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My First Open Source Excursion

October 28, 2020

Granted that I have atleast a dozen projects hanging in midair (figuratively) on my hard disk (literally). And I have a couple of repos on github in near stasis but today I had my first whiff of open source. Open source doesn’t mean much without collaboration and today I dabbled in real time. Contributing code to a public repo, getting feedback and watching it getting approved. Oh! I felt rewarded.

It arrived in a newsletter

I am of the opinion that newsletters are annoying but ironically all the good stuff I like have always come from them(!) Last year, I participated in Google Code-In (and got a tee) and that info came from a CodeChef newsletter. I got into crowdsourcing, Hacktoberfest and stuff through them.
The vital point is to judiciously decide which newsletter is relevant to you.

Procrastination is strong in me

It annoys me more than anything and I am fighting it. Coming back to the topic, I got to know about Hacktoberfest around mid-October. 4 PRs and I had 2 weeks. 14 days. Unconsciously, I let it slid to the back of my head. Adding it to my to-do everyday but not gathering the desire to actively work on it.

But few days back I did.


I contributed to a starter repo to get started. And then found this probability distribution package written in python. Added exponential distribution and its unit tests. The codebase was meticulously documented and that helped a lot not to nip my enthusiasm initially. Clever code and no documentation only puts off potential contributors.

The maintainer deemed my contribution substantial enough to name me a major contributor on the next release! See, I told you rewarding.

Depravity is a curse. Overcome it

I think that the Indian mind seeks frugality. I’m not being racist. Just something I observed during the Hacktoberfest.

People have made these “repos” where you can contribute CP solutions. Just silly stockpiles of code. These PRs count as valid for the fest but are of course, against the very spirit of open source. And why are people stooping so low for a contest? Well they ship you a tee if you reach 4 PRs. Yes! For a meagre tee. So shameful. I hate such people and such narrow miser mindset.

Would you be able to look at yourself straight in the mirror when you put on such a tee? What’s the point of owning something if you can’t earn it? Let’s make open source meaningful for everyone by playing fair.

No matter what, always with the truth.

TBR (To be read, silly!)

Producing OSS - By Karl Fogel

This book is on my reading list from a long time. Few would compete with it in terms of teaching what open source really is, how it works, what are your roles both as a contributor to a project and as maintainer of one. How to start your own FOSS project and the technical requirements/setup demanded. It’s pretty comprehensive for a beginner. And all of that from a practical viewpoint, so after reading the book, you can actually start your own project.

PS: This book is under the open copyright and available to read online. You may order a copy from O’Reilly Media.

Closing remarks

It was kinda obvious from the beginning but for the records, I think this dabble will soon turn into a deep dive!

Basil | @itbwtsh

Tech, Science, Design, Economics, Finance, and Books.
Basil blogs about complex topics in simple words.
This blog is his passion project.