My First Real FOSS Contribution

June 15, 2013

I spend a lot of my free time writing code. I usually work on my own personal projects that never really go anywhere. So, I decided to take a detour from my normal hacking routine and contribute to an existing free software project. My contribution was accepted awhile ago now, but I wasn’t blogging then so I’m rambling about it now.

It’s wise to find a project with a low barrier of entry. An active IRC channel and/or mailing list with people willing to help newcomers is ideal. I remembered hearing about GNU MediaGoblin at LibrePlanet 2012, so I decided to check things out. MediaGoblin is a media sharing web application written in Python. Their bug tracker marks tickets that require little work and don’t require a deep understanding of MediaGoblin as bitesized’.

I chose to work on this ticket because it didn’t require any complicated database migrations or knowledge of the media processing code. I added a new configuration option, allow_comments, and a small amount of code to enforce the setting.

Eventually, the ticket got reviewed and Christopher Webber (MediaGoblin’s friendly project leader) merged it: “Heya. Great branch, this works perfectly. Merged!”

It was a very small change, but I was happy to finally have some actual code of mine in a real free software project. I have a strong passion for free software and the GNU philosophy, so it’s really great to participate in the community. My job as a professional software developer eats up a lot of my time these days, but I hope to find the time to continue hacking and contributing.