OpenInfra Live is a new, weekly hour-long interactive show streaming to the OpenInfra YouTube channel every Thursday at 14:00 UTC (9:00 AM CT). Episodes feature more OpenInfra release updates, user stories, community meetings, and more open infrastructure stories.
Curious about how to start contributing upstream? Kendall Nelson (OpenInfra Upstream Developer Advocate) and Victoria Martinez de la Cruz (OpenStack contributor who joined the community through the Outreachy internship program) will be joined by Archana Kumari (current Outreachy intern), Ashley Rodriquez (Boston University graduate), Fatema Sherif (former Outreachy intern) and Dawson Coleman (North Dakota State University graduate). The group discussed internships, mentoring, and how you can get started contributing upstream to open source projects like OpenStack, Airship, Kata, StarlingX and Zuul.
Enjoyed this week’s episode and want to hear more about OpenInfra Live? Let us know what other topics or conversations you want to hear from the OpenInfra community this year, and help us to program OpenInfra Live! If you are running OpenStack at scale or helping your customers overcome the challenges discussed in this episode, join the OpenInfra Foundation to help guide OpenStack software development and to support the global community.
The OpenStack community includes more than 110,000 individuals across hundreds of organizations and over 180 countries, so it wasn’t surprising that managing time zone differences and collaborating with people across the world was one of the first topics that were discussed. After all, we had folks joining this OpenInfra Live episode from Egypt, India, Spain, and the United States. Sherif also said that she faced a nine-hour time difference working with her Outreachy mentor, Nelson.
“I really enjoyed working with different people from different cultures and backgrounds with different perspectives,” said Sherif. “This added more depth and variety into my thought process for technical and non-technical issues. Then I got the chance to meet them at the Project Teams Gathering (PTG) and OpenInfra Summit.”
Martinez de la Cruz, currently based in Madrid, echoed this as a key advantage around collaborating in an open source community.
“Being able to work in a community that has people all over the world with different cultures and time zones and being able to collaborate actively, that is something you cannot get elsewhere,” she said. “We are developing complex code that is being used to manage data centers. That is kick-ass, and that is something in my case…an open source community is the only place I could find that.”
Rodriguez said it was the community that helped her learn and overcome some of the Git challenges she faced early on.
“I had a pretty enlightening, hands-on experience with Git,” she said. “The greatest part of my experience with OpenStack was the connections I made and the things I have learned from my mentors, like Victoria. She was a great help in getting started with Manila, very generous with her time. That is something that open source community is very good with – always being there to help new contributors and overall, being the best community ever.
Coleman, who made his OpenInfra debut at the Summit last year, talked about how developing code for real deployments and developing in the open was a new method to learn from.
“Here are people who are putting all of their stuff out in the open and you can learn from that workflow,” he said.
What is the One Thing You Want to Do to Make the Community More Inviting to a New Contributor Like You?
A question posted on LinkedIn from Goutham Pacha Ravi got a consistent response from the OpenInfra Live participants: we need more awareness on the programs folks can leverage in getting started with open source.
Sherif said that people should know about the opportunities, and sometimes you just need some digging. Her example was the Outreachy program – something that she, Martinez de la Cruz and Kumari all participated in as their entrance to the OpenStack community.
“[Outreachy] is getting to more audience, so keeping that going will get more people to contribute, providing the opportunities that open source is already doing and promoting that these are opportunities that are there,” she said. “You can touch the code, fix it, and you did a new job, you did great work, and we are all supporting you.”
Rodriguez agreed and commented that she was in a unique position that the OpenStack involvement was something tied to her coursework at Boston University. She didn’t know about resources like Outreachy and OpenStack Upstream Institute. Coleman agreed and said that just creating more awareness that these onboarding programs exist.
Nelson commented that this episode was a good first step, but we also want to leverage the Student of OpenInfra Series on Superuser (which Rodriguez and Kumari have participated in) as well as other opportunities to get in front of students who want to get involved in open source.
Nelson asked everyone to just provide one tip for folks who are wanting to get involved in open source for the first time. Every answer pointed at the resource at everyone’s fingertips to help them be successful: the community. Also – documentation is your friend.
Kumari commented that solving issues takes time, and it’s a learning process to move forward. “If you get stuck somewhere, reach out to your mentor or a community member or turn to developer forums like Stack Overflow.”
“Make use of the documentation – there is a lot of information around what tests have to be written, the code style checks that have to be passed,” said Rodriguez. “Once you know what you have to do and you don’t know where to start, I recommend looking at the code that is already published and what other people have contributed to see what their style is, what methodology they used, what functions did they write, what did they make use of, and how did they get to where they got. Then ask someone to review it,” she said.
Sherif’s piece of advice was straight to the point: Just start.
“Dive in head first and the community will catch you,” she said.
“Don’t be shy – if you don’t ask questions, you won’t get answers,” said Coleman
Coleman said he was given two pieces of advice when he started: Don’t be shy and if you don’t ask questions, you won’t get answers. He elaborated that you should make sure you do your due diligence when you come across issues. While everyone in the community is ready to jump in and help, their time is precious.
“The cool thing about open source is that we are volunteering our time to each other,” he said. “I think as long as you’re aware of that and you’re not afraid to participate in that, it’s hard to go wrong regardless of who you’re collaborating with.”
Martinez de la Cruz agreed, commenting that contributing to an open source community teaches you how to ask good questions.
“Make connections, and don’t hesitate on asking people,” she said. “Everyone is busy, but everyone is willing to help and you don’t need to be blocked for one week with a single issue if you have people in the community who can help you out.”
Check out the Full Episode on YouTube to Hear More Questions Including:
- What is the hardest part of getting started contributing?
- Was geolocalization / culture / language a challenge for you?
- What are the technical blockers you encountered?
- What is the best part of being in an open source community?
- Besides open source, what led you to software / technology as an interest and career?
Additional Resources to Start Contributing
- Outreachy Mailing List
- Grace Hopper Open Source Day
- OpenStack Contributor Guide
- First Contact SIG
- OpenStack Upstream Institute
Next Episode on #OpenInfraLive
Are you looking for a job in open source? Curious about what companies might be right for you? Join us as we spotlight companies including Canonical, City Network, Mirantis, and T-Systems with open infrastructure job openings, learn about their company cultures, and hear what they are looking for in candidates.
Tune in on Thursday, June 24 at 1400 UTC (9:00 AM CT) to watch this #OpenInfraLive episode: Open Source Job Openings (and how to land them).
You can watch this episode live on YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook. The recording of OpenInfra Live will be posted on OpenStack WeChat after each live stream!
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