GNOME Commander

A powerful file manager for the GNOME desktop environment

How I became the next maintainer of Gcmd 02 January 2016

It’s been nearly four years now that the old maintainer of Gnome Commander passed away. Piotr did a great job in pushing this software to a higher level. I have been using gcmd with pleasure for many years. But up to two years ago I had never been a maintainer of any FOSS project. So, how did it come that I am the new one? And what does this mean to me now?

It began after an update of the gsf library, used by gcmd to get meta-information out from structured files, e.g. zip files. After this update, gcmd could not be started anymore. Even rebuilding and binding didn’t help: gcmd’s source code had to be changed, too. On my local Linux this was an easy task (there existed a patch already on bugzilla and I used Gentoo those days). But what about the official package? Nobody took care about it anymore. Now, that I have gotten so much from the Open Source Community in the past decade from Linux, I wanted to give something back.

Having repaired the broken mailing list configurations with a member from the savannah.gnu.org team, we discussed some future options with the members of the gcmd mailing list. Thomas Jost, the former website admin of gcmd pointed me to to some great git-tutorials. These were important for me as I hadn’t any experience in collaborative development so far. After some mail-discussions with Andrea Veri and Matthias Clasen (in which I pointed out my willingness to take over the responsibility for gcmd) the status of a gnome developer was given to me. After that I could directly push new gcmd-releases to the servers of gnome.org. Meanwhile, Thomas created a new GitHub organisation, where the gcmd code could be found, too.

In the past two years quite a number of bugs could have been fixed and here I also want to thank all the contributors, contributing with bug fixes and helpful discussions in the mailing list. Amongst the bugs which have been fixed, the most important certainly was bgo#653573, resulting in plain-text connection passwords in the config file. There are still many bugs on the ToDo list, but not so critical ones…

So, how did the maintainer status of gcmd changed my life? Up to one and a half year ago I was doing my PhD in theoretical biophysics and I was very disappointed about my work. I had realised that the scientific work and its community is not the right place for me. But programming and developing is something I really wanted to do. With gcmd a much bigger world has opened to me: I started to love working with git, I tried much more development tools than I had known ever before, I appreciate to work with Gnome libraries and devhelp, I started using unit tests, GitHub, Travis, etc… :)

And finally, the very very best: All this helped me to find a job in which I can work as a C programmer (already more than a year ago), which is so awesome! That’s why I want to express my big gratitude to the gnome community and all those who have made the gcmd project possible.

Although I have not so much time as before this job, I still will contribute further to gcmd. :)

I wish you all the best. Have a great new year 2016!

Uwe Scholz


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