Palmer's Blog

POSSE featured in Wingate University Internal Newsletter
August 6, 2009, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Education

POSSE was recently featured in Wingate University’s internal newsletter.

Kent Palmer recently attended POSSE (Professor’s Open Source Summer Experience) in Raleigh. The POSSE summit brought professors together from the U.S., Canada and Europe to give hands-on experience in the process of developing open source software. The professors will use this experience to guide students’ projects that include the development of open source software. Practical real world software development is only available to students in the proprietary software world, if they also work for commercial companies that develop software. With open source software any students can download the source code for the software and change it to correct bugs or add new features. Dr. Palmer looks forward to involving his students in open source software development. Posse was sponsored and funded by Red Hat.

Was interested in Matthew Szulik’s recent comments on the BBC. Conversation was wide ranging. Mentions time when Red Hat was a magazine company. Talks about how open source software as being a dream instead of being a way to make money.

Some comments from Matthew Szulik:

  • “It’s as much a social mission on my behalf, and on Red Hat’s behalf, as it is an economic mission.”
  • “To improve society through our actions, that’s really the genesis of open-source software.”
  • “For so long society has disenfranchised those that didn’t look you or I or didn’t speak the same way or dress the same way and those are the people that have the insight and the creative function to help advance societies materially and I want us to reach out to these poeple because open source and Red Hat has validated that they have an important opinion that needs to be heard.”

POSSE – Famous
July 25, 2009, 5:44 pm
Filed under: Education

I attended an International Folk Dance in Raleigh, before driving home Friday.  When dancers asked why I was in the area, I said a little about POSSE and Red Hat. People at the dance responded, “Oh yes, we know about that because we read it in the paper.”   (And I thought people did not read newspapers, any more).

Selling my soul to open source
July 24, 2009, 2:39 am
Filed under: Education
Greg DeKoenigsberg and Matt Jadud have been discussing the time commitment necessary for a professor to effectively teach open source development. Matt states “.. digging in and playing in the sandbox matters. And if I am going to do that, it is going to take time to get involved, and I will want to sustain that activity over the coming 3-5 years at the least.”
I think that investing the 3-5 years in open source development projects before attempting to lead students in open source development would truly be advisable in my case. I would then be well positioned to start incorporating open source development work in my classes.
I am not sure what part of my life I am willing to give up to make that happen. Even if I intended such a commitment now, it is doubtful that such a commitment could be sustained. Particularly without a support structure that does not exist in my institution now and is not likely to exist in the future.
So this leaves me with an option of stumbling forward and seeing how badly I crash in my classes. Of particular concern to me is that given the complexity of some aspects open source development and the inadequete documentation to guide students through the process will students become too frustrated and do nothing.
The obvious place for me to incorporate open source development is in my senior projects course.  But I feel that the one semester course is not long enough for students to learn to use open source software development tools and complete a project.
I had wanted to start teaching the open source software development process in an intermediate programming course that occurs between my school’s CS1 course and its CS2 courses. This is taught the Fall semester of a student’s Sophomore year, but I am concerned that students may not have sufficient programming experience to become involved in open source at this point.

Learning a lot, but not enough
July 23, 2009, 7:13 am
Filed under: Education

Today at POSSE we studied how bug tracking software such as Bugzilla can be used to keep software running correctly and evolve the software to incorporate enhancements. We looked at both Mozilla bugzilla as well as Red Hat / Fedora bugzilla.

In these system each bug is assigned a number and a owner. E-mail is sent to the owner and others as the bug is resolved.  Bugs that are open have a status. As bugs are resolved they are closed.

We went through writing good bug reports and comments.

Bugs may require the creation of patches. There is an approval process for patches to minimize the potential of developers corrupting a functional applicatio

POSSE 2009 Day 1
July 21, 2009, 2:58 am
Filed under: Education


I am currently attending POSSE 2009.

Today’s session included a history of open source software development and a practicum on using  IRC to collaborate on developing web pages.