GSoC Mentors Summit 2018

Sorry for the long wait! In this post I’ll be talking about my visit to the GSoC Mentors Summit 2018.

I represented GNOME, sadly alone because the other selected mentor didn’t get the US visa in time. This was my first trip out of India and I couldn’t plan it properly1, so I went there for just the two conference days.

Meets

The [un]conference was a great place to learn about other open source organizations. I was able to meet a lot of people, and I remember talking to folks from HPX, scilab, WorldBrain2, Xwiki, coala, OSGeo3, Java PathFinder, PollyLabs4, KDE, fossasia, Oppia, MuseScore, CiviCRM, and meeting at least two other Abhinavs at the summit.

GSoC mentors from over 40 countries!

Sessions

A wide range of topics were covered in the sessions - funding, licensing, documentation, and in general how to improve open source software. Some sessions were more GSoC oriented like how to - retain mentors, select a good project, communicate better, and improve the program. I would like to highlight few sessions that piqued my interest:

  • Google Season of Docs

    GSoD is a new program (still being brainstormed) in which technical writers would be able to participate and work on documentation. I believe this would be a great initiative and can help newcomers ramp up much faster!

  • Open Source Personal Assistants

    Mario from fossasia held this session demonstrating the SUSI AI. It was really refreshing to see an open source personal assistant working so well. I wonder why linux distros do not ship with a working personal assistant while Windows and macOS are continuously deepening their AI integration to aid users.

    I was able to find a SUSI AI client for linux (written in Gtk). We can definitely look into making its integration easier into GNOME - say how about asking the user during the first run if they would like to enable a personal assistant?

  • GSoC Feedback

    This was my favourite session. The notes for this session can be found here. I could relate the most to the following points given by other mentors:

    • Mentors have difficulties seeing feedback from evaluations
    • Google should consider raising the lowest bar on the stipend

Lightning Talks

Lightning talks are the quickest way to gain curiosity according to me. I got to know about many projects that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It was amazing to see the influence of open source on health, robotics, humanities, and science!

Most presentations talked about their students’ summer work, but I especially loved the one by openSUSE which was about encouraging those students that had their proposals rejected. The slides for all these talks can be found here. Unfortunately, I did not present as I was too scared :(

Chocolates

The chocolate table was a delight! It was the first and definitely the last time in my life that I had a chocolate made of 100% cocoa. There was one chocolate that smelled like bubblegum, another one that had spices in it, and one that made popping sounds when eaten! Open source doesn’t only bring diversity in people but in chocolates as well :P

Thanks

GSoC Mentor Summit 2018 was truly an amazing experience! I am grateful to GNOME for selecting me and to Google for running the wonderful GSoC program. I would also like to give special thanks to Alexander Mikhaylenko for helping out in mentoring even though he didn’t sign up for it.


  1. read poor work-life balance due to my day job 

  2. Oliver - thanks for the seaweed 

  3. Jeff - I watched the movie you suggested 

  4. these folks do magic with LLVM 

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