Hello World

May 31, 2009

I want to be a free software hacker!

I want to be a free software hacker!

For more than 2 years now, I have been a silent observer of everything that has to do with technology and free software. I have been a frequent visitor of some free software portals like GNOME Planet, Graphics Planet, Planet KDE, Blendernation & Free Software Daily (among others). Through these sites, I was able to widen my knowledge of the ethics, technologies and implications of free software.

As far as I can tell, I am a typical free software enthusiast and advocate. Since I discovered this brave new world of vast potentials, I immediately switched to a GNU/Linux distribution, read, listened and watched many talks and articles by Richard Stallman, Eric S. Raymond, Eben Moglen, Linus Torvalds, Larry Lessig, et. al., and “evangelized” about freedom in computing.

I diminished on the latter only when I realized that the world, as it is now, is so entrenched in proprietary software that all I can do is help to improve free software until such a point in time where the choice of using proprietary software over free software becomes inconvenient. After all, I believe that today’s copyright and patent laws are actually counter-intuitive when applied to software. And that the use of proprietary software is actually due to convenience rather than common sense. An idea exemplified by the amount of “piracy” pervasive across the world today.

GSoC 2009

GSoC 2009

Anyway, about a year or so ago, I learned about Google’s Summer of Code program (GSoC). This came as a rather perfect opportunity for me to kick-start my way into a culture that I have been longing to participate. I had planned to join GSoC last year, but because of a mix of both personal and academic factors, I only went as far as day-dreaming (a venture I am thoroughly good at).

Fortunately, this year, I finally managed to kick my metaphorical butt into actually passing two proposals to GSoC. After about two weeks of stomach-wrenching wait, I got accepted. The accepted proposal has something to do with GIMP and its future graphics core, GEGL. If you are interested, you can download a copy of my accepted proposal from here. (More on the GSoC project later. I’m supposed to boringly introduce myself now. I’m succeeding so far, don’t you think? :))

Like many others, I’m sure, I started at a fairly young age as a more-than-averagely-interested computer user. I met technology at an age of 14 in the form of a Winblows 98 box that I don’t own (it was in an internet cafe that charged about half a dollar an hour). Looking at the power, tools and information they bring amid the messy power cords and dirt-filled keyboards and mice, I immediately fell in love with computers! Months and years later, I decided to turn this love into my life-long work.

Since then, many things happened; I played computer games, fiddled with switches, knobs and buttons to try and crash the cafes’ computers (which I have managed to successfully do quite frequently), downloaded hundreds of useless programs which bit-rotted in my diskettes (I didn’t have my own computer that time), enrolled myself in a computer science course in college, learned to program in C, C++, Assembly and Java, discovered free software and managed to scare away some of my friends with my free software activism :). Thinking back, I really did come a long way and now that I’m here, I intend to stay (if not go deeper, of course).

Blender introduced me to open source and, later, free software

Blender introduced me to open source and, later, free software

The first time I had set my mind on free software was through its arguably much more known alter-ego, open source. It was early 2002 when one of my favorite applications’ company declared bankrupcy and open sourced its well-known then-freeware program, Blender. Imagine what it feels like when a software that you use and practically worship (because you know how to program) suddenly becomes available for you to modify. For me, it was both exhilirating and mind-boggling!

“Yay! I can look at how they implemented all those buttons and their functions!”, was one of my thoughts. But also, “There are people actually doing this? Making the source code available to everyone?”, was an almost immediate question.

One could say that my conventional thinking was both shattered and freed. I spent the remaining years until 2 years ago trying to reconcile open source and my traditional assumption of keeping my source code (and knowledge) to myself. After that, I sort of cracked and rejected the idea that software (or ideas, for that matter) can be owned. Yeah, I learned about free sofware. ;)

The rest, as one should normally say, is my humble version of history…

I’m very excited about this new development in my life and very much look forward into your much appreciated support and/or encouragement. Until next time!

Forthcoming: Going back to business, I will be verbosely talking about my GSoC project, introduce some GPU concepts, and discuss about GEGL and its nuts and bolts, so to speak.