conditions are that the original copyright notice, the list of conditions and the disclaimer must be included with every redistribution of the software. The software can be, with or without modifications, redistributed and used. It can be used in other free software or in a proprietary software. Another restriction is that the author of the software can not be used to promote modified versions of the original software, without his or hers written permission.

The MIT License

The MIT License is also a permissive license; it is very similar to the BSD License. Difference is that the author of the original software can be used for promotion without permission, if not stated otherwise in the license.

Other licenses

I found these 4 licenses to be the most interesting ones. Others are very similar, so I will not go into them — maybe in some future post.

I hope someone will find this little reading helpful. Any thoughts on this topic?

Btw, I recommend a good documentary movie, Revolution OS. It tells about the free software movement and the open source. Notable speakers are Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman, Eric Raymond, Bruce Perens and others. Enjoy :)

Tags: free, free software, licence, open source, proprietary.
Categories: Development, Software.

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