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Open Source

All things open source.
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Mike McQuaid mikemcquaid.com

Stop mentoring first-time contributors

According to Mike McQuaid, the focus of an open source maintainer should be learning to mentor efficiently — where should you be investing your time? If you’re an open source maintainer lucky enough to have a significant number of contributors you need to learn to mentor efficiently. First timer issues are not the right good way to get people involved in your project nor mentoring individual first-time contributors. Instead, do things that help all of them.

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The Changelog The Changelog #341

Wasmer is taking WebAssembly beyond the browser

We’re talking with Syrus Akbary about WebAssembly and Wasmer — a standalone just in time WebAssembly runtime aiming to be fully compatible with Emscripten, Rust, and Go. We talked about taking WebAssembly beyond the browser, universal binaries, what’s an ABI?, running WebAssembly from any language, and what a world might look like with platform independent universal binaries powered by WebAssembly.

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Tidelift Icon Tidelift

Up to 20% of your application dependencies may be unmaintained

We recently added a new feature Tidelift subscribers can use to discover unmaintained dependencies. After taking an early look at the data we’re getting back, it appears that about 10-20% of commonly-in-use OSS packages aren’t actively maintained. Click through for an explainer on how they define “unmaintained” as well as a link to their tool for analyzing your app’s dependencies (email required).

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The Changelog The Changelog #340

All things text mode

We’re talking all things text mode with Lucas da Costa — we logged his post “How I’m still not using GUIs in 2019” a guide focused on making the terminal your IDE. We talked through his Terminal starter pack which includes: neovim, tmux, iterm2, and zsh by way of oh-my-zsh, his rules for learning vim, the awesomeness of CLI’s, and the pros and cons of graphical and plain text editors.

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Nick Sweeting github.com

ArchiveBox — open-source self-hosted web archive

This combined with Pinboard is a nice combo! ArchiveBox takes a list of website URLs you want to archive, and creates a local, static, browsable HTML clone of the content from those websites. … It imports lists of URLs, renders the pages in a headless, authenticated, user-scriptable browser, and then archives the content in multiple redundant common formats (HTML, PDF, PNG, WARC) that will last long after the originals disappear off the internet.

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Twitter Icon Twitter

Square is hiring 4 engineers + a designer to work full-time on Bitcoin Core

After announcing the program in a tweet, Jack Dorsey followed up with some details: This will be Square’s first open source initiative independent of our business objectives. These folks will focus entirely on what’s best for the crypto community and individual economic empowerment, not on Square’s commercial interests. All resulting work will be open and free. Followed by: Square has taken a lot from the open source community to get us here. We haven’t given enough back. This is a small way to give back, and one that’s aligned with our broader interests: a more accessible global financial system for the internet. Whether you’re a devout Bitcoin hodler or an avid nocoiner, you have to admit this a great way (the greatest?) for corporate entities to support the open source community. Full-time salaries. Not focused on commercial interests. Let’s hope it plays out that way! 🙏

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Havoc Pennington Tidelift

Open source has a working-for-free problem

Open source isn’t a charity case. We can’t expect to attract and retain level 10 players into a level 2 opportunity. So why are we treating open source maintainers and contributors like they owe us something and not finding ways to enable them to maximize the rewards they can get for playing the game? Let’s abandon the notion that open source is exclusively charity. In the software industry, we’re normalizing spec work in a way that the design industry successfully rallied against. The narrative around open source is that it’s completely OK—even an expectation—that we’re all doing this for fun and exposure; and that giant companies should get huge publicity credit for throwing peanuts-to-them donations at a small subset of open source projects. There’s nothing wrong with doing stuff for fun and exposure, or making donations, as an option. It becomes a problem when the free work is expected and the donations are seen as enough.

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Amila Welihinda github.com

A checklist of things to consider before releasing your project

There’s lots of good advice here, covering: 🎨 Initial Presentation 💰 Value Proposition 💯 Project Quality 👑 Branding ✈️ Onboarding Methods 🧹 Code Conventions and Infrastructure 📣 Spread the Word 🤑 Funding If you read the Spread the Word section closely you’ll notice Amila is following his own advice. 😉

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The Changelog The Changelog #338

Funding OSS with Mozilla Open Source Support awards

We’re talking with Mehan Jayasuriya program officer at Mozilla about MOSS — the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) program which recognizes, celebrates, and supports open source projects. Earlier this year we caught the “MOSS 2018 Year in Review” blog post — this post highlighted many of their efforts in 2018 so we reached out to talk through the history, goals, and impact of this very generous project.

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Kyle E. Mitchell writing.kemitchell.com

It's time to deprecate MIT and BSD licenses

Kyle E. Mitchell, who is not your attorney, and Executive Director of the recently founded Blue Oak Council, writing on /dev/lawyer has this to say about these “thirty-year-old academic licenses.” MIT and BSD open source licenses are well known, popular, and legally deprecated. They served long and well, but they’re older than many open source software developers, and haven’t been maintained. With licenses like Blue Oak available, it’s time open source upgraded from academic forms of the ’80s. There are good social, practical, and especially legal reasons to do so. Kyle goes on to enumerate all the reasons why the Blue Oak license is a better fit for open source.

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Windows github.com

Even the Windows Calculator is now open source

The Windows Calculator app is a modern Windows app written in C++ that ships pre-installed with Windows. The app provides standard, scientific, and programmer calculator functionality, as well as a set of converters between various units of measurement and currencies. It’s like Microsoft is just teasing us at this point. How long before they open source Windows itself?!

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Daniel Oberhaus motherboard.vice.com

The complicated economy of open source software

Daniel Oberhaus, writing for Vice Motherboard: Heartbleed wasn’t an isolated example of developer burnout and lack of funding, but an outgrowth of a systemic disease that had been festering in the open source software community for years. Identifying the symptoms and causes of this disease was the easy part; finding a cure is more difficult. It’s not enough to just throw more money at the open source community, however. Increased funding creates its own problems in terms of how that money is distributed and what the organizations supplying the funding demand in return. If you’re wondering how we got here in open source, this report is an excellent read on the subject.

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Linux Journal Icon Linux Journal

If software is funded from a public source, its code should be open source

Perhaps because many free software coders have been outsiders and rebels, less attention is paid to the use of open source in government departments than in other contexts. But it’s an important battleground, not least because there are special dynamics at play and lots of good reasons to require open-source software. Public money should produce public code, full stop. That doesn’t seem controversial to me, but it’s definitely easier to say than it is to execute.

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Data visualization tweag.io

Mapping a universe of open source software

The repositories of distributions such as Debian and Nixpkgs are among the largest collections of open source (and some unfree) software. They are complex systems that connect and organize many interdependent packages. Is it possible to capture the large scale features of such a repository in an image? Are there common design choices of the contributors? Did they lead to any emergent structure? This work resulted in some beautiful (and interesting) visualizations. Here’s a sneak peak 👇

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Brandon Gomez cnbc.com

The current business model of Patreon is not sustainable

Jack Conte, the founder of Patreon, said the following in a report from Brandon Gomez on cnbc.com regarding Patreon’s sustainability as it relates to their recent rapid growth: The reality is Patreon needs to build new businesses and new services and new revenue lines in order to build a sustainable business. This thread from Dan Olson on Twitter is worth reading. It started off with this Tweet: I don’t want to be doom and gloom, but Patreon is about to eat itself. Or, more specifically, the investors who demand geometric growth are about to demand Patreon eat itself. I take particular interest in their revenue which is estimated at $55M versus the $107M of venture capital raised and how that relates to sustainability and the choices founders make on their journey to succeed and/or survive.

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Patrick Reynolds githubengineering.com

GitHub open sourced the parser and specification for GitHub Actions

If you’re looking for a deep dive on GitHub Actions, check out The Changelog #331: GitHub Actions is the next big thing with Kyle Daigle. Patrick Reynolds, writing on the GitHub Engineering blog: Since the beta release of GitHub Actions last October, thousands of users have added workflow files to their repositories. But until now, those files only work with the tools GitHub provided: the Actions editor, the Actions execution platform, and the syntax highlighting built into pull requests. To expand that universe, we need to release the parser and the specification for the Actions workflow language as open source. Today, we’re doing that. I also want to point out this “we believe” section of the post to key in on their intentions and willingness to provide the community with the necessary tools to make GitHub Actions all that it can be for the community. We believe that tools beyond GitHub should be able to run workflows. We believe there should be programs to check, format, compose, and visualize workflow files. We believe that text editors can provide syntax highlighting and autocompletion for Actions workflows. And we believe all that can only happen if the Actions community is empowered to build these tools along with us. That can happen better and faster if there is a single language specification and a free parser implementation.

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Jeff McAffer mcaffer.com

Open source engagement in organizations

Jeff McAffer (the Director of Microsoft’s Open Source Programs Office) says you can plot their course in open source quite closely in the model he describes in this post. A few years ago they were in denial about the open source movement. Today it’s a different story with 20,000 Microsoft folks activity working on GitHub. Companies, governments, and other organizations big and small are working with open source to achieve their goals. Teams range from barely considering it to betting their whole business on open source. Putting some structure on this spectrum has helped me think about and evolve Microsoft’s open source program. I’d love to hear if you find it useful, how, or why not. If you run, participate in, lead, or you are curious about open source programs you should read this.

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