Showing posts with label community. Show all posts
Showing posts with label community. Show all posts

02 July 2009

Ohio Linuxfest Call for Presentations is Open

Ohio Linuxfest is now in its 7th year, but that's nothing compared to the 40 years that UNIX has been around. The theme this year is the Past, Present, and Future of UNIX & Linux.

Doug McIlroy will be keynoting. If you haven't heard of him yet, he was Kernighan, Thomson, & Richie's boss back at AT&T Bell Labs when they were creating UNIX and C. He's credited with creating the UNIX pipe ("|") as well. Peter Salus, known for his books "A Quarter Century of UNIX" and "The Daemon, the Gnu and the Penguin" will be keynoting as well. And finally, Shawn Powers of Linux Journal fame will be giving a keynote on "Fixing the Economy with Linux."

As with last year, Bdale and his daughter Elizabeth Garbee are expected to speak. Jono has also agreed to speak.

But these six people can't be it. If you've got something to say, why not submit a proposal? The call for presentations is only open a few more days—it closes on the 8th. Get your proposal in!

If you're not that interested in speaking in front of a large crowd, registration is open too. There's free admission, or for $65 you can support the fest, get a T-shirt, and have lunch. There's also a professional package that includes a day of training in addition to what's in the supporter package. That one is $350. There's more to that, but the details aren't fixed yet, so I won't post them yet. There are going to be BoFs and parties of course. LPI certification level 1 testing is expected to be available again as well.

And as I've mentioned before, there is going to be a Diversity in Open Source workshop day. Proposals are being accepted for that as well. Details on the linked page.

Finally, Ohio Linuxfest is now on and has a group there as well. This is in addition to the Twitter account that already existed.

20 March 2009

Ubuntu Developers Aren't Scary

Seriously, they're not. At least, I don't think they are anymore. They used to scare the crap out of me.

The first time I joined the #ubuntu-devel channel (slightly under a year ago) and said "hi, um, I have a patch. What do I do?" I was all scared. Jordan Mantha (LaserJock) popped up and offered to make it into a debdiff since I said I didn't know anything about packaging. The patch ended up not being usable because um, oops, memory leak. Wait, what? No teasing about making a newbie mistake like that? And I actually got credit in the changelog for figuring out what's wrong and how to fix it? Wow. Hmm, helpful people, not arrogant about what they know that I don't? Maybe being developers doesn't have to automatically make them scary. Maybe.

Soon after that I became friends with Jordan and with Daniel Chen, who lives nearby. Daniel showed up to our LoCo's Gutsy and Hardy installfests, and at the Hardy one I convinced him to start mentoring me on how audio works. They're both nice guys, just know that mentioning brokenness in QA to Jordan or in audio to Daniel will very likely result in a long, drawn-out analysis of the situation. You've been warned.

OK so at that point, those two stopped being scary, and the rest stayed frightening. Skip to last October, when I went to the Ohio Linux Fest (be there! we're having a Women in Open Source event on Sunday, so let's get that female:male ratio up, alright?). Wow, a whole bunch of Ubuntu and Kubuntu folks showed up. Rich Johnson, Jorge Castro, Jono Bacon, Greg Grossmeier, Steve Stalcup, Jacob Peddicord, and more that I forget. Guess what? It turns out they're all really nice people too! Well, Rich has his moments. Better without the beer...or tequila. Oh, and don't drunkenly moon Jono unless you want to relive the experience, sober, in front of 1200 people. Moving on…

So I think by that point I was probably subscribed to ubuntu-devel-discuss. That's a mailing list I recommend you join if you want to contribute. That's where discussion between users and developers happens. If you've got an idea and want to flesh it out enough to put up on Brainstorm, or are taking a Brainstorm idea and trying to figure out the technical details to write a specification, get opinions on how possible it sounds, etc. go there. It's a more relaxed atmosphere than either the ubuntu-devel mailing list or #ubuntu-devel. It tries to bridge the gap Amber noted in her 'Community v. "Community"' post.

About a month ago, I started setting my IRC client to join #ubuntu-devel by default, and I subscribed to the ubuntu-devel mailing list. On the mailing list, I'm much more talkative than on the IRC channel. It's more discussion-oriented than the channel, it seems. The channel seems to be more full of terse "<Y>X: did you upload $package? <X>Y: no, not yet, writing changelog now" sort of stuff. At that point, I still felt like ducking behind a couch every time I spoke in there, in case anyone cyber-threw something at my head. I don't feel like that anymore. Just lurking and seeing how interaction works there has made it less scary. It's not that they're trying to be scary. They're just trying to be somewhat professional. Sometimes I'll look into the channel and see someone make a joke. And every morning, without fail, Daniel Holbach says "good morning" to the channel when he wakes up. And then it's a reminder that "oh yeah, they're normal people too."

Oh, I also started joining #ubuntu-women and #kubuntu-devel around that time. Lydia is a KDE developer that's almost always in #u-w. She's really nice and helpful. And of course, everybody (except IRC spammers) loves Sarah Hobbs, AKA Hobbsee. I know, it's sad that I can't think of other women developers. Where are you, ladies? Why aren't you in #ubuntu-women? Women who aren't involved: why not? We in #ubuntu-women will show you how. Why do you think that channel exists?

Why am I writing this? Well, the point is: the Ubuntu Developers aren't scary people. They're actually really nice people. So if you're intimidated by the prospect of speaking up in development related areas when you've just started out and can't point to a list of things you've done, remember: they're not scary, they're unfamiliar. There's a difference. The image of developers being way up high, far from users, knowing how everything works, and not making mistakes? All in your head. Why do you think there are so many bugs? ;) Please don't be afraid to help out because you think you're not good enough. You'll learn. Everybody involved totally sucked at this stuff at one point.

Oh, and Daniel Holbach and Scott Kitterman both agreed that when they started out, they also found the whole thing intimidating. To lower the intimidation level, read on: Scott doesn't know C. Neither does Jordan. Daniel says pointers are his weakness. Mine too—especially when passing them into functions. I put in one & and get a *? Or do I put in a ** and get a *? What if the function declaration wants a **? And like I said, my first patch attempt in Ubuntu had a memory leak (Steve Langasek caught it, it didn't get to the archive, don't worry). And that doesn't make everybody go "you can't code, go away" when I try now.