DebConf6 Formal Dinner — Inolvidable

A Coronation

A coronation of the oddest sort

Surreal, just surreal.

A Cascade

Water from the torrential downpour came through the wall like a waterfall

An unbelievable rain came, and eventually overwhelmed the roof and came down the wall like a waterfall.

A Calamity

Imagine a black square here. The power went out, and we all just rolled with it. It was kind of fun, actually.

A Cleanup

In the spirit of community numbers of Debian people collaborated for a quick cleanup

In the spirit of community, numbers of Debian people collaborated for a quick cleanup.

Wednesday in Oaxtepec

I was too sick to go on the day trip for DebConf, but staying at the conference location had its benefits. After visiting the doctor and getting a prescription, I headed in to town to get the medicine. I ended up discovering the building known as Ex-Convento, a former Catholic convent next to our conference center. It has a quaint little museum and the local public library. I recommend taking a visit if you’re here for DebConf6; it can be a welcome break for the proceedings. A walkthrough of my visit can be found in my flickr set titled Wednesday in Oaxtepec.

I ran into Micah, Matt, and the rest of the HP posse on their way to the market. We had a most enjoyable lunch together, plus a little bit of discussion about the thread on debian-devel in response to the announcement message yesterday.

A bit chilly in a hot place; a distributable Java JRE and JDK arrives

So it’s finally OK to mention it now; Java has made it explicitly possible (read legal) to distribute the Sun Java JRE/JDK on a GNU/Linux distrubtion. The new license is for Java SE 5 on Linux only, called the Operating System Distribution License for Java, or DLJ for short. You can read the license in text or pdf form. The FAQ for the DLJ is also available in text and pdf. Heck, go through the README for the JRE and JDK while you’re at it.

So what does that mean? Well, GNU/Linux distrubtions like Debian can now package a Java runtime environment or Java development kit in their repositories. That was previously not possible due to restrictions present in Java licensing. Users still have to accept the Java SE 5 binary code license that is totally not free and has the same restrictions Java has always had, but this at least makes packaging and supporting Java less painful for distributions.

Sun is coordinating the efforts via a project, jdk-distros. This is an unprecedented level of cooperation from Sun with external parties in anything related to Java. I consider myself fortunate to have been a founding member of the project. It has been a pleasant and refreshing experience to meet a few optimistic and forward-thinking people from Sun who have a keen interest in Free Software; a big thanks to Simon Phipps and Tom Marble. I was encouraged that they allowed our contributions to be covered under the MIT license. If you would have told me that a month ago I would have laughed at you.

The Debian announcment should be posted on the debian-devel-announce list today. I am sure this will draw both praise and ire from the Debian community. That’s cool, though; the rich diversity is part of what makes it such a vibrant organism.

Debian Women’s youngest recruit

Caslin in her Debian onesie

This is my daughter, Caslin. We finally managed to get a picture of her in her Debian onesie before it has spit-up on it. This’ll be a great photo to hold on to in case she grows up and works for Microsoft or something equally ironic.

Saturday I am scheduled to leave for DebConf, to be gone for 10 days. This will be the first time I have travelled away from home since she was born. At only 4.5 months, lots can happen in 10 days. That just hit me in the last couple of days. This reminds me once more why I took measures to change my work situation to all but eliminate travel.

I look forward to meeting so many of those whom I only know via email, IRC, and DebConf5 videos.

A successful round of catch-up

Despite having been sick and having my wife and child get sick as well, I got caught up on some Debian work that’s been on hold for almost six months. The last part of my Philosophy & Procedures phase 1 went out last night (well, this morning really, around 3:00 in between sessions of soothing my now-sick 4-month-old daughter), and I updated all of the packages I comaintain to fix a few bugs, update the standards versions, and correct my uploader email address. The java-package update is pending Jeroen’s arrival in Mexico for Debcamp.

I am glad to have these backlog items cleared before heading to DebConf; now I can tackle newer stuff while I’m there ;-). With all the life change in past 6 months, I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever catch up.

Mourning the loss of a domain name, finding a better one

I recently let a domain name expire,, and it was scooped up by some domain-squatting outfit out of Illinois, DotaCom something-or-other. It really stinks, because it took me a long time to come up with the idea of byte masonry as my personal metaphor for coding as craft. I actually like that name better than the name/domain under which I incorporated.

What I really liked about bytemason was the mason part; I am fascinated by the work of brick masons. To me, there are strong analogies between brick masonry and quality coding. Both require discipline to do many small things right while never losing sight of the big picture. These two elements must be held in dynamic tension and balance; otherwise the end product will be unsound.

I was never crazy about the byte part, but it was the best available thing I could come up with at the time. These days, bytes are certainly a more common reference than bits, unless you work in embedded systems or hardware engineering, I guess.

After wheedling around GoDaddy for over an hour, a new domain name finally came to me. I now own I like both components of this name. I have long been fascinated with the arts of the Celts. The intricacy and the symmetry of their metalwork and stone sculpture mesmerizes me. I also like code as opposed to byte, because it more closely ties to the general product of programming as opposed to a discreet unit of code’s composition.

I had also toyed with “The Artful Coder”, a takeoff from the notorious Oliver Twist character The Artful Dodger. However, since his primary skill was avoiding arrest and it serves as a term to infer someone is generally skilled in avoiding responsibility, that was a glaring mismatch. It’s a shame; it sounds quite catchy. I mean heck, Jack Dawkins, Barry Hawkins — it’s almost destiny. I guess if you camp out on that whole “lazy programmer” mantra that might fit. If so, all the domains for it are available; go snatch ‘em up.

Oh yeah, and is one character shorter. o/ Woohoo! I’m hopeless.