Archive for June, 2009

Packaging is a core project task

2009/06/26

I’ve seen in the past a lot of small FLOSS projects which were not doing their job up to the end. Work is not done when your code is compiling and begin to work the way you design it. As a project lead, and because you know the project best, it’s your task to take in account the installation procedure. Using Autoconf, is clearly the optimal approach, but for just a couple of script, a simple Makefile, or even an install.sh script could be perfectly sufficient. That way your potential user, has a helper to guide him in the installation of your software on his system, and it’s more easy for him to test it as a consequence, so hopefully to contribute in any way.

But that’s not the end again. Most of the users and system administrators are not using projects out of Version Control Systems (VCS) or Configuration Management Systems (CMS). Neither are they using tar files that you upload, even including a decent installation procedure. What they prefer, and at least that’s how I react, is a package for their distribution. It’s so handy ! All dependencies are taken in account and with tools such s yum, apt or urpmi it’s so easy to install a set of packages and their dependencies that it’s a real pleasure (compare to the boring configure; make; make install). But more over, as it’s easy to install, it’ easy to remove, to test momentarily, to avoid impact on your running system by a well controllled installation process. It’s even easy for newcomers, that have at their disposal graphical interfaces to search and install packages even more easily (at least for them ;-))

So even if of course, this is a technical task (who said burden ;-)) of packaging your project, at the end of the day, you should also perceive it as a marketing activity which helps you promote your project by making it so easy for hundreds of people to just download install and test, even with little system knowledge. More users, more testers, more reports, better software. Here is the virtuous circle in place.

Last point, if you think it’s difficult to package, then have a look at my packages for project-builder.org 😉 It’s here to help you !

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Will present at upcoming RMLL

2009/06/23

This year, I’m again lucky enough to not have conflicting events with the upcoming RMLL ! Since the last 20 years, I”ve not missed the Académie of Renaissance Music directed by Jean Belliard in the south of Paris, and don’t want to miss it ! It’s always the week of the 14th of July. And this year, RMLL is just before ! So I’ll be there presenting 2 conferences on Mondorescue and project-builder and also attending other conferences (again a very interesting program as evey time I’ve been able to attend) and meeting various people I know on their booth. If you want to meet with me, don’t hesitate to attend a session, or drop me a mail !

RHCE: A certification which matters

2009/06/16

When I was working for Medasys, I had the opportunity to pass a certain number of certifications around HP technologies we were distributing, and that were mandatory to be at the right level of agreement with HP. It was back in 1995-1999 and those certs were all MCQ based. Nothing fancy, and even of some of them were still hard to get (requiring knowledge outside of the training, so showing a larger ability of the certified person), by attending correctly the course, and reading documents, it was normal that you got them.

Last week, I had the opportunity to pass the RHCE training and exam (RH300) as part of the joint initiative I’m leading between HP/Intel and Red Hat in EMEA for our Solution Center. And I was extremely surprised by both the quality of the content (even someone like me having 16 years of LInux behind himself learnt some new options and commands – partprobe !) and also by the clever troubleshooting session of the last training day. Of course, I can not speak in detail of the RHCE exam in itself (due to NDA), but would just like to comment on the fact that the Lab (as it’s only Lab based) truly reflects day to day activities of an Internet connected sysadmin, is a real proof of the abilities of such a sysadmin (doing the amount of work asked in 3,5 hours requires good real knowledge) and I really enjoyed passing it, instead of filling boring ambiguous MCQ !

So well done Red Hat, you convinced me of your training capabilities, and that the value of that certification is indeed real. So I’m now looking at the rest of the cursus to become RHCA, but that’s another story …