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Old 05-04-2010, 06:01 PM
William Jon McCann
 
Default Developer Experience

Hey,

So one thing we talked about on IRC last week was the idea of driving
the design of the OS from two different and complementary angles: user
experience and developer experience.

We have a pretty strong and unfolding story for the evolution of the
user experience but I don't yet see discussion and planning for the
improvement of the developer experience. I imagine this could involve
things like OS platform and subsystem design, toolkit API and SDK
design, development tools, deployment and management, feedback, etc.

Anyone want to take part in some discussions and/or brainstorm
sessions on this? We might be able to arrange a call in number if we
want to try it live. Though, first, maybe we should try to research
and document things we like and dislike about existing systems.

Does this sound interesting to anyone?

Thanks,
Jon
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Old 05-04-2010, 06:55 PM
David Malcolm
 
Default Developer Experience

On Tue, 2010-05-04 at 14:01 -0400, William Jon McCann wrote:
> Hey,
>
> So one thing we talked about on IRC last week was the idea of driving
> the design of the OS from two different and complementary angles: user
> experience and developer experience.
>
> We have a pretty strong and unfolding story for the evolution of the
> user experience but I don't yet see discussion and planning for the
> improvement of the developer experience. I imagine this could involve
> things like OS platform and subsystem design, toolkit API and SDK
> design, development tools, deployment and management, feedback, etc.
>
> Anyone want to take part in some discussions and/or brainstorm
> sessions on this? We might be able to arrange a call in number if we
> want to try it live. Though, first, maybe we should try to research
> and document things we like and dislike about existing systems.
>
> Does this sound interesting to anyone?

Something I like to think about is "who is the developer", and "what is
the developer trying to develop?"

I posted some ideas on this here:
http://lists.fedoraproject.org/pipermail/devel/2010-February/130362.html

and I'll take the liberty of reposting that content here:

<quote>
"best linux distribution for developer" seems too vague to me to be
achievable. I think there are different categories of developer.

Here's an attempt at a concrete and realistic (though fictitious)
persona:
- Gillian is one of 6 employees at "stelthix.com", a startup based in
Cambridge MA. She is a graduate of MIT.
- The startup is in in "stealth" mode, building a web-based service
that will be the next Google, or at least, they hope, acquired by Google
(they're not yet saying what the service does).
- They hope to launch the site in 3 months time; they are working
every waking hour building the site and the backend, talking to
investors, signing up service providers etc
- All of the employees do at least some "development", even if it's
just editing HTML templates, and tweaking of Python scripts.
- Their web site is implemented in Django, and they're heavily using
Python throughout the backend, though they have some optimized C code
which one of the other developers wrote for a compute-intensive task.
- They have an internal Trac instance which they're using as a private
wiki, an issue tracker, and for SVN. The SVN instance stores all of
their code (for both the web site, the scraping/data mining tool that
feeds the data, their custom scripts that leverage Google's APIs etc).
- They're happy to use FLOSS, but their code is going to be
proprietary (alas). They have written an API which customers of the
site can use for some purposes, but those customers will never see the
implementation.
- They are renting time on Amazon EC2 for the compute-heavy parts of
the backend, and the beta instance of the site is hosted on Linux.
- They have a buildbot that is running the full test suite after every
check-in; this is running on a Linux box somewhere.
- Most of the team use Mac laptops running OS X (alas), but the
deployment environment is Linux, and some of the team have Linux boxes
which they use for development as well.
- They try to stick to the standard Python libraries plus Django
because it's fiddly tracking additional dependencies in their (mixture
of Mac + Linux) world.

I think this is a realistic story [1], and is more concrete than "best
linux distribution for developers". It leads to these questions: why
will Gillian choose to use Fedora on her laptop? Why will Gillian
choose to use Fedora on the backend servers? Why will Gillian recommend
Fedora to the new hire after the company gets more VC funding?

I'm somewhat biased towards Python here; you could rewrite this somewhat
and change Python and Django to Ruby and Rails, and it's probably
important to do both cases well; we want a great Rails story as well as
a great Python story - "Ray was in the same class as Gillian, and now
works at wearemorepragmaticthanyou.com", perhaps.

Another developer persona might be:
- Fred is a sysadmin and postdoc at example.ac.uk
- he manages a variety of servers and workstations on the campus as a
job, whilst working towards finishing his thesis
- in his spare time he is working directly on a re-implementation of
an encumbered piece of software
- He cares deeply about software freedom, and needs a decent build of
the tools he needs (gcc, GNU make, gdb, perl).
- He worries about software patents, and has tried to avoid MP3 for
some years, but doesn't always succeed.

I hope this is useful and realistic, and not too much of a caricature.

I believe we currently do a good job of appealing to Fred (though we
could always do better), but less so at appealing to Gillian or Ray.

This hits the "web 2.0 startup" cases and the "enthusiastic FLOSS
volunteer" case; there'd probably need to be a persona for a Java
developer within a large company too, and probably stuff I've not
thought of.

</quote>

That post was aimed at a high-level discussion of Fedora's goals, but
from the perspective of making Fedora a great fit for each of the
personae, we'd want:
- good editors for Python, Ruby, HTML (and templates), JavaScript,
Java, C
- good integration with EC2
- good integration with databases (including this new-fangled NoSQL
stuff)
- well-tuned language runtimes (Python and Ruby)
- lots of good debugging hooks. I did some work on this for Fedora 13
for Python; maybe we should do the same for Ruby.
- a Django spin? a RoR spin? EC2 images of these?
- etc

Hope this is helpful
Dave

[1] though the last time I worked at a company of that size was some
years ago; caveat lector

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Old 05-04-2010, 09:04 PM
Jesse Keating
 
Default Developer Experience

On Tue, 2010-05-04 at 14:01 -0400, William Jon McCann wrote:
> Hey,
>
> So one thing we talked about on IRC last week was the idea of driving
> the design of the OS from two different and complementary angles: user
> experience and developer experience.
>
> We have a pretty strong and unfolding story for the evolution of the
> user experience but I don't yet see discussion and planning for the
> improvement of the developer experience. I imagine this could involve
> things like OS platform and subsystem design, toolkit API and SDK
> design, development tools, deployment and management, feedback, etc.
>
> Anyone want to take part in some discussions and/or brainstorm
> sessions on this? We might be able to arrange a call in number if we
> want to try it live. Though, first, maybe we should try to research
> and document things we like and dislike about existing systems.
>
> Does this sound interesting to anyone?
>
> Thanks,
> Jon

Is this development of other software, or development of Fedora? There
are numerous packages and setups that make sense if you're a Fedora
developer, less so if you're an upstream developer. Or does it not
matter and we're talking about both?

--
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:09 PM
William Jon McCann
 
Default Developer Experience

Hey,

On Tue, May 4, 2010 at 5:04 PM, Jesse Keating <jkeating@redhat.com> wrote:
> Is this development of other software, or development of Fedora? *There
> are numerous packages and setups that make sense if you're a Fedora
> developer, less so if you're an upstream developer. *Or does it not
> matter and we're talking about both?

How do you differentiate a Fedora developer and an upstream developer?
I'm not sure being a Fedora developer is particularly interesting.

I guess I don't think most people are interested in writing an OS.
But seems lots of people are interested in writing apps and dellvering
them to users. So I was referring to that: app development. And here
I'm not excluding web apps either. There is a strong case being made
for html5 as a development platform.

Thanks,
Jon
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:38 PM
Jesse Keating
 
Default Developer Experience

On Tue, 2010-05-04 at 17:09 -0400, William Jon McCann wrote:
> Hey,
>
> On Tue, May 4, 2010 at 5:04 PM, Jesse Keating <jkeating@redhat.com> wrote:
> > Is this development of other software, or development of Fedora? There
> > are numerous packages and setups that make sense if you're a Fedora
> > developer, less so if you're an upstream developer. Or does it not
> > matter and we're talking about both?
>
> How do you differentiate a Fedora developer and an upstream developer?
> I'm not sure being a Fedora developer is particularly interesting.
>
> I guess I don't think most people are interested in writing an OS.
> But seems lots of people are interested in writing apps and dellvering
> them to users. So I was referring to that: app development. And here
> I'm not excluding web apps either. There is a strong case being made
> for html5 as a development platform.
>
> Thanks,
> Jon

Fair enough. Being a Fedora developer involves pre-loading tools
necessary to interact with the Fedora Infrastructure, and maybe even
having a guided "get setup for Fedora development" document or wizard.
Totally inappropriate for somebody who isn't going to be a Fedora
packager.

--
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Fedora Project (http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/JesseKeating)
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Old 05-05-2010, 02:56 AM
"J. Greenlees"
 
Default Developer Experience

William Jon McCann wrote:
> Hey,
>
> On Tue, May 4, 2010 at 5:04 PM, Jesse Keating<jkeating@redhat.com> wrote:
>> Is this development of other software, or development of Fedora? There
>> are numerous packages and setups that make sense if you're a Fedora
>> developer, less so if you're an upstream developer. Or does it not
>> matter and we're talking about both?
>
> How do you differentiate a Fedora developer and an upstream developer?
> I'm not sure being a Fedora developer is particularly interesting.
>
> I guess I don't think most people are interested in writing an OS.
> But seems lots of people are interested in writing apps and dellvering
> them to users. So I was referring to that: app development. And here
> I'm not excluding web apps either. There is a strong case being made
> for html5 as a development platform.
>
> Thanks,
> Jon
My two bits on this particular subject:
The best disrtibution for ANY development purpose would have the
following criteria:
1) STRICT compliance to the LSB-CORE.
[ after the core, it is no longer a GNU/Linux base, it is a distro base ]
2) ZERO alterations of packages from defaults.
[ a best development distro would not change any included packages
default configurations to meet a "distro" decision. ]
3) No picking one GUI as the default, ALL gui options needs to be
included by default..
[ so that any new application can be tested against use with all of them ]
3a) best is to just go with a minimalist gui as default, G.N.O.M.E. and
KDE both definitely not viable. they both have very different backends
providing needed services for a desktop, so a distro that goes with
either is stealing the choice of desktop for developers / end users.

A Development distro would, by design, have to foster the freedoms of
Free Software / Open Source Software and let the end user have ALL the
choices available for ALL application options.

Fedora, RHEL, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Debian, Slakware, Madriva, PCLinuxOS,
Gentoo .... all fail to meet this, they all pick a desktop as default.
Every existing distro does.
[ FWIW I personally prefer to use E16 as my gui, even E17 is unusably
bloated in my opinion. G.N.O.M.E. failed to make the grade with
"networking" errors on a stand alone workstation, back in 1998, adding
in the menu bar that turned me off the Mac in 1982 just sealed it's fate
as non-usable for me after that. ]

and, for development purposes, I usually go with an LFS build, with
minimal packages over a base system with GUI support. only installing
those absolutely required by the tool set I'm using on the system.

Jaqui
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:07 PM
Máirín Duffy
 
Default Developer Experience

Hi Jaqui,

On Tue, 2010-05-04 at 19:56 -0700, J. Greenlees wrote:
> 3) No picking one GUI as the default, ALL gui options needs to be
> included by default..
> [ so that any new application can be tested against use with all of them ]
> 3a) best is to just go with a minimalist gui as default, G.N.O.M.E. and
> KDE both definitely not viable. they both have very different backends
> providing needed services for a desktop, so a distro that goes with
> either is stealing the choice of desktop for developers / end users.

I don't understand your line of thinking here, Jaqui. How many (non-web)
app developers use their app with every GUI toolkit available? How many
(non-web) app developers use their app with more than one GUI toolkit
available? I think 0 for the first one, and very, very few for the
second.

I think there is a difference between the desktop environment a
developer uses vs. the GUI toolkit(s) his applications target, and I
think you might be confusing the two a little bit. For example, if I'm a
developer for a mobile device (say for the Maemo platform), I'm not
necessarily going to use Maemo to do my development work (and I'm not
sure I could!)

All this aside, how about web application developers, who I'd argue are
really far more common than OS or even rich client developers these
days? They want a desktop that works and works well for their workflow.
I don't think they care to choose from the 21 flavors available.

> A Development distro would, by design, have to foster the freedoms of
> Free Software / Open Source Software and let the end user have ALL the
> choices available for ALL application options.

Having a choice available doesn't mean we get to shirk the
responsibility of picking sane defaults. Overwhelming the user, even if
they are a developer, with the equivalent of a 500-item questionnaire is
not really very considerate There is no lack of choice in free/open
source software. Part of the challenge of making it usable is filtering
those choices to the sanest / most useful / most frequently-used / most
widely-used.

> Fedora, RHEL, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Debian, Slakware, Madriva, PCLinuxOS,
> Gentoo .... all fail to meet this, they all pick a desktop as default.
> Every existing distro does.

You have to.

~m

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Old 05-05-2010, 07:40 PM
"J. Greenlees"
 
Default Developer Experience

Hi Miirin,

Máirín Duffy wrote:
> Hi Jaqui,
>
> On Tue, 2010-05-04 at 19:56 -0700, J. Greenlees wrote:
>> 3) No picking one GUI as the default, ALL gui options needs to be
>> included by default..
>> [ so that any new application can be tested against use with all of them ]
>> 3a) best is to just go with a minimalist gui as default, G.N.O.M.E. and
>> KDE both definitely not viable. they both have very different backends
>> providing needed services for a desktop, so a distro that goes with
>> either is stealing the choice of desktop for developers / end users.
>
> I don't understand your line of thinking here, Jaqui. How many (non-web)
> app developers use their app with every GUI toolkit available?
how many rich client apps have you had to chase mass dependency chains
down with, because the DISTRO defaults were not the same as Fedora's?
what the developer thought was a required system lib, was a distro
default required lib, and no other distro uses it at all.
oops, defaults for distros just bit you in the butt.

How many
> (non-web) app developers use their app with more than one GUI toolkit
> available?

and which toolkit BEST suits the needs of their app? oh, hold it, they
NEED all installed to be able to pick best toolkit.

I think 0 for the first one, and very, very few for the
> second.

why should ANY distro make it more difficult for a non web app developer
to have their app work on all distros, or with any gui?
by picking a default gui, you have stolen choices and made it harder to
have a gui agnostic app.

EVERY choice made by distro development team, is a break point in cross
distro development.
and, AS LONG AS THERE IS DIFFICULTY IN CROSS DISTRO DEVELOPMENT, you
won't get Adobe to port their apps to GNU/Linux, nor Autodesk, or Corel,
or any other proprietary software company.
without these apps, GNU/Linux will NEVER become the desktop for more
than a few companies.

> I think there is a difference between the desktop environment a
> developer uses vs. the GUI toolkit(s) his applications target, and I
> think you might be confusing the two a little bit. For example, if I'm a
> developer for a mobile device (say for the Maemo platform), I'm not
> necessarily going to use Maemo to do my development work (and I'm not
> sure I could!)
>

ahh, the embedded / mobile developer is a very different creature, they
have to set a virtual environment up, or have the device themselves to
do any testing. that means they really wouldn't want to have massivvly
bloated desktop environment like GNOME and KDE4 as default, they have to
bogg their system down with a virtual environment.

> All this aside, how about web application developers, who I'd argue are
> really far more common than OS or even rich client developers these
> days? They want a desktop that works and works well for their workflow.
> I don't think they care to choose from the 21 flavors available.
>
odds are, because distros have stolen the choice of default gui from
them, they don't even know there are 21 flavours available.
they want code generating apps to generate the really badly coded
websites we all just hate visting from the problems it causes fisiting
the Dreamwaever/Frontpage/ ECLIPSE generated website.

>> A Development distro would, by design, have to foster the freedoms of
>> Free Software / Open Source Software and let the end user have ALL the
>> choices available for ALL application options.
>
> Having a choice available doesn't mean we get to shirk the
> responsibility of picking sane defaults. Overwhelming the user, even if
> they are a developer, with the equivalent of a 500-item questionnaire is
> not really very considerate There is no lack of choice in free/open
> source software. Part of the challenge of making it usable is filtering
> those choices to the sanest / most useful / most frequently-used / most
> widely-used.

B.S. You do NOT have a responsibility to STEAL CHOICES from users.
You have a responsibility to give users choices, to follow the intent of
the FSF and GNU-GPL, the intent to promote freedom and choice.
[ and on that one, The only thing that would have RMS not agree would be
promotng GNU software over non GNU software, he would pick GNOME because
it's a GNU project, KDE isn't. ]
>
>> Fedora, RHEL, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Debian, Slakware, Madriva, PCLinuxOS,
>> Gentoo .... all fail to meet this, they all pick a desktop as default.
>> Every existing distro does.
>
> You have to.

nope, you do not have to.
you can and should let the END USER pick the one they want.


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Old 05-05-2010, 07:44 PM
drago01
 
Default Developer Experience

> [...]
> B.S. You do NOT have a responsibility to STEAL CHOICES from users.
> You have a responsibility to give users choices, to follow the intent of
> the FSF and GNU-GPL, the intent to promote freedom and choice.
> [ and on that one, The only thing that would have RMS not agree would be
> promotng GNU software over non GNU software, he would pick GNOME because
> it's a GNU project, KDE isn't. ]

https://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/2008-January/msg00861.html
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:03 PM
Máirín Duffy
 
Default Developer Experience

On Wed, 2010-05-05 at 12:40 -0700, J. Greenlees wrote:
> How many
> > (non-web) app developers use their app with more than one GUI toolkit
> > available?
>
> and which toolkit BEST suits the needs of their app? oh, hold it, they
> NEED all installed to be able to pick best toolkit.

I tend to think that a developer trying to pick which toolkit to use is
going to be able to whittle down the list of toolkits to a very small
number based on researching their capabilities (reading documentation,
forum posts, etc) rather than trying each single one out in some kind of
serial process. The latter scenario is really unrealistic. As a
developer I would *not* want to waste my time using every single toolkit
to determine which one is best - I would get recommendations and read up
on the toolkits first, and maybe pick between 2 or 3 at most if my
research was unable to help me decide on a single one. Or I might pick a
single one to start with based on research and have to switch later
(early on in the app's development still) because I ran into an issue.

In any of these cases, I really still do not see the justification for
having every single toolkit installed.

> I think 0 for the first one, and very, very few for the
> > second.
>
> why should ANY distro make it more difficult for a non web app developer
> to have their app work on all distros, or with any gui?
> by picking a default gui, you have stolen choices and made it harder to
> have a gui agnostic app.

I don't understand. Any toolkit you want that is package is available
with a simple yum command. It takes maybe 30 seconds at most to install
an additional toolkit. How is a non webapp developer (I will note again
someone who is likely in the minority of devels) facing a more difficult
life by having a single *desktop* (not toolkit, you seem to conflate
toolkit and desktop environment) available to her by default, with the
ability to add additional desktops and/or toolkits with a single
command?
>
> EVERY choice made by distro development team, is a break point in cross
> distro development.
> and, AS LONG AS THERE IS DIFFICULTY IN CROSS DISTRO DEVELOPMENT, you
> won't get Adobe to port their apps to GNU/Linux, nor Autodesk, or Corel,
> or any other proprietary software company.
> without these apps, GNU/Linux will NEVER become the desktop for more
> than a few companies.

Hey simmer down now, my vision is fine and I don't need the ALL
CAPS. ;-)

I'm pretty confused by the above, can you explain it a bit more? How is
anything being discussed here breaking cross-distro development? You
don't need every toolkit under the sun installed by default for
cross-distro development.

> > I think there is a difference between the desktop environment a
> > developer uses vs. the GUI toolkit(s) his applications target, and I
> > think you might be confusing the two a little bit. For example, if I'm a
> > developer for a mobile device (say for the Maemo platform), I'm not
> > necessarily going to use Maemo to do my development work (and I'm not
> > sure I could!)
> >
>
> ahh, the embedded / mobile developer is a very different creature, they
> have to set a virtual environment up, or have the device themselves to
> do any testing. that means they really wouldn't want to have massivvly
> bloated desktop environment like GNOME and KDE4 as default, they have to
> bogg their system down with a virtual environment.

You're making an assumption about these types of developers that I don't
think is necessarily true. I have a two+ year old ultra-slim Thinkpad
that can handle full Linux virtual environments on top of a GNOME
desktop just fine. Running a Linux virtual machine (or multiple Linux
virtual machines) I am guessing is a bit lighter-weight than running a
virtual machine for a mobile device?

You're also making the assumption and GNOME and KDE4 are 'massively
bloated.' I'm not sure that's a fair statement to make.

Either case, these developers are also important.

> > All this aside, how about web application developers, who I'd argue are
> > really far more common than OS or even rich client developers these
> > days? They want a desktop that works and works well for their workflow.
> > I don't think they care to choose from the 21 flavors available.
> >
> odds are, because distros have stolen the choice of default gui from
> them, they don't even know there are 21 flavours available.
> they want code generating apps to generate the really badly coded
> websites we all just hate visting from the problems it causes fisiting
> the Dreamwaever/Frontpage/ ECLIPSE generated website.

Nothing here has been stolen. Where are you getting the notion that
something has been taken away? In Fedora, you can pick a spin for the
desktop environment of *your choice* if you would like it installed
exclusively and by default:

http://spins.fedoraproject.org/kde/
http://spins.fedoraproject.org/lxde/
http://spins.fedoraproject.org/xfce/

Or you may simply download the default spin and easily and quickly
install whichever additional desktop environments you'd like.

I have no idea what you're referring to with the 'code-generating apps
to generate the really badly coded websites we all just hate' - I have
no idea what websites you might be referring to and what relevancy the
statement has to this discussion.
>
> >> A Development distro would, by design, have to foster the freedoms of
> >> Free Software / Open Source Software and let the end user have ALL the
> >> choices available for ALL application options.
> >
> > Having a choice available doesn't mean we get to shirk the
> > responsibility of picking sane defaults. Overwhelming the user, even if
> > they are a developer, with the equivalent of a 500-item questionnaire is
> > not really very considerate There is no lack of choice in free/open
> > source software. Part of the challenge of making it usable is filtering
> > those choices to the sanest / most useful / most frequently-used / most
> > widely-used.
>
> B.S. You do NOT have a responsibility to STEAL CHOICES from users.
> You have a responsibility to give users choices, to follow the intent of
> the FSF and GNU-GPL, the intent to promote freedom and choice.
> [ and on that one, The only thing that would have RMS not agree would be
> promotng GNU software over non GNU software, he would pick GNOME because
> it's a GNU project, KDE isn't. ]
> >
> >> Fedora, RHEL, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Debian, Slakware, Madriva, PCLinuxOS,
> >> Gentoo .... all fail to meet this, they all pick a desktop as default.
> >> Every existing distro does.

'Steal choices'? Huh? A distro choosing a default desktop is not a
violation of the GNU-GPL nor is it any form of theft. The FSF itself has
their own distro, GNewSense, which uses a GNOME desktop by default. I am
sure just as with any distro, if you don't like the default desktop, you
can install additional ones and change your settings or simply run a
different spin of the distro.
> >
> > You have to.
>
> nope, you do not have to.
> you can and should let the END USER pick the one they want.

Most end users don't care. They really don't (yes, even developers -
especially web developers.) We are *lucky* if they have heard of Linux.
To expect them to know what GNOME / KDE / LXDE / XFCE / fluxbox /
whatever are is asking for way too much and we're going to lose them (or
never be graced with them in the first place) if we scare them away with
difficult questions like what desktop environment do you want? They
don't care. They care about developing cool apps.

I understand this must be very difficult for you to understand; I know
what it is like to be very heads down and deep into FLOSS and to assume
folks understand things, but try talking to some of your non-Linux
developer friends and ask around what they think about these issues. I
think you'll start to understand where some of us are coming from then.
If we only stare at our own navels, we'll never expand the reach of free
and open source software and I think that's a goal we all share.

~m

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