FOSSCOMM 2013 – Event Report

FOSSCOMM, probably the biggest conference about FOSS in Greece took place in Athens this year.  Fedora had an awesome presence like always.

Saturday morning, we set up our booth. Our two roller-up banners with the 4F’s proved to be a major asset. Everyone could find F18 Multi-Desktop DVDs, Greek Support Flyers, as well as vinyl stickers with the Fedora logo in our booth. We also had demo laptops, one of them with a fresh install of F19 Alpha where one could taste some of the new features in the next version of Fedora. Our two XO OLPCs, running Fedora Remixes with the Sugar DE attracted many people; it was notable that some of them were already aware of the OLPC Project, so we had to answer slighly more technical or in-depth questions.

In the evening, we had Christos and Dimitris in the main amphitheatre present the Fedora Community and having a quick look at the features of the upcoming Fedora, F19. Later on, Nestos made a guest star appearance on stage, dressed up in a penguin suit!! He then moved around a bit, giving hugs and waving to people.

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Me and Dimitris at the booth

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Christos and Dimitris on stage. Nestos coming right in!

The second day, we had to re-set up our booth like the previous time. On Sunday, we didn’t have any presentations, however “reinforcements” with additional Fedora contributors from Athens arrived to aid in the booth. A lot of people gathered periodically in our booth, asking general or detailed questions about Fedora; by the end of the day, we had given away all the Multi-Desktop DVDs and nearly all our vinyl stickers, which turned out to be very popular. All in all, six (6) registered Fedora contributors stayed in the booth both das, though we also had other people (who were, “unofficial” let’s say, Fedora contributors) helping out in the booth.

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Fedora & Red Hat ❤

All in all, FOSSCOMM was great this year and we (the Greek Fedora contributors) had a great time together, promoting our favourite project and the idea of FOSS in general. See you on next FOSSCOMM 🙂

Google Code-In 2011 // Synopsis

On 17th January, Google Code-In, a contest for pre-university students with the aim of encouraging them to participate in open source development, came to an end. Over 550 students had the chance to complete a wide range of tasks and contribute to eighteen open source projects in total. I’ve been one of them myself, and in this post I would like to share with you my work, experience and thoughts regarding the contest.

The contest lasted over eight weeks. During that period, I had the chance to complete 31 tasks for eight open source projects, gaining 87 points. Here’s a short summary of the tasks I completed for these projects (in alphabetical order):

  • Apertium: Completed four tasks for Apertium. I had to work on lexical selection rules and also created a Greek-to-English bilingual dictionary, which I will be still updating in my free time.
  • GNOME Project: Completed two localization tasks. Worked with Efstathios Iosifidis (mentor) on translating the Pitivi documentation into Greek. The file to be translated was kinda big, so the work was split into several tasks.
  • Haiku: Three tasks. I worked closely with Alex-P. Natsios (mentor) on translating Haiku applications into Greek; all the applications were successfully translated and the next version of Haiku should should include a complete Hellenic translation. Apart from that, I went into the process of building TuxPaint on Haiku with Haikuporter; feedback was given back to the community afterwards.
  • KDE: Translated a set of voice commands into the Greek language for the route guidance mode of Marble and then recorded my own voice to create a voice set for my language. Moreover, I worked on the KDE wiki, improving two KDE Sprint wiki pages and wrote a couple of posts for KDE. Four tasks in total.
  • Limesurvey: Three tasks for Limesurvey. Translated over 1300 strings, improving the localization of Limesurvey into Greek. If you check their translation status page, you will see that it is now about 85% complete. It will be 100% in the near future, as I’m going to finish it during my free time.
  • OpenIntents: Translated all 12 applications into Greek. Took me a while, but I managed to finish the remaining ones during the last days of the contest. These are frequently updated over the time, so I’m intending to maintain my translations even in the future. Another four tasks.
  • openSUSE Project: Six tasks. Translated a couple wiki pages, a couple of .po files, worked on the openSUSE wiki writing pieces of documentation. Furthermore, I recorded and created a few video tutorials (installing VirtualBox, creating a live openSUSE USB etc.), making  them available under a Creative Commons license as usual. It was really nice to see and contribute to a  well-known Linux Distribution during the contest.
  • Sahana Software Foundation: I started translating Sahana Eden into Greek, completing 8 localization files. It was too bad they dropped their localization tasks after a while. What I am going to do is to keep working on the Greek translations during the weekends, thus completing them in the future. Four tasks again.

There are quite a few things that I think that kept me away from completing even more tasks. We all understand that mentors did their best and devoted much of their time to help and advise other students; I deeply appreciate their time and effort. There were some problems however, where it took mentors 48, 72, 96 or even more hours to reply to their students. I mean, it would be great if students could work on two tasks at the same time, thus reducing the chance of “loosing valuable time”; just my personal thought if there is a possibility of running the contest again next year. Apart from that, there were certain cases in which the orgs decided to change the difficulty of their tasks, which significantly affected the  student rankings; for example a student could complete a task for 4 points in the beginning, where another student could  complete exactly the same task (from the same org) for 2 points after some time. In that case, the first student took 4 points, where the second took 2 points (let’s say) for completing exactly the same task. Everything else was fine.

The contest was more than great and I would like to thank all the people who made it possible (including students, mentors, administrators). Many young people were introduced to open source, where other students who were already aware of open source had the chance to work even more closely with the mentors. It was a big success.

As you may have seen, I did not complete any tasks which had to do with programming. Why is that? Simply because I’m not quite experienced with programming, yet. I’ve seen many people hating other who can’t contribute by writing code; that’s not right at all.. “You can’t program in the X or Y language?” The answer is no, I’m not quite skilled yet. And I am pretty confident however that I have proved with my contributions that no programming skills are required in case someone wishes to get involved with open source. Make a step forward, we won’t bite you for sure. 😛

This year I didn’t make it to the top 10 (as I originally planned) for various personal reasons. The experience gained and the chance of collaborating with other people were much greater values of the contest. I’d definitely like to see the contest again next year. For now, I look forward to continue contributing to the above open source projects and I will keep being actively involved with my current ones. But of course, I will need to dedicate much of my time studying for school first. See you around soon! 🙂

Google Code-In and KDE

Google Code-In is a contest for young students (13-17 years old) with the aim of encouraging young people to participate in open source. More than 500 students have been contributing to various open source projects. Sounds great! I’ve been contributing to many open source communities since 2009 to be precise, but I couldn’t miss such a chance to participate in the contest.

KDE is one of the organizations that were chosen to participate in the contest. So far, I’ve completed two tasks for KDE:

  • Create a custom voice navigation speaker for Marble: During this task I had to translate a set of voice commands into the Greek language for the route guidance mode of Marble. I  also had to record my voice to create a voice set for my language. You can take a look at the current Marble speakers here (I hope that my files will become available soon).
  • Create a blog entry about your favorite Marble feature: This task was about publishing a blog post describing a known Marble feature. You may still check out my post here. I decided to mention two Marble features instead, since I didn’t want to emphasize on a single feature. 

But, it doesn’t end here. I’m still going to complete more KDE tasks during the contest and I’m actually willing to become a permanent and active contributor (localization, promotion, bugs) even after the contest.

If you are a student and you are already participating in Google Code-In, you may go ahead and claim KDE tasks. From my personal experience I can tell you that KDE mentors have been doing a great job; they are always available to help, their response is quick and they have been always professional. If you are a pre-university student and you are willing to complete KDE tasks but you haven’t registered for Google Code-In yet, do not worry; you may signup for the contest and take a look at the available tasks (use the tag “KDE” at the field named “Organization” in order to view KDE-specific tasks). There are 18 days left for the end of the contest, so hurry up a bit.

To summarize, working with KDE developers and contributors has been a very pleasant experience and I will be looking forward to join them in the future. And that’s one of the contest’s values: bringing people closer and working together as a part of a team.