We're hiring!
*

The beauty of Open Source

Martyn Welch avatar

Martyn Welch
October 10, 2018

Share this post:

It's no secret that I've long advocated open source software. It's something that I've been quite passionate about for something like 18 years now. So much so that I have literally made working with open source software and helping others benefit from using it my job, thanks to my employer Collabora.

Like all software, open source software isn't without its bugs and issues. If someone tells you that there are no bugs in their software, they are either clueless, dishonest or disingenuously talking about some very, very trivial application (and even then possibly still fall into one of the previous 2 categories). With this in mind, the important part is not whether bugs exist, but how empowered you are to resolve or mitigate the issue you are having. Admittedly I generally have an advantage here over someone less technically inclined, however I'd maintain that open source still provides more avenues for someone without coding skills than may be present with closed source, proprietary software.

Case in point was a bug that I discovered whilst working on a script yesterday. An application, chdist, wasn't working as suggested by the documentation and it was stopping me from doing what I needed to do. It turned out that it was written in a scripting language, which made life easier as I was able to directly look at the code rather than digging it out to begin with. Looking at the code I was able to fairly quickly determine a work around (setting APT_CONFIG in the environment before calling chdist if anyone is interested). As a result I was able to work around the issue quite quickly and continue.

But the story doesn't end there, I was also able to quickly come up a suitable fix (shown in the link below) and was able to submit the fix "upstream" to be included in future versions of the tool. As a result in the future neither I nor anyone else will face this issue with this tool. This was my first time submitting such a change back to the Debian project. Admittedly I was able to seek advice and help about the process from my wonderful colleagues and proposing some changes can be a long and drawn out process (and can require changes to be made to the approach to get the modification accepted). Fortunately in this case the fix was quite trivial and was very quickly accepted. Geek level +1.

Whilst I'm sure there are very responsive companies selling closed source software, my experience and anecdotal evidence suggests that this is generally not the case. Access to the source code, allowed me to quickly work around the issue, something I could not have done if this wasn't available and would have required me to contact the company providing the application (which may or may not have resulted in any positive outcome, in any meaningful time frame) or find an alternative approach. Either of these would have resulted in longer delays and/or effort spent doing what I needed to do. In addition, in this instance, I was very quickly able to utilise the knowledge I had gained debugging the issue to contribute a fix, further improving the quality of a resource available freely to all. I'm not going to lie, it also provided me with quite a bit of satisfaction.

Link: https://salsa.debian.org/debian/devscripts/merge_requests/52

 

Comments (0)


Add a Comment






Allowed tags: <b><i><br>Add a new comment:


Search the newsroom

Latest Blog Posts

Desktop OpenGL 3.1 on Mali GPUs with Panfrost

13/01/2021

The open source Panfrost driver for Arm Mali Midgard and Bifrost GPUs now provides non-conformant OpenGL ES 3.0 on Bifrost and desktop OpenGL…

Empathy first: Driving growth through people leadership

30/11/2020

This year, the global pandemic has put a strain on us all. Motivation can become hard to maintain, worries can cloud our minds. Now more…

Developing Wayland Color Management and High Dynamic Range

19/11/2020

Wayland is still lacking proper consideration for color management & support for high dynamic range (HDR) imagery. However, a group of developers…

A summer sprint: bringing near-native performance to Zink

06/11/2020

This week marks two years since the OpenGL implementation on Vulkan was initially announced. Since then, and especially over the past few…

From Panfrost to production, a tale of Open Source graphics

03/11/2020

Since our previous update on Panfrost, the open source stack for Arm's Mali Midgard and Bifrost GPUs, we've focused on taking our driver…

Engaging in an "Open First" remote internship at Collabora

20/10/2020

The concept of a remote internship may raise some doubts, or even red flags, for many students, as would remote jobs for professionals.…

Open Since 2005 logo

We use cookies on this website to ensure that you get the best experience. By continuing to use this website you are consenting to the use of these cookies. To find out more please follow this link.

Collabora Ltd © 2005-2021. All rights reserved. Privacy Notice. Sitemap.