Daily Archives: October 3, 2006

Apache: The “gold standard” for open-source … and pretty as a picture to boot

[Ed: I’m posting this late at night, in the hopes not many folks will read it, because if they do so then they won’t have much reason to come back and read the twitty drivel I will continue to post to those who do come back.]

I’m going to let you into a little secret. Indeed, if you truly believe the wisdom I am about to impart, you can take this blog off your “must read” list and move to a happier and more fulfilling life.

Back in August ’98 as I was looking into taking Jikes open-source, I asked for advice on how many people it would take to run the Jikes project. Someone from BEA said I should talk to a “Brian Behlendorf.” I didn’t know what a Behlendorf was, but I called him, and he said, “Don’t worry. We have a small team and can run our project; you shouldn’t have any problems. Also, take a look at our web site.”

From that day until this moment, and I expect into the forseeable future, I think it safe to say:

If you have any question about how to run an open-source project; how to organize a project web page; how to name the mail lists; how to “incubate” new efforts; or anything else you can think of; then, as quick as you can, just open up a browser window, type apache.org, hit return and learn from the masters.

If you follow the lessons you can learn there you won’t go wrong, and if you decide to deviate from the path outlined there, then you will know you have only done so because you have thought it through, realized your situation was different, and that you made the appropriate changes.

These folks have been doing it right for over a decade, and they continue to innovate.


For example, I recently read Glynn Moody’s piece “Do Hackers Blog?” in which he noted that few do. This will be the subject of an upcoming post. Ken Coar directed me to PlanetApache.

I did visit that “planet” (which as I learned is the name for an aggregated set of blog posts). What was most interesting is that I saw many of the post were accompanied by pictures. No, not just pictures, but photographs in the full artistic sense. Each showed original lighting and there was clear evidence of someone who knew how to compose a picture.

So I said to myself, “That’s neat. Some ASF member has a friend who is a photographer. Nice indeed to include the pictures.”

And then I realized these pictures were taken by an ASF member, James Duncan Davidson, who is both the author of ANT and a professional photographer. I found them extraordinary, especially in that they somehow capture a visual aspect of programming I haven’t seen before.

So do go visit the ASF folks. They’re friendly; they won’t bite. And even if you don’t pay attention to what they can teach you, at least you’ll have a fun time enjoying the sights during your visit.

From our readers: On the recent comments of Coar, O’Grady


Steve O’Grady wrote:

hello there – what’s up with your entries feed? it’s not displaying anything

To which I can honestly say, “What’s an entry feed?” (All readers should remind me at some point to describe my infamous lecture at IBM Research as I reported on this new thing called the “amazing internet”. Thing is, I gave that talk in 1996, not 1992.)

I don’t know what’s going on. I always tried to live with defaults, and don’t recall changing anything. Does anyone else have a clue? I’ll wait a few days. If no response I’ll try to find the time to work on this.

Ken Coar commented on a post that used “c13n” for “commoditization” :

The whole ‘i18n’ for ‘internationalisation,’ ‘l10n’ for ‘localisation,’ and such.. Well, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) claimed it was their invention. (I know, I was there.) They called them ‘diginyms,’ and forming that kind of abbreviation was ‘diginymicisation.’ I don’t think anyone had the chutzpah to call it ‘d14n.’

The convention here is to abbreviate a long word as prefix, number, suffix, where prefix is the first letter in the word, sufix is the last letter, and number is the number of letters between the prefix and the suffix; for example, “IBM” becomes “I1M”, “MicrosofT” becomes “M8T”, and so forth.

Now Ken claims DEC came up with this first . I expect anyone who has spent more time than they want to admit has faced the same problem. For example, Mark Davis of Unicode fame must have written “internationalization” about a zillion times before he realized he would spend the rest of his life writing the same damned word unless he found an abbreviation. I spent summer of 2004 in part working on a SWG study of “commoditization” and “componentization,”. and we probably threw in “civilization” if memory serves. I’m not sure we ever figured it out; it was a summer of “c*n”-ness.


Ken Coar commented on a post in which I mentioned Sahana:

Sahana was developed in Sri Lanka as a direct result of the December tsunami. The Sri Lankan open sourcerers are among the most dedicated and enthusiastic I have even encountered.

I couldn’t agree more; indeed, I wrote a plea for Sahana support earlier this day.


Ken Coar wrote, in response to my proposal of a very liberal license for the words that can be found here:

My friend Rich Bowen frequently advocates the JFTI licence: Just Take It. Sometimes known as the HJTI (Here, Just Take It) licence.


Thanks again to all the readers who took the time to comment. I think WordPress, an otherwise excellent piece of software, would profit by paying more attention to comments. Indeed, why not list the comments first, and then the stories they were about? Then the reader could skip over posts that drew no comments, dive into one that sparked lots of comments, and so forth.

It is better to light just one little LAMP … Please, please, help Sahana

There is a well-known song called One Little Candle (see also Sample Little Candles):

When the day is dark and dreary,
And your way is hard to find,
Don't let your heart be weary,
Just keep this thought in mind:

It is better to light just one little candle
Than to stumble in the dark.
Better far that you light just one little candle,
All you need is a tiny spark.
If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free,
A wonderful dawn of a new day we'd see...
And if everyone lit just one little candle,
What a bright world this would be.

When the day is dark and dreary
And we know not where to go;
Don't let your heart go weary,
Just keep this thought in mind...

It is better to light just one little candle
Than to stumble in the dark.
Better far that you light just one little candle,
All you need is a tiny spark.
If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free,
A wonderful dawn of a new day we'd see...
And if everyone lit just one little candle,
What a bright world this would be.

These words speak for themselves, but I speak them here to let you all know there is an open-source project called Sahana that has an urgent need for open-source developers with LAMP skills.

By urgent I mean helping this project could help save lives. It’s that important.

So if you have those skills, just get in touch with the Sahana folks and ask them, “How can I help?”

You can also use the “Search” bar to see some of my earlier mentions of Sahana in this blog.

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

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