How Open is the Source?

Each time I want to modify or fix some open-source application that I’m using in Ubuntu, it takes me a long time to find the correct source code, download and unpack it, install required dependencies, and figure out how to build and run it. I usually use either Ubuntu Software or Synaptic package manager to install an app, so can I also use those to install its source code? No, I can’t. I haven’t fully learnt to take advantage of the tools that are available to automate parts of this process, and I should. But nevertheless…

This is how easy it should be for anyone to modify an open-source software application on an open-source OS:

  • While running the app, click “Edit the Source Code”. (This button appears in the launcher, perhaps, when it is available.)
  • Ubuntu downloads the source code and runs an IDE with the source code loaded.
  • At this point, I can edit the source code if I wish.
  • The IDE is configured so that clicking its “Build” button re-builds the software, and clicking its “Run” button runs the built version in place of (or alongside) the system-installed version.

The key is zero configuration effort for the user to get to this point: running the locally built version.

The power user will want to configure the choice of IDE and other details, but that’s secondary.