The open source community is driven by the people who use, change and support open source software. This summer, members of the Open Source Lab staff enjoyed opportunities to connect with those people face-to-face at annual open source events. Lab staff and students attended the Portland conferences Open Source Bridge and O’Reilly Open Source Convention, where they presented talks, hosted a booth to represent the OSL and talked shop with everyone from recreational users to industry developers.
“Conferences are a way to interface with our community; not only our users, but people who know of us and like what we do, we can hear from them things that they want,” says OSL Associate Director of Operations Lance Albertson. “It's just great to be able to interact with people.”
The Oregon State University Open Source Lab recently hired three new full-time staff members as part of a movement toward expansion as a self-supported campus entity. The additional staff members will provide comprehensive support in lab operations, allowing the OSL to increase student opportunities within the lab and improve the resources it can offer open source projects.
The OSL is home to some of the most well-known open source projects in the world and facilitates more than 600,000 unique downloads each day. In addition to hosting external projects, the OSL also contributes to and develops open source software in-house and provides hosting for projects and Web infrastructure within the university. To support its efforts, the lab employs several qualified OSU students who gain professional experience managing open source projects, maintaining servers and providing customer and user support.
Sometimes finding the best solution means starting over. That was Mike Cooper’s dilemma as he tackled his first solo project at the Oregon State University Open Source Lab. An OSU sophomore studying computer science who had just been hired in March 2010 to work as a system administrator for the lab, he was tasked with securing a network connection that could be extended to laptops, allowing lab staff and hosted projects to connect to the lab's private network from anywhere. Cooper decided to scrap the previous method that others had planned to use to link the network servers and instead opted for a virtual private network, a transient link between servers that he felt was a better fit for the lab's needs.
“When I started the project it was kind of hard for me to look at this and say ‘No, we should be doing something else’ and throw away all that work,” Cooper says.“But I decided that the approach they were taking wouldn't work very well for what we wanted.”
Staff members and students from the Oregon State University Open Source Lab will represent the lab at Portland’s O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) July 16-20. An annual open source conference, OSCON engages all aspects of the open source community with sessions, tutorials, keynote presentations and an expo.
The OSL will be present throughout the conference at the OSCON Expo, where the lab will have a booth alongside open source leaders like Drupal, Facebook and Intel. In addition, OSL Associate Director of Operations Lance Albertson will lead a session on open source private cloud platforms. Albertson plans to discuss the various features offered by different cloud computing platforms and offer insight on how to choose a platform that best meets a project’s needs.
The Oregon State University Open Source Lab’s Beaver BarCamp 9 brought around 70 people to the Kelley Engineering Center on April 21 to discuss projects, explore new interests and share ideas. The sessions held throughout the day varied greatly in topic — from robotics to hydroponic gardening to gaming — but all shared an open forum and flexibility that promoted discussion and collaborative learning.
In Daniel Miller’s session, Indoor Hydroponic Gardening, he used diagrams and photos to demonstrate how he built a hydroponic gardening structure in his small room using materials purchased at a home improvement store. Nearly all of the 10 people who attended Miller’s session spoke at least once, asking for clarification about his methods, offering suggestions on how to improve the structure and even giving Miller ideas about what to make once the tomatoes he is cultivating are ripe. The most popular suggestions? Pizza and salsa.
Students reap the benefits of professional programming experience at the OSU Open Source Lab
Posted by Kayla Harr on May 10, 2012
As a freshman at Oregon State University in early 2010, Jordan Evans didn't have a lot of computer science experience. Though he had always had an interest in computers, Evans had come to OSU as a mathematics major and, like many first-year students, didn't yet have a clear idea of what he hoped to do with his education.
“I decided I liked math classes better than I liked computer science classes, so I kept taking math classes,” Evans says. “I really had no idea what I would do with it. I knew what I liked but I didn’t know how to apply that to anything.”
Two years later, Evans' career goals have undergone a radical change. Since June 2010, Evans has worked at OSU's Open Source Lab, where he’s built up an impressive resume that includes two years of professional experience as a system administrator, a summer internship with Google and knowledge of exactly what he wants to do in the future.