Tuesday, December 16, 2008

McDPF - My First Multi-Developer Open Source Project!

   I've started helping out on an open-source project! Woohoo!

   A few months ago I turned an old laptop into a digital picture frame. I installed a version of Linux called "Damn Small Linux" and then McDPF on top of it (both DSL and McDPF are open source :-) ). McDPF isn't exactly a program, but more a series of scripts that makes it easy to install the right programs on a laptop with DSL and some PHP to make it easy to administer. I was very impressed with how easy it was to turn an old laptop into a DPF using McDPF.

   After noticing that the single developer in charge of McDPF was having trouble making updates and getting bugs worked out I decided to help. I told the lead developer I wanted to help and would do anything needed to improve the McDPF project., whether it be testing, programming, designing a new website, etc. Last week I officially became a developer on the McDPF project. Woot woo!

   So far I've been working on pogramming and troubleshooting. It is nice getting to learn a new language. I have never programmed in PHP before, but I'm picking it up very quickly. I almost have my first contrbution done. It is a scheduler page that you access from any PC in your house. On it you can set up your digital picture frame to do certain tasks at certain times. This makes it so you can turn the screen on and off according to when people will actually be able to see it, display the days weather or anything else you can think of. It parses the crontab (the Linux equivalent of Scheduled Tasks) for all McDPF entries and displays them on the webpage where you can easily edit or delete them and add new tasks. Its been fun so far getting to dig into something new and learn from some hands on experience.

   I don't really have much more to say, I just wanted to share my good news. If you have an old laptop laying around, toss McDPF on it and turn it into a digital picture frame. I can assure you, the project will only get better from here!


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