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Novell kicks off Hackweek

Sends its SUSE Linux developers on a seven-day busman's holiday

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Open source developers at Novell are spending this week on a 'working holiday' that the company calls Hackweek.

Almost all of Novell's 300 SUSE Linux and open source developers around the world - plus a few guests - have been given the week to work on whatever open source projects they want to support. That's 1500 developer-days, pointed out Novell's CTO for open source, Nat Friedman, as he kicked off the week at SUSE's offices in Germany.

Some are working on existing (non-SUSE) projects, others have started new ones - the Hackweek website includes an idea-pool, where developers can suggest projects and also request help with them. Hackweek is running across seven Novell sites, in Beijing, Bangalore, Prague, Nuremberg, Boston, Provo, and Portland.

"Yahoo! does a hack-day, but this is a bit more ambitious," Friedman said. "This is the first one we've done - though we opened the idea-pool site two weeks ago, because people needed time to think about what to work on - and we're offering awards at the end of the week for the best projects."

Allocating five days gives programmers the chance to get a lot done, he added. They could even complete a project, especially if it's adapting a code-base that they already know.

For example, Novell programmer Jakub Steiner plans to spend Hackweek working on how Gnome themes are maintained. "I'd like to finally break away from the painful way we maintain our themes. Currently it's more like creating 4 different icons rather than just tweaking an icon for a particular resolution," he said on the Planet Gnome blog.

Friedman added that Novell will in future allow developers to spend up to 10 percent of their time on "working holidays" of this kind - for example, to continue working on a Hackweek project.

He said that the company plans to run Hackweek again, and hopes to involve more guests in the future as well.

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