Monday, April 27, 2009

Awesome Coldplay video

A video I find myself watching over and over again is Live in Technicolor ii from Coldplay. Not only is it good music, it is also hilariously funny. I can so imagine standing with the other parents at Marie's Kindergarden party, looking absolutely blank at what's going on while the kids are celebrating. (I gather it's better to get used to that feeling.) My personal highlights are the crew members and the bikers crossing the stage.

Apache XML-RPC 3.1.2

Glad to announce the new version of Apache XML-RPC, available from the Apache Mirrors. As usual with this project, the bad olds are that the developers (including myself, of course) are almost gone. The project would be ready for archiving, unless (and that is the good news) it were for the contributors: This release was completely driven by users of Apache XML-RPC. Not a single bug fix or patch was created by the committers: Everything came from contributors through Jira or the mailing list. You can view it for yourself by looking on the changes. (And that list doesn't even include XMLRPC-163.) Imagine that with a closed source product.

Monday, April 20, 2009


It is now more than 5 years that I enjoy my status as an Apache committer. I still believe it is something to enjoy, although I am getting older and less active. I have learned to live with the realities that must be accepted: This applies, in particular, to the legal straitjacket, but also to the considerations that a community applies. A community? There are plenty of them, each of which very different: For example, the Webservices project tends to take things rather easy, whereas Commons, or Incubator can be quite formal: Javadoc jar file with or without META-INF/NOTICE.TXT? Good enough reason for hours and hours of discussion. Then, legal-discuss can be quite interesting. And the infrastructure mailing list is always a good place for listening what's going on. Sadly, it never paid for me to listen to :-)

That said, there always are cases when I am not sure whether it's worth the hazzle. Running a project (effectively) on your own within the ASF basically means that you have the actual project work plus ASF related burdens. For example, pushing a Apache projects release can be quite some work: I honestly marvel at people like John Casey who has the patience to deliver 10 release candidates in a row. (I feel exhausted after three or four release candidates.) Compare that to the times of JaxMe 1 when I published a new release after almost any commit. Of course, that won't be possible for projects like Maven, or Axis. But there's something to the "Release early, release often" mantra.

I always thought that this uneasiness with the ASF procedures and the responsibility to the community would be my personal problem, (Let's face it: I'm much more of a Maverick than a team player.) until I read Robert Burell Donkin express similar feelings as the reason for starting RAT at Google Code. But what made me think even more was the recent discussion on a proposed Commons Incubator project: Obviously, there are a lot of projects, which are small and expect to remain small, would like to enter the ASF, but don't manage to overcome hurdles like the rule of at least three committers. Are they doing themselves something good?

The FSF is hosting a server called It contains a lot of (mostly smaller) projects which manage themselves, which most likely feel attracted by or even close to the FSF and it's ideals. These projects don't have the FSF's holy endorsement (sorry, Incubator members, but that's what "endorse" reads to me sometimes), but they are able to work, to publish releases, to attract a community, almost everything an Apache project does.

I'd like to ask you to think whether it wouldn't it be a good idea to have something similar in the grey area of the ASF. For example, Apache Labs could almost immediately move - and finally start publishing releases. The sandbox projects - what could be a better place for living? I have no suggestions for the organizational details, but I think it's worth considering.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

10 years no clue

Exactly 10 years ago, early in the morning of the April-08-1999 (according to my perception at that time, it's been 8:30 AM), I entered a room with some 25 or so boys and girls, most of them between 20 and 30 years. My task was to act as a Unix trainer for a professional development class. I didn't know any of them. In particular, I had no idea that, just 7 months later, I'd be married to the girl sitting on the 6th chair in the left row.

It wasn't exactly love at first sight. As for my side, I thought "nice girl" immediately. But, to be honest, there's been more than one nice girl. As for Anja ..., well, read on.

Being a Linux and Unix devotee, my intention was to start with a little Unix history, with the exciting times of people like Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan, Alfred Aho, or Peter Weinberger at Bell Labs who managed to contribute both operating systems, programming languages, and other practical tools as well as new and exciting ideas and theories in the field of computer science.

I do not know, whether I managed to share some of my feelings with the other boys and girls. As for Anja, I failed completely: At some point, I managed to confuse Ritchie and Kernighan, naming the latter as one of the Unix inventors. With the experience of lousy trainers before me, she settled on her opinion about me and wrote, after one or two hours, to a friend that I had "absolutely no clue of Unix".

With my experience of 10 years or so of Unix administration and programming before, I can only assume that this hasn't changed in this following 10 years. So, todays my anniversary of having no clue.

To Anja with love,