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Reasons Why You Don't Contribute To Open-Source Software

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  • Reasons Why You Don't Contribute To Open-Source Software

    Phoronix: Reasons Why You Don't Contribute To Open-Source Software

    Over on the GCC mailing list is a rather lively discussion (especially for being a Friday evening) that only started earlier today. No, it's not about the recent GCC 4.5 release or even our GCC vs. Clang/LLVM benchmarks, but it's about development participation. A developer is asking why you don't participate in contributing to GCC?..

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=ODE3Ng

  • #2
    Depends on the project. Most of the time, it's trouble understanding the source code. Last time I wanted to add something was in Mumble. When I loaded up the sources I was shocked: not a single comment in the code. None whatsoever. The only person who understands it, is the one who wrote it.

    Something similar is going on with many other OS projects.

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    • #3
      Hello there, first post in forums.
      I want to say not everyone is a programmer. Some other people likes to apply the software in a production/office/enterprise/home environment as a way to contribute to both free and open source software.

      So, many people like to help with the large OSS/FS project, but few people knows how to make code with enough quality to fit as an official patch for a program.
      No offense, but ignoring that is somewhat narrow-minded, like a born-programmer developer who doesn't understand how can be people in the "computers" thing but doesn't make software, because he still doesn't know computers are more than "code, flowcharts and maths".

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      • #4
        Originally posted by frostwarrior View Post
        Hello there, first post in forums.
        I want to say not everyone is a programmer. Some other people likes to apply the software in a production/office/enterprise/home environment as a way to contribute to both free and open source software.

        So, many people like to help with the large OSS/FS project, but few people knows how to make code with enough quality to fit as an official patch for a program.
        No offense, but ignoring that is somewhat narrow-minded, like a born-programmer developer who doesn't understand how can be people in the "computers" thing but doesn't make software, because he still doesn't know computers are more than "code, flowcharts and maths".
        I don't think most people are ignoring that, at least I am not, as there are many ways to help out projects besides just writing patches -- writing documentation, PR, regression testing, graphic design, etc etc.
        Michael Larabel
        http://www.michaellarabel.com/

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        • #5
          I'm not a compiler developer, nor intimately familiar with the GCC-family development world...

          But I remember more than one discussion about how GCC is exceedingly large, complex, and difficult to extend. And on top of that, ideas such as making it modular, to make development more accessible and open up all sorts of innovation (supposedly a hallmark of open source), is fought against because of some perceived risk that "free software" will be extended by proprietary interests.

          And perhaps what I've said is completely ignorant, I'm not an expert on the issue, but it says a lot when others are willing to write from the ground up a new compiler infrastructure...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Michael View Post
            I don't think most people are ignoring that, at least I am not, as there are many ways to help out projects besides just writing patches -- writing documentation, PR, regression testing, graphic design, etc etc.
            This.

            As a Free Software developer I cannot tell you how much I appreciate people taking up the roll of triaging bug tickets, helping organize documentation, providing support to the community, etc. You don't need to be a programmer to help out! Most successful projects have a healthy mix of people with different skillsets.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Michael View Post
              I don't think most people are ignoring that, at least I am not, as there are many ways to help out projects besides just writing patches -- writing documentation, PR, regression testing, graphic design, etc etc.
              I agree with the above.

              My biggest reason for not contributing is not knowing how to program very well. However, I contribute whenever possible to projects in writing/updating documentation and reporting well documented bugs in addition to what coding I can do.

              One thing that makes it much easier for me to contribute to a project is when the project has a well documented list of programming opportunities or documentation/wiki items to expand.

              Some examples are:
              KDE:
              https://bugs.kde.org/buglist.cgi?key...D&cmdtype=doit

              Debian GNU/Linux:
              http://wiki.debian.org/DebianForNonCoderContributors

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              • #8
                The last open source project I wanted to actually contribute to was Moonlight. I'd submitted a bug report nearly three years ago about GStreamer support in it. Each time I brought it up, the only response I got was "Patches Welcome!"

                By the time I actually learned C/C++ (this year), I got fed up and actually tried to add it myself. They told me to look at ffmpeg-pipeline.{cpp,h}. So I did.

                The source code had nearly no comments, and the ones that are there are unhelpful. The code is cryptic and I couldn't figure it out. I didn't know what the FFmpeg pipeline code was doing, so how could I implement a GStreamer equivalent? And they wonder why more people don't join the project to work on those areas....

                After I told them that, they admitted that almost nobody actually KNEW the codebase all that well. Which is utterly disappointing....

                I'm SICK of getting the response "Patches welcome" from project people when either A) They wouldn't accept it anyway, or B) Their code is not clean, organized, and commented enough to make it easier for other developers to understand.

                Projects that have the legal waiver stuff make me nervous, so I won't contribute to those as a rule.

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                • #9
                  Don't have the programming skills, although I have skills programming robots...

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                  • #10
                    I don't contribute as much as I'd like due to not having the time or energy after work each day (which is embedded C mainly), so I'm mostly limited to helping others on forums/mailing lists/etc when I know a solution to a problem they're having.

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