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Salon on Glory of Linux Programming 20

Kodi writes "Salon Magazine posted an article on the glory associated with contributing to the Linux kernel. " I remember the first time I had a patch accepted into an actual open source project- It's a good fealing. (Equally wierd is installing a distribution and seeing your apps in there, and installing a binary of your own software *grin*). You might enjoy this bit- the kernel definitely has its own super-prestige associated with it.
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Salon on Glory of Linux Programming

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  • I think I will forward it to some non techie friends, it will explain to them why I do some
    things that I do.
    --Zachary Kessin
  • 'nuff said
  • The work Newberry did won't affect many people, and most won't even understand what it does. "I contributed some changes to the Appletalk stack that's in the Linux kernel. That makes it easier for a Linux machine to offer dial-in services for Macintosh users. If they wanted to use Appletalk over PPP, the support wasn't really there," he says. What he's really saying is that he's a tinkerer and he wanted his Macintosh to speak with Linux machines. He was able to make this happen because Linux comes with all of the source code available. Once he did so, he donated his code for all of the Mac-Linux users who might follow him.

    Hmmm, so itwasn't my fault that I couldn't get that to work at all...
  • A patch in ext2fs about 2 years ago to fix timestamping on symlinks got inserted, but no comment in the release notes. :-(

    Ah well, _I_ know it's there...and where it is.

  • But boy, if you've had great sex, you'd like the world to know...

  • I still remember my thrill the day Linus himself asked me to try a patch for a tty kernel race condition I had uncovered in 1.2.10...

    Sure, I didn't get my name in lights in the kernel source itself, but it was sorta neat getting an email out of the blue directly from Linus. (I hadn't emailed him -- he saw my post to linux-kernel, IIRC.)

  • The less glamorous infrastructure has been a lot more work. Linux is possible because an extensive framework, consisting of a portable compiler, assembler, and linker that can be used for cross-compiling exists, as well as a C library.

    In some ways a compiler is much harder than a kernel. In other ways the reverse is true (kernels have to deal with critical regions and race conditions).

  • I'm still wondering at the popularity of the linux kernel... On one point, it's a great thing. Loads of exposure for free software, annoying corporate people. On the other hand, it's only one project in a wide sea of Open Source Software projects...

    The prestige is completely out of proportion. It is pretty easy to contribute to the kernel. You just have to find a small point which annoys you, and fix it.

    Sure, it's an important part of a running system but, say, if glibc stopped working, or if developpers stopped writing XFree graphics drivers, well... I think you'd notice pretty soon.

    It can also be a bit dangerous, since the `top' people want to be in the kernel, and they leave all the rest of the drudge-work to `less gifted' programmers. Not true yet, but a nightmarish scenario...

    The FSF tried to insist on that point with their `GNU/linux' plea... bad PR at its worst. All they managed to do was give the impression they were peeved that Linus was succeeding where Hurd had failed.
  • Oh, and there's a downside to writing software that gets famous.

    Sure, it feels great to see your baby on a redhat CD-Rom, but then... the bug-reports start coming in, or the simploid questions.

    Quote (from D. Haynie, I think):
    `programming is like sex. One mistake, and you have to support it for life.'

    Just a word of caution: be sure to send out very proper and extensive docs with software you write. It's like a virus, and even older versions WILL be coming back to plague you for years.
  • Sounds like a pointless article to me

    Well, to you it may have been a pointless article. However, it was a good fluff piece on Linux and the Open Source/Free Software movement. And, since the plan is for World Domination on the Desktop, all the good news articles Linux can garner, the better.

    Remember, the suits that control corporate buying decisions are not reading /. They are reading articles in Forbes, Salon and the like. So an article that presents the benefits (read: increase in market share, improving employee moral, etc) of supporting Linux and Open Source/Free Software is a good_thing(tm). Its not pointless at all.

  • I wish people would just leave linux alone.
    I like it the way it is. We dont NEED media coverage. Go away ZDNet, Go away MSNBC.
  • OSS projects should encourage patches/feature adding, by listing TODO's that can
    be handled by less experienced programmers, this will "boost the confidence" of
    newcomers, and hopefully expand the group of active OSS contributers. I have do
    ne this with success on one of "my" projects.
  • is contributing to the linux kernel equivalent to the formula contributions described in 'the foundation trilogy'?

Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little more time for dreaming. -- J. P. McEvoy