in short, here's what i think would help FD.o:
- create a clear, concise "what the heck we're doing" mission statement that has no wishy-washyness to it. then publicize that. public perception is not in line with what FreeDesktop.org is doing, and that causes problems for those of us promoting it
- be honest about what we're doing on FreeDesktop.org. it's not another SourceForge; it's a place where software and specifications are created in the hopes of becoming de facto standards. there is more responsibility here than simply being a place to slap software around.
- be less cavalier in the software design process and include more of the community that is actually involved in the specific areas. in other words, make the software projects side of it less of a self-selected group and more of a cooperative invitational affair. reach out to those it will affect, reach out to those already working on the technologies in question, get rid of the "my pet project" mentality.
this is part political and part practical, but both are important. i want to see FD.o succeed, but it's becoming harder to support that aim when the perception of it erodes amongst the audiences it tries to address.
to date the software projects on FD.o have been less than successful. Cairo is being used by Gtk+, but pretty much everyone else i've talked to is unhappy with it (though the consensus is that things are moving in a positive direction and eventually maybe one day it'll "get there"). DBUS is not the best technical solution for KDE right now (i won't speak for anyone else), and the recent API breakage really screwed things up for KDE's media ioslave. (thank the goddess we don't use it in more places yet). pkg-config has been an interesting experience... i could go on.
and it's not because the people working on these things are poor hackers. they are some of the more intelligent people i've run into in my life with some serious skills. it's the process that is being used that is helping the projects coming out of FD.o consistently underperform. as FD.o moves on to ever more serious and critical issues like configuration systems and file system abstractions we can't have this and have a sustainable FD.o.
if you're wondering where i get these viewpoints, it's from talking to and, then more importantly, listening to a rather large number of people in a number of venues who work with, or at least try to work with, these technologies. this is not a set of phantoms of my own making, but the collected impressions of those who quietly succeed, struggle or suffer with the processes of FD.o.
on the joys of questioning the status quo
btw, in case anyone wonders: no, i do not enjoy questioning the status quo, because it usually results in a very non-fun personal experience. there is twice the burdon of proof put on the one questioning the way things are than there is on the person supporting the way things are (this is natural). there are also a lot of people out there who do not react well to the concept that things may not all be fine.
i think we coasted for a good while with more cheerleaders than critical thinkers being heard. we're rounding a corner, though. i'm seeing more people stepping up and saying, "Ok, let's change things." that includes the people in leadership roles at FD.o, it includes people i've met in the more traditional side of the industry of late, it includes people who are coordinating things in KDE.
i tip my hat to these individuals, because i do realize that it is not an easy ride all the time. it's rewarding, but that's something different.
i've received a lot of feedback from my last blog entry about fish:// ... so many of our users were unaware of its existence or still don't know how to make it work.
here's the skinny on it:
if you have an ssh account on a machine, you can access your files on it via fish. let's say you have an account email@example.com and wanted to get at /var/www/html. the url would be
fish://firstname.lastname@example.org/var/www/html. it's just that simple. there's no need to set up anything on the server, just a plain ol'd ssh account.
btw, if the username you are logging into on the remote machine is the same as the one you are currently logged into, you can just do
tonight i watched Hotel Rwanda. if you haven't, i would recommend it. something in the horror of those days in Rwanda that the film documents tugs at me saying, "this is part of the thing that we are striving to fill in, to heal and to become aware of."
while it is impossible to truly know a horror that one has never experienced, it is perhaps possible to help prevent such things from needing to happen. our small daily efforts in life are not limited in impact to propelling our economy, or to allowing us to afford another vacation or to producing wonderful solutions to technological puzzles.
we are all capable of conscious compassion, as well as its opposite nature. as a collective of humans spread across the planet but increasingly connected we each have an impact on the totality.
i've pondered the why of life since i can remember; the first time i remember discussing God and his potential existence was when i was 4 .. i don't remember a time when i was not compelled to consider the broader existence. but i still don't have explanations or answers, not even close =) i still do not know how to explain the mechanisms i perceive at work all about me, the great whirring of humanity: a beautiful thing, but unconscious even yet.
experiences like Hotel Rwanda, however, seem to offer a glimpse into the greater depths.