May the source be with you09 Jun 2009
From time to time I see the comment advocating a closed source program, with the response “as I’m not a developer it doesn’t bother me whether or not I have the source code”. I believe that that view is wrong, and that there are many occasions where non-developers will find benefit from having access to the source code.
For example,I’ve just found that Kmail will not auto-complete email addresses from an LDAP KDE resource. A simple bug; although strictly speaking it’s not a bug, as it was a deliberate feature. Fortunately there is a fix, with a modification made to one of the components. Unfortunately this fix has not found its way into Debian Lenny or Squeeze, and Sid is now KDE4.
I could install from the KDE SVN repository, but that version has not been tested with Debian, and I don’t really want to have such a significant part of a production server to have come from outside of Debian. Perhaps I am being overly cautious.
Anyway, I changed to
/usr/src and ran
apt-get source kdepim to download the source from Debian. I used “find” to locate the offending component, and used diff to determine what differences there were between the modified KDE version and the standard Debian version. I was pleased to note that only one line had changed. I copied in the new component and ran
apt-get build-dep kdepim (with help from Dominic in #surrey). Then a quick
./configure, a very slow “make”, and a quick
sudo checkinstall make install and the fix was made.
There are many many more benefits to open source than the ability to modify the source, but I just wanted to point out that, even for non-developers, there is a very real and very direct benefit to having the source.
May the source be with you.
Update - the actual patch may be found here.