Developer interview: Robert Nagy

Again a new story in our series of developer interviews.
We started this serie to show how others got involved, and have choosen the work they like to contribute to LibreOffice.
In this inteview someone who is, in his own words, a normal guy, and doesn’t expect that users will experience much improvements from his contributions. Yet his work builds bridges between communities. So sooner rather than later, users will benefit…

Programming is about people: so please ! tell us a bit about yourself:

I am Robert Nagy (rnagy on IRC) and I am just a 24 year old regular everyday normal guy living in Budapest, Hungary with my lovely girlfriend Zsofia and our dog Kiki.

Any chance you can remember what was your very first program ?

I don’t really remember but it was back in high school on a CS class.

What do you do when you’re not hacking on LibreOffice ?

I am working on OpenBSD for fun and profit, doing software development and system administration for companies based in Hungary and all over the world.

When do you usually spend time on the project ?

During business hours usually but sometimes you can see me hacking on LibreOffice at unholy times like 2 AM, depening on my mood.

Which is your preferred text editor? And why?

vi (nvi). Becuase it’s small, simple and I can do everything I need with it and it is basically available on every UNIX or UNIX-like system, even if it’s just linked to vim.

How did you hear about LibreOffice ?

I have been working on the OpenOffice.Org before and since everyone else was abandoning it, I tought it’s time to give it a shot.
I knew that go-ooo existed already but I was rather sticking to the vanilla OpenOffice.Org code for my work.

Why did you get involved ?

I started to send our OpenOffice.Org modifications to some of the LibreOffice developers. Because having more than 100+ patches in our port is basically unmaintainable, and with the promise of LibreOffice with a process different from, I started to send our modifications to some of the LibreOffice developers. Soon I asked mmeeks@ if i could have an account to commit by myself because that way it was easier for everyone.

That sounds pretty fast.. but what were those modifications?

I’ve ported LibreOffice to OpenBSD, and fixed some linuxisms and bashishms in the meantime.
Of course there are a lot of technical details to tell, but this is an interview 🙂

So your initial experience of contributing to LibreOffice sounds positive.

Yes, the team is very friendly and easy to work with and everone is open for new ideas and solutions. The developement is really dynamic.

No surprise that you are still here 🙂 What have you done since then ?

I am basically maintaining the OpenBSD port of LibreOffice and in the meantime I am trying to make sure that I kill all the linuxisms and replace them by a portable solution to benefit everyone.
I have also removed a lot of code duplication including the bridges code because previously each platform and architecture had it’s own implementation and now basically every *BSD and Linux system can share the same bridge code.
The unx makefiles are also shared now on *BSD and Linux systems. This is really important to dramatically reduce the time spent on merging changes from one file to another and to avoid duplication of course and it also enforces people to write portable code.
For example I’ve seen people using `uname –machine’ instead of `uname -m` which is obviously a GNUisms and will never work on systems without GNU uname.

Pretty basic stuff, I would say. Any idea how that will improve things for users?

It probably won’t except for that they get more platforms to run LO on 🙂

Well, making maintanance easier, could help others making the step too. So who knows were that will bring us

Most of the time the issue is that people just don’t care about anything else than just Linux and this way they will just kill the interest of other people running other operating systems to work on stuff.
It is really easy to loose interest since most of the people are hacking on something for fun and not for profit, so please start giving a damn about others because it will sure improove your code and the community itself.

What is your vision for the future and/or what would you most like to see improved ?

I would like to remove even more non-portable code and replace them with code that is actually portable and not depend on all the GNUisms everywhere.
I hope that some developers even outside of LO will read this and if they do, I would like to always remember that the world is not only Linux and i386, and that they should always try to use the most portable solution available, to help improve each and every Open Source community.
I would also be happy to help other hackers porting LibreOffice to other platforms and architectures.

Anything else interesting you get up to when not hacking ?

In my free time I usually hack on OpenBSD and other fun projects like mono and I love to travel and spend time with my friends.
I also visit or organize the so called OpenBSD Hackathons that are held regulary every year in different countries and focusing on different kind of things like hardware, network, ports or generic things. Actually I am just sitting in a room with 3 other OpenBSD developers on a mini-hackathon in France, and I am writing this after hiving a nice plate of Aligot. 🙂
I also think that a LO hackathon for developers would be really fun and productive…

Thanks for this interview and your enthousiasm for the project!

(Interested in the other interviews? Find them in the special category.)

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