Keeping Up with Open Source

RSS Feeds
RSS feeds of interest

A good way to improve your programming skills is to read the code that other people write. Reading code for the sake of reading code isn’t optimal — it’s more beneficial to read the code of programs that you like or use often in bite-sized chunks.

My favorite ways to track open source programs are RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, mailing lists, and forum discussions. If one is able to sufficiently reason about a code base, then keeping on top of changes is easy, and takes minutes a day.

The benefits are practical and time saving. You’ll know the expected changes in upcoming releases, issues that other people have, patches that contributors want to integrate, and other useful information.

RSS Feeds

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a great way to keep track of various open source projects. GitHub hosts most of the world’s open source projects and provides RSS feeds (atom) for commits and releases.

  1. If a project is slow moving subscribe to the commits. https://github.com/Ralim/ts100/commits.atom
  2. If it has good release notes subscribe to the releases. https://github.com/Ralim/ts100/releases.atom

Good change logs are a rarity these days, but an RSS feed will allow you to know what has changed as soon as it happens. Countless RSS feed readers are available. Use one that you My preferred setup is a web hosted reader (Feedly) and a native feed reader (newsboat).

Forum Discussions

Forum discussions are excellent for news on open source programs that you use often. Subscribe to any forums either by registering or by using RSS. Here’s a subset of forums that I follow through RSS.

  1. Arch Linux: Arch Linux is a bleeding edge Linux distribution. Subscribe to their large offering of feeds for updates, and information on numerous open source programs.
  2. Reddit: Reddit has a large offering of forums (subreddits). If you see that a subreddit exists for a program — add .rss to the URL to get the RSS feed link. If the RSS Feedly limits the amount of Reddit RSS feeds. Use a self hosted RSS feed reader like Miniflux or FreshRSS for maximum freedom. for a subreddit is broken use inline reddit. The discussions are usually niche enough to be useful.

Mailing Lists

Mailing lists are considered old school, but contain lots of good information. Subscribe to any mailing list available for software that you use. Subscribing is as easy as having an email address and following the instructions for that mailing list. Here’s a subset of mailing lists that I follow from time to time.

  1. https://lists.alpinelinux.org/lists/~alpine
  2. http://vger.kernel.org/vger-lists.html
  3. https://www.debian.org/MailingLists

Updated 31 October 2020