“Jessica I feel quite safe, yes, but not because I’ve got these armed soldiers behind me that were put there by your stage manager here to make it look good.” — Brigadier Michael Slater, talking to Jessica Rowe on Today
Once upon a time, a 4U server was donated to SLUG, for use as a web and list server. Though it wasn’t wildly powerful, it became known as “The Six Million Dollar” machine, because it had really earned its keep in a past life.
As soon as it was delivered, I used the Linuxcare Bootable Business Card to install slink. But it was the faultless, online upgrade to potato (using Progsoc‘s bountiful university bandwidth) that really blew my mind. Setting up the SLUG machine was my first experience installing Debian. I’ve been using it ever since.
Though it was unimaginatively known as ‘slug’ for a spell, the machine was later blessed as ‘maddog’, a tribute to Jon ‘maddog’ Hall — wise uncle, grandfather and godfather to the Linux community, and speaker at linux.conf.au 2001.
A couple of months ago, after a number of hardware maladies, ‘maddog’ was decommissioned. The SLUG web and mail services are now operating under a Xen virtual machine called ‘rusty’, a tribute to Rusty Russell — goofy big brother and whip-cracker to the Linux Australia community.
Quiet little tributes.
- Planet in Strange Orbit: Ben Martin (of libferris infamy) wrote a rocking article about how to set up and run your own Personal Planet. Thanks, Ben! Strangely, it was published in a particularly bad issue of Linux Journal, which for some reason covered how to untar and run blogging and podcasting tools. This is not the Linux Journal I once loved.
- Seamless RDP: Cendio has released SeamlessRDP, a set of changes for rdesktop to provide rootless RDP functionality. I can see this being extremely useful in small business environments, where staff would be perfectly happy using Linux desktops if only they had access to one or two line-of-business applications. Rock on, Cendio! Thanks to Stephen English, who flickred a screenshot of Notepad on dapper, via RDP.
- Nautilus Plone Backend: Not yet publically available, but on its way, is Enfold Systems work on Plone integration in GNOME, specifically via Nautilus. Check out the (Flash) demo, which is pretty rad whether you dig Plone or not.
- Cutting back the weeds: Erich Schubert grizzles about the overgrown pile of weeds that are choking GNOME’s global preference menus. This organically grown mess has been begging for a large-scale, top-down redesign effort for a while. Hopefully we can give it some love during GUADEC.
Matt Galvin has made ubuntu-artwork parallel installable, and created packages for all previous generations. Ever since we shipped hoary I’ve wanted to do this, but could never really justify it — oddly enough, Daniel Holbach also started talking about it when he took over ubuntu-artwork for dapper.
Let’s make sure this gets into edgy — seriously!
Joe Marcus Clarke, who has worked tirelessly for a number of years making GNOME rock on FreeBSD, has never been very noisy about his excellent work. So I was very happy to find him quoted in a ZDNet article about FreeBSD’s desktop efforts, and a whole interview with him on Will Backman’s bsdtalk podcast (mp3, transcript). Rock on!
Joe points out that, because the vast majority of GNOME developers use Linux, and therefore most new development revolves around it, maintainers of GNOME on other operating systems face a number of different challenges, both technical and social. While the project has never been exclusively about Linux, it certainly takes the cake as the most popular platform for GNOME, so Linux gets the most attention — those who play the game, make the rules — but I’ve never seen anyone decline a portability patch for unhealthy reasons.
So, what can we do to make life easier for porters? First on my list would be to increase the relevance and support for JhAutobuild so everyone can see when things break. While most developers have a fair idea of which components have portability problems, more reporting from porters would help us make better decisions for them. How about a set of portability tips in our coding guidelines, so porters can make sure their platforms needs are met (including Windows).
“The greatest competitive threat we face is our own ability to either embrace or compete with alternative business models.” — Steve Ballmer
“Kung-fu prepares you for thinking strategically rather than reacting. I’ve learned to be the master of the first stroke and to take control of any situation,” says Ms Waugh, who six months ago founded an open source consultancy business, Waugh Partners.
Plus: This is my 500th post, over six years and three locations. Yay!