Posts from April 2008

GHOPers Head to Paris to Add Testing to Drupal Core

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You may recall that Charlie Gordon and Jimmy Berry were named two of Drupal's runner ups for the Google Highly Open Participation Contest (GHOP). What you may not know is that both of these gentleman are highly skilled testing aficionados, both of them continuing to improve Drupal long after the contest has ended. When we heard that our Drupal friends were organizing a Testing Sprint in Paris, we were excited to hear that years of desire for better testing had gelled into plans for a weekend of concerted community effort in this area.

We were even more excited when we heard that Charlie and Jimmy were counted among the key participants for the sprint, and we were happy we could assist them with their attendance at the sprint. While we wish we could have joined them in the City of Light, the most exciting part of all is hearing from Charlie and Jimmy about all the great things they managed to accomplish in just two days, in addition to all of the great work they've been doing for Drupal since GHOP. Both of them were kind enough to send us along updates on all things Drupal, testing and sprinting.

Charlie writes:

A few weeks ago, Google sponsored a trip for me and Jimmy Berry (18) to Drupal's Code Sprint in Paris. It is safe to say that without Google's sponsorship, I would not have been going. This opportunity was incredible, both for myself, Jimmy, and the Drupal community as a whole. Drupal is a Content Management Platform which has recently decided to make the switch to test driven development. Once all of us were there in Paris, we did our best to make this dream a reality. The results were superb— Drupal now has an automated testing system in its core, and we have functional tests written for nearly all of the Drupal core. This is truly an amazing achievement that Drupal has been striving for for nearly three years, but this sprint has made it into a reality. It is truly awesome to be involved in such a vibrant open source community with so much support. I'm only fifteen years old, but my involvement in open source has led me to go places and do things I would never have dreamed I could do. If someone had told me a year and a half ago, before I started working on open source, that in less than two years I would be sponsored by Google to go to Paris to help improve an automated testing framework in order to get it into the core a content management system called Drupal, I wouldn't have thought it possible.

Drupal Testing Sprinters
(clockwise from top left: Jimmy Berry, Dries Buytaert, Charlie Gordon, former Google Summer of Code™ student Rok Zlender, Douglas Hubler and Miglius Alaburda)

Jimmy shares these thoughts on graduation from GHOP, life after the contest, and moving on to become a Google Summer of Code student:

Since the end of GHOP I have become increasingly involved in the Drupal project. After much encouragement and generous donations I was able to attend Drupalcon Boston 2008. At the conference I spoke in two sessions, one about GHOP and the other regarding automated testing of Drupal, an area where I'd become particuarly involved. My contributions from GHOP had placed me at the forefront of the push to improve automated testing of Drupal, and it was quite rewarding to see Dries deliver his State of Drupal keynote in which he detailed plans to have 100% test coverage of Drupal 7, especially since his talk occurred right after our testing session.

The newly increased priority and accelerated timeline meant that much work would need to be done in the next several months. Upon returning home I got started and was soon given the opportunity to become the maintainer of the SimpleTest module, the focus of automated testing development. I was excited by the opportunity to play an influential role in the development of Drupal 7 and accepted heartily. Given the authority to make code changes and incorporate contributed patches, I accelerated the rate of development. SimpleTest soon saw an enormous amount of change and inched ever closer to inclusion in Drupal core.

The proposed Paris testing sprint started to become a reality and I began raising funds and further preparing SimpleTest for the sprint. Work continued furiously over the next several weeks. Thanks to generous donations from individuals and Google I received the necessary funding to attend and the sprint took place in Paris, France from April 19th to 21st. We worked for two days before resolving the outstanding issues that blocked SimpleTest's entrance into the core, but our efforts paid off once SimpleTest was committed. It was a great experience to work with a group of dedicated developers to accomplish goals.

I plan to continue my contributions to Drupal through the Google Summer of Code. My Usability Testing Suite was accepted as a project for the 2008 summer. I am looking forward to working on the project and seeing it put to good use. None of this would have happened without the GHOP initiative and all those involved, so my thanks to all of you.

Many thanks to Charlie and Jimmy for sharing their experiences. As we like to say here at Google, debugging sucks, but testing rocks! We're glad we could help Charlie, Jimmy and the whole Drupal community rock even more than they already do.

Seasons for Users

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We're always delighted when we can share news about students working to improve Free and Open Source Software. You may recall that we recently let you know about the results of Finnish Summer Code 2007. While we were busy selecting participants for Google Summer of Code™ 2008, Finnish Summer Code was just kicking off for this year.

Sanna Heiskanen, the Project Manager for Finnish Summer Code, was kind enough to send us these details:

Finnish Summer Code Focuses on User Experience

The Finnish Summer Code project has chosen five coders for 2008. Our jury was very happy with the level of applications in the finals, and thinks that this years’ projects will improve the user experience of Linux. It is also clear that the results of this years’ Summer Code will benefit the community at large.

Our students have all summarized their projects for us.

Sakari Bergen: Ardour

”Improving Ardour's export functionality and adding meta data support to it will make working on music collaboratively and sharing it with Ardour a lot easier. It will also encourage people to tag and name their files in a smart way. Especially by including licensing information in the meta data, people will be encouraged to reuse sounds for sampling or creating mashups, or simply to release their work under a free license for the enjoyment of others.”

Olli Savolainen: Moodle Quiz

”Moodle Quiz is for creating, taking and evaluating quizes and exams. It is used by hundreds of thousands of people in enterprises, schools and universities worldwide. The new user interface I am developing will help teachers to create exams with the understanding they already have from traditional exams, freeing their creative energy for what they do best.”

Niklas Laxström
: I18n with MediaWiki

”My project is about improving a collaborative translation platform that uses MediaWiki as its base product. Translators for open source projects and content are a scarce resource, and we do not want to waste their time nor require them to be computer experts. It is important to add support for other open source projects and content and let translators concentrate on translating together and spend less time doing other work they do not need to. Wiki element in the platform helps a lot in building translation communities.”

Antti Kaijanmäki: Mobile Broadband Configuration Assistant for NetworkManager

”My project is focusing on making utilization of mobile broadband easier. At present state connecting to Internet through a mobile phone or dedicated mobile broadband modem is a hassle. The project creates an assistant for setting up mobile broadband connections. Connection management will also be improved. Ease of use and out of the box functionality are the ground rules for the project.”

Juuso Alasuutari: Improving the LASH Audio Session Handler

”Music is an important part of life, and expressing oneself through music is fundamental for many people. But althought musicality is considered free in most societies, software for creating music seldom is. With my project I want to help bring Free music software one step closer to musicians and recording studios. ”

Summer Code of Finland is organised by COSS (The Finnish Centre for Open Source Solutions) and aims to help Finnish students participate in open source development. Google is one of the sponsors funding the students' projects.

In other great news, the good folks with the Season of Usability project recently closed their call for student projects. We're looking forward to hearing the results in a few weeks.

Two Top 10's for Google Summer of Code 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Last week, we excitedly announced that we'd accepted over 1100 students into Google Summer of Code™ 2008. Now that we've had some time to get everything in order for this new crop of students, we're happy to bring you some of the news you've been asking for about this year's participants.

Even though this is our fourth summer together, it seems the statistics folks are most interested in remain the same: who are the participants, what are they working on, who were the applicants and what places do all these folks call home? You can find answers to the first two questions on the program website, and you may remember that we have students and mentors from 98 countries this year. With so many data points to choose from, we figured that we'd start this week off with a look at two Top 10's for 2008: number of applicants by country and number of accepted students per country. Not surprisingly, the distribution for both sets looks remarkably similar:

Now that we've whet your appetite with a bit of regional data, you'll be pleased to know that we've got even more for you. We'll be producing the usual KML file showcasing our 2008 'graduates' at the end of the program, but thanks to our stalwart intern and organization administrator for the Wine project, Maarten Lankhorst, you can already check out maps linking students to mentors from each individual project's page on the Summer of Code site. Still not enough data for you geo-wise? Check out the our hall of fame maps from 2007 (KML), 2006 (KML) and 2005.

We're curious to know what information you'd like to see us showcase about Summer of Code. Why not post a comment and let us know what questions you have?

Ed. note: Updated post with corrected graph.

Report on International Free Software Forum (fisl 2008)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Our own Fernanda Weiden, Systems Administrator, Load Balancer Jedi, Network Sniffer, and all around Free and Open Source Software Champion, was kind enough to send us her thoughts on fisl 2008, the premier Brazilian Free and Open Source Software conference. fisl 2008 was held last week in Porto Alegre.

Last Saturday was the last day of a three day conference in Brazil called International Free Software Forum (or fisl, as it is called by its closer friends). Google participated as a sponsor, and I participated by helping to organize Google's participation and, personally, helping the Program Committee, which I am member of.

I believe numbers say a lot about such an event, so let's check them: more than 7400 people, more than 400 speakers, 21 countries, 258 sessions. The conference center was always full, the sessions as well. During my Google Summer of Code&trade talk (the only session I managed to attend), more than a half of the audience were new to the conference, which is great news. The community is receiving new blood, which is something really important to us, and something we have been working for a while to get. The time when a Free Software/Open Source conference was full of old friends is gone. We are upstream, everywhere, with everybody!

The conference had no delays for the sessions, there were problems to follow the conference over the internet in the first day, but the problem got solved, and we had more than 20 thousand unique IPs connecting to the "Free Software TV" (TV Software Livre) to follow fisl. It was great to meet so many Summer of Coders and I shared the microphone with them during my talk. The room was full and I got lots of questions. People gave me good feedback about it later on (even though we had so many problems to get the projector to....project!).

Besides the 257 sessions of the main schedule, there was a Programming Arena, a competition that challenges the participants to solve bugs in existing Free/Open Source Software projects, and also develop new software that will be useful for the community. The final challenge was to build an ODF reader for Maemo, software used in mobile platforms. The code will be published soon, and the hackers got geek gadgets (mobile phones and Internet Tablets) from the Nokia Institute of Technology as prize.

"May the source be with you....and you...and you...". This was the message you could see everywhere, which means people loved our swag! Google distributed many t-shirts to the people participating at the conference, as well as very nice mugs, and an impossible-to-count number of stickers.

For the next year, there is already plan for a Kernel Development and Smalltalk miniconfs. The idea is now to get all this energy and motivation focused on development.

One of the things that makes me like this conference so much is the fact that it is fully organized by volunteers, me being one of them. A team that decreases in number every year, but a team who really keeps up with the work of making the largest and best Free Software conference I've ever been to. The conference is already over, but all I can think about is "what are we going to do next year?". I still can feel the energy. fisl 10, for 10 thousand. That's how it will be :)

Many thanks to Fernanda for sharing her experiences with us!

Oxford Geeks Get Social Late into the Night

The Jericho Tavern, regular venue for the Oxford Geek Nights (OGN), has a long, spacious upstairs room. You’d think it’d be more than big enough for a local tech event, but long before the first keynote speaker of the sixth OGN started his talk, we had managed to fill it to bursting.

We’ve mentioned the geek nights on the Google Open Source Blog before: they’re semi-structured “pub conferences” with keynote talks from industry leaders and lightning talks from local volunteers. Interspersed with these are intervals for chatting, networking and having a relaxing drink. More than anything else the OGNs provide an opportunity for developers, designers, information architects and followers of new technology, from all over Oxfordshire and beyond, to get together and share ideas and experiences.

Our two keynotes were from opposite ends of the local geek spectrum. We started with Gobion Rowlands of Red Redemption providing an overview of how to develop and market games based on hard science for both fun and profit. This was followed by Jon Hicks, fresh from the Future of Web Design conference, providing us with a designer’s perspective on how to move from a design concept to a deployed, functional website.

The microslots were also an excitingly mixed bag of different subjects, with something for pretty much everyone. There was a discussion of the current state of online education in the UK, reports from the front line on building your own custom CRM system (with added Web 2.0), mashups using Popfly, and an announcement of the date of Oxford Barcamp (September 20/21: stick it in your diary!) This mix meant that along with coders and designers, the audience included local librarians, archivists and CRM people. Videos as always are available on the site, and finalized slides should be up there soon too.

The nights are sponsored by third-sector web developers Torchbox (venue and organization), Google of course (providing a drink per geek, no mean feat) and Moo (cute drinks vouchers), and between them they all guaranteed a great night. OGN6 felt especially successful because so many people were still around, talking with other geeks, long after the talks had finished. “Haven’t you got homes to go to?” asked the long-suffering bar staff, but we carried on chatting. So you could go on about how the OGNs foster relationships between the local design, hardware-hacking and web development communities; really, though, everyone was too busy having fun.

Announcing Accepted Student Proposals for Summer of Code 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

We've been running Google Summer of Code™ for four years now, and each year gets better and better. Competition was fierce for 2008, as we received nearly 7,100 applications, almost 1,000 more than last year. We welcomed over 800 more student applicants from over 1,300 colleges and universities. We're also pleased to see that the program is growing geographically; we had participants from 90 countries in 2007, and this year we'll be hacking out with folks from 98 countries around the globe.

Today we're pleased to let you know that we're funding 1125 student developers, almost 25% more students than last year, who will work to improve over 175 Free and Open Source Projects over the next few months. Check out the program website for more details on each participating student and mentoring organization.

For those of you who aren't participating in the program, now is a great time to continue working on your project ideas and learning about Free and Open Source. Each participating project is well placed to provide you with assistance in getting up to speed as a new contributor; take advantage of this opportunity to fix some bugs, hone your skills and, if you'd like, prepare for future instances of the program.

Congratulations to all students whose proposals were accepted, and many thanks to all of our applicants. The community bonding period starts today, and we'd love to hear from all of you how you plan to spend this time getting ready to start coding in six weeks. Feel free to post a comment and share your thoughts.

Summer of Code 2008 is on!

A Recent Conference Roundup

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's been a busy couple of weeks for the Open Source team as the first phase of "Conference Season" starts heating up. We have reports on three events from Googler participants.

Our very own Brian "Fitz" Fitzpatrick writes:

Flourish 2008: Open Source Helping Students to Flourish

If you've ever flown cross-country or around the planet to attend a conference, I'm sure you'll agree that nothing beats going to a conference in your own backyard. So I'm sure you can understand how delighted I was when my colleague, Ben Collins-Sussman and I were invited to give a keynote at the Flourish 2008 conference last week in our fair city, Chicago. It was a great conference, and the most amazing part is that it is an entirely student-run conference. Thanks for having us, Flourish.

I also attended ApacheCon Amsterdam where I gave a talk as part of the business and community track, in addition to co-moderating the ApacheCon Lightning Talks, which I started several years ago.

Other Googlers at ApacheCon EU included Chris DiBona, Greg Stein, and John Hjelmstad, Cassie Doll and Dan Peterson who together lead a BoF on Apache Shindig.

Last but not least, LugRadio LIVE USA was held for the first time in San Francisco last weekend, showcasing all things Free and Open Source. An enthusiastic crowd of approximately 350 enjoyed 2 days of talks, exhibits and cheerful verbal mayhem from the 4 blokes who bring you the LugRadio podcasts, aided and abetted by Google in the form of Leslie Hawthorn, Kynan Dent and yours truly, plus a bunch of stalwart volunteers. It was an old school FOSS community event with lots of surprises. Can you tell a good time was had by all? :)

Summer of Coders at AsiaBSDCon 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

From time to time, Google's Open Source Team sponsors student travel to conferences. Dongmei Liu and Zhou Zhouyi, two of our Google Summer of Code&trade Graduates, recently attended AsiaBSDCon 2008 and were kind enough to send us this report:

Google recently invited us to join the fun at AsiaBSDCon 2008. We met many famous developers from the FreeBSD community and had a great experience talking with other developers in person. We also got to meet cool people from Google and now have a deeper understanding of Google's business culture.

As a Summer of Coder the strongest feeling you have is that things are open. You can say what you want and you can work on whatever is interesting to you. The program gives you chances to improve yourself and exercise your skills. This feeling continued throughout Summer of Code and carried over to the conference.

While attending AsiaBSDCon, we felt very honored to be members of the Open Source community. Everyone attending had high enthusiasm, which spread to both of us. We felt our insights into software development were widely broadened by the conversations we had. We got a chance to attend the FreeBSD Developer's Summit, where everyone brainstormed new ideas. We also attended NetBSD's discussions and found out about the many interesting things developed based on NetBSD. We also met some guys who were really interested in Summer of Code projects, and we hope to be in contact in the future to collaborate.

Thanks to Google for giving us this opportunity.

If any Summer of Coders recently attended a great conference, hackathon or meetup, post a comment and share the love!

Ed. Note: Post updated to correct link error.

GNOME's Runner Ups

The good news from the Google Highly Open Participation Contest (GHOP) keeps on coming. This week, Andre Klapper, one of GNOME's mentors for GHOP, wrote in to tell us about three additional outstanding contributors.

Andre shares this note about GNOME's runner ups:

David Turner

David took on a variety of tasks. He warmed up by working on some of GNOME's “choose the bugs yourself” tasks (fixing twelve mnemonic bugs and testing five patches from GNOME’s bugzilla) just to dive into the code bases of empathy (providing support for removing groups) and gThumb (preparing to remove the libexif library ). He also vastly improved the scrolling support in Evince. In addition to this, David updated the JHBuild moduleset schemas and the (now new and shiny) manual itself.

David already had open source development experience, as the developer of tuxcast, a command-line Linux podcatcher.

Natan Yellin

Natan wrote an article on GConf for the GNOME Journal (not yet released). He provided Drag-and-drop support for the Online Desktop file widget and a mail widget for the Online Desktop sidebar, fixed a Deskbar-Applet bug and also modified gThumb’s metadata handling and enhancing gThumb’s script definitions. Natan is full of ideas and provided own proposals for potential tasks. He is especially interested in AWN (a dock-like bar) and currently thinks about creating a universal applets framework for GNOME.

Philipp Kerling

Philipp added an LCOV code coverage suite to Pango and GTK+ to measure code coverage. He also contributed code to the GNOME online desktop module by providing an embedded workspace switcher widget and popouts for the Online Desktop file widget. He removed old icons from the gnome-desktop module that are now shipped in gnome-icon-theme and fixed four bugs in gnome-build. Philipp has also contributed to GNOME’s German translation team.

Congratulations to David, Natan and Philipp, as well as all of GNOME's GHOP students for their many contributions to the project!

Nominations Open for the Google O'Reilly Open Source Awards

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Google's Open Source Team and O'Reilly Media are once again teaming up to present five Open Sourcerers with awards at OSCON 2008. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to nominate recipients, so check out our Hall of Fame for inspiration and a list of past winners. We'll be accepting nominations through May 15, 2008; for more details, check out the announcement on the O'Reilly Radar.

We look forward to hearing from you!

KML: A New Standard for Sharing Maps

We've got great news for you from the geo world: KML, originally created as a file format for overlaying content in Google Earth, is now an international standard. The Open Geospatial Consortium has announced its acceptance of KML 2.2 as an official OGC Standard, and they will now take the responsibility for maintaining and expanding it. Read more on the LatLong blog.

Joomla!'s Runner Ups

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Earlier this year, we concluded the first Google Highly Open Participation Contest (GHOP), our pilot initiative to get pre-university students involved in Open Source development. Given how difficult it was for the participating organizations to choose a single Grand Prize Winner, we're happy to share more stories about other outstanding GHOP contributors.

Amy Stephen, one of the Joomla! project's GHOP organizers, wrote in with this post detailing the accomlishments of their runner ups:

The Joomla! community was richly rewarded by the Google Highly Open Participation Contest. 75 students completed 118 tasks, resulting in 31 extensions, 29 documents, 17 brochures and non-profit Web sites, 16 unit tests, 13 installation guide translations, 9 training videos and 3 usability tests, all available for the Joomla! community.

It was difficult choosing a winner from our ten outstanding finalists, but surprisingly more difficult narrowing our finalists to a list of runner ups. Ultimately, our selection was based on continued contributions following the GHOP contest. We're proud to acknowledge our GHOP runner ups here and sincerely thank each for their dedication to Joomla!.

Chad Windnagle

Chad Windnagle (drmmr768) is a long time community member and extremely knowledgeable with Joomla!. Now, he is a contributor on the Joomla! Documentation Team. He is friendly, conscientious and assisted many GHOP contestants during the contest. Chad completed these tasks: how to use contact functions for a services directory; how to use Joomla!'s "Register to Read More" functionality; how to add in the TinyMCE Spell Checker capability; how to modify the default template; and how to troubleshoot template installations.

Justo de Rivera

Justo de Rivera (justo.derivera) is a contributor with the Joomla! Bug Squad and will also participate in the Joomla! Day Spain. He is a promising developer who completed two complex extensions, both of which are popular with the community. For GHOP, Justo developed a Blog Sidebar Calendar and the xml-rpc MetaWeblog API that enables community members to blog using external blogging editors like Flock and Flickr.

Marieke van der Tuin

Marieke van der Tuin (Marieke92) has been active in the Dutch Joomla! community, is now a key contributor on the Joomla! Documentation Team, leader and organizer, and helpful in countless ways. For GHOP, Marieke translated the Dutch Installation Guide and a Team Blog; created four unit testing documents including tests for the Article Manager, Template Manager, Frontpage Manager, and Media Manager; created a Guide to Extension parameter types; and, developed a Joomla! v 1.5 Module for Digg List Stories.

Max Shinn

Max Shinn (trombonechamp) is extremely creative and a natural community builder. It is very likely Max helped on every single writing task assigned for GHOP. His friendly and helpful approaches strengthened the community and made it fun to participate. Currently, Max is a contributor on the Joomla! Documentation Team and completed these GHOP tasks: created and performed a song in celebration of Joomla!; designed the What is Joomla!? tri-fold; wrote the Guide for the Joomla! Publisher; and, developed art that captures the spirit of "All Together, As a Whole."

Michael Casha

Michael Casha (MiCCAS) is another long time community member extremely knowledgeable with Joomla!. He is a very encouraging, positive and fun person to be around. He is a contributor with the Joomla! Bug Squad and one who participates in the project in whatever way he can. Michael had great success in GHOP by: creating a Google Gadgets module; recording a video accompaniment to the GHOP Joomla! Quickstart Guide; and, building a Joomla! v 1.5 website for a not for profit organization.

Shantanu Bala

Shantanu Bala (shantanubala) is another contributor with the Joomla! Bug Squad with a speciality in CSS (an area most developers prefer not to approach.) For GHOP, Shantanu created an innovative template for children including a simplified language file, editor, administrative environment, navigation system, all of which he continues to improve.

We'd like to thank Google for involving the Joomla! community and connecting us with 75 amazing students in what we hope is only the first year of this amazing contest. Congratulations to each of Joomla!'s winners and special thanks to each of you who participated. We hope yours was a positive experience and we look forward to hearing from each of you, again, in the future.

Congratulations to Chad, Justo, Marieke, Max and Michael! Many thanks to Amy for the post, and to the Joomla! community for mentoring students for GHOP.

We've seen many of you GHOPers on the program mailing list. Have you been working with your projects now that the contest is over? Comment and let us how you've been contributing.

Google Hosts Apache Wicket London Get Together

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Apache Wicket is a Java component-based web framework, with a fast-growing community surrounding it. Google recently hosted the Apache Wicket London Users Group for the second time at our offices in the heart of the capital. We had over twenty developers attend, and we spent the evening hacking, enjoying presentations, eating pizza, hanging out and chatting. Check out the photos.

We covered a range of topics, including integrating with The Dojo Toolkit and creating a reusable AJAX image cropping widget. Conversations continued afterwards at a local watering hole, and we had some really positive comments from people about how much they got out of the evening. Thanks to everyone in the Apache Wicket community who came along and made it such a great evening!

Applications Are In!

Monday, April 7, 2008

We've just finished taking applications for Google Summer of Code™ 2008, and we're pleased to say that our mentors will be kept quite busy reviewing them for the next two weeks. We received more than 7,000 applications, compared with last year's count of 6,179; we look forward to bringing you more updates on applicant demographics over the next few days.

You can check the program home page on April 21st for a listing of all accepted student proposals for 2008. In the meantime, students should keep an eye out for communications from their would-be mentors and answer any questions they may have about your proposals. You'll likely have plenty of questions of your own, too; what better time than the present to get more involved in the communities you're investigating?

gold: Google Releases New and Improved GCC Linker

Friday, April 4, 2008

I submitted my first patch to the GNU linker in 1992. In 1993 I knew enough about its shortcomings, and started to argue that we should rewrite it from scratch. In 2006, just 13 years later, and now working at Google, I finally got a chance to do it.

That work came to fruition last month, with the release
of gold to the open source community
. gold is a new linker, written from scratch. It really only has one new feature compared to the current GNU linker: it's much faster. I've measured it as five times faster linking large C++ applications. Since for most programmers the linker is nothing more than a roadblock between writing code and running the program, I figure that speed and correctness are the only really important features of any linker.

We've been using gold widely within Google as a beta test, and will soon be deploying it as the default linker internally. Now that it is part of the GNU binutils, my hope is that it will eventually become the default linker for all the free operating systems.

Getting gold to this point was the work of a small team at Google. It's a reasonably sized program — some 50,000 lines of commented C++ code. We're contributing it back to the open source community not because we have to, or because we expect some benefit, but simply because we can. Google gets a lot from the open source community, and we try to give a lot back.

Concurrency Summit

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Allison Randal, O'Reilly Media

Early in March, Google's Open Source Team hosted a one-day concurrency summit organized by O'Reilly Media. The participants represented a broad spectrum of interests and perspectives, from fast-paced startups, to academic researchers, to hardware companies with unique offerings in concurrent hardware or hardware acceleration for concurrent software, to large software companies looking to concurrency for the next generation of radical technology advances. The discussion ran fast and furious, over a variety of topics: the implications of increasingly concurrent hardware and software for power consumption, whether locks should be considered harmful, solutions for testing concurrent code, the obstacle of legacy code in moving toward concurrent implementations, REST as a model of distributed concurrency, the benefits and limits of mathematic formalism in concurrency, and how to train the next generation of programmers for concurrent development so they can solve the next generation of concurrent problems. Much positive attention went to concurrency models based on components/boundaries and message passing. Energy demands and economics, rather than improved performance, were generally agreed to be the driving factors behind the current trend toward massively multicore machines. All-in-all it was an incredibly valuable day. My main take-away is that we're still in the very early days for concurrency research and development. There was a time when people talked about artificial intelligence, but now we talk about genetic algorithms, neural networks, symbolic learning, fuzzy systems, certainty factors, and a host of other topics related to or inspired by early research in artificial intelligence. Concurrency has a similar path ahead, where we stop thinking and talking about it as a monolithic solution, and start treating it as a general field full of rich and diverse solutions to practical problems.