Hello Open Source World

I have been using Open Source software for a long time. I used to be happy just getting free software in the form of shareware
downloaded from local BBS's (I just
remembered a random dream from one of the last few nights in which I met the
original sysops for Megasystem - in my dream they were two skinny
middle aged Albanians). I definitely played with the Wildcat
BBS server, and I got Mosaic running
via a PPP connection to the University of Nevada Reno (thanks Brad
Lew!). I used Pine for email on CMCVAX, but again I don't think Pine
was or even is, open source. I think my first real encounter with Open
Source was the Perl programming language in 1997, which was also how I
fell in love with programming.

Pulling out my well worn Learning Perl book I can see right there on page 2 where I was introduced to it:

Perl is distributed under the GNU Public License,
which says something like, "you can distribute binaries of Perl only if
you make the source code available at no cost, and if you modify Perl,
you have to distribute the source code for the modifications as well."
And that's essentially free. You can get the source to Perl for the
cost of a blank tape or a few megabytes over a wire. And no one can
lock Perl up and sell you just binaries for their particular idea of
"supported hardware configuration"

Of course, I didn't quite understand this when I first read it. I
remember thinking that any program ever written in perl had to be made
available for download - which of course is not the case.

So fast forward past Linux, cygwin, GAIM, Firefox, Thunderbird, GIMP, Mplayer, mono, vim, and especially my year at DecisionSoft
which really indoctrinated me in Open Source Software, and we arrive at
the present. If I need software I first check Sourceforge and
Freshmeat. I love to string Open Source tools together - by design open
source tools work together brilliantly (converting Real Audio streams
to mp3s may be my favorite: mkfifo soundpipe; lame -b 64 soundpipe
filename.mp3 & mplayer -quiet -ao pcm -aofile soundpipe URLofStream
). If I can,
I download the source and build it. Many times I have hacked the source
here or there to do something random that I needed. Once I helped Jeff reorganize a mess of SVG# code, which later found its way into CVS, but I didn't really change anything.

Today however, a patch I wrote for LibTorrent has
been accepted into cvs on sourceforge! Nothing major really, it just
allows chat messages to be sent among peers in a BitTorrent swarm. The
hard stuff was already done, I just had to hook it all up. Nonetheless,
it feels good to have finally contributed to something that I totally
believe in and use every day.

I guess the next major step is to start a project and find strangers to
help me work on it. Perhaps this metadata photo project that I am
brewing in my brain.

Tomorrow, we head off to the Nyika Plateau. Perhaps I will see a Gnu, and my Open Source week will truly be complete.

0 Response to Hello Open Source World

Post a Comment