A Q&A Panel About Contributing To X.Org & Open-Source

Written by Michael Larabel in X.Org on 5 September 2011 at 09:29 AM EDT. 6 Comments
Next week at XDC2011 Chicago there will be a rather unique discussion taking place that's quite different from what normally goes on at this annual X.Org Developers' Conference. There is going to be a moderated panel discussion (tentatively titled "Contributing to X.Org and Open-Source") about contributing to X.Org, the Linux kernel, Mesa, and open-source software in general. For those not residents of the Chicago area, this session will be broadcast on the Internet.

With XDC2011 being hosted at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), and there being some interest in this event from the computer science department and their computing group, this panel is largely centered around spurring a new generation of open-source developers and how university students can become involved. It doesn't matter whether you're a student, as much of the information should be relevant to anyone interested in the open-source ways and the opportunities it presents.

What should make this talk particularly interesting to students is that the panel is composed largely of open-source developers who began contributing when they were at university. Some of them are still at university while others have since been hired by key open-source companies and/or handling both simultaneously.

This should provide a unique perspective about challenges they have had in beginning their contributions to open-source projects, recommendations they may have for other beginners, different ways that individuals can contribute and become involved with various projects, etc.

Recent X.Org Events: XDS2008 Edinburgh, X@FOSDEM 2009 Brussels, XDS2010 Toulouse

I'm the organizer and panel moderator of this Tuesday last-of-the-day session. The panel members include:

Peter Hutterer: Peter began contributing to X.Org while at university. For his PhD work at the University of South Australia, Peter masterminded Multi-Pointer X (MPX), which provides support for multiple independent pointers in the X11 Server. Peter began this work in 2005 and it was successfully completed in 2008. After finishing MPX, he's continued contributing to Linux input drivers, the X Input 2 extension, and other areas. He was hired by Red Hat Australia following the completion of his PhD.

Martin Peres: Martin Peres is a French engineering student that began contributing to X.Org for improving the ATI Radeon graphics driver support. Most recently he's been a core developer of the Nouveau GPU driver that aims to provide an open-source NVIDIA Linux driver that is created via clean-room reverse-engineering of NVIDIA's proprietary software. Through his work on Nouveau, he's also done work for the PathScale compiler company and their graphics driver interests. Martin has also been involved with other open-source software projects.

Corbin Simpson: Corbin, a programmer at the Oregon State University Open-Source Lab, began contributing to X.Org and open-source via Google's Summer of Code. He participated in the 2009 Google Summer of Code project where he led the efforts on writing the open-source Gallium3D driver for ATI R300 (through ATI R500) graphics processors. Since then he's contributed to other areas of Mesa / Gallium3D and kernel mode-setting work. In 2011 he was also a mentor to a new Google Summer of Code student.

Keith Packard: Keith Packard hasn't been at university in decades, but as the release manager for the X.Org Server, one of the X.Org founding members, former core member of XFree86, and being involved with X11 since the 1980s, he has valuable information to share. Keith is also a board member for the X.Org Foundation, an employee of Intel's Open-Source Technology Center, and has created other core Linux software such as Cairo.

Matt Dew: Not all open-source contributions are limited to code, but there's also other ways to contribute. Matt Dew's contributions to X.Org are known for being one of the few that actually works on documentation.

Kenneth Graunke: Kenneth attended an X.Org Developers' Conference in Oregon two years ago while a graduate student of Portland State University. Graunke began contributing to graphics drivers and ultimately was hired by Intel's OSTC Portland team to work on their open-source graphics driver.

These panel members should be able to provide some insight on how to become better involved with X.Org and other open-source projects, challenges they've had in dealing with open-source, recommendations, etc. You are invited to ask questions. If you will not be attending the event in person, you can prepare a question in advance. Simply use the comments and discussion link below to post your question(s) in the forums thread. I'll have a list of the best questions prepared.

Ideally this session will lead to new X.Org / Linux contributors, or at the very least, inspiring new individuals about contributing to open-source projects.

There may be a live audio/video stream of this session, but otherwise it will appear on Phoronix and YouTube following the event. If you are from the Chicago area and are interested in contributing to open-source software or learning how you can become involved with this key open-source desktop project, regardless if you're a university student or not, you are welcome to attend this talk.

This Q&A panel is scheduled to take place beginning at 4:00PM on Tuesday, 13 September. The X.Org Developers' Conference is taking place at the ballroom of the McCormick Tribune Campus Center at the Illinois Institute of Technology. This venue can be quickly and easily reached by public transportation. There is no cost to attend this session.

If you are a member of the public wishing to attend, please be there promptly by 4:00PM. In fact, ideally by 3:50PM, as this talk will start promptly on time and potentially a few minutes before hand if there's a hard deadline of being out of the ballroom by 5:00PM (hence why this session cannot be later in the day). This Q&A panel will be approximately one hour in length and is the last session of the day.

Free beer! To make this session more interesting and to entertain the existing X.Org developers at the conference during this session, Phoronix.com is set to sponsor free beer on Tuesday afternoon for the hour. That is assuming the university's catering department has everything in order. (There's an alcohol service request form and other American legal Schei├če that needs to be processed and approved by the university. I'm also still waiting on hearing back if the catering department actually has any good beers to serve.)

More information on the location and any scheduling changes will be posted to the XDC2011 Wiki. If you are from the public and just plan to attend this general hour-long Q&A session about contributing to X.Org / Linux kernel / Mesa or other open-source work, there isn't a need to add yourself to the attendee page on the Wiki. Just be sure to show up to the MTCC on-time Tuesday afternoon. If you have any other questions about the event, contact me.

If you are unable to make the event, you can ask any questions of these panel members using the forum discussion thread. Check back on Phoronix where I'll have video recordings of this session and the other talks following the event.
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About The Author
Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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