Mind the gap between platform and app

published 04 May 2016 in osem

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With the Open Source Event Manager (OSEM), one of the Ruby on Rails apps I hack on, we're heading down the road to version 1.0. A feature we absolutely wanted to have, before making this step, was an easy deployment to at least one of the many Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers. We deemed this important for two reasons:

  1. Before people commit to use your precious little app they want to try it. And this has to be hassle free.
  2. Getting your server operating system ready to deploy Ruby on Rails applications can be tedious, too tedious for some people.

So I have been working on making our app ready for Heroku which is currently the most popular PaaS provider for rails (is it?). This was an interesting road, this is my travelogue.

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10 Tips for Mentoring #FreeSoftware Development

published 16 March 2016 in community

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I believe that one of the most important tasks for a Free Software hacker is to bring new people with new perspectives, backgrounds and fresh ideas into the community. That's why I try to make contributing to my own projects as beginner friendly as possible, that's also the reason I frequently mentor people who take their first steps in developing Free Software with programs such as Google's, or Rails Girls Summer of Code.

Just recently I had the opportunity to implement a mentoring program (hey 101) for one of the Free Software communities I'm participating in (hey openSUSE) together with a couple of friends (hey Chris & Cornelius). That adventure required me to think about what I find important about the whole process. I'd like to share those thoughts with you. Here are my 10 Tips for Mentoring Free Software development.

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Distributing Free Software: Herding Cats

published 18 March 2014 in obs

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The basic challenge of distributing Free Software is compiling that awesome open source code into machine code for different Linux distributions so it's easily consumable for users. Sounds simple, but it isn't. If you look at the dependencies of a typical Free Software project you will find thousands of other projects in the stack. They build on top of each other, have functional dependencies, sometimes they are interdependent, they conflict with each other and what not. In short: Building Free Software is like herding cats. And rightfully users of the software expect a steady, well behaved, streamlined herd of cats! The Open Build Service (OBS) is the tool which makes this possible, it helps Free Software distributors to automatically and consistently build binary packages from free and open source code.

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Free Software Kicks Ass

published 09 April 2010 in community

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This is a plea to the Free Software Community. This is an appeal to you. This is a incitement to kick ass!
One pictogram kicking the other in the butt

Kick Ass by Henne Vogelsang licensed CC BY 4.0

So you think that you are not entitled to decide something?


Despite the fact that our community is around for some time we are a very young movement. We don't have much organization. No hierarchy, very little processes, no roles or functions, no directions and only very general rules. If you’re hesitant now and try not to stick your neck out, this community will fail.

You participate in a time where it’s only you that makes a difference.

Don’t be shy. You're a peach! Don’t be modest, KICK ASS!

Waiting for something “official”?


There is only you and the people next to you. There is no one steering the Free Software community, there is only you pushing your topic. There is no mastermind behind all this, there is only you thinking about your thing. There is no management, there is only you running your things. If you do something it’s what Free Software does. If you decide something it’s what Free Software decides.

Don't hesitate, just do it. Don’t wait, KICK ASS!

You’re worried about your idea being liked?


Push for your goal. In this community we value others’ opinions. We value openness. We value critique. We do NOT value consensus. It’s nice if it happens, it makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside but consensus is not the prerequisite for action.

Try to incorporate the feedback you get as good as you can. Be open minded and willing to try new things. But also keep your goal in mind. You started with an idea on how to do something, don’t let the feedback kill your idea. Remember, there are always many people who just like your idea and don’t say anything.

Don’t let the nay-sayers stop you, KICK ASS!

You're afraid of contradiction?


We can have a team but no leader. We can have vim and emacs. We can be self-contradictory! Free Software consists of so many projects, ideas, values and people that they can’t possibly all be on the same page. You don’t need to prove to yourself or anyone else that you conform. There can be two or more things of the same kind even if they do exactly the same thing.

Don't buy into conformity. KICK ASS!

You are unsure about something?


Here we don’t think everything through to the end. We are playful! You need to release early, release often. Everything! Not only code but your frustrations, ideas and plans also. That means that people will see your mistakes. People will spot your inconsistencies. People will get on your nerves with their own ideas about your stuff. But it also means you don’t have be 100% correct, don’t have to be 100% ready and you don’t have to do 100% yourself.

Put everything out there, KICK ASS!

You Fear Falling Down?

More often then we like it, the things we dream of, the ideas we come up with, the lines of code we produce STINK. And that’s okay, shit happens. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, nobody will think less of you. In this community people will scrape you off the ground and put you on your feet again. Failure is punished by a pat on the back and a smile. Don’t doubt that for a second.

Fail and KICK ASS!

Stop contemplating!
Stop holding back!
Stop worrying!


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