how to contribute to open source projects

Marcus Bauer marcus.bauer at
Mon Apr 12 15:09:37 CEST 2010

On Sun, 11 Apr 2010 19:19:26 -0400
Joshua Judson Rosen <rozzin at> wrote:


Let me summarize:

 * you are well aware that forks are potentially damaging
 * you wrote one patch that was not accepted
 * now you spread fud and threaten to damage the tangoGPS project

Well okay, you certainly have the freedom to damage the tangoGPS
project which is a major contribution to the free software world... 


tangoGPS is an excellent piece of software, actively maintained and
developed and very focused on the user. Any good quality contribution
is highly welcome and this means: User experience first. Developer ego

And nope, I don't have the time to hang out on IRC - that's because I
have plenty of life in the real world. And I guess that's why I develop
GPS software - you can make best use of it if you leave your desk and go

All major software projects have pretty high hurdles of participation.
One of the most excellent software projects is certainly Debian - and
they are well known for a veeery lengthy process to become a Debian
Developer. If you go there, submit an invasive patch to apt and demand
to become a Debian Developer or otherwise you fork Debian - well,
people will only laugh at you. That's because Debian is so big that
your fork wont do any damage.

Probably one of the key aspects of tangoGPS is its simplicity, that's
why so many people like it. Keeping it that way takes a tremendous
amount of discipline and thought. The easier it looks, the more work
and the more thought has been spent on it.

It is always easy to add more buttons, more menus, more patches more
everything. Everybody has different ideas about what is needed and for
any feature you will find someone who wants to have it - finally you
end up with plenty of buttons everywhere. The totally overloaded
toolbars of Openoffice or Word are a good example for this.

Under the hood it all this leads to code obesity. It is like eating a
cookie here, a cake there, some fish and chips, and one day you wake up
and you have to carry 140kg body weight with you around at every step.

I found a nice picture about patches:

And patches are like patch-cables: they potentially do something, but
the question is how much of an improvement they are and how they are

There is a good quote of Antoine de Saint-Exupery: "Perfection is
achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is
nothing left to take away." The success of the iPods is a great example
for this.

Good contributions and long term commitement to tangoGPS are always
welcome!! I will stay commited to the user community and the continued
success of tangoGPS.

My special thanks to all the people who have given me encouragement
with their friendly feedback and support, and to all people who have
actively contributed, especially packagers and blog-writers.

Have fun,

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