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Jussi Pakkanen nibblestew.blogspot.com

The 9 phases of an open source project maintainer

Running an open source project is more than just writing code. Jussi Pakkanen says “…most of all work has to do with something else,” which if you listen to The Changelog, our Maintainer Spotlight series, or Request for Commits then you know this all too well.

This places additional requirements to project maintainers that are often not talked about. In this post we’ll briefly go over nine distinct phases each with a different hat one might have to wear. These can be split into two stages based on the lifetime and popularity of the project.

Twitter Icon Twitter

Guido van Rossum comes out of retirement, joins Microsoft

Guido van Rossum:

I decided that retirement was boring and have joined the Developer Division at Microsoft. To do what? Too many options to say! But it’ll make using Python better for sure (and not just on Windows :-). There’s lots of open source here. Watch this space.

Late last year Guido left Dropbox to head into retirement. Apparently “retirement was boring.” I’m curious to see how coming out of retirement changes things at the steering level of Python.

We talked mid last year with Brett Cannon about Python’s new governance and core team. I don’t recall their plan accounting for the possibility for their BDFL to come back from retirement. 😱

I’m sure whatever is to come for Python with Guido being back, it’ll be a net positive.

Opensource.com Icon Opensource.com

Improve open source community sustainability by tracking these two metrics

Kevin Xu:

There are plenty of metrics you can track—stars, forks, pull requests (PRs), merge requests (MRs), contributor counts, etc.—but more data doesn’t necessarily mean clearer insights. I’ve previously shared my skepticism about the value of these surface-level metrics, especially when assessing an open source project’s health and sustainability.

In this article, I propose two second-order metrics to track, measure, and continually optimize to build a strong, self-sustaining open source community

Those two metrics? Breakdowns of code reviewers and leaderboards of different community interactions. (He also explains why. Worth a read.)

Peter Wang anaconda.com

Anaconda's dividend program helps sustain the open source DS/ML community

Anaconda CEO (and Practical AI guest) Peter Wang:

I am excited to announce the Anaconda Dividend Program, which formalizes our commitment to direct a portion of our revenue to open-source projects that help advance innovation in data science. We are launching the program in partnership with NumFOCUS, and will kick off with a seed donation of $10,000, as well as an additional 10% of single-user Commercial Edition subscription revenue through the end of this year. Going forward, we will fund the dividend with at least 1% of our revenue in 2021, with a minimum of $25,000 committed for the year.

We’ve been beating the successful-businesses-that-thrive-in-large-part-due-to-open-source-software-should-set-aside-revenues-to-support-those-projects drum for years now, so it’s exciting to see forward-looking companies like Anaconda step up and do just that. More like this! 🙏

The New Stack Icon The New Stack

An open source leader is gone, a remembrance of Dan Kohn

Thanks to Alex Williams over at The New Stack for doing a great write up remembering Dan Kohn and the tremendous mark he has left on open source and Cloud Native. Of course Dan had help along the way, but by-and-large the CNCF and “cloud native” as we know it are the direct result of Dan’s vision and leadership.

Thank you Dan. You will be missed.

We knew little in 2016 about what Dan was up to but we soon got a hint. The CNCF was already established but what it represented was still a bit unclear. If anything, Dan was a businessman and a computer scientist. He knew the economic importance of at-scale computing and the technical complexity that made it so fascinating.

The technical community was ready for someone like Dan — they needed help. Open source cloud native projects were growing but the resources were essential to keep progress moving. He was there to make sure the work got done that technologists should not have to do: Building awareness, supporting the publicity of new projects and perhaps most of all, smoothly running the conferences.

We’ve had Dan on The Changelog a few times. Go back and listen to episode #276 and episode #314 to hear from Dan himself about the journey of the CNCF and Cloud Native.

An open source leader is gone, a remembrance of Dan Kohn

Markus Hatvan markushatvan.com

Why you should start contributing to open source software right now

Markus Hatvan:

There are outstanding advantages to contributing to open source software. As a firm believer in making software better continuously, the main reason for writing this article was to motivate and get more developers into the field.

The reasons might be obvious to us, but they’re well-explained here and worth a share to you friend/colleague who could use a nudge.

Josh Aas abetterinternet.org

Memory safe ‘curl’ for a more secure internet

We recently talked with Josh Aas on The Changelog #389 about securing the web with Let’s Encrypt. At the tail end of the conversation Josh shared his passion for memory safety, saying “we need to rewrite all the software that we already wrote in C and C++, and replace it. “ My guess is that this move with Daniel and curl takes us several steps further in this direction.

Memory safety vulnerabilities represent one of the biggest threats to Internet security. As such, we at ISRG are interested in finding ways to make the most heavily relied-upon software on the Internet memory safe. Today we’re excited to announce that we’re working with Daniel Stenberg, author of ubiquitous curl software, and WolfSSL, to make critical parts of the curl codebase memory safe. … ISRG is funding Daniel to work on adding support for Hyper as an HTTP back-end for curl. Hyper is a fast and safe HTTP implementation written in Rust.

Hayden Barnes boxofcables.dev

No, Microsoft is not rebasing Windows to Linux

Hayden Barnes explains how Windows and Linux exist in a “cosmic duality” and whether or not Microsoft will ever “shift the core of the Windows operating system to the Linux kernel.”

I have a unique perspective on Microsoft’s Linux involvement. I help deliver Ubuntu on Windows Subsystem for Linux in my job at Canonical. … I have become somewhat of an intermediary between the Microsoft and Linux communities. It is something I am glad to do. There are creative, kind, and fascinating people in both communities. Interesting things happen when the lines between them blur. Fostering cross-pollination will make computing better for everyone.

Salvatore Sanfilippo antirez.com

The open source paradox

Antirez on the strange relationship between money, open source, and the code we write on the job:

Open source is different, it’s an artifact, it’s a transposition in code of what you really want to do, of what you feel software should be, or just of all your fun and joy, or even anger you are feeling while coding… It’s not about money. You can ignore bugs if you want, and ignore their complains, you can do that since you don’t have a contract to do otherwise, but they are helping you, they care about the same thing you care: your software quality, grandiosity, perfection.

Hacktoberfest hacktoberfest.digitalocean.com

Hacktoberfest responds with a commitment to reducing spam

The Hacktoberfest team has responded to the concerns of Hacktoberfest hurting open source, saying…

We apologize for the impact this spam is having on the community. We often talk about intent versus impact and this is a classic example. Hacktoberfest aims to celebrate open source with positive engagement between contributors and maintainers alike. Unfortunately, the actions of some participants led to unintended consequences for all. They’ve overwhelmed maintainers and steamrolled other participants in an effort to receive a T-shirt they didn’t really earn.

Despite this, we are confident that, with your help, we can make things better. We’ve already started making changes to the program to help reduce spam and there is much more work planned in the days ahead.

And specifically to maintainers…

We’re sorry that these unintended consequences of Hacktoberfest have made more work for many of you. We know there is more work to do, which is why we ask that you please join us for a community roundtable discussion where we promise to listen and take actions based on your ideas.

Domenic Denicola blog.domenic.me

Hacktoberfest is hurting open source

We’re big fans of what Hacktoberfest represents, but maybe it’s time to rethink the model. The burden falls primarily on maintainers, as Domenic Denicola outlines in this post – going as far as to describe Hacktoberfest as “a corporate-sponsored distributed denial of service attack against the open source maintainer community.”

For the last couple of years, DigitalOcean has run Hacktoberfest, which purports to “support open source” by giving free t-shirts to people who send pull requests to open source repositories.

In reality, Hacktoberfest is a corporate-sponsored distributed denial of service attack against the open source maintainer community.

So far today, on a single repository, myself and fellow maintainers have closed 11 spam pull requests. Each of these generates notifications, often email, to the 485 watchers of the repository. And each of them requires maintainer time to visit the pull request page, evaluate its spamminess, close it, tag it as spam, lock the thread to prevent further spam comments, and then report the spammer to GitHub in the hopes of stopping their time-wasting rampage. … The rate of spam pull requests is, at this time, around four per hour. And it’s not even October yet in my timezone.

This screenshot of issues on whatwg/html labeled as spam was taken moments before posting this.

Hacktoberfest is hurting open source

David Bryant discourse.mozilla.org

Mozilla WebThings ~> WebThings

David Bryant shared the details and transition plans for WebThings as it’s being spun out of Mozilla as an independent open source project. Mozilla is “transitioning control and responsibility to the community,” and the project’s new home will be webthings.io.

Governance of the project will be passed to the community using a module ownership system independent of the Mozilla Corporation’s organisational structure, like the one used by the core Mozilla project 11. … The WebThings project will no longer be directly affiliated with the Mozilla Corporation so will stop using Mozilla trademarks and will instead operate under its own WebThings brand.

Tooling github.com

youtube-dlc is the new youtube-dl

Open source software shows its resiliency once again:

youtube-dlc is a fork of youtube-dl with the intention of getting features tested by the community merged in the tool faster, since youtube-dl’s development seems to be slowing down.

If you’re unaware of youtube-dl, it’s like a Swiss Army Knife for downloading videos from the web. It’s a great tool and I’m happy to see the community rally around its maintenance.

Craig Mod github.com

Craigstarter lets you do crowdfunding built on Shopify

The why of the project from Craig Mod is what’s interesting…

Kickstarter is an excellent way to run a crowdfunding campaign. But if you already have a community built up, and have communication channels in place (via a newsletter, for example), and already run an online shop, then Kickstarter can be unnecessarily cumbersome. Kickstarter’s 10% fee is also quite hefty. By leaning on Shopify’s flexible Liquid templating system and reasonable CC processing fees, an independent publisher running a campaign can save some ~$7,000 for every $100,000 of sales by using Craigstarter instead of Kickstarter. That’s materially meaningful, especially in the world of books.

There’s also a step-by-step walkthrough on setting things up here ~> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXP9iKARaYY

Max Braun Medium

PiSight brings back Apple iSight

Max Braun thinks today’s webcams are boring, so he brought back a classic. Max took an Apple iSight and retrofitted it with a $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, which “fits the iSight’s dimensions almost perfectly.”

The PiSight actually works like you’d expect it to. Just plug in the USB cable and the camera will show up in your video conferencing app of choice. The image quality is quite good, possibly better than the built-in camera of today’s MacBooks.

The best part is you can do this too because Max made all the plans available as open source.

Just in case you’re not completely taken aback by the absurdity of this project and are now considering building your very own PiSight, rest assured that I’m making everything available as open source.

The GitHub repo has a list of parts and where to get them, the 3D-print-ready model of the frame, and the source code. I’m thinking it should be possible to get the total cost down to under $150. I had to spend a bit more than that because I needed to experiment and opted for higher-end materials.

PiSight brings back Apple iSight

Troy Hunt troyhunt.com

I'm open sourcing the Have I Been Pwned code base

Troy Hunt:

Let me just cut straight to it: I’m going to open source the Have I Been Pwned code base. The decision has been a while coming and it took a failed M&A process to get here, but the code will be turned over to the public for the betterment of the project and frankly, for the betterment of everyone who uses it. Let me explain why and how.

It’s not open source yet, but it will be and Troy lays out his thinking and the process in this excellent write-up. Since HIBP’s data is both sensitive and the entire point of the software, there will be special consideration taken with it:

I need to really clearly break this part of the discussion out because whilst open sourcing the code base is one thing, how the data is handled is quite another. There’s no way to sugar coat this so I’ll just lay it out bluntly: HIBP only exists due to a whole bunch of criminal activity resulting in data that’s ultimately ended up in my possession.

Then there’s the privacy side of it all: my own personal data is in those breaches and your data almost certainly is too because there are literally billions of people that have been impacted by data breaches. Regardless of how broadly that information is circling, I still need to ensure the same privacy controls prevail across the breach data itself even as the code base becomes more transparent. That’s non-trivial. Doable, but non-trivial.

Jon Evans GitHub Blog

GitHub Arctic Code Vault's guide to the Tech Tree

Have you heard of the GitHub Arctic Code Vault? If not, the goal of GitHub Arctic Code Vault is to preserve open source software for future generations. Which means we need thorough docs describing how the world makes and uses software. Which I find completely fascinating!

From the GitHub Archive Program readme:

We are now also opening up the initial compilation of Tech Tree resources to community input. Inspired by the Long Now Foundation’s Manual for Civilization, the Tech Tree is a collection of technical works which document and explain the layers of technology on which today’s open-source software relies, along with works included to provide additional cultural context for the Arctic Code Vault.

From the Tech Tree readme:

What follows, which we call the Tech Tree, is a selection of works intended to describe how the world makes and uses software today, as well as an overview of how computers work and the foundational technologies required to make and use computers. The purpose of the GitHub Archive Program is to preserve open source software for future generations. This implies also preserving the knowledge of other technologies on which open-source software runs, along with a depiction of the open-source movement which brought this software into being.

Opensource.com Icon Opensource.com

How to find new maintainers for your open source project

A smooth hand-off of your open source project is no easy feat. To help others succeed in this arena, Paul Götze build Adoptoposs.org:

I found that, on GitHub alone, there were more than 36,000 issues asking “Is this project abandoned?”, I thought about how to tackle this problem. More than 15,000 of these were open issues. So, lots of projects need help with their maintenance.

Patrick DeVivo github.com

Identify the most relevant git contributors based on commit recency, frequency, and impact

gitpert measures the “pertinence” of git authors as a time-decayed measure of LOC added and removed to a repository (or a set of files in a repository). It’s meant to help identify who the most relevant contributors are based on commit recency, frequency and impact.

Cool tool, as long as we don’t forget about non-code contributors.

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