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Reality crashes Google hippie code fest

Disappointing results, rejected projects

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You've almost got to feel sorry for Google. It tries to do something cool with its annual Summer of Code program, but some sourpusses just have to spoil the idyllic 60's vibe.

Google this month announced the 174 project organizations it is supporting in the 2008 GSOC.

Inevitably, there were omissions and some disgruntled project organizers. Concerns, though, are also emerging among successful applicants that Google's love-in is causing confusion and producing poor-quality code.

There's concern inside the Debian Linux project that members participating as GSOC students spent too much time on their existing Debian tasks rather than GSOC projects in past years, and that this led to "disappointing results, unsuccessful projects, less projects being accepted the next year."

Also, it seems Google has not clearly communicated who GSOC is aimed at, meaning some Debian developers that could have applied didn't because it was thought that GSOC was only for new contributors.

Debian members are debating whether existing Debian developers should be allowed to apply as GSOC students in light of these concerns.

Elsewhere, there is dissatisfaction at being rejected by the internet's favorite search engine. Sun Microsystems ,whose OpenSolaris was approved in 2007, has been rejected this year, apparently on the basis of size. Rejection means potential new features for OpenSolaris will not benefit from the GSOH make over.

Also turned down, for a second year, was a submission from the coders behind the Xubuntu Linux desktop, Xfce.

According to one Xfce supporter: "This is a crying shame as the handful of committed Xfce developers could have done with some sort of push from such a project. They're all busy in their day jobs and simply can't spend more time on enhancements for Xfce."

It's claimed Xfce is a popular alternative to Gnome and KDE yet still requires work that GSOC could have addressed.

GSOC started in 2005, supposedly by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who are said to have been inspired by the spirit of the 1967 summer of love, even though both were born in 1973. The program backs selected open source projects by funding enterprising computer science students who complete approved coding assignments successfully.

Each year Google is overwhelmed with thousands of applications - far more than it can possibly fit in and has had to make choices that are bound to upset those who don't make it.

For the projects that do get selected, the rewards can be significant. In addition to a jolt of publicity from the Google marketing network, there's the opportunity to grab some potentially bright young code wizards - many of whom will soon be looking for a career.®

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