Drew DeVault's Blog

on Drew DeVault's blog

Status update, December 2019

It’s December 15th and it still hasn’t snowed here. Why did I move to this godforsaken den of unholy heat and rain? I think I have chosen a latitude just southerly enough to deprive me of the climate I yearn for. I take some comfort in the knowledge that I’m travelling home to see the family in a couple of weeks, and sure enough Colorado has been covered in snow for some time now. Anyway, none of this is relevant to my work, which is what you came here for. Let’s take a look at this past month.

Developers shouldn't distribute their own software

An oft-heard complaint about Linux is that software distribution often takes several forms: a Windows version, a macOS version, and… a Debian version, an Ubuntu version, a Fedora version, a CentOS version, an openSUSE version… but these complaints miss the point. The true distributable form for Linux software, and rather for Unix software in general, is a .tar.gz file containing the source code.

Take action to save .org and prosecute those who sold out the internet

As many of you have no doubt heard, control of the .org registry has been sold to private interests. There have been attempts to call them to reason, like Save .ORG, but let’s be realistic: they knew what they’re doing is wrong, the whole time. If they were a commercial entity, our appeals would fall on deaf ears and that would be the end of it. But, they’re not a commercial entity - so our appeals may fall on deaf ears, but that doesn’t have to be the end of it.

Software developers should avoid traumatic changes

A lot of software has gone through changes which, in retrospect, I would describe as “traumatic” to their communities. I recognize these sorts of changes by their effect: we might have pulled through in the end, but only after a lot of heartbreak, struggle, and hours of wasted hacking; but the change left a scar on the community.


This article will be difficult to read and was difficult to write. I hope that you can stomach the uncomfortable nature of this topic and read my thoughts in earnest. I usually focus on technology-related content, but at the end of the day, this is my personal blog and I feel that it would betray my personal principles to remain silent. I’ve made an effort to provide citations for all of my assertions.

Status update, November 2019

Today’s update is especially exciting, because today marks the 1 year anniversary of Sourcehut opening it’s alpha to public registration. I wrote a nice long article which goes into detail about what Sourcehut accomplished in 2019, what’s to come for 2020, and it lays out the entire master plan for your consideration. Be sure to give that a look if you have the time. I haven’t slowed down on my other projects, though, so here’re some more updates!

An old-school shell hack on a line printer

It’s been too long since I last did a good hack, for no practical reason other than great hack value. In my case, these often amount to a nostalgia for an age of computing I wasn’t present for. In a recent bid to capture more of this nostalgia, I recently picked up a dot matrix line printer, specifically the Epson LX-350 printer. This one is nice because it has a USB port, so I don’t have to break out my pile of serial cable hacks to get it talking to Linux 😁

Status update, October 2019

Last month, I gave you an update at the conclusion of a long series of travels. But, I wasn’t done yet - this month, I spent a week in Montreal for XDC. Simon Ser put up a great write-up which goes over a lot of the important things we discussed there. It was a wonderful conference and well worth the trip - but I truly am sick of travelling. Now, I can enjoy some time at home, working on free and open source software.

How to fuck up software releases

I manage releases for a bunch of free & open-source software. Just about every time I ship a release, I find a novel way to fuck it up. Enough of these fuck-ups have accumulated now that I wanted to share some of my mistakes and how I (try to) prevent them from happening twice.

RaptorCS's redemption: the POWER9 machine works

This is a follow-up to my earlier article, “RaptorCS POWER9 Blackbird PC: An expensive mistake”. Since I published that article, I’ve been in touch with Raptor and they’ve been much more communicative and helpful. I now have a working machine!