The brave, new post open source world disaster

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Friday, January 29. 2016 in Open Source, Personal

Ahhh... The post open source, hipster development world. All is light and unicorns. People have rejected the ideas of governance and licenses; just shove it on Github and share, share, share. "This is the way Open Source should be", it is declared in Vape shops whilst listening to vinyl on their turntables, pork-pie hat skewed so ironically. "Rulz just get in the way, I just wanna do my own thing".

All Hail the fork; meh the merge and the pull. Don't lurk on a mailing list (A mailing list! Get with the times!), ask drive by questions on Stack Overflow. Don't use open tools and collaboration s/w, use cool proprietary systems and software (lock in? what's that?)

Yeah, I'm a greybeard, and I've been part of the open source movement for awhile, having at least some small part in its success. "Wasn't the whole idea of the open source movement, in some way, to make it the default, to move software and software development to align with the goals and ideals of Open Source? Wasn't it, after all, to make Open Source a success?" people will say. "Well it is! So what are you complaining about?"

I am not complaining about the success of Open Source. What I am complaining about, what I am worried about, is redirection of the movement in a way which destroys the successes by ignoring the history of the movement. What I am worried about are people ignoring the lessons learned, and the wisdom obtained during the decades within the movement, by people who don't understand it, but think they do. What I fear is the increasing "influence" of so-called open source experts today, who dismiss what Open Source is, because it is "old" and "outdated" and "that's not how we do things anymore". And I'm angry at people taking a dump on such concepts as community, collaboration and consensus because "that's just too much work".

I'll be honest. IMO, if the prevailing attitudes and "understanding" of Open Source today were around at the beginning of the Open Source movement, then Open Source would never have gained traction. Look at the things that made Open Source popular and successful. It was a keen awareness that code needed to be explicly licensed so people could use it. It was a deep understanding that working together, on a single project, was important, instead of numerous side-projects recreating the wheel. It was a core tenent that people worked on this project because they were personally invested in it, it was important to them, it was personal to them, they volunteered their time and energy on it. It was the balance that communities governed the projects, and companies worked with the communities instead of over them.

Look at all those points, and look at how today, in many ways, they are no longer "important" or "a big deal" to many self-proclaimed next generation open source experts.

You don't honor a movement, you don't carry the torch, you don't keep the dream alive, by ignoring and dimissing the core of what made that movement, that dream, special. Don't turn the Brave, New, Post Open Source world into the Weird Bizarro Open Source World, where it's a funhouse mirror-image of what it could, and should, be.

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OITNB Season 4 Thoughts

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Wednesday, January 27. 2016 in Junk Drawer

I have a great idea on how season 4 of Orange Is The New Black should play out. I think following these suggestions will really improve the show, and drive a whole new larger audience.

In the first episode it is discovered that Piper has escaped! It doesn't matter how... maybe she cut through the fences, or tunneled out ala The Great Escape. The important thing is that it is discovered that she has escaped from prison. The thing is, nobody cares. I mean, at least, nobody cares enough to report her missing. In fact, the entire prison is kind of happy she's gone. And so both inmates and guards decide to maintain the farce that Piper is still in prison, just so they don't risk the fact that she would be captured and returned.

So the first few episodes might have some funny, short scenes where people pretend that Piper is still around. When visitors come to see her, the guards will explain that she has a shot and can't visit, or that she's grumpy and doesn't want to see anybody. After awhile, nobody bothers to come visit her anymore and after the 1st few episodes nobody even mentions her anymore.

Personally, I think this is a winner idea! They get rid of the least interesting and most badly written character of the whole show, plus they get rid of the least talented "actress" of the entire ensemble, no doubt saving lots of money from not having to pay whatever undeserved salary they are paying. It's Win-Win-Win!

And maybe the season 4 cliffhanger could feature a cameo by Taylor Schilling at the prison gates, crying and moping to be let back in (this would require some acting, but maybe using CGI they could make something that works). Everyone just ignores her and, just as she turns to walk away, we see Larry come out of the shadows, and cracks her over the head with a baseball bat. The entire prison cheers and Larry, for once in his life, doesn't feel like a total schlub.

You gotta admit, it's got teeth.

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Apache httpd Reverse Proxy

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Tuesday, January 26. 2016 in ASF, Open Source, Programming

I've always considered the reverse proxy capability of Apache httpd as one of the real (hidden) gems of the web server. Of course, httpd has a lot of gems: multiple MPMs; a plethora of content creation and rewriting capabilities; dynamic loadable modules; performance and concurrency easily matching its peers; in-depth Lua, Perl and PHP support; and, of course, the vast number of external, 3rd party modules out there. But, for me, the reverse proxy has always been one of its crowning achievements.

So even though Apache httpd excels at delivering both static and dynamic content, an extremely common use-case is for httpd to be used as a "simple" reverse proxy (aka: "gateway"). In this scenario, httpd acts basically like a switch, accepting requests but handing those requests off to servers on the backend. Those backend servers ("origin servers") are where the content really lives, or is created, but the outside never sees them; never even knows they exists. As far as the Web is concerned, that front end gateway is sole server.

The advantages of this setup are numerous and obvious; The implementation provides for high-availability, load balancing, failover, reliability, etc... but only if the gateway web server, the reverse proxy itself, has that capability. Fortunately, Apache httpd does. It has all that and more.

Because it is such a common use-case, and because this capability to so vital to the design and architecture of enterprise web infrastructure, including Cloud setups, I've focused a lot of adding features and improvements to httpd's reverse proxy. Along with the other committers on the httpd project, not only has load balancing been added (and has been for quite awhile), but there are various load balancing methods included, with the ability to add your own implementation very easily. With the balancer-manager, the devops admin gets not only a view into the current state of the reverse proxy, but can also dynamically change various reverse proxy parameters on-the-fly, with these changes surviving a server restart. The reverse proxy supports not only HTTP, but also FastCGI, Websockets, AJP and others. And just recently, I finished work on something that has been on my TODO list for awhile, and something people have wanted for awhile as well: Dynamic Health Checking.

In the normal situations, before httpd sends a request to the backend origin server, it checks to see if it is still "alive" and able to handle the request. Now this is great but it would be even better if, in parallel, httpd was also checking if those backend servers were alive or not independent of requests being passed to them. In other words, not only static health checks but also dynamic checks as well.

Well, now Apache httpd can do exactly that.

Right now this capability exists just on the trunk branch of the server, but I anticipate it being fast-tracked backported to the 2.4.x branch. There are also some addition features I'd like to add in, such as better interaction with the balancer-manager before it is backported. But before too long, the Apache httpd reverse proxy will have this capability and be even better than it is now, and continuing to be even better than its peers, whether they are Open Core or commericial or truly Open Source.

Try it out! And if you are interested in helping develop Apache httpd, jump in and join the fun. Unlike other web server projects, contributor and commit privs can obtained by anyone, not just specially picked people, like "employees" or stuff.

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Help Jamal Learn Coding

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Wednesday, December 16. 2015 in ASF

OK, so my house is basically the official address for the Apache Software Foundation. If you check out the address for the ASF on various documents, as well as our D&B listing, it'll refer back to my old homestead. This is because back when we founded the ASF, out of the Apache Group, we needed to list some address on our records, and since I had basically just moved, my address seemed the most stable. And then, after serving initially as EVP and Secretary, those roles kind of cemented my address as the canon location for the ASF.

Over the years this has resulted in a variety of interesting situations, such as random people coming up to ask for job openings, taking pictures of "Apache HQ" and even numerous visits by the FBI as they investigate various web-related issues. But this also means that I receive a lot of postal mail directed to the ASF as well, and these are just as interesting. There are the numerous requests for help, letters demanding to know why this "Apache stuff" is on their devices and demands that we stop installing our "junk" on their computers, and the occasional "Thank You" letter from someone truly appreciative and what we do.

And very rarely, a letter which calls me to action.

I received such a letter this week.

The letter was from Jamal Reid, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas in Pennsylvania. While serving his time, he is trying to learn programming and the selection of books available to him are woefully out of date. He sees programming, and career as an Application Developer, as his ticket out from a criminal life. He wants to learn and he wants to be a viable candidate, with the necessary skills, for a job in programming once he completes his sentence. All he asks is that, if possible, if we could "donate a few books" to help.

Well, I already have a box of books ready to ship out. But I am reaching out to everyone who follows me, or also believes in the power of community within the Open Source eco-system, to also donate what books you can. During this time of year, one of the most cherished stories is A Christmas Carol, a tale of redemption. Let's share the potential of that redemption.

Let's #HelpJamal.

His address is in the letter linked to above, and I strongly encourage you to read it. I also include it here to make it even easier.

Jamal Reid
State Correctional Institution
1000 Follies Rd
Dallas, PA 18612



GPL/Copyleft Hater

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Monday, August 31. 2015 in Personal, Programming

Occasionally, I've been called a GPL or Copyleft hater. Nothing could be further from the truth. I like and use all FOSS license types, whether permissive (eg: ALv2), weak copyleft (EPL) or strong copyleft (GPL)... Want to know more? Watch my video entry.

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