Opening doors for students this summer

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

This summer, openSUSE had another great experience participating in the Google Summer of Code. While working on the list of ideas for our fifth year of Google Summer of Code projects, we decided to encourage students to apply not only for openSUSE-specific projects, but also for projects that would be useful to our upstreams and to other distributions. We love working with other organizations, which is why we always try to push for more collaboration.

Nine of our students successfully completed their projects, and we’d like to share their accomplishments with you below.

Beautiful 1-Click Install, by Saurabh Sood
One of openSUSE’s features is the “one click installer” which needed a visual refresh.  Saurabh made a great deal of progress on the installer, as you can see in some of the screenshots on his weblog, and we’re all looking forward to getting it into the main distribution.

Complete AppStream/Software-Center, by Matthias Klumpp
Matthias tackled the challenge of making the PackageKit-based software center work nicely on several distributions by improving the performance of PackageKit, adding new support for parallel transactions and making backend API changes. He also made improvements to the software center itself making it super fast and able to work better on non-Ubuntu distributions. On top of that, he created a new library to handle the appstream metadata that will be used by several other projects.

openSUSE Karma plugin for openSUSE Connect, by Priyanka M
openSUSE has a social network called “Connect”.  This summer, Priyanka wrote a karma plugin that functions similarly to StackOverflow’s reputation system.  openSUSE users get karma points for things like Bugzilla activity, or promoting openSUSE in social media.

osc2 client, by Marcus Hüwe
The Open Build Service is a service openSUSE provides to allow people to easily build packages for a variety of distributions like openSUSE, SLES, Fedora, and Ubuntu.  The command line client for interacting with this service is osc.  This summer, Marcus continued his previous Google Summer of Code work on the second version of the client.

Popularity Contest for RPM (popcorn), by Akshit Khurana
Akshit spent his summer improving Popcorn, which is inspired by Debian’s “popcon”, a system of (voluntarily) tracking how popular packages are in the install base, which is very useful information for a distro.

Redesign fdisk to be more extensible and implement GPT support, by Davidlohr Bueso
Davidlohr worked upstream on refactoring and modernising fdisk. He managed to clean up and modularize a lot of complicated fdisk code, which will make it easier in the future to support more disklabels and add more functionality, as well as creating a planned libfdisk library.

Scanny, by Piotr Niełacny
Scanny is a Ruby on Rails security scanner, which parses Ruby files, looks for suspicious patterns, and produces a report.  Piotr added new security checks, designed and implemented a proper command-line interface, and tested the project on several real-world applications which led to various performance gains and other improvements.

Upstream/Downstream Tracker, by N.B. Prashanth
Distributions usually have tools for tracking new versions upstream, but the existing tools are all pretty much limited to one distribution, and have some limitations.  The goal for this project was to take some existing work done for openSUSE, and turn it into the backend of a more complete system. A rails web application was also created to be able to see the upstream versions as well as administer the packages to be tracked.

Writable snapshot support for ext4, by Yongqiang Yang
Yongqiang worked on adding writable snapshot support to ext4. The code written during the project is available here, and people can test it with packages from the openSUSE Build Service repository.

It has been an exciting summer for all of us - students, mentors and administrators, and the openSUSE community. openSUSE will benefit greatly from the results of these projects, and we do hope the larger free software community will also enjoy what our students produced. Many thanks to Google for organizing Google Summer of Code, and we look forward to another wonderful summer next year!

By Matt Barringer and Vincent Untz, openSUSE Organization Administrators