Wednesday, June 25, 2008

GetDeb source code to be released under GPL

After about 2 years of web development I have decided to make the website source code available under GPL. Like I have stated on the past, is is not a general purpose engine, there will be a few people having any use for it. The major advantage should be the ability to have more people participating on the web development.
The code had no major changes on the last year, and we never had a security incident so I am pretty confident on it's reliability from a security perspective, anyway I hope to get "good guys" eyes on the source in the first place.
It will be natural to get some negative critics about the code structure (spaghetti alike), it really needs some proper reorganization.
The release day should be in a few days, I am still doing some changes to make it easier to install/configure, a subset of the current getdeb database will also be provided, so it can be used with sample data.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

1325 releases and a bit of history

GetDeb will be 2 years old in a coupe of months so it's a good time to watch some numbers and write some of the history of this period.
We have published 1324 software releases in about 660 days, this makes an average of 1,8 releases/day which is quite impressive for such a small work team.
I have personally checked about 90% of this packages, installation and trivial runtime tests, there have been a few broken packages none of them with a critical impact.
Despite the initial concerns raised about the potential danger from installing packages directly from a web site (unknown at the time) there has been a massive adoption by Ubuntu user's, we are actually providing more than 5000 package downloads per day.
I am sure there is still a lot of people complaining about our delivery model, providing software installs without proper integrity and authority enforcement, windows alike. We understand those complains and that is something that we want to improve.
When you start a community project there are two approaches, either you do a lot of research, draft, design, presentations, etc and you wait to get enough feedback and interested people before starting the implementation or you start the project by your own, starting with very simple ideas and checking how the public reacts to them and developing those ideas according to the feedback. I have chosen the second approach.
I am sure that better planning an discussion can bring turn into better design and solid know-how, however it can also bring destructive criticism burning all your motivation, such motivation is the essential fuel for a not for profit project start.
The beginning was very hard. I had not much interest or knowledge about web development, something that I had to overcome. As an application developer the package building skills came naturally. I couldn't find much people to discuss with, most of the people working on the Ubuntu official packages were too busy and sometimes not available for something which was not part of their core work.
After a few months later a lot of people was blogging about GetDeb, it got the attention from a significant number of persons which joined the project, helped with the web development and packaging.
I was building all the packages on my own PC, this was a tedious task and I was lagging behind requests, implementing the automated building system was a must, and it has been working quite fine except when the apt-proxy get into an erroneous status and needs a restart.
The only process which is still dependent on me is the quality assurance and package publishing, this is something that should have a web interface so that more members with the proper authority could manage easily manager this processes, the review & publishing interface was not started but so far I have been able to handle the publishing on a timely manner so I don't feel see much urgency on it, except for the fact that I hate the fact of having a process which relays on a single person.
The major missed goal is really getdebi, an application that would allow install multi-packages applications with a single click and also provide authentication and integrity mechanisms to the installation process. Some time ago I wrote the initial lines of code, but since then I had no time to keep developing it and no one with the required skills picked it up.
Making a long story short, we have a small but great team, our work is recognized for the several comments and emails with "Thank you" and let's hope we can advance on the features that will improve our service.