Do you like Electron apps? Chances are you don’t. In this post I list reasons why I don’t think Electron apps are bad, and why haters should chill.
Do you like Electron apps? Chances are you don’t. In this post I list reasons why I don’t think Electron apps are bad, and why haters should chill.
The commune of Mappano (Italia) in the neighborhood or Turin, has decided to use free and open source software for its IT infrastructure and eGovernement services.
If you follow It’s FOSS regularly, you remember earlier this year, we regretted Munich was turning its back on free software. Of course, Mappano is not Munich. It’s a municipally counting around 7000 inhabitants and established in 2013 from the reunion of several territories. What made that case interesting is, until recently, Mappano was temporarily administrated by a prefect. And it’s only in June 2017 the first Mappano municipality was elected.
So, this is a rare case of a public administration having the opportunity to start its IT infrastructure from scratch. And it was one of the first decision of the newly elected council to build their infrastructure and the eGovernement services based on free and open-source software.
Some might see in that news the sign free movement leadership has moved toward the south of Europa? Maybe. Maybe not. So I decided to investigate about the adoption of Open Source software in public administrations across the European Union.
The Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR) is a project launched by the European Commission for exchanging information, experiences and best practices around open source solutions for use in public administrations.
It was my primary source of information here. But unfortunately, if the OSOR provides lots of qualitative data, there was not many quantitative data available. OSOR is currently considering to provide systematic and aggregated data by 2018.
So, today, I had to resort on some sub-optimal heuristics to try to obtain the information I was looking for. The OSOR provides a news feed with associated metadata. So, I crawled their website to extract all the “news” having the “eGovernance” tag and sorting them by country. You can find my (quick and dirty) extraction tool here.
Using Gnuplot (the script is on the gist link above), I end up producing that graph.
What does that tell us? Well, that graph shows the news published by the OSOR per date and per country. In addition, I sorted the countries by population (in ascending order). It is rather expected to find the “larger” member state to attract more attention in the published news.
Still, according to the OSOR the most frequently mentioned countries for eGovernment news publications from 2015 to 2017 are, starting with the most often mentioned state: France, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark. Starting from now, I will especially focus on those 8 countries.
You may have noticed some relatively “small” countries entered in the top 8 of the country cited in the OSOR news: Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark. To give you some reference, Spain count 46M inhabitant, that’s more than twice the population of the Netherlands (17M inhabitants).
Measuring the dynamism of a country in term of adoption of open source software in public administration by counting the news published on a website is far from being a scientific proof of that dynamism. If you’re a graduate student or researcher maybe that would be a topic of interest to choose! However, given the absence of quantitative studies, we can still wonder if the data obtained by crawling the OSOR website were not biased. So, I crosschecked the data by comparing them with the number of news found by Google Search on a similar topic.
The results are mostly coherent, except for the United Kingdom (overrepresented in OSOR compared to Google Search) and Netherlands (underrepresented in OSOR compared to Google Search). For the United Kingdom, one possible explanation is I’ve only searched the exact string “United Kingdom” (and not “UK”). In addition, aggregating the results with “Britain” or “Great Britain” for example might help in closing the observed gap.
Anyway, the graph confirms a continuous growth in the number of news items talking about free software and public administration. At the very least, that can confirm this is a trend rather than just a passing interest.
Given that trend, is open-source adoption in public administration a matter of country size? I already mentionned this was not the case. But in addition, relatively small countries seem as dynamic as the major countries of the EU. In particular, Spain (46M inhabitants) appears here as dynamic in that area than France (67M inhabitants) or Germany (80M inhabitants).
For what it worth, I took the same data from Google Search but adjusted them first according to the country population, then according to the gross domestic product. And obviously, the leaders no longer appear to be the same.
I will not fall into the trap of drawing any conclusion here. I would certainly need more accurate and comparable data for that. And if you know where to find such data, certainly I would like to hear about your in the comment section below.
Anyway, what we may hope in seeing those graphs is the adoption of the Open Source technologies by public administrations is not a question of size or budget. This is a question of political will.
Spanish government encourages its public administrations to use free and open source software since 2007. And it even has an official GitHub account: https://github.com/ctt-gob-es
And this is certainly not the only government you will see there: https://government.github.com/community/
Coincidence or not, still in 2007, ‘The Netherlands in Open Connection’ plan was published to encourage the use of open specifications and open source software in the public and semi-public sector. That early engagement towards the open-source solutions is certainly no stranger to the dynamic we may see today.
And if you want to learn more about similar initiatives that were taken by other Europe’s leading public administrations, I encourage you to take a look at the Open Source Observatory Annual Report 2016 and to read this great presentation by Gijs Hillenius written for the 2017 FOSDEM.
Finally, speaking for a country I know a bit better, France is certainly active too, and indeed is the most often mentioned country in the OSOR news about eGovenment. Hopefully, it will be even more active in the future when we will see the full effects of the Circulaire Ayrault that was adopted in 2012. And we may expect Mounir Mahjoubi, the French Secretary of State in charge of Digital Affairs, and the whole new French government will reinforce their commitment to open-source solutions. That, however, only the future will tell us.
But, what about your government and your public institutions? No matter where you live, in EU or elsewhere in the world, probably there are initiatives to ease the adoption of open source software in your public administrations. It’s our duty to encourage those initiatives when they exist. And the first step to encourage those initiatives is to tell about them.
So, if you have a blog, why not publish about that? Or, simply, use the comment section below to share your experience and hopes with digital administrations and FOSS adoption there.
In recent years, Microsoft has been becoming more friendly to Linux, even going so far as to say that they love it. Now, Microsoft announced that they were adopting the version control software originally created for the development of Linux.
Git is a version control system used to keep track of changes made to files. It was originally created by the Father of Linux, Linus Torvalds. When Linus started work on the Linux kernel, he used the free version of a (then) proprietary source control management system named BitKeeper. In 2005, Larry McVoy, the owner of BitKeeper, accused Andrew Tridgell, the creator of Samba and rsync, of reverse engineering BitKeepers protocols and revoke the free use of BitKeeper.
As a result, Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel, looked at the source control management software available. Since none met his criteria, he created his own and called it git. About the name, Linus said, “I’m an egotistical bastard, and I name all my projects after myself. First ‘Linux’, now ‘Git’”. Git is British slang for someone who is pig headed and always sure that they are right.
Microsoft announced that they would start moving the Windows development team to Git back in February. This is all part of their OneCore project to unify the Windows development process to make it a modular and layered platform.
Microsoft’s previous version control system, SourceDepot, could not support the huge size of Windows development in one repo. Before the switch, it was divided up into 65 repos containing overlapping parts of Windows.
So far, 2,000 Microsoft engineers have switched over to git with 500 more to move over in the next couple of months. Here are some of the stats from the new git repo:
I’m sure there are a number of people from the Linux community who are wondering how these numbers compare to Linux development. The short answer is that they are difficult to compare because they are developed differently. Every piece of Windows is written by Microsoft engineers and programmers. On the other hand, each Linux distribution is made up of a collection of pieces of software created by different people and groups.
For example, Windows Explorer, the Start Menu, Control Panel, Windows Media Player, and Wordpad are all created and funded by Microsoft. In the Linux world, important pieces of the OS, such as the Calamares installer, the MATE desktop, and PulseAudio are all created by different individuals but are combined by developers to create a distro.
Since I can’t give you the size of a Linux distro, I’ll give you what I can, the size of the Linux kernel repo. (I’d like to thank Ikey of the Solus Project fame for cloning the Linux kernel repo and telling me the size because I’d still be downloading it with my slow connection). As of the 27th, the Linux kernel repo was 849MB in size and consisted of 59,804 files.
I was able to find an open source operating system to compare the Windows repos to size wise. The Haiku operating system follows a monolithic design similar to that of Windows, ie they build everything themselves. As of the 25th, the Haiku repo was 342MB. Please note that while Haiku is missing some bells and whistles, it is a functioning OS.
As Microsoft started to implement git, they realized that they would have to make some changes in order to make it work for them. The first change they made was the creation of the Git Virtual File System. The problem with having such a massive repo is that not everyone needs to clone (copy) the entire repo to their local machine. The Git Virtual File System allows each programmer to only download the files that he needs access to.
The second problem they had to fix was tweaking the algorithm to keep track of which files had been accessed by the Git Virtual File System. Otherwise, running a simple command like
git status to check to see which files had been modified would take half an hour to sort through 3.5 million files.
Finally, Microsoft had to build a git proxy server to handle the needs of employees in areas with lower bandwidth. Their North Carolina was encountering higher git response, but after installing the git proxy, they see better results than those in Redmond.
Microsoft plans to make these improvements available upstream so that other developers can take advantage of them. Currently, Git Virtual File System is not supported by any Linux git clients.
When I heard that Microsoft was moving Windows development to git, I had to check to make sure I hadn’t ended up on The Onion. After reading about it, it seems like the move is a good fit for Microsoft. It would help improve their development efficiency and hopefully help their code quality.
It’s good to hear that they will be releasing their changes to the community. Maybe this will inspire them to release Windows as open source. Well, now I’ve just traveled into fantasy land.
Overall, I think this will give a boost to the open source community and may inspire other companies with huge development teams to consider git as their version control software.
What do you think of this news? Do you work for an organization would benefit from Microsoft’s additions to git? If you are a Linux developer, could you weigh in on your thoughts about the size of the Windows repo?
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Brief: In this review of Kali Linux, we try to answer regular questions like what is Kali Linux, what is the use of Kali Linux and whether beginners should use Kali Linux or not?
Kali Linux has gained a lot of popularity recently. And there is a reason for that. Hacking is back as the cool-thing-to-do in popular culture and this can be attributed significantly to the TV series Mr. Robot.
Kali is one of the few hacking focused Linux distributions and quite obviously, Mr. Robot’s popularity helped Kali Linux in getting new users. The graph below validates this claim.
And with that, people with hardly any knowledge of Linux or anything related to computer security are now trying to use Kali as their main Linux distribution.
But Kali Linux was certainly not designed for that purpose.
Of course, I could easily write an article explaining why it’s wrong to use Kali as a first Linux distribution. In fact, you could find great arguments here and here to dissuade you from using Kali unless you really have specific needs.
But I wanted to do something different. So I setup a virtual machine and tried to put myself in the shoes of a ‘new user’ trying some basic tasks on his brand new Linux system. So, will I encounter some issues or will it be straightforward? Stay with me up until the end of this article to read my conclusions.
To quote the official web page title, Kali Linux is a “Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking Linux Distribution”. Simply said, it’s a Linux distribution packed with security-related tools and targeted toward network and computer security experts.
A Linux Distribution is nothing more than a bundle containing the Linux kernel, a set of core utilities and applications and some default settings. So, Kali Linux does not offer something unique in that sense most of the provided tools could be installed on any Linux distribution.
The difference is Kali is pre-packaged with those tools and the default settings were chosen according to the intended use cases of that distribution, rather than, say, to fit the needs of the typical desktop user.
In other words, whatever is your goal, you don’t have to use Kali. It is just a special distributions making easier the tasks it is specifically designed for, while eventually making other tasks more difficult.
To download Kali Linux, I went to the official download page and followed the first download link on that page.
Luckily enough, my computer is equipped with a 64bit Intel CPU, so the amd64 image was the right one for my architecture.
In addition, on the download page, there was a bunch of hexadecimal numbers. Doesn’t that already feel “hackish”?
No, seriously, those are not here for fun. Kali Linux is intended to be used for security-related tasks. The last thing you want is the tools you will use to be somehow compromised.
So, after having downloaded the Kali Image, you should check the SHA-256 fingerprint of the file and compare it with the one provided on the download site. You can read this tutorial on how to verify checksum in Linux.
Now, I am confident in installing Kali Linux on my VM from that ISO image.
Kali Linux being based on Debian, the installation process is rather straightforward. And it is well documented on the Kali website.
For this test, I stuck as much as possible with the default options.
And only a few minutes later, I was able to boot for the first time in Kali Linux, ending up with that screen:
A user accustomed to Unix-like systems might be surprised to learn “root” is the only user available after a default installation. But that’s because many pen-testing tools require super-user permissions.
Once again, this is a Kali-specific choice given its intended use case. But this is not the best choice for your everyday use of a computer (browsing the internet, using office applications, and so on). And it is possibly the worst choice if you have to share your computer with someone else (more on that later).
Speaking of applications, the only ones installed on a default Kali Linux system are clearly oriented toward security. In addition to that, there are a bunch of command line tools not visible from the menu, and few core utilities like a calculator, an image viewer or a couple of text editors. But you will not found heavy weight office applications or productivity tool.
To give a concrete example, there is no email reader as part of the standard installation. Of course, Kali Linux is based on Debian, and a lot of packages were ported. So you can install many extra software by yourself and it should work:
apt-get update && apt-get install thunderbird
And indeed, it will. But once again, is it really wise to check your mail as root on a machine you will use for security auditing?
In a typical Unix-like system, users work as unprivileged users having access to their own files, but not able to tamper with the system or other users’ files. For the computer maintenance or to perform administrative tasks, some users may temporary endorse the privileged identity “root” that give them super-powers on the host.
On the opposite, on a default Kali Linux system, the only installed user is root and you have to work under that identity all the time. You have to understand that being root means there is basically no permissions checks on your machine. You can do everything you want. And even things you don’t want.
For example, by exploring your system you might inadvertently edit some critical files like
/etc/passwd or some file in the directory
/etc/grub.d/ in such way your system will become unusable. In some cases, you may alter your system without noticing any obvious change, until the next reboot or the next update— where it will suddenly break. And there are potentially hundreds of such critical files on a typical Linux system. The file permissions are set in such a way an “ordinary” user couldn’t endanger the system as a whole. But being root for your daily work on Kali (just like on any Linux system, by the way) will remove that safety net.
Of course, nothing prevents you from creating new unprivileged accounts on your system. But this is extra work you have to do on Kali you wouldn’t on another distribution. Simply because you’re trying to use Kali for something it was not designed for.
Somewhat in the same spirit, Kali Linux is packed with penetration testing tools— some of them are GUI tools. Other are CLI tools. In both cases, it might be tempting to “toy” with them more or less at random.
But some commands may be potentially harmful to your home network. In addition, by not understanding the implications of what you are doing, you may put yourself in a difficult situation by using those tools at your work, school or on public networks. And in that case, ignorance will not be an excuse.
Here again, this is not a Kali specific issue: if you install penetration testing tools on Fedora or Linux Mint, and try random things with them, you may end up in the same trouble. Kali just makes that easier.
The first thing you can see on the Kali login screen is that motto: “The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear”. What does that mean?
If I listen on the network interface of my Debian system, I can see it being relatively noisy by sending network packets at more or less regular intervals. Some of them are sent by user applications. Other by background services. And if I run nmap to perform a port scan on my regular desktop, I can see several open ports. Including a never-used vnc port and a long forgotten HTTP server!
All of that because I have various services and user software installed. Some of them are part of my Debian default settings. Some other are here because “one day” I’ve installed a package and just didn’t remove it when I no longer needed it. This is the case for example of the HTTP server currently running on my laptop and which I didn’t need for weeks now.
On the other hand, Kali is designed to be as quiet as possible. This is required both to hide its presence on the network— and to harden itself against potential attacks. To achieve that goal, the default settings of Kali Linux disable many services that would be enabled on a genuine Debian system.
But, and still, because Kali Linux is based on Debian, provided you install the required packages you should be able to install the services you want. For example, if you want to practice web development, you might be tempted to install a web server on your Kali host:
apt-get install apache2
If you look closely the command output, despite being successful you may notice a messages from insserv having some concerns about the “runlevels of script apache2”.
curl localhost curl: (7) Failed to connect to localhost port 80: Connection refused
While installed, the web server is not started. You have to do it manually.
systemctl start apache2
And you will have to do it after each reboot: “Kali Linux, as a standard policy, will disallow network services from persisting across reboots by default.” (http://docs.kali.org/policy/kali-linux-network-service-policies)
Another option would be to change the policy in the
/usr/sbin/update-rc.d file to whitelist apache2 as a startup service. But in that case, just like in the case of my laptop, there are chances you will leave that door open, even when you will no longer need it. What could be a concern on my desktop system would be much more serious the day you will plug you Kali system on a compromised network.
Don’t forget, one thing that makes Kali “special” is it was specifically designed to work even when used in a very hostile environment. In that context, running a web server at startup on your Kali host defeats that purpose. In short, you broke Kali. Maybe not visibly. But in spirit at least.
There is no guarantee for all Debian packages to be available on Kali. And there is no guarantee for all possible software to be available on Debian anyway.
So it could be tempting to add extra source repositories to your system to download more software than provided by the official distribution. Or to add a repository providing the latest cutting edge version of your favorite software. Here and there, you may even see “advice” suggesting to modify the /etc/apt/sources.list file for that purpose.
Let’s be clear. If you consider doing that, a PPA compatible distribution like Ubuntu might probably better suit your needs.
Not that I say you can’t add more source repositories to Kali Linux. But you shouldn’t: Debian warns us against what they call FrankenDebian as it can threaten the stability of your system.
And for Kali Linux it is even worst. Not only it could break your system, but adding packages from untrusted source to a security system is just a nonsense. Even in the case you trust the source, keep in mind Kali packages are hardened (you remember when I installed apache2 above?) which is not the case for most of the packages out in the wild.
And now, it’s time for my conclusion. But I didn’t want to end that long article with a simplistic and Manichean opinion. Especially as I don’t know you.
So here are three possible outcomes. Just pick the one that will match the best with your case:
1. If you jumped straight to that conclusion without reading the rest of the article, either you already have a strong opinion and I don’t have any chance to make you change that or Kali is not yet for you. In that case, you should consider at first a more mainstream distribution like a plain Debian system or Ubuntu. It will still be time later to install the tools you may need in a more case by case basis.
2. If you read the article but skipped the parts containing too much technical jargon, Kali is not for you. Kali Linux could be an amazing teaching tool. But if you go that way, you have to be prepared for a steep learning curve. If you’re a very new Linux user starting from zero or if you just want to use your computer without a headache, there are plenty of general purposes and user-friendly distributions to start with. Why not trying Linux Mint or Zorin-OS? Or maybe another Ubuntu-derivative?
3. If you read the article, tried the commands I used, followed the links and searched the terms you didn’t understand— well, congratulations. You’re not just one other “script kiddy”. On the opposite, you apparently are ready to spend countless hours and efforts to make your system work, to understand the fundamentals of computer science and to discover the networking internals. That makes you one of the few new Linux users that could benefit from using Kali. But instead of using it directly on your computer, I would suggest first to install some other Debian-based distribution and run Kali Linux in a virtual machine. That way you could practice your skills without sacrificing your other activities.
As the last word, maybe you disagree with me or didn’t recognize yourself in the three categories above— so don’t hesitate to use the comment section to give your opinion!
The BSL itself is so new that it needs to be tested in the wild a few times to figure out how effective it will be, fortunately, the MariaDB team is willing to run those tests and is starting with its MaxScale 2.1 product to expand the usefulness of the MariaDB ecosystem.
All that being said, there were some questions surrounding the claims about the license being “Open Source” when it was first announced, and because of that, Bruce Perens, co-founder of the Open Source Initiative, took a look at the license and helped tweak it to better fit the ideals of the Open Source Definition.
You might think that the godfather of the worldwide push for Open Source was against money making schemes surrounding open development, but in the article, Perens says that he was sympathetic to the purposes of the MariaDB team in making the BSL.
He also declared that “Making Open Source shouldn’t mean you wear a hair shirt and live on handouts, while your users, often the biggest companies on Wall Street, rake in the dough”.
This lends credence to the concept that Open Source might have to find a way to live in an environment where the newest developments are pay to play initially, but that pay period has a clear expiration date.
A lack of clarity, in fact, was the biggest fault that Perens found in the BSL. The parameterization (which initially seems like an issue of freedom for the licensor) is a danger, he points out, because saying that a project is BSL 1.0 would mean virtually nothing to the users of the project.
The transition type, timeline, and commercial limitation were entirely up to the project’s discretion, even to the point that the license might transition to a non-Open-Source license after being commercially available at an exorbitant cost in the BSL environment.
The comparison he offers is to the Creative Commons licenses, which are not clear in what they mean, and each must be read in its entirety to understand the rights and limitations it offers.
Working with the MariaDB team, Perens was able to clarify some of these issues, and still allow freedom for the BSL licensor to provide their own terms. The transition would need to occur within four years, to a GPL 2.0 or some other better Open Source licenses, and have a baseline grant of usage rights (that can only be expanded upon).
These changes help to ensure that the license is Open Source compliant and that a common understanding of what was meant by a project being BSL is achieved.
With these changes in mind, the BSL 1.1 has Bruce Perens’s endorsement, and his declaration that it “will be a good way for developers to get paid while eventually making their works Open Source”.
MariaDB, for their part, has embraced these changes and worked to reduce mention of the 1.0 version of the license in order to favor the improved 1.1 version they are using for their MaxScale 2.1 product.
While the jury is still out on how effective this strategy will be, the BSL 1.1 provides a new avenue for Open Source development teams to grow and expand their products, and not have to worry about begging for handouts at the same time.
If you’d like to test this license out for your project, check out the documentation about adopting and developing the license from MariaDB.
This week I installed my third Flatpak app on Ubuntu (the awesome GNOME Twitch 0.4, incase you’re interested) and it was an absolute breeze. I opened a terminal on my Ubuntu 16.04 LTS desktop, ran a single command pointing to a .flatpakref file, and, after a bit of blinking and a quick stretch, a new shiny app was […]
This post, Flatpak Apps Are Awesome, But Boy Do They Look Bad on Ubuntu, was written by Joey Sneddon and first appeared on OMG! Ubuntu!.
There’s a pretty good chance that you don’t have a reason to look for a database engine, and even if you did, the choice might come down to one of three top contenders. There’s a deeper story to the plucky, underdog MariaDB engine, however, and it is about the difference between ‘Free’ and ‘Open Source’ Software. It’s also about the future of software as we know it, and as it could be.
Michael “Monty” Widenius is a hero, of sorts, for the concept of Open Source Software. In 1996 he released one of the most ubiquitous database engines now in use, MySQL. It’s hard to go much of anywhere in the programming world without hearing about it, and because of its simplicity, it is often used as the training ground for developers new to relational databases. This Open Source project was so successful, that Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) bought it out in 2008 for a staggering $1 billion.
The model for Open Source companies before this point was to provide a dual licensing of their software. MySQL AB, the company that grew up around MySQL, would provide a GPL version of the engine at no charge, but also sold a traditional license to companies wanting to use the engine in a more closed environment. Other streams of revenue included consulting and certification training for users. Widenius’s hope was that Sun would be able to provide the support needed for MySQL while also maintaining this open stance for the software, sadly, this was not the case.
You might argue that MySQL, named after one of Widenius’s children, is still in the FOSS community, because it is free software, and you’d be right. It is not, however, Open Source. When Sun bought the rights, it closed down the availability of the code updates so that the production would continue in-house rather than publicly. This allowed them to market the product differently, and to rely more heavily on licensing with support and training built in. While the engine is still free, it isn’t available to scrutiny and review without Oracle’s say.
This is why Widenius stepped away from MySQL in 2009, just a few months after Sun’s purchase, and created a fork of the project called MariaDB, named after another of his daughters. The goal of MariaDB is to maintain the core code behind MySQL as an Open Source project. In fact, there are very few cases in which your already written SQL code won’t work with MariaDB. Widenius has formed a foundation around the intent to keep the project Open Source, and to create a centralized community structure for the developers interested in contributing called the MariaDB Foundation.
You might be aware of various Open Source licenses. In August of 2016, MariaDB announced a new type of license that it will be piloting based around a business model for Open Source software called the Business Source License with its MaxScale 2.0 beta. One of the features of this license is a sample code model, in which the software is free to use on a limited number of machines, perhaps for testing purposes, but then must be licensed when used in an enterprise capacity.
Since this license is so new, it will take a while to see how effective it really is, but it initially spawned questions of the model seeming like a light version of many other available business licenses. The one feature that sets this license apart from others in the field is the inclusion of an Open Source date in the license features. The idea is to set a deadline for this enterprise license to be limiting on use by the community.
Widenius is vocal about the need for Open Source models to move away from “religious” belief in the software leading directly to support. He still believes that Open Source is one of the best ways to develop software, but is becoming increasingly aware of the challenges of creating a sustainable business model to continue to develop those projects.
Check out the MariaDB Foundation’s governance page to learn more about the aim of keeping the software Open Source, or learn more about the database itself at MariaDB website. Let us know in the comments what you think about a ‘business model’ for Open Source projects.
This graph represents Google search volume for Ubuntu (the OS) from 2004 until now, 2017. Looking at the image it us hard to not conclude one thing: that interest in Ubuntu has peaked. But has it? I think there are a couple of possible reasons why people Google for information on or about Ubuntu less than they used to. And most of those reasons are actually […]
Laughing as I threw a small red ball around my desktop — that’s my earliest memory of using KDE. But what happened to the bouncy ball widget?
While it has been shared that Debian is not a partner organization this time around, there hasn’t much information in the mainstream media about why Debian isn’t taking part in this year’s GSoC. Below are some of the reasons why it happened:
Debian has been continuously taking part in GSoC since summer of 2006 with the highest number of proposals and mentors in last year’s 2016 GSoC with 16 projects to show. With Stretch’s release also looming around, it probably made much more sense to fix all the RC-bugs rather than be part of GSoC.
This is good as Debian gets some breathing space to release Debian and also have time to think of new ideas which will make Debian awesome.
For more details, you could look at Nicolas Dandrimont aka olasd mail here.
Debian for a long time had a single mentor policy. The disadvantage of that policy is that if a mentor falls ill, or loses her(is) job or anything untoward happens in the life of the mentor, the mentee suffers for no fault of her/his. This shows the mentee as well as the project in a bad light. Like several organizations, Debian too has decided to encourage and have 2 mentors for any of sub-projects under GSoC.
While it may have some initial hiccups as it had this year, the idea is having 2 people who know code-base of a sub-project intimately makes sure that the sub-project does not suffer in case of any disturbance in Debian mentor/Debian sub-project member’s life. It also nudges a bit all the single-person teams (and there are a few of them in Debian) to train and have a co-mentor. This should strengthen the project quite a bit as the Debian bench capacity will increase, increasing flexibility and dreaming and chasing more innovative ideas.
This was taken from the wording in Nicholas’s mail of call of participation last month as can be seen here.
See the wording “As additions this year, we ask that all projects be supervised by at least two mentors,” – Nicholas Dandrimont – DDA – Just to make sure, I did get it confirmed by him yesterday night itself.
While it does not affect Debian’s participation in the GSoC project, there were and will probably be a bit of decrease both in quantity and quality in GSoC applications this year and subsequent years due to Google’s change of policy in student stipends.
If you look into 2006 project, they paid $4500 while 2016’s stipend was at $5500. To make the amounts less than half when the rate of inflation is up is not a motivating factor and students may not be that excited for it.
To add to that, many of the GSoC students chose part of the payment received to have invaluable face-time with their mentors and network with other like-minded people at various conferences around the world. With the reduced payouts, we may see reduced inclusiveness and participation from developing countries in most technical conferences around the world.
Lastly, does this mean that Google is running out of money for the GSoC program? Many of the projects that Google helped and got good publicity from are in a better shape than probably when they started.
If GSoC were to close in a year or two, while it may be a shock, Debian would be able to scale up the Outreachy program. I wish Google shares its budget for the GSoC program every year in the interest of transparency as well quantifying the value created by Google in terms of the number of payouts to different cultures, people etc. Just my 2 cents.