Keeping casual open source contributors happy and more news

Catch up on open source news highlights from the past two weeks.
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In this edition of our open source news roundup, we look at how scholars are bringing medieval literature into the digital age using open source software, keeping casual contributors to open source projects happy, the release of the Fifth Internet Edition of The Linux Command Line, and more.

Keeping casual open source contributors happy

Ann Barcomb, writing for Linux Journal, shared the findings of an academic study conducted by Barcomb and her collaborators about keeping casual contributors to open source projects happy. Barcomb notes that "[c]ommunity managers have long been advised to nurture top contributors, but it is also important to consider infrequent and casual (episodic) contributors."

The study proposed five factors that might impact a contributor's intention to remain: contributor benefit motivations, social norms, psychological sense of community, satisfaction, and community commitment. Of the five factors, social norms, satisfaction, and community commitment were found to have a statistically significant effect on an episodic participant's intention to remain in a community. Barcomb also notes that "when the data was clustered, four distinct types of contributors emerged." Those four types are satisfied, classic, social, and obligated, which Barcomb provides brief descriptions of in her article.

Barcomb's Linux Journal article only provides an overview of the study's key findings, but, as her article states, the full scholarly article will become available in February. There is also a YouTube video of a presentation given at PyCon CZ 2018 that covers the preliminary findings from the research.

The Linux Command Line, Fifth Internet Edition, is now available

William Shotts announced the release of the Fifth Internet Edition of The Linux Command Line. According to Shotts's blog post, the "new edition contains hundreds of language refinements and modernizations including updated screenshots and diagrams." Shotts's book provides an excellent overview of the Linux command line and shell scripting by covering four major topics: "Learning The Shell," "Configuration And The Environment," "Common Tasks And Essential Tools," and "Writing Shell Scripts." The Linux Command Line is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. More information about the book can be found at

Using LaTeX to bring medieval manuscripts into the digital age

The medieval manuscript was a laborious undertaking, and crafting each manuscript required many hours. Even manuscripts that contain the same texts have variations, either because of errors made by the scribe or intentional changes. Scholars working with manuscript texts need to access multiple manuscripts to compare and contrast different versions.

Scholars nowadays can access digital editions of manuscripts, instead of having to travel to various libraries where the physical manuscripts are stored. Digital editions are created using a variety of tools, many of which are open source. NC State News published an interview with Tim Stinson, Associate Professor of English at North Carolina State University, in which he describes the work he and his collaborators do on the Piers Plowman Electronic Archive and tools they use.

In the interview, Stinson says they used LaTeX to typeset a copy of a version of Piers Plowman (written late in the 14th century by William Langland) for a print edition. 

In other news

Thanks, as always, to staff members and moderators for their help this week. Make sure to check out our event calendar to see what's happening next week in open source.


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