On December 13th, 2006, author Bruce Byfield reflected on why he thought Free and Open Source Software (F.O.S.S.) was not on activist agendas. My interpretation of his views are that a knowledge barrier about technology makes FOSS less accessible, the insular nature of activism makes collaboration difficult, and FOSS activists reaching out to other activists with shared values should be encouraged. On December 13th, 2019, is FOSS on activist agendas? The answer is not black or white, but a gray somewhere in the middle. This is my response to Byfield’s article, thirteen years later, on what he got right but also what he left out.Continue reading
CategoryFree and open source software (FOSS)
All articles related to free and open source software (FOSS) are here. Topics include my favorite software, thoughts on contributing to open source communities, some experiences in the Fedora and MetaBrainz communities, my thoughts on issues in the world of FOSS, and more.
Recently, I worked on an interesting project to evaluate different container run-times for high-performance computing (HPC) clusters. HPC clusters are what we once knew as supercomputers. Today, instead of giant mainframes, they are hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of massively parallel systems. Since performance is critical, virtualization with tools like virtual machines or Docker containers was not realistic. The overhead was too much compared to bare metal.
However, the times are a-changing! Containers are entering as real players in the HPC space. Previously, containers were brushed off as incompatible with most HPC workflows. Now, several open source projects are emerging with unique approaches to enabling containers for HPC workloads. This blog post evaluates four container run-times in an HPC context, as they stand in July 2019:
Sometimes the people we exclude are the ones we did not realize were there. Screen readers are an essential tool for blind and visually-impaired people to use software and browse the Internet. In open source projects and communities, Markdown is a lightweight markup language used to format text. It is also used in many other places. Often you need to embed an image into whatever you are writing (a picture, a diagram, or some useful visual aid to get your point across). One of the lesser-known and used features of Markdown are alt tags for images.Continue reading
On April 20th, 2019, the TeleIRC development team released TeleIRC v1.3.1, the latest version after the final development sprint for the university semester. This release introduces minor improvements in order to accommodate heavier work-balance loads on our volunteer contributors. However, it gave us an opportunity to reduce technical debt. This blog post explains what’s new in TeleIRC v1.3.1 and also offers a retrospective into how this last sprint went.Continue reading
What’s coming in TeleIRC v1.4
TeleIRC v1.4 is the next feature release of TeleIRC. The targeted release date for v1.4 is by the end of April 2019 (i.e. the end of the academic semester for students involved with the project). Following v1.4, the project will likely enter brief hibernation until Fall 2019 when the RIT academic semester begins again.
At the developer meeting on March 23rd, we discussed the scope of this sprint and what we felt is realistic for project maintainers to work on:Continue reading
On Saturday, February 2nd, 2019, the TeleIRC community in Rochester, NY held the first developers’ meeting. Starting this month, weekly meetings are held to discuss blocking issues and plan ahead for the future of the project. Current project lead Justin W. Flory met with Tim Zabel and Nic Hartley to finish planning the v1.3 milestone for TeleIRC. Notably, this marks the next feature-release of TeleIRC since v1.2 in October 2018.
Read on to learn more about what’s coming in TeleIRC v1.3.Continue reading
Do you write documentation with the Sphinx tool chain? Do you want to encourage more people to write Sphinx documentation in a distributed organization, but worry about maintaining compatible workflows? Introducing sphinx-docs-opinionated-quickstart, a template repository with an opinionated configuration of ReStructuredText documentation with Travis CI testing and readthedocs.org publishing.
Managing an open source project is challenging work. The challenge grows as a project grows. Eventually, a project may need to meet different requirements and span across multiple repositories. These problems aren’t technical, but are important to solve to scale a technical project. Business process management methodologies such as agile and kanban bring a method to the madness. Developers and managers can make realistic decisions for estimating deadlines and team bandwidth with organized development focus.
At the UNICEF Office of Innovation, we use GitHub projects boards to organize development on the MagicBox project. MagicBox is a full-stack application to serve and visualize data for decision-making in humanitarian crises and emergencies. The project spans multiple GitHub repositories and works with multiple developers. With GitHub project boards, we organized our work across multiple repositories to better understand development focus and team bandwidth.
Here’s three tips from the UNICEF Office of Innovation on how to organize your open source GitHub projects with the built-in project boards on GitHub.