Monday, October 29, 2007

Right Place at the Right Time

Check out this bug: https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=207702

I don't usually work on Sunday afternoons, especially not when the weather is nice, but I just happened to be around when that happened.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Easy way to a bug

Bug 199275 was opened requesting short URLs for accessing specific bug numbers. I didn't give it much thought at first until I caught myself wanting such a feature while trying to access a specific bug. You can just type the bug number on the Bugzilla home page, but if I'm typing "bugs.eclipse.org" in my browser's address bar, why not just append the bug number?

So now you can just type bugs.eclipse.org/12345 (or link via http://bugs.eclipse.org/12345) and you'll be teleported to your bug by pure magic.

Are there any other short URLs like this that could definitely make your life easier? (This one isn't a short url)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Open source: power to the people

OSS is a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, it's power in my hands.

I run Linux everywhere -- on the eclipse servers, my office workstation and my home computer, but not because it's free (no cost). I enjoy having the power to do anything I want with my OS:
  • compiling my own lightweight kernel, optimized for my hardware
  • dropping to a command line to find | awk | grep | sort | tee | perl and do all kinds of unreadable one-liners
  • checking the source code to see why I'm getting a weird error message
At Eclipse we get the best of both worlds: OSS backed by a commercial entity. By using SuSE Linux Entreprise, we get support and regular updates from Novell [1] while still having the freedom to roll-our-own if the distro packages don't suit our needs.

Two recent issues to illustrate my point:
  • NFS has this ridiculous group limit. We'll be running our own patched kernel to bypass that
  • The SuSE packages for SubVersion are old, so we'll roll our own

I use Eclipse (and Apache, and OpenOffice, and Firefox, and...) for the exact same reasons. You have to admit -- OSS just rocks.


[1] I'm not affiliated with Novell and they don't stuff cash in my pockets, so the plug is my own. I just think SLES 10 is a great Entreprise Linux distro.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lists for Projects (update)

We rolled out lists for projects awhile ago (here is the post) but at the request of several projects and also bug 199603 we have rolled out an updated lists page that can now handle components of projects and display them for each committer as well. Hopefully this small update will help projects keep better track of their data and further lighten the burden of keeping committer lists up to date. As always, if you see data that is incorrect, please let us know.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The VE project is hiring!

I was compelled to blog about Philippe Ombredanne's 'help wanted' posting in the eclipse.employment group. He's looking to fill four job positions for the VE project:

- build manager
- documentation manager
- support manager
- evangelist

Of course, none of these jobs actually pay money -- he's looking for volunteers. But despite the comedy, Philippe's call for help is no joke. Although many OSS projects are corporate-sponsored (especially at Eclipse), many projects, like VE, do need your help.

You don't have time to contribute code, bugs, testing or other resources on your own time? Think inside the box (you work for). If your employer is benefiting in any way from an OSS project (by increased productivity, no-cost tools, no-cost support, a community backing you up with help), convince them that you should put in a few hours per week to give back to the community. It's a small investment that can yield a direct return sooner than later, considering you can work on the features and bugfixes that will increase your productivity.

Philippe's enthusiasm and creativity are just what the VE project needs. He is single-handedly breathing new life into a project that became idle last year, shortly after Eclipse 3.2 was released. Think you can help out? Contact Philippe for a job now!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Farewell to Asterisk

Committers and members had been asking for Asterisk for awhile and we spent a good bit of time implementing a conferencing server on that platform for the community. But, for many reasons, people don't seem to be using it much. Only 15 conferences have ever been scheduled by a project, unfortunately.

That alone is not a reason to discontinue supporting our conferencing server. But lately our server has taken to launching a fairly effective DoS against our dial-in service provider by making thousands of IAX queries to their server on random occasions. This requires an update and rebuild of the Asterisk server software, the associated kernel modules, and a re-packaging and re-deployment of the code. That's a substantial time investment for not much return, given the level of use. We have decided to cut losses and simply disable the server.

Wednesday this week will be the last day for our conferencing solution. Apologies to anyone who had plans to use it, but from the track record I doubt there are many (any?) of you. Certainly no one has a call scheduled.

Still, this exercise hasn't been a total loss. We all learned a lot about the joys and limitations of conferencing with VoIP. Cheers to those in the community who helped me get it up and running.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Innovation and community: a winning formula

It's simple math: Innovation + broken patterns = crisis
crisis + community = collaboration = solutions

I've blogged before about how the Eclipse servers fell victims to the success of Mylyn. When mid-September rolled around, people returned from vacation and the Europa Fall maintenance release occurred. Our download site slowed to a crawl partly due to the (now large) number of Mylyn users fetching our 950KB repository.

Although we quickly came up with a stop-gap fix, one enterprising community member (community collaboration again!) stepped up to the plate to propose some serious optimization:
- cut the size of the XML by 30% by stripping extraneous characters
- cut the size of the XML by 90% by zipping: bug 205416

While the fix is not a ground-breaking technology innovation, the community involvement is what makes an OSS community a great place. Heroes are born every day.

With these optimizations in place (and more to come), Mylyn no longer scares us (much). Special thanks to Maarten for getting his hands dirty.

[updated: I shortened this a bit]