September 5th, 2020
Has the growth in open source development peaked? A group of academics thinks so. Plus the GNOME patent troll settlement finally sees the light of day, an upcoming ultra-mobile PC for engineering staff, and a whole lot more on today's show.
Show Transcript and Links
Most days I skim upwards of twelve hundred press stories and blogposts, just to keep on top of the latest tech news. And that's before even getting to Hacker News and Reddit, or any of the social media sites. When you're immersed in such a blizzard of information, it's easy to believe that open source development is constantly expanding, and that the community is getting bigger and bigger, year after year. But is that really true? A team of academics in Europe recently set out to answer that question, by studying almost a quarter of a million open source projects that were built over the last twenty-five years. The team based their research on data from Black Duck Open Hub, which aggregates code analytics from multiple software repositories like GitHub, BitBucket and SourceForge. And their work threw up some startling results, not least the fact that by the end of 2018, open source projects contained over seventeen billion lines of code. However, the team's analysis also showed that whether you measure activity by the number of project contributors or lines of code committed, growth in the open source ecosystem appears to have leveled off, or even been in decline over the last few years. The researchers also suggested a number of factors that could explain the trends that they identified, and anybody interested in the overall health of the community could do a lot worse than read through their paper, which is linked in today's shownotes.
• Quo Vadis, Open Source? The Limits of Open Source Growth
One of the things that the researchers suggest might be putting off prospective developers is the sheer complexity of many modern toolchains. And that's a thought that has clearly struck Stuart Langridge and Alan Pope as well. The duo wrote a proposal for the GNOME Community Engagement Challenge earlier in the year, but it wasn't taken any further at the time. Stuart has now posted the plan on his website, in hopes of getting further feedback, or to inspire others to work on the idea. The proposal is aimed at onboarding beginner developers, by providing them with a straightforward IDE, and using structured natural language in the place of traditional program code. While Stuart and Alan's document focuses on the user interface side of the proposed platform, it would clearly need a fair bit of background mechanics to actually pull everything together. So if any of this sounds interesting to you, check out today's link to read more about it or to get in touch with Stuart.
• Making Apps for Linux, a Proposal
German manufacturer TUXEDO Computers has announced two new additions to its range of Linux-first laptops. The fifteen inch model boasts an aluminum chassis and clocks in at just over four pounds in weight, while the new seventeen inch offering has a resin chassis and weighs five and a half pounds. Both can be configured for delivery with modern AMD or Intel CPUs, and can be stacked with up to 64GB of RAM. However the base configuration only provides 8GB by default, which does seem rather low for machines that are explicitly pitching themselves as content-creation and gaming laptops. Meanwhile, Chinese manufacturer One-Netbook is getting ready to launch a device squarely aimed at engineers and system administrators. The new ultra-mobile PC features a seven inch display which can be fully rotated about the vertical axis, so that it completely folds down over the keyboard to be used as a tablet computer. The device is clearly designed for data center use, and includes full size Ethernet and serial ports among others. The company is currently looking for users to test its new PC, and anybody interested in taking part will need to apply before the 14th of the month.
• Polaryzing gamers: New TUXEDO Polaris 15 and 17
• One-Netbook's upcoming ultra-mobile PC
Linux kernel maintainer James Bottomley has shared the settlement agreement reached between the GNOME Foundation and a patent troll earlier in the year. The legal dispute centered around a patent claim against the Shotwell image organizer, and was vigorously defended by GNOME. However, the terms of the settlement were not made public at the time, raising questions about exactly what it contained. Now that we can all read the agreement, the answer is nothing particularly contentious; but it's good to finally have some transparency around the issue.
• Lessons from the GNOME Patent Troll Incident
The Rust project has started thinking about its goals for next year, and is looking for community input. It'll shortly be announcing a survey to gather user feedback, and has also put out a call for community-generated blog posts, which developers will be able to use to make their own case for how they'd like to see the project move forward. Meanwhile, the Python Software Foundation is also thinking about the future, and planning its end-of-year fundraising campaign. The Foundation is targeting the educational space this time, with participating companies expected to donate revenue from sales of Python-related material during the fundraising period back to the Foundation. And in our last piece of community news today, the Free Software Foundation has opened nominations for its annual awards. As usual there will be two individual prizes on offer, and an award available to the project or team that's judged to be best using the principles of free software to help improve society. The deadline for nominations for all of the categories is Wednesday October 28th, and the winners will be announced at next year's LibrePlanet event.
• Rust: Planning the 2021 Roadmap
• Python Software Foundation End-of-the-Year Fundraiser
• Free Software Awards: Recognize those who advance our freedom by October 28th