The open source "shallow fork" approach to pre-deployment

The not-for-profit Outercurve Foundation’s systems infrastructure and integration gallery has launched a new developer competition.

The open source group’s work with “CoApp” is focused on this community driven “package management system” for open source applications on the Windows Platform.

CoApp organisers are seeking developers to help with “shallow-forking” open source projects as a precursor to producing actual CoApp packages for products and libraries.

In this Outercurve Foundation and Microsoft sponsored event, developers are invited to shallow-fork and create Windows builds of OSS projects.

(In case you’re unfamiliar with shallow-forking, when you make changes to your copy/fork, you need to send them back to have them integrated into the original project.)

According to GitHub‘s social coding website, “In contrast to a fork, the goal of a shallow fork is to purposefully change the forked copy without losing compatibility with the original, in other words, without breaking it. To remain faithful to the original project, a shallow fork continues to implement changes that are made to the original after the fork is established. Linux distributions, for example, make good use of the shallow fork in packaging versions of Linux.”

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There are three ways for developers to compete: create a shallow-fork of a C++ open source project; file a reproducible bug on a CoApp project tool; or fill in a documentation gap off the list.

The contest will continue until seven days after the 200th shallow-forked submission in Github and will end no later than September 21, 2011.

There are lots of prizes, including two XBox+Kinect+games bundles, Kinect 3D motion controllers, XBox 360 games and XBox Live subscriptions.

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