[clug] Question: FOSS and Teaching Software Engineering

Arjen Lentz arjen at lentz.com.au
Sun Jun 29 23:24:05 GMT 2008

Hi Steve,

On 29/06/2008, at 2:53 PM, steve jenkin wrote:
> Here's something I Just Don't Get, and wanted to hear Comments or Good
> News from this community...
> 'Software Engineering' is different from Computer Science because, in
> part, it is about "Programming In The Large".
> Beautiful New Algorithms and insightful new approaches are CS.
> The problem of producing Big Software is pure SE.
> Has anyone seen/heard of an SE course that comprises a chunk of real
> work on some large (>>100KLOC) bit of code?
> [Versus the usual 'final year group project' of knocking up something
> from scratch. At best 1-5KLOC] i.e some actual P-i-t-L experience.
> There are any number of *definitive* FOSS projects out there that are
> open-ended and ideal candidates for this.
> Off the top of my head:
> - gcc and other compilers [e.g. port to a new platform or O/S]
> - linux, *BSD kernels
> - PERL, TCL, Python, Ruby, PHP, SWIG - modules/objects, porting,
> features, ...
> - Apache
> - Mozilla, Thunderbird, ...
> - WINE
> - OOo

MySQL also (and perhaps PostgreSQL).
Do check the list of projects of Google Summer of Code, which is not  
identical in its objective (and extracurricular), but its results  
yield the same, depending on the project and task chosen.

Other than that, I do think the concept is very good. You wouldn't  
find a big enough REAL project if it weren't for OSS.
And fake projects are generally small(er), and their contrived nature  
can focus on some things but forget others.
And the really cool thing about OSS is that the code can actually be  
used in the real world, then.
The problem is that each group will need to work on a different  
project or area of code, and same for each year.
That places a burden on the academic staff, preparing it all.

Now, like the Google Summer of Code, this may well be something that  
an independent (global!) organisation could coordinate; i.e. maintain  
contact with projects and mentors (people in the know about the  
project internals), and distributing tasks across different  
universities etc. That could actually be absolutely brilliant for both  
OSS and unis!
Orgs like Google may well be interested in supporting this; and  
really, perhaps joints like Microsoft also. It does promote better  
software engineering and more skilled software engineers. That's good  
for the entire sector.

Arjen Lentz, Founder @ Open Query
http://openquery.com.au/   (ph. +61-7-3103 0809)
Training for MySQL in  

More information about the linux mailing list