Archive for June, 2005

genpatches website is back

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

After some downtime after we switched from bitkeeper to gentoo svn, the genpatches website is now back up and automatically updating.

genpatches is the patchset that gentoo-sources is based on, as well as some other kernels in Portage.

http://dev.gentoo.org/~dsd/genpatches/

Linux 2.6.12

Sunday, June 19th, 2005

Since there’s the usual chorus of “whats new?” I thought it might be worth posting some things which I’ve observed since 2.6.11:

  • My driver is finally included!
  • Intel HD audio driver
  • ALSA now uses dmix (software mixing) by default even if you have not configured it
  • ALPS touchpad (included on many laptops) driver rework
  • Multipath device mapper
  • Improved SATA support
  • The firewire subsystem finally saw some action
  • Plenty of new hardware support, lots of things that I missed
  • Lots of bug fixes and internal improvements

The first gentoo-sources-2.6.12 release has been added to the tree and features the new inotify (0.23-13) as well as the new fbsplash (0.9.2-r3). Since we moved our patches into Gentoo’s shiny new Subversion server the website generation is broken but this will be updated soon. Also note that your custom udev rules might be broken until you upgrade to udev-058.

Documentation again

Saturday, June 18th, 2005

I got a few interesting responses to my last post.

Apparently I’m just a freak of nature who can sit down and write some fairly comprehensive documentation as a single task, whereas with coding, I often find it necessary (or at least beneficial) to take a break, go away and properly think about what I’m doing or trying to do.

People quoted reasons such as finding it hard to write documentation which is easy to follow, it just not being fun, reminding them of schoolwork, etc… Also, those with non-english nationality pointed out that they find it very hard to write documentation in (good) English and wouldn’t see as much recognition if it was only written in other languages.

I guess that answers my question. Still, my point remains, documentation is a very rewarding contribution in terms of direct feedback.

Where is the documentation?

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

I’ve been thinking lately about documentation for open-source projects.

Most of my open-source contributions are code-based, but occasionally I write or contribute to documentation. Yet the email feedback I recieve is pretty much 100% about documentation that I have written as opposed to code I have developed. I get people just saying ‘thanks’, people giving suggestions, people asking permission to republish it elsewhere, people providing translations, its fantastic and much appreciated.

I had a recent conversation with roger55 on IRC which went something like:

<roger55> hey dsd, i just got back from linuxtage graz, it seems you have a few fans out here
<dsd> roger55: cool! what were they saying?
<roger55> dsd: they love the guides you write

ahem.. I write lots of code as well!! ;)

The documentation/documentation-user seems to be a much more thriving and active community than the developer/software-user community, and from my perspective, documentation authors get a lot more feedback and direct communication with the users. Writing documentation for an open-source project is an exciting and valuable contribution you can make. Tag your email address on the end and you’ll really know when people are benefitting from your work.

The question I am posing: Why are there so few open source documentation writers in comparison to software developers? Using Gentoo as an example, we have just 15-20 core documentation writers, compared to hundreds of developers who deal with software code and maintenance. Not using Gentoo as an example, many open source projects lack comprehensive and up-to-date documentation, and a lot of existing documentation is written by software developers who write it in response to being asked the same questions repeatedly.

Writing code is a specialist thing. In the UK, you don’t really get taught how to do it until your 14th year of full time education. It’s very technical and you need to be skilled and have a good knowledge of computers to be an effective developer.

Yet language and literacy is something you are taught throughout education and life, and using software is a daily thing for many people. No offense to the skilled documentation authors out there, but I don’t see it as such a specialist activity. So where is the mass of documentors, and do they know what they are missing out on?

London on Friday

Monday, June 13th, 2005

Myself plus a small number of other Gentoo users/developers are planning a small meetup in central London on Friday (17th). If you’re interested in turning up, send me an email, and I’ll pass on the details.

Announcing Gentoo Universe

Friday, June 3rd, 2005

It seems that we have a fairly even split of opinions on whether Planet Gentoo should be strictly for Gentoo and related topics, or whether it should be a full aggregation of more personal articles plus Gentoo articles too.

As a result of this, we’ve decided to launch a second site, Gentoo Universe, which will aggregate all articles (any topic) on participating developers weblogs. This will run alongside Planet Gentoo, which will still remain an aggregation for Gentoo and related articles and will continue as normal.

New contributors will be added to both sites. All existing contributors feeds have been copied over. If you are an existing contributor and would like your feed ‘de-restricting’ on the universe site, please send me an email or catch me on IRC. The only restriction is that all articles should be written in English.

If you host your weblog at http://planet.gentoo.org/developers and would like to also participate in the universe site, let me know, and I will give you the ability to add more categories to your blog. (You still need to keep Gentoo stuff categorised separately so that the original Planet can keep running as normal)

I will announce this on the Gentoo mailing lists and create some internal links between the Planet and Universe fairly soon, but please request to be fully included on the universe site right away.

GUADEC was great

Thursday, June 2nd, 2005

GUADEC was great fun. I wasn’t expecting a holiday to a tropical island, but it could well have been. 35 degrees C over the weekend, as my very sunburnt neck will tell you. A very pleasant city too, with some good biergartens :)

Met loads of interesting people – Stefan from Gentoo, many novell/beagle developers, loads from redhat, plus a few people who I wasn’t expecting to see, such as Kay Sievers.

I’ll definately go next year too, providing it fits in with my exam schedule. Read on for a few photo’s.

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