Mateusz Loskot :: hacking on, working out, living up

Open Source, Decoupled and Accelerated

17 Mar 2010 | mloskot

All right, I confess, I’ve lied a bit in the topic. I’m not going to discuss any of the Free and Open Source Software philosophies here. What I’m going to do is to smuggle an interesting discussion that I believe it may be interesting to other Open Source Software hackers, especially projects from the C/C++ camp of the OSGeo Foundation. I would also say that subject of this discussion is quite idiomatic to the universe of FOSS production. It is about a software project. A project that has grown and it has grown in many dimensions, also in parallel dimensions.

“See the turtle of enormous girth! On his shell he holds the earth.” – Stephen King

Infrastructure supporting a project becomes insufficient, maintenance is difficult, release process is a full-time job and situation has taken a lot of the fun out of participating. Population of users and developers has grown. As the Community gathers appreciable portfolio of masters of the software development craft, it is in constant state of snowball war exchanging fire of ideas, new projects and discussions. It’s truly a pleasure to learn about them but, well, it pours oil on the fire of entropy. Here we come to the crux.

Gain of entropy eventually is nothing more nor less than loss of information – Gilbert N. Lewis

Today, David Abrahams posted, somewhat provocative, e-mail to the Boost project mailing list. It is titled Boost, Decoupled and Accelerated and delivers the following message: It’s time to make Boost development fun again.

It may sound like yet another internal discussion within an Open Source project. There are zillions of similar debates archived around. Yes, indeed, but not exactly. In fact, David announced something that may be of wider interested. It is

a system called Ryppl to decentralize development, testing, release, and installation of interdependent projects followed by yet more interesting comment I believe this project has the potential to change the face not only of Boost, but of open-source software in general.

One may think, well, it seems related to the issue of the current trends or we’re suffering redundancy in IT prophets. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps… but what I know for sure is that David Abrahams is one of my favourite and highly regarded software developer and author. I can hardly recall any of David’s comments, observations or suggestions that would be lacking of point, I mean a very rational point.

I have licked a bit of experience myself of working with or maintaining complex projects or projects that feel complex. I think I wouldn’t risk anything saying David has a point. I’m looking forward learning more about the whole idea.

I hope I’ll be able to confirm it myself while listening to David’s presentation at BoostCon’10.

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