Yesterday(as on 22/03/2014) saw the close of the proposal submission period for GSoC 2014. I also managed to submit a proposal for KDE and more specifically plasma, for the project “Integrating Plasma Media Center with Simon”. While I’ve been hearing about GSoC since the day I joined this college, I find it quite surreal that I’m now actually a part of it(the process) ! So, how has the whole experience been so far ? Well let me try and answer that in this post.
So, this is how it goes, we were asked to start contributing to open source projects through bug-fixing and sending small patches. We over here refers to the members of the FOSS club at Amrita University, Amritapuri campus. Our FOSS club is known by the name “foss@amrita“. We were initially given the deadline of 15th August last year(2013) to have our first contributions. Most of us failed to match up to that, but since then, things have changed and we’ve made a lot of contributions to the Open Source(quite a few of them undocumented) and most importantly, we’ve learnt a lot in the process. A process that’s been truly enjoyable 🙂
While we were asked to make small patches, I was in dreamland and wanted to implement a seeks search engine addon for Firefox( Running behind something so complicated at that early stage was perhaps the first of a long list of mistakes I’ve made throughout this journey :P). It wasn’t much of a surprise when I realized that it was in my best interests to quit this quest and look for more feasible options and of all the open source organizations out in the middle, I happened to choose Ubuntu-launchpad. Phew ! Building it was in itself quite a task, it required python,Postgresql, lxc’s and what not ! I again kept going, but I finally gave up on that too. This endeavor lasted for almost a month or so and in between I was very irregular too. So, I effectively killed two-three months in this fashion. While I really loved the challenge of contributing to Ubuntu launchpad and at that point it really looked like a huge huge challenge, it was not easy to get started. I started hanging out in the IRC’s to try getting some help, but the channel in which I was logged into was mainly filled with Aussie and British developers. Not ideal considering the difference in time zones. I spent another two weeks or so, before my mentor asked me about the progress I was making, and I told him about my situations and what I’d been doing all the while. He asked me to immediately switch organizations and look to contribute to KDE(since at that moment, C++ was part of the courseworks) which is written in C++. Besides I was very happy on hearing this as I was using KDE for my daily use and I just loved it’s interface(I still do 😛 ) and the thought of contributing to the same was quite fascinating. He spoke to me about the different avenues in the same. I now found a new motivation to get started with contributing to KDE, but there were still some action before I could finally get started with fiddling with the KDE SC.
I was directed to another mentor in our college(Seshagiri Prabhu) who asked me to try contributing to Crisis Communicator, for a start and it took almost a month before I could start making contributions. All of this involved more of python(django) and it was fun to work with this. I enjoyed the process. I was able to fix a few basic bugs, but GSoC ’14 was approaching and unfortunately Crisis Communicator wasn’t one among the list of organizations to get selected. Keeping GSoC in mind, it was imperative that I moved on and it was finally time for me to get my hands on the KDE SC(No commits yet) and I was lucky to have a one on one interaction with Pradeepto Bhattacharya, the KDE e.v board of director memeber 🙂 . Interacting with him was a great experience and it only motivated me further to contribute to KDE. I wanted to get started with contributing to Digikam, and I was able to build it but eventually I found the plasma mediacenter a lot more interesting to be honest. The plasma group is simply awesome I must admit, and I’m having a great time in finding my feet, I made a series of errors that eventually brought me the name “The God of Errors” among the community 😛
I reported a a bug in the mediacenter and it has been resolved, I submitted a patch for the same but it wasn’t merged, however, now I’m working on another patch for another issue and as always I remain optimistic of it getting merged though there is still some way to go before that becomes a reality. I find the community really supportive and the KDE project really interesting and really, GSoC isn’t the motivation (however there’s no denying that I would love to have it :P). But through KDE one can meet new people and work on new things in some of the most scenic places(check out the Randa sprints) and I know people who kept contributing to KDE and have now been chosen to do it as a profession ! Wow ! That’s one of the best thing I can imagine at this stage, you start doing something as your passion and interest and you are asked to do the same as a profession which also means that you’d be rewarded(remuneration !). Just ask Vishesh Handa !
I would like to get a few patches merged in the near future, and I can only remain hopeful of the GSoC ’14 results but regardless of it, Google has achieved it’s aim, another student has made the plunge into the vast FOSS world. I’m determined to continue contributing to the Open Source (mainly to KDE but not limited to it) even after the Summer of Code. I’m up for the challenge and am duly excited about the same!
I’ve had to make quite a few sacrifices in this process, from almost getting beaten up by a drunkard in the streets(as I return late from work) to getting an academics battering( I recently scored the class lowest 😛 ) all of this has been real fun. I hope that in the future I’ll be able to balance everything that comes with it and continue along this path.
If winter comes, can spring be far behind ?
Update : The GSoC 2014 results were announced just a few hours ago(as on 21st April 2014, 1:42 UTC +5:30) and not a single Harish was selected