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Working on Gnash this Summer

by Peter Brown Contributions Published on Jul 24, 2009 04:28 PM
We're happy to welcome Bob Naugle, who is a Gnash intern we are sponsoring over the Summer.

by Bob Naugle
Gnash Summer Intern

Episode 1 – Introduction

Hello readers! My name is Bob Naugle, and I am working this summer on Gnash, the free Flash player. I have also received the honor of being sponsored by the Free Software Foundation, and as such I will be keeping you posted on the progress of Gnash, because this project is of high importance to the free software community. Before I continue with the experience of working on my very first free software project, let me quickly summarize why Gnash is so important to people interested in free software...

Flash is a media format that can be found across the online landscape. It has become the de facto standard for displaying web-based animations and movies and is hugely important to the average user's online experience. Unfortunately, the only way to properly view Flash media is with a proprietary player, built by Adobe. This forces users who wish to view a large percentage of online content to use proprietary software. This limits the sharing of information as well as the development of online content, and is against the principles of the free software community. Gnash is intended to free users from the need to conform to a proprietary monopoly by providing a Flash player developed by the free software community. To the extent that the project is successful, it will aid in the unfettered exchange and independent development of online content. For these reasons, among others, Gnash has been placed on the FSF High Priority Projects list.

This is my first time working on a free software project. Actually, while helping with Gnash, I have experienced quite a few "firsts":

  • This is my first time working on a distributed project. Gnash is global, with contributors from places like Italy, Germany, Canada, Spain, etc... (and I'm just looking at the #gnash IRC channel user list!)
  • This is the first time I've worked with a team. I work every day with four other interns, who like me, have had quite a time grasping the magnitude and intricacies of a project like Gnash. It's nice to be able to share success and frustration, and I have learned a lot from every one of them.
  • This is my very first blog entry. Ever! (Please, hold your applause...)

Although I have known about the existence of free software, and have been an  user/supporter for some years now, I had not known of the real scope of the efforts of the free software community, so this is my first glance at the views and ideas of the people behind most of the free software I use daily.

You can see that this is truly my introduction to the free software world. While it has not been what I would call an easy introduction (more of a trial-by-fire), I have enjoyed it thoroughly, and I am looking forward to the rest of the summer. You can expect to hear from me again soon, with more exciting news about the Gnash "Summerbash" project.

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