Drew DeVault's Blog

on Drew DeVault's blog

Status update, September 2019

Finally home again after a long series of travels! I spent almost a month in Japan, then visited my sister’s new home in Hawaii on the way eastwards, then some old friends in Seattle, and finally after 5½ long weeks, it’s home sweet home here in Philadelphia. At least until I leave for XDC in Montreal 2 weeks from now. Someday I’ll have some rest… throughout all of these wild travels, I’ve been hard at work on my free software projects. Let’s get started with this month’s status update!

How I decide between many programming languages

I have a few old standards in my toolbelt that I find myself calling upon most often, but I try to learn enough about many programming languages to reason about whether or not they’re suitable to any use-case I’m thinking about. The best way is to learn by doing, so getting a general impression of the utility of many languages helps equip you with the knowledge of whether or not they’d be useful for a particular problem even if you don’t know them yet.

Building interactive SSH applications

After the announcement of shell access for builds.sr.ht jobs, a few people sent me some questions, wondering how this sort of thing is done. Writing interactive SSH applications is actually pretty easy, but it does require some knowledge of the pieces involved and a little bit of general Unix literacy.

Shell access for builds.sr.ht CI

Have you ever found yourself staring at a failed CI build, wondering desperately what happened? Or, have you ever needed a fresh machine on-demand to test out an idea in? Have you been working on Linux, but need to test something on OpenBSD? Starting this week, builds.sr.ht can help with all of these problems, because you can now SSH into the build environment.

Status update, August 2019

Outside my window, the morning sun can be seen rising over the land of the rising sun, as I sip from a coffee purchased at the konbini down the street. I almost forgot to order it, as the staffer behind the counter pointed out with a smile and a joke that, having been told in Japanese, mostly went over my head. It’s on this quiet Osaka morning I write today’s status update - there are lots of existing developments to share!

DRM leasing: VR for Wayland

As those who read my status updates have been aware, recently I’ve been working on bringing VR to Wayland (and vice versa). The deepest and most technical part of this work is DRM leasing (Direct Rendering Manager, not Digital Restrictions Management), and I think it’d be good to write in detail about what’s involved in this part of the effort. This work has been sponsored by Status.im, as part of an effort to build a comprehensive Wayland-driven VR workspace. When we got started, most of the plumbing was missing for VR headsets to be useful on Wayland, so this has been my focus for a while. The result of this work is summed up in this crappy handheld video:

FOSS contributor tracks

Just like many companies have different advancement tracks for their employees (for example, a management track and an engineering track), similar concepts exist in free software projects. One of the roles of a maintainer is to help contributors develop into the roles which best suit them. I’d like to explain what this means to me in my role as a maintainer of several projects, though I should mention upfront that I’m just some guy and, while I can explain what has and hasn’t worked for me, I can’t claim to have all of the answers. People are hard.

Status update, July 2019

Today I received the keys to my new apartment, which by way of not being directly in the middle of the city1 saves me a decent chunk of money - and allows me to proudly announce that I have officially broken even on doing free software full time! I owe a great deal of thanks to all of you who have donated to support my work or purchased a paid SourceHut account. I’ve dreamed of sustainably working on free software for a long, long time, and I’m very grateful for all of your support in helping realize that dream. Now let me share with you what your money has bought over the past month!

  1. I can see city hall out the window of my old apartment 

Announcing code annotations for SourceHut

Today I’m happy to announce that code annotations are now available for SourceHut! These allow you to decorate your code with arbitrary links and markdown. The end result looks something like this:

Absence of certain features in IRC considered a feature

The other day a friend of mine (an oper on Freenode) wanted to talk about IRC compared to its peers, such as Matrix, Slack, Discord, etc. The ensuing discussion deserves summarization here. In short: I’m glad that IRC doesn’t have the features that are “showstoppers” for people choosing other platforms, and I’m worried that attempts to bring these showstopping “features” to IRC will worsen the platform for the people who use it now.