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Google's Summer of Code concludes

By Bruce Byfield on September 21, 2005 (8:00:00 AM)

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Google's Summer of Code (SOC), a program that matched computer science students with free and open source software (FOSS) projects and paid for results, is over. Despite some organizational problems, the SOC attracted an overwhelming response from both students and projects, and early indications are that the program has produced a wide range of projects and attracted a number of promising students to the FOSS communities. Whether the program will be repeated, however, remains undetermined.

Danilo Segan, who worked on Sarma, a live editor for GNOME documentation, differs from many students in that he was already involved in the FOSS communities before taking part in the SOC. Previously, Segan has been involved with Serbian translation for GNOME, and several documentation-related projects. As a result, Segan knew when he applied that he wanted to work on a GNOME project. "Also," he said, "since I have been doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes work on GNOME, I wanted something where I would test myself in user interface design as well."

Segan was more focused and more articulate than some of the students in the SOC program. "What I liked best," he said, "is the opportunity to work on free software that I love, while not worrying about real life problems. And it was also the opportunity to finally learn a few technical things I always wanted to learn. Another nice thing is the chance to get to meet a whole lot of IT/Computer Science students sharing the same ideals."

While generally satisfied with his experience, Segan noted widespread dissatisfaction with the management of the program. In particular, he mentioned that many participants were disgruntled because "most non-US students will probably be getting $3,150 because of 30% tax in the US" instead of the full $4,500. This is a problem that might have been avoided for students living in countries with which the United States has reciprocal tax agreements. According to Segan, students also complained about the slow payment and a lack of organization. "Paperwork has been lost and resent for almost everybody a couple of times," he alleged. Nor was there any online tracking system for payments. "I still don't know if I submitted enough data for electronic payment," he said, "or [whether] I will be getting cheques."

These administrative problems aside, Segan views his experience in the SOC as generally positive. He described Federico Mena Quintero, the mentor assigned to him, as "very nice and responsive," and seemed pleased that they could settle some differing ideas about the direction of the project. Segan also believes that his participation has increased his connections in the GNOME documentation project.

On a more personal level, the SOC gave Segan "a good reference on his CV" and increased his technical knowledge while providing him with money to live on for at least six months. "The Google Summer of Code is what every free software contributor dreams about: A chance to earn money working on what you love and enjoy."

Next: Responses from mentoring projects

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Goodness sake

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 22, 2005 05:20 PM
Google hands out $8m+ to students doing FOSS and the article majors on Google's difficulties in coping with an immensely popular initiative and on whinging distros complaining that Google gave away too much money.

Let's hope Google feels able to rise above this and do it again next year. Not that I imagine they'd feel too inspired by these sorts of reactions.

Makes me feel proud to be part of the community.

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Re:Goodness sake

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 23, 2005 03:25 PM
Quite taken out of context. The only way for the article to be _even_ more positive would have been to only concentrate on the good things, not the things that could be done better because doing something for the very first time never is 100% smooth.

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Another Summer of Code article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 22, 2005 10:20 PM
Not bad..but there is a Summer of Code Article, called What I Did at Google's Summer of Code<a href="http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article.php/3547611" title="internetnews.com">http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article.<nobr>p<wbr></nobr> hp/3547611</a internetnews.com>
that's a lot better. Strangely enough at least one of the same persons quoted in that article are quoted here as well, with nearly the same quote. They also got a non Google BS quote from a student that works on a google project.

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