Let's discuss Open Source

Alexandru Ardelean May 04, 2021

Well, what I will actually do here is to tell you my story with Open Source. And you will decide if you want to stick till the end of it. Or you can first go grab a coffee (or beer if it's evening), and maybe start reading this... or just grab a coffee or beer [and not come back]; that's also fine.

I've always been fascinated with people that do open-source work. I wondered what kind of jobs they have that allow them to dedicate part of their time to do the work. I wondered how they started, how they grew inside an open-source community. I still like to hear some of their stories. Open-source always reminded of the old craftsmen/maesters in the medieval citadels, where people gathered around a profession/specialization.

In my case, I tried to join an open-source community back in 2008, but I couldn't stay involved. It was around that time that I also started working full-time at a company and when I was coming home I couldn't find the extra energy to do any more coding. It was only in 2014 that I had the chance to join a small startup, where I was encouraged to also send upstream some of the changes we were doing on our product. Well, obviously, the ones that aren't business-logic related. I was doing this during work hours. What I found is that 8 hours at work is a lot of time, and you get to know the code you're working on pretty well, and if it's open-source then it's even better because a change [which can seem simple] can be useful to the community.

The product was centralized around the OpenWrt eco-system. And I started getting involved with OpenWrt. I eventually got to know a few people that were in the OpenWrt community since high-school, and I was wondering: "well, what the hell
was I doing in high-school?". I was neither too popular, nor too involved with open-source.... oh... I was playing computer games ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . Well, those were fun too. I eventually started maintaining a few packages around OpenWrt. The list has grown over time. And these are really low maintenance, but maintaining them feels pretty useful. The only feedback I get is when it doesn't work, but often, that's also the feedback that I get at work when something doesn't work, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Sometimes, I find something broken in a package and I get a chance to fix it. And every once in a while, I find a package that is useful, but not maintained anymore. That's also when a chance presents itself to become a maintainer of it.

One neat thing about my contributions is that they tell my [open-source] story. Feels great to be part of our contributions counter on the main page, which feels like a short view of that story. My addition is based on commits from Github and from the Linux kernel.

And the story isn't finished yet.

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