Marvin Karegyeya

Steering committee member of the GitLab heroes program

October 2020

Marvin makes FOSS and takes our Twitter mic from October 21 to 28. Thank you, Marvin!

Please tell us about yourself

I am Marvin Karegyeya. I am a software developer and I am passionate about building open source communities and contributing to open source in general. I started contributing to open source projects 6 years ago. At the time I was submitting patches to drupal, then I joined the Mozilla firefox student developer program where I worked on building test HTML5 applications for the prototype OS called firefox OS, currently I am a steering committee member for GitLab heroes program where together with my fellow committee members we plan and help lead and organise a group of contributors called GitLab heroes.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I have a couple of ongoing code contributions to GitLab source code and a few open merge requests (MR) that I am working on and trying to get merged.

What is most interesting about that?

The tasks themselves, be it bug fixes or migrations are really interesting and teach me alot. Then the sense of community that is embodied in the approach to merge these contributions is phenomenal. It’s a beautiful feeling to just be a part of a community building some of the best products with really talented folks from all across the globe.

How did you first discover FOSS?

It all started when I was a student at the University. One of my professors at the time brought in a software developer to inspire us to aspire to become better software developers. The guy talked about how he had become a software developer without a computer science degree and how we as software engineering students had an even better chance to make it. He talked about FOSS and a couple of other fascinating technologies. And then as he concluded his speech, he suggested that if we wanted to kick start our career we should contribute to open source projects. He further went on to recommend we check out the GSOC website where we could find a list of projects with descriptions that could be of interest. I did follow his advice so I guess the rest is history.

What prompted you to start contributing to FOSS?

I started out with the intention of joining the GSOC program. I was a student and I thought it was a fun way to spend my summer break and also, I thought it could be a great opportunity to gain some work experience and also make money. It also didn’t seem to be much of an obligation since the program ran for a period of three months within the summer break. That’s how I chose a project from the GSOC website and started contributing.

Why should others get involved with FOSS?

I consider my involvement in FOSS as a way of giving back and I would wish the same for anyone else out there who is looking for ways to contribute to consider FOSS projects. If you use any of these softwares for free I think a small contribution be it in monetary terms, code contribution or any other form of contribution would be the noble thing to do.

How should they get started?

Getting started should be as simple as giving a shout out to a FOSS project team on social media. I would recommend one to make a small commitment that they genuinely feel passionate about and also resonates with the project goals. This commitment could be fixing a bug in the software, donating money, becoming an ambassador or maybe localising some of the project documentation. It’s from a series of these small contributions that you get to make an impact within the project community.

What difficulties and limitations do you see with FOSS?

Like with everything else there are a few limitations and difficulties with FOSS. Some of these may range from limited budgets allocated to run awareness programs which limits the software in terms of usage and also support from the potential community members.There is also a limitation in the number of maintainers for code contributions who can give relevant and reliable feedback.

How can they be solved?

There should be incentives introduced to promote the project and also encourage more people to maintain the project which will increase the number of maintainers. A lot can also be done by setting up ambassador groups which can help reach out to potential contributors in all capacities.

Where do you see difficulties in contributing?

Generally I would say my contributing experience has gone quite positively but of course there have been a few drawbacks and I think some of these were brought about by miscommunication and limitations from some of the project maintainers. I believe it is very crucial for the project maintainer to nature the contributor especially a first time contributor to make their contribution.

What does a perfect day off look like?

I usually just stay in bed and binge on watching a TV series especially when I have had a long week full of multiple assignments and I feel drained but going for a long road trip to a remote area with no cellphone signal and literally very few people, with no noise is my dream perfect day off. I sincerely hope I can achieve it one day. But who knows the world is too crowded nowadays feels like there is no space for some peace and quiet anymore.

Do you want to tell us something else we didn’t ask?

I would love to hear from anyone out there with some feedback and anything else they would like to share with me. They could probably reach out to me on my twitter handle @nuwe1_