Core team member, Listar
Why would you devote yourself to writing a piece of software and giving it away? For Trish Lynch, the answer was simple. She was using a mailing list called Listar both at work and at home. If it didnt work, then she would need to look elsewhere.
"Listar really needed the people, and it was a piece of software that I was using rather heavily," she said.
The software handles several mailing lists at the Open Source Development Network, where she is a member of the Listar core team and a network architect. On some days, it ships out more than 50,000 e-mail messages.
At home, Lynch also uses the software to build a virtual community for several mailing lists of her friends and acquaintances.
"I do a lot of service work in those communities in a way that I know how," she said, noting that contributing computer expertise is a good way for her to help service organizations. In this case, she keeps mailing lists running to help the groups communicate.
Lynch has been working with others on making the list faster and easier to use by integrating it with the popular open source database MySQL. Many of the common tools used for accessing MySQL databases can now be used to maintain the list.
"This is a bit more elegant because its all stored in a database. Its a little faster. Especially for large, huge lists," she said.
Lynch also contributes to the Slash Web publishing and community discussion bulletin board managed by the OSDN that serves as the foundation for Slashdot and Plastic.
Taking on the Listar project meant making a few sacrifices. In the past, Lynch contributed heavily to the more popular FreeBSD operating system, a major Linux competitor that many of its devotees feel is more stable and reliable.
Lynch has always been a big advocate of FreeBSD, writing articles for a number of online magazines and journals.
She was also offered a position on the FreeBSD team with the ability to "commit" changes to the source code. That is, she could have become one of the trusted users with access to the teams central computer files. She was trusted enough with the keys to change the system.
But Lynch chose instead the "core" position with Listar, working with lead developer James Traub. "The development community of Listar is much smaller, and I had an organizational role that I wanted to play with Listar," she explained.
"When I enjoy something, I give something back. Especially when its free," she said. "Theres also a slight ego boost when you start to get known."