A nice Free Software experience

Meike asks us for our nice experiences with Free Software developers. Here’s one of mine.

I needed to find a new RSS reader. I have a somewhat lengthy subway commute to work each day, and I like listening to podcasts or reading PDFs on the OLPC laptop. I also have a pretty busy RSS feed list, and thought it’d be nice to merge my daily RSS read with my daily commute. The RSS reader I was using (Sage, a Firefox plugin) doesn’t allow that, though, since there’s no way to have it download all new feeds and present them on a single static HTML page for offline reading.

Google Reader was an obvious choice, but I try to use web services that run on Free Software when I can. Google brought me to GobbleRSS, which is a Google Reader clone with sync capabilities.

I tried installing it on my Xen host, which runs Debian/sarge. It didn’t work; I got a PHP syntax error. I sent mail to the maintainer, Guillaume Boudreau, and went to bed. I had a reply waiting when I woke up, telling me that he’d just committed what he thought was a fix to my problem. Over the next seven hours, we sent twelve e-mails between us, with him (and occasionally me) proposing fixes. It turned out that he was using PHP 5 and MySQL 4.1, and I was using PHP 4 and MySQL 4.0. By the end of the day, he had full support for the older versions of each committed.

Thanks, Guillaume! Here’s a photo of what my daily commute looks like now:


  1. God I want that laptop!

    Surprised you get to read anything surely you get people commenting or looking over your shoulder!


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