Tag Archives: open source

I Think I Expected More From Lockdowns

A lot of readers know of my support for self hosted open source software. It has a lot to recommend it. Lockdowns apparently have something to recommend them too.

The self hosted open source software scene relies heavily on volunteers. These volunteers do, do a fantastic job on the whole as for the most part they turn out fantastic software. There is always rubbish software in any sector but for the most part this sector is host to the good apples.

In a way, I had the thought that the lockdown “seasons” would provide time for developers to write excellent powerful code that would translate into exciting new stuff for me to try especially in terms of my own specialism of vertical productivity tools, monitoring tools, management and orchestration.

I am aware that colaboration has been difficult during lockdown. Although we are getting there in terms of colaboration tools, these are not fully there yet, however the developers have created some good stuff, this just needs to extended further and can be given time. Covid-19 has placed too much pressure on developing the extension needed in a fashion where extension is for necessary stuff and big fixing only and not so much for developing ground breaking new features.

The reality is therefore that there seems to be a lack of innovation and new products within vertical productivity tools, monitoring tools, management and orchestration. It could be quite possible that I have missed something good and would be delighted to be proved wrong. A slice of humble pie I would be happy to eat!

Let me be clear though. All the developers working on projects such as these need to be encouraged with their endeavours, supported where and when they need support, well thanked for their efforts and the donation of their time and most importantly, most warmly congratulated and praised when they produce something amazing. A sector dominated by communities of volunteers both needs and deserves to be supported by those who consume their efforts. I do my part where I can especially with concise and supportive feedback and bug reporting at the appropriate time. I am also happy to praise and congratulate. I would rather do that than criticise.

In a nutshell I was hoping for something new and sexy for my web server stack and didn’t get when I thought I would!

I do look forward to seeing what comes next from these communities of volunteers. πŸ™‚

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So Microsoft Have Acquired GitHub

There have been rumours that floating around since Friday and then confirmed today that Microsoft have acquired GitHub.

Normally I get nervous when a Microsoft acquisition is in the offing. In the past this has meant that Microsoft get things wrong with the acquisition. These days this seems not to be the case. Microsoft acquired LinkedIn. I cannot see what they have done with it! I have not for example been offered a free Office365 subscription if I take out LinkedIn Premium.

So what does GitHub bring to the Microsoft Party?

The answer is source code from so many very talented developers. Source Code and the talented that toil over it is the life blood of any software development product. This acquisition gives Microsoft direct access to these talented people and more importantly their work.

About 5 minutes prior to writing this I heard a rumour that there was a mass exodus away from GitHub by a large number of developers being mooted in the light of this acquisition. Many readers will know of my love of self hosting stuff on my small server farm. GitHub is my main one-stop shop for new and exciting stuff to play with.

My main fear is that the most talented developers who publish code on GitHub will be taken advantage of and that would be a crying shame.

Discontinuation – A growing trend in self hosting

Self hosting sites and services relies on a number of different tools and services to be successful. More than that it requires integrations between tools to be available and to work properly. You see, a ton of services big and small come together to make a solution work. There is a host of stuff that sits in this website and behind it that “makes stuff happen”. For example integrations with Google products, mail servers, security, marketing tools, SEO, Amazon, and lots more.

To be fair a lot of these tools, services and integrations are written by the open source community to freely give of their time to complete these projects and make them work either individually or as part of a group. This is a good thing.

The problem lies however when projects stop being developed and then either get discontinued or withdrawn, or even worse just get abandoned only for errors to crop up or even a site to get hacked without warning. Take your eye off the ball in a self hosted environment and there is the possibility for all hell to break loose.

In the past few months I have been getting more and more announcements sent to me that tools, integrations, plugins and more are being discontinued, “sunsetted” or even withdrawn. That or support for certain environments or browsers is being stopped in forthcoming versions.

I used to get 1-3 of these a year. I have had about 15 in 2017Β alone. This worries me as it means a lot of extra time in locating replacement “parts” and then testing and deploying these parts, when an environment build should be finished and then just in maintenance and business as usual mode. It does cause a few issues for the operator of the site.

I do hope this trend does not escalate any further. The open source community do a lot of good and valuable work and should be praised for it. I realise that some of this comes down to time and other commitments.

I for one, hope this dies down and that the trend does not escalate.

Whats the problem with Open Source?

There shouldn’t be a problem with open source tech stuff especially software, surely? There are two problems that I see and the first one isn’t really a bugbear for me. There is a lot of dross out there and it takers time to sort through some of the dross to get to the real nuggets. I have been an enthusiastic open source user and follower for over 15 years. In that time I have seen some real dross and stuff that simply does not work. I have seen some stuff that has fallen by the wayside when it shouldn’t have or needn’t have. Mambo springs to the top of my mind here. It got taken over by Joomla and some issues I had after 1.6 sent me looking elsewhere for a CMS. Mambo could have been great! I first got into open source web applications via a CMS called PHPNuke. There have been some absolute gold nuggets here, Pydio, Owncloud, Egroupware, Roundcube, Vtiger, WordPress, SeoPanel, SuiteCRM, TikiWiki, PHPList, OrangeHRM and WordPress the list and the old install logs on my servers could go on for ever. Now we get to the crux of the issue. With all of these wonderful pieces of kit you have to install plugins to extend functionality. Now this where I get annoyed. You see plugins seem to come at three levels.

  1. The completely free and completely within the spirit of open source
  2. The fully paid plugin. I hate this the original platform is open source, why can’t a plugin be?
  3. The mix up. A lite version is free but you have to pay the stuff you really want. This irks me open source is developed by volunteers in the first place. Whats even worse is when a lite version installs crap that is a nightmare to get rid of unless you buy the pro version πŸ™ This tactic is taking the mickey in my opinion. Its supposed to be open source and run by volunteers!

So lets be clear its only points. 2 and 3 I take umbrage at. I am grateful to many open source developers who devote their time to creating cracking pieces of software such as the stuff I listed above (OK, I have gone off Owncloud a bit recently.) I just wish certain other developers would enter into the same spirit. It is after all this spirit that creates wonderful software especially web based stuff I enjoy so much.

Developers Wanted

We are always looking for quality developers to work with on a locum/freelance/ad-hoc basis.
Current in demand skills include: Java, SQL Server, VB.Net, Joomla, Drupal, PHP, MySql, and C #.
Please contact us for further information