Frederic Cambus

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OpenBSD g2k16 hackathon

· OpenBSD

First hackathon. Things started in Rzeszow in a quite surrealitic atmosphere, as I was driving to the airport under heavy rain while a thunderstorm was ongoing. The rest of the trip went smoothly though, allowing me to reach Cambridge without issues.

I came to the hackathon with plans to work on audio, emulators and graphics related ports, and had a relatively large list of potential stuff to port. Porting is a strange addiction. Trying to make sense of custom build systems, patching hardcoded compiler and linker flags, fixed paths, Linuxisms, bashisms, and so far and so on. Oh, and let's not forget programs requiring data files relative to the executable path. It's a time consuming process, and a few hours can slip by until it's time to admit defeat. For the most part, each port brings a new and unique case of problems to solve. Some of the ports I imported were previous failed attempts, but knowledge gained porting other programs allowed me to overcome blocking issues. It's a never ending challenge, but a rewarding one as each patch brings the opportunity to attempt upstreaming changes and get in touch with developers which in the vast majority are helpful and happy to see their program being packaged.

On the second day, I got my commit bit and managed to import a few things, update some others, and commit daily until the end of the hackathon. I found out that CVS, which is a frequent source of complaints and questions from people external to the project, enforces discipline, a clean workflow, and is actually rather pleasant to work with.

Overall, the most important part of the hackathon was the human aspect: meeting people in person, some of them I knew from IRC, some I only knew by name from the mailing lists, and finding out that the crowd is both cheerful and welcoming. Having fun, hearing a lot of technical discussions, seeing how the project is evolving and moving forward is super motivating. I left Cambridge very inspired and determined to start a foray into src, one step at a time.

Thanks to Anil, Gemma, and the OpenBSD foundation for organizing such a nice event. I know it has been a few months since g2k16 already, but I had this draft laying on my disk so I figured it was still time to publish it.