Sunday, May 18, 2008

University of Moratuwa Climbs to the Top with GSoC 2008

For years University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka has been doing a kick-ass job in the process of converting talented youngsters in Sri Lanka into world class computer engineers and IT professionals. It is not a secret that out of all the IT education centers in the country University of Moratuwa is the best in the business. Graduates passed out from the University of Moratuwa can be found virtually in any software firm in Sri Lanka and every year a significant number of University of Moratuwa graduates end up joining some of the finest organizations and universities in the world.

Talking about kicking butt, this time around University of Moratuwa has managed to kick some really serious butt big time. Being able to secure the first place in the Google Summer of Code 2008 (GSoC 2008) top participants list is no ordinary thing. According to the latest statistics from Google it is from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka that the largest number of GSoC 2008 applications has been received. The blistering number of applications is 93! The second place of this list goes to University of Campinas, Brazil. 29 applications have been received from University of Campinas. So clearly University of Moratuwa is way ahead from the rest of the world with this regard.

Also Google has declared that University of Moratuwa has forwarded the largest number of winning GSoC 2008 applications. There are 23 winning applications from University of Moratuwa this year from which 18 are from the department of Computer Science and Engineering. I personally feel very proud of this achievement and feel really happy about myself for being able to be one of those 18 winners.

Sri Lanka is among the top 10 GSoC 2008 participant countries this year. Sri Lanka is holding this position along with countries like USA, Canada and India who are at the frontier of the global IT industry. However out of all the IT education institutes in Sri Lanka only University of Moratuwa has earned a position in the top 10 GSoC 2008 participant institutes list. This is an clear indication of the level of excellence University of Moratuwa has reached over the past couple of decades in terms of quality of education. In addition to that this achievement by the University of Moratuwa is an indication of the fact that a new generation of computer engineers and IT professionals who appreciate and support open source software is being created at Sri Lanka.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Open Source is Cool!

Recently among the GsoC 2008 participants, there was a very interesting discussion about what makes open source software cool. The discussion lasted for several days and it really brought up some interesting ideas and comments about the open source software movement. It was really fascinating to see youngsters from all over the world describing their opinions about open source software in their own words and own style of writing. Some of the postings did even touch areas like economics, philosophy and politics.

According to some of the GSoCers, open source software is cool mainly due to the community interaction associated with them. With open source software one can make a few contributions to a project and in return get thousands of contributions from the community. All these contributions help to improve the quality of the software and help the community achieve their goals. Also this opens up some opportunities for individuals to make some new friends with common interests.

Some GSoCers believe that it's the transparency aspect of open source software which makes them cooler than proprietary software. With open source software it is really possible to see how something works down to the least bit of byte code. And if it doesn't work then the individual contributors can fix it themselves. In addition to that open source software enable individual users and developers to change the software at will to suit the requirements which is not an option with proprietary software. With proprietary software most of the time you have to change the requirements to suit the capabilities of the software. According to some GSoCers software resembles knowledge. Open source software thus becomes a powerful medium for sharing knowledge in a free, transparent and collaborative environment. They believe that by making software and thus knowledge freely available and accessible the entire human race can benefit from everyone's work.

According to the opinion of some GSoCers open source software brings results faster. With source code of software open to everybody bugs can be detected faster and corrected quickly. Also due to this nature open source software projects mature faster in terms of quality and performance.

Apart from the two or three ideas described above there were also some exciting comments on software freedom, humanitarian aspects of open source software and economical aspects of open source software. All in all I believe that this discussion makes some fine reference material for everybody who is interested in computer science and software engineering. It's really heartening to see that a whole new generation of software developers that trusts, respects and appreciates open source software is being born.