Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The open source process works… eventually

I find this story fascinating, but I suspect that nobody else will.

About a year and a half ago I filed this bug with the open-source chromium project, which is the code behind the Google Chrome browser. (The bug, in case you care, was that this mp3 file was sounding like crap [listen to crap] when played in Chrome on my Mac.)

Here's the long story of this bug fix:
  • 2011-01-14 – I enter bug
  • 2011-03-11 – a chromium developer comments that it’s a duplicate of another bug (btw, turns out not to be)
  • 2011-12-16 – another chromium developer cannot reproduce the problem
  • 2011-12-18 – I further clarify how to demonstrate the problem
  • 2011-12-19 – chromium dev confirms they can reproduce the problem, and confirms my original hint that it’s probably an issue with ffmpeg [a different open source project that is built into chromium]
  • 2011-12-19 – a google engineer has a look
  • 2012-01-04 – the bug is passed from chromium to the ffmpeg open source project
  • 2012-05-16 – the bug is fixed in ffmpeg
  • 2012-05-21 – the ffmpeg bug fix is pulled into chromium
  • 2012-07-?? – sometime in this period my Chrome updates itself with a new version that fixes the bug
Here's the short story:
  • January 2011 – I find and report a bug in my browser
  • July 2012 – the bug is no longer in my browser
So the free and open source process worked. Actually at least two (maybe three) open source projects had to come together to make this happen. I entered a bug, did nothing else (and certainly paid nothing), and the fix just happened. I find that amazing.

On the other hand, it took 18 months for the bug (admittedly not the most important bug in the world) to get fixed. 18 months to fix a bug. I find that amazing, too.

… if you liked that story (you pitiful soul), you’ll really love this poem about open source.

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