December 08, 2010 posted by Guillaume Lasmayous
A few months after Thomas Klausner's interview, please welcome today Amitai, better known as schmonz@.
NetBSDfr: For those of our readers that don't know you, can you introduce
yourself briefly ?
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago. Both at school and at home, my
childhood computing skewed Appleward. The exception was Texas
Instruments graphing calculators. By the end of high school, I had a
nearly complete set.
NetBSDfr: How did you discover NetBSD ? How long have you been using it ?
Programming TI calculators led to involvement with ticalc.org, a
volunteer project. The server was running Linux (a 1.x kernel). I
couldn't contribute because I had no idea what was going on, so I
asked my fellow staffers how I could learn Unix when the only
semi-capable machine I owned was a Mac IIci. They suggested NetBSD (at
the time, 1.1). It was good advice. But of course there are still
Linux systems where I have no idea what's going on. ;-)
NetBSDfr: How did you become a NetBSD developer ?
Several years later I'd learned a thing or two, had been using NetBSD
in earnest on both desktop and server, and started sending problem
reports and patches for pkgsrc. Apparently they were reasonable
patches. I still remember where I was -- and how giddy I felt -- when
I read the email inviting me to become a developer. It was quite an
honor to be included in a group of smart people who work together to
build something of significance, relevance, and quality. Still is.
NetBSDfr: Do you have an idea of the time you spend working
on the NetBSD project daily, weekly, monthly ?
Depends how many itches I need to scratch, and how badly -- and
whether I instead ought to be having my broken arm set in a cast, or
at least brushing my teeth, or whatever else I can do to overextend
this metaphor. There's a lot of variance: days and weeks go by where I
do little to nothing, while more than a handful of weekends have
disappeared while working on NetBSD stuff. The average is probably no
less than a few hours per week.
NetBSDfr: Can you explain us the role of pkgsrc-pmc, and your role in this
pkgsrc-pmc is a committee that oversees pkgsrc development, akin to
NetBSD's core. Our main responsibilities are to set the technical
direction for the project (insofar as that is meaningful for a
volunteer project) and to adjudicate the rare technical dispute that
can't be resolved by the disputants. We don't assign specific roles
within the PMC. I occasionally have an idea or two about technical
direction, as you saw at pkgsrcCon last month.
NetBSDfr: As far as I know, you're responsible for the NetBSD wiki. Can
you tell us where you are on the road with it ? How will the transition
with wiki.netbsd.se be handled , now that we know it's gonna be shutdown
at the end of month (Note: Interview was held a few weeks after pkgsrcCon 2010) ?
Yes, I've been leading the charge to roll out an official wiki for the
NetBSD Project. Our environment has fairly particular requirements,
which means it's not just a matter of installing $WIKISOFTWARE and
calling it a day. In addition to choosing the wiki implementation
carefully, we have to do a fair amount of work to tie it neatly into
our setup. The big pieces are in place: CVS integration, appearance
and styling, and web authentication (shared across several services).
That would've been good enough to go into production, except that in
the interim we grew some new requirements.
Originally, the official wiki wasn't intended to replace the
unofficial one. People who wanted to contribute to a NetBSD wiki had
been doing just fine without us. That's no longer the case. We want
these people to be able to keep contributing to NetBSD as they have,
so we're adapting our wiki plans to make room for everyone. This
entails some careful rethinking -- every other official Project
resource is, by design, writable only by developers -- followed by a
fresh batch of integration work. We'd hoped to have time to prepare
for a smooth transition from wiki.netbsd.se; alas, it's not in the
cards. Instead, we're working as quickly as we can to make it possible
for everyone to participate in the official NetBSD wiki.
A smooth transition would also, at minimum, involve moving worthwhile
content to the new wiki and providing HTTP redirects at the old URLs
for a while. Of course, these require a modicum of assistance from the
administrators of wiki.netbsd.se. For users' sake, I hope assistance
will be forthcoming.
NetBSDfr: In your professional environment, do you work with
My workplace has a standardized computing environment that doesn't
include NetBSD. But two of the people I work with most closely are
NetBSD developers, and unprivileged pkgsrc makes me approximately a
bajillion times better at doing what I need to do.
NetBSDfr: As a conclusion, can you tell us how you do foresee NetBSD's future ?
We have a bunch of very smart people working productively on
interesting problems. That's only a prerequisite for a bright future,
not a guarantee thereof, but it's by far the most important
prerequisite -- all the more so because we're so heavily dependent on
the efforts of volunteers. Very smart developers are attracted to
communities where other very smart developers can work on what they
want and enjoy it. We're lucky to have that kind of community. We must
defend it with everything we've got.
I got involved with NetBSD because it appealed to my better nature.
I've stayed involved because I find it seriously fun. If we can keep
it that way, we'll keep attracting the right people. If we keep
attracting the right people, we'll do fine.
Thanks for answering our questions.!
The french (translated) version can be found on NetBSDfr.org website