How I started in Open Source

I was studying at Mackenzie Presbyterian University when I met Professor Rogerio Brito. Most of my friends were terrified of him. Maybe because of the class name “Structured Programming I”. Or maybe because of what Brito taught us at class.

My degree was in computing, Bachelor in System Information. Although it is related to Computer Science, we don’t have the same classes. In Computer Science you have more math, statistics and even physics, while in System Information you have administration, strategic planning, law and others related to business.

Although Structured Programming had a list of topics, Brito didn’t limit himself to those. Eventually he would try to teach us about algorithms, software complexity, the importance of writing academic papers and explain about Open Source software.

I remember one day we were dismissed before 10PM. I used to run for the bus stop for not being too late at home and cause it could be dangerous lingering on the streets of Consolacao neighborhood by myself, waiting for the bus. But that day I stumbled with Brito near the Professor’s Room.

He invited me in. It was my first time in there. There were books and papers lying on the main table and in another part of the room there was a desktop computer. We started talking about programming and I can’t recall how but we ended up talking about Open Source. He showed me some websites and explained about a lot of nerd stuff.

I left the room after 11PM. Late for my bus and with a paper sheet. A very important paper sheet. It had a list of items to study, software to learn about and names that I had never heard before. One of the items of that list that I can still remember was “Reading about Open JDK” (now being adopted over Oracle/Sun JDK). There was “Create a program for finding software bugs” too (like the famous FindBugs).

He taught me about the basics of Open Source, gave me a list of interesting projects, explained how to join the project, where to look for information and how to assess the maturity and quality of a project. And also taught me more about USP - University of Sao Paulo - and how to submit academic papers and what was a call for paper (when he said that word I translated it to Portuguese, you can imagine the confusion in my head) :-)

He made me curious.

This weekend I sent him an e-mail about analyzing the parallel execution of a software, using Debian. He sent me a reply with some interesting links and a brief introduction about the topic. It’s starred at my inbox, while I look for some spare time to read his links and, certainly, learn something useful and interesting for any nerd.

Since that class, back in 2005, 2006, I’ve been involved in several Open Source projects, became an Apache Committer few days ago (I will write about this later) and I have created a company (TupiLabs) specialized in Open Source.

Thank you for lecturing me Brito, and thank you for not limiting your classes to the class planning. I believe that’s the best quality of a professor.

I wish all the success to you in your projects, and health to you and your family.