Sugar Labs in Google Summer of Code


Well, if you look at this page, it appears that I, Jameson Quinn, am the founder of Sugar Labs. Who knew it was that easy to be the founder of a major open source project?

It's not true, of course; I'm very much a bit player compared to heavy contributors like Walter Bender, Tomeu Vizoso, and Gritti. But that's the great thing about open source; you start out just getting your feet wet by suggesting a cool idea, and you keep at it - submitting a few patches and managing a small piece of the project, in my case the Develop Activity - and you can end up with tasks as big as you're up to - and even bigger - in your lap.

Summer of Love anyone?

So, we made it into Google Summer of Code. And, sad to say, the organization that conceived of Sugar and got it off the ground -- OLPC -- did not. So what?

In my totally unbiased view, Sugar Labs would be a great organization to apply for in GSoC. We have 14 mentors lined up, last I counted, all of whom have demonstrated ability with Sugar and seriousness about helping students have a successful summer.

We have varied project ideas - from simple stand-alone activities, to integrating large projects like Titanium or Java/IcedTea into the Sugar platform.

Some of our project ideas would give real value back to the open source world, like my favorite idea, integrating and creating a kick-ass UI for a datastore which combines tagging, POSIX semantics, and copy-on-write versioning to be just way cooler than your average file system - and which right now is just some code from one of our master hackers (cscott) which is gathering dust.

Our mission is a big one - liberty and education for the world's children. And as netbooks get cheaper than textbooks, at least part of that mission is unstoppable - but we're some of the ones trying to make the education be meaningful, and almost the only ones who can do our piece of the puzzle with liberty and openness.

As a mentor, I have some advice for the students who aren't sure if they can get in. Of course, you may be right - less than half of people will be accepted - but it's still worth it to try. We absolutely are giving a higher weight to interest, enthusiasm, and engagement than we are giving to experience and knowledge.

You have to be decently smart, you have to be acceptably creative, but you do not have to be a young Linus Torvalds or Guido van Rossum in order to get in. What you do have to do is show that you are clear-eyed about what you are capable of, and work with the community to find something in that space that is useful for us.

This article was originally published on Jameson Quinn's blog at

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