Open Source Angst

Open source is supposed to make users happy (except when it doesn’t work). It’s supposed to make their developers happy (as long as it scratches their itch.) But it has been causing me angst.

I don’t get to write any.

Of all the years I’ve been working with free software/open source, I have only been hacking bits and pieces. I did write one thing that seems to have found its way into many project. A little ego trip. And, almost everything I did was work related. I never got to scratch a personal itch. I think back and realize, perhaps I didn’t have that itch at all.

In the past few months, I thought that I should get back to writing open source. For pure fun.

But the fun didn’t come. It never had a chance. I did not get motivated. Now I realize, I wasn’t really interested. I was just feeling guilty, feeling obliged.

I felt obliged because the Philippines doesn’t contribute much to open source. There are some significant people and companies who do, but in absolute terms it’s just a drop in the bucket of global open source contribution. This has been discussed before, in PLUG (Philippine Linux Users Group). The conclusion was, in the Philippines, the people who have the skill to contribute to open source need to make a living. If they had extra time, they would work on a sideline. Students could do it, as there are programs like Google Summer of Code that help. But someone told me, students are lazy.

I still want to help. I still actively use open source products – and thus help, as a tester. I’m not much of an advocate anymore. I have grown tired of it. Perhaps in other non-coding, technical ways.

In the PLUG thread that discusses this, the post that kicked off the topic was all about using open source to add to the portfolio or resume. At this point in my career, writing open source won’t help much. But I hope younger folks would find it useful.

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9 Responses

  1. “supposed to make users happy” – i think that it is not. i treat that it should supposed to make user able to change it to whatever his needs are. open source is not charity – it is one way of the ways software is done, which, in my opinion, will become mainstream in the future, because it is pays of economically. 🙂

  2. chief, let me be frank. First of all, how do we know for sure that there isn’t a Pinoy out there who hasn’t done so. Second, if you tried to write code but did not come up with any, that is hardly a failure as you seem to make it appear to be. You tried your best, it didn’t work out, you’re still alive tomorrow to try again.

    As far as I’m concerned your help in helping others to use it, as you have helped me and no doubt others at PLUG, is just as valuable as writing the code. If it so happens that this is the best way for you to help F/OSS, then you are doing a bang up job. Some write code, some use it, some help others use it. You are the 3rd. Find joy in this.

  3. bfw,
    Of course I was thinking about the more serious things open source can do for users. Making them happy was just a light way of summing up the situation.

    gary,
    Oh definitely there are Pinoys who have done so. In the thread, Gerard Paul Java was mentioned. Now we have a new celebrity, Deng Ching.

    Thanks for the insights about my trying to write, and in helping. Well it just feels more kick-ass to be the one coding. But I guess not for now.

  4. happy birthday! =)

  5. i think we’re doing okay wi/ open source what with bayanihan linux and opensource projects like pawikan

  6. Migs… where may i contact you?

    Chito K.

  7. Migs! You know where we can get a hold of Alex Hipolito PhD?

  8. I found this page because I want to install a bayanihan linux on a pinoy owned computer.I use suse linux because I speek and think in german. So that’s the point. Open surce means shareing .You should feel free to make your wrong code reachable to everyone because my he tray the same with closely the same problems like you . And may together you’ll fix it! So that’s the way it should work as I think.. Thank’s to GnU

    erich.k

  9. […] in my spare time. No personal hobby projects. Sadly, no open source contributions – a cause for open source angst. Who would write Pinoy open source now? I still hope some of the younger generation pick it up. […]

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