Contributing to Open Source Development

We'll be talking about how to contribute to open source hardware/ software development using 96Boards

Friday, December 8, 2017 12:00 pm PST - Friday, December 8, 2017 12:30 pm PST Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Join this Hack Chat by clicking on the JOIN HACK CHAT button. 


Robert Wolff will be hosting the Hack Chat this week.

This Hack Chat is at noon PST, Friday, December 8th. 

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If you've ever wondered how you can get involved with open source development, this chat aims to de-mystify with a discussion of how to contribute. We'll be using 96Boards as our example, which is a group of single board computers that uses many different processors and boasts a range of hardware specifications to make ARM processors easily available to developers. The specifications are open and define a standard board layout for SoC-agnostic (processor independent) development platforms that can be used by software application developers and other system software developers. 96Boards is produced by Linaro.

Robert Wolff is a technical writer, open source evangelist, community leader and engineer with a history of working in and around esteemed academic institutions and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) based educational programs. Robert graduated from University of California, San Diego with a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering. During his undergrad, he was heavily involved with the Global Teams in Engineering Services (TIES) program. He participated in several humanitarian engineering projects, working in multi-disciplinary teams, to deliver useful prototypes to promote STEM education for underprivileged communities around his hometown of San Diego, California. It was during this time Robert began to develop an interest in open source, embedded system, and IoT.

Robert is the community manager for 96Boards at Linaro. He maintains several of 96Boards’ orgs and repositories, runs a variety of community driven projects/initiatives, and hosts his own live, weekly online video “podcast” dubbed “96Boards OpenHours”.


  • What is 96Boards?
  • How to contribute to open source projects using 96Boards
  • Technical challenges in designing an agnostic system
  • Technical challenges around documenting an open system
  • How 96Boards makes ARM development easier
  • 96Boards community, ecosystem and resources

Please add your questions in the comments of this page. 

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ptalianos wrote 12/08/2017 at 20:05 point

Hello Robert, thanks for joining us for the hack chat.

Any tips for newbies who want to contribute to open source projects? Thanks.

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Manivannan Sadhasivam wrote 12/07/2017 at 17:14 point

Hey @Chris ,

You can use gmail client to send patches. You just need to turn off the HTML mode and switch to plain mode. 

I personally use git send-email to send patches and mutt to reply to comments. Mutt always send emails in plain text mode, so developers often prefer it.

Hope this helps you to setup environment for contributing to linux kernel.


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Chris wrote 12/07/2017 at 21:51 point

This is great info - thank you very much!

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Robert Wolff wrote 12/08/2017 at 04:47 point

FYI: @Manivannan Sadhasivam is a member of the 96Boards team working as an Applications Engineer. He will be joining us tomorrow for the hack chat as well! :) 

@Chris : has a list of recommended email clients:

I have seen and heard some of my colleagues using "Mutt".

Hope this helps!

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Chris wrote 12/06/2017 at 20:55 point

What is the easiest way to get set up to contribute patches? We hack up the Linux kernel a bit at work and I've found a few bugfixes that I'd happily contribute back upstream. I read through this:

The problem is, I only use outlook for work and gmail for non-work.  Outlook isn't on the instructions and they say that gmail won't work...

The 'git send-email' man page shows instructions for using gmail, though.  But if there are questions/feedback about the patches, will gmail mangle my replies?

Is there a recommended 3rd party email service to use that I can just set and forget?  

I'd happily set up a new email account for this purpose. I'd prefer something web-based to avoid repeated installation/setup of clients.  But I understand if using a Linux client is best -- but if that's the case, then a suggested client and setup instructions would be great.  I probably wouldn't use this account for anything other than interacting with the open source community.

I thought I was maybe alone on this, but a coworker yesterday said he was trying to figure out the same thing.

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