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Google's Summer of Code

If you're a student with time on your hands and want to contribute to an open source project, Google wants to hear from you. The search engine giant is offering coders up to $4,500 to work on projects for different open source groups.

Programmers can apply to the "Google Summer of Code" initiative through a sponsoring open source organization. Project ideas come from Google as well as open source groups, including: The Python Software Foundation, The Perl Foundation, The Apache Software Foundation, Ubuntu Linux, The Mono Project, The Gnome Foundation, The Wine Project, The Subversion Project. Each mentoring organization will receive $500 for each developer project they oversee.

Google has allocated funds for up to 200 participants in the program, which, together with the mentor organization outlay, could total a $1 million dollar cash infusion into the open source community.

Notably absent from the mentor list is the Mozilla Foundation. A Mozilla spokesperson was not immediately available for comment by press time. However, in addition to projects listed by Google on the Summer of Code project page, applicants can submit their own ideas, provided an open source organization supports them.

"By pairing applicants up with the proven wisdom and experience of established prominent open source organizations, we hope to make great software happen." Google said in a statement.

Guido van Rossum, creator of the Python language, told internetnews.com that Google asked the Python Software Foundation (PSF) to help sort the proposals.

"There was an enthusiastic response from the PSF membership, and not just because the PSF will get some of the money awarded to successfully completed projects," van Rossum said. "Google is a heavy Python user, Python is one of the three 'standard' languages in widespread use at Google, and has been a PSF sponsor for a couple of years."

Google's open source activities have gained increased exposure this year. It hired several prominent developers, most notably from the Mozilla Foundation, and posted open source developer job openings. The fruits of some of those labors have been made public as open source projects on the Sourceforge.net open source project repository.

The Summer of Code project is a bit different in that it is geared specifically for students and involves more than just Google itself.

"What's interesting in the Google program is that they appear to believe in the 'let 1000 flowers bloom' philosophy," van Rossum said. "They are sponsoring lots of people a little bit (though it won't feel like a little bit for a college student!) rather than awarding a large sum to a big project (which is how projects like Mozilla and Chandler got started)."

"I'm sure that the authors of the most promising projects will receive a Google job offer," van Rossum speculated.

The Google Summer of Code application deadline is June 14; Sept. 1 is the deadline for project completion.