One of those books that should be a textbook

This is a book review about Shakthi Kannan's book I want 2 do project. tell me wat 2 do. You can find more about it here


Engineering in India has traditionally been about getting good grades and then getting "placed".  Shakthi Kannan is one of those who inspire to break that mold by walking the talk.

I was lucky enough to do my bachelor's in Engineering in Pune around the time that Shakthi Kannan was still here. I attended quite a few lectures and workshops conducted by him: testing with Cucumber, Git in Emacs using magit and so on. When I found out that he had written a book for students looking to do projects, I ordered one right away. I wish I was a few years younger as I could have benefited immensely had I received one during my freshman year. Unfortunately I had to learn a lot of the things mentioned in the book the hard way.


The premise of this book is simple : it's a guide for a programmer to participate in a FOSS project.

It has everything from asking the reader not 2 typ lik dis wen talkin to other people on the Internet to creating a presentation for your project. It's divided into 10 chapters, and each chapter has around 15-20 subsections. The way I suggest one to read the book is in two iterations : in the first just read it to understand the contents. After that, use it like a dictionary or thesaurus. If you are about to send an email to a mentor, read it. If you are going to send a patch upstream, read the relevant bits. If you are done with your project and need to present it, read it.

One of the important things that this book does is introduce terminologies related to open source projects. Although this is not done very intentionally, which is apparent by the missing glossary. For example, one of the first things that a newbie to FOSS will come across is mailing lists. Or what does the word 'triage' mean ? All these generic things, which are independent of the domain of the FOSS project, are explained for the benefit of the user.

As a former Google Summer of Code student (and now a mentor), I've had the pleasure of interacting with quite a few students. I sometimes conduct workshops or meetups about embedded systems too. Every time I interact with students and professionals, in person or virtually, I feel that Shakthi's book should be made mandatory reading on the first day of your college or job.