I just couldn’t think what to write about. But I just had to write about something, its been long due! This is the best I could come out with, given my love for Free Software (become more of an addiction now) is now touching new heights, I am even typing this whole article on vim (its an awesome text editor, just like notepad) .So please bear with me!
Contributing significantly to the free software community, as well as contributing to the open source community has been my long term dream (Yes, both are different). It has become, like I have started relying more and more on free software. The more I use it, the more it amazes me, and the more I talk about it. So much so, that I have become a symbol signifying a weird taste. “A person who has a weird taste of an operating system? Seriously?”. Well yes, that’s what I believe is the general opinion. There is even a certain section of people who believe that I am marketing Linux. Well, no. I am not marketing linux here. There could be a million reasons one could hate something. Of course people hate people for all random reasons. But I hold the opinion that you can’t just love something without proper reasons. There are a million reasons one could fall in love with Linux. And I am not going to talk about that here. Just google, and you will find a million links to impress you.
I cannot not mention my experiences at my first ever Hacknite. For all those who think “Hacking” means just gaining access to someones account, I am sorry to disappoint you, that’s what crackers do! This is what you need to read to understand (somewhat) what happens at hacknites – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_(programmer_subculture). To state the obvious now, we had to code for around 14 hours. Not non-stop of course.
We even took a stroll at 3 am (Yes, the campus is slightly scary at 3 am).To answer the “How the hell can you code for 14 hours?” question, people who are passionate about it, will do it. They don’t need a reason like a hacknite to actually be forced to code for 14 hours at a stretch. So what did I do at Hacknite. Me and some of friends, started off developing some app for Ubuntu (Again, something we learnt in Bangalore at the Workshop). As time passed by, we realized that we took 4 hours to fix a trivial problem. And that’s when we started interacting with others present there. We asked people why they find Hacknites fun. Hacknites attract scores of talented developers, designers and business people who all want to create something new in a day or two mainly. But there were any college students like us, completely new to Hacknites, there to just get a hang of what happens at Hacknites.
The first step I personally wanted to take towards contributing to Free Software was help out our own College’s GLUG(/GNU/Linux Users Group)- CEGLUG(CEGs GNU/Linux Users Group). It is probably one of the very few active GLUGs in Tamil Nadu. We decided to arrange a session on Ruby on Rails. And the person who took the session is the person whom I consider to be a close friend, and guide! I actually have no idea how he would react when he reads this, but this has been the fact. Generally the turn out for such sessions are lesser than 10. But this time thanks to some incredible marketing (seriously) there were almost 50 people.
There has been something that’s been bothering my mind for the past 2-3 weeks. So much so that almost 50-60% of my time I spend in thinking about this alone. Although it might be too early to think about this, but how do I actually contribute to the Free and Open Source Community, and gain money out of it as well. The answer was pretty clear. Make my own app (No, not an android app yet). I came up with a random crude idea. That needed a lot of refining to do. I went to my friend and told him that I want to make the app using only free software, not even Photoshop. I was surprised by the response I got. “Are you sure you want to compromise on the quality of the product? Doesn’t that matter too?”
That answer just left me thinking. Irrespective of whether the person who asked the question was equipped enough with knowledge of alternative software, I am still forced to ask myself, and in turn ask you, does using free and open source software almost always mean compromising on quality?
PS: Linux is awesome! And its a Free Software! There is no question of any comparison between Windows and Linux. Linux wins it outright. My only doubts lie in a few other fields. Like image editing, posters etc.