Drew DeVault's Blog

on Drew DeVault's blog

Wayland misconceptions debunked

This article has been on my backburner for a while, but it seems Wayland FUD is making the news again recently, so I’ve bumped up the priority a bit. For those new to my blog, I am the maintainer of wlroots, a library which implements much of the functionality required of a Wayland compositor and is arguably the single most influential project in Wayland right now; and sway, a popular Wayland compositor which is nearing version 1.0. Let’s go over some of the common misconceptions I hear about Wayland and why they’re wrong. Feel free to pick and choose the misconceptions you believe to read and disregard the rest.

My experiences at FOSDEM 2019

Currently in a plane on my way home from FOSDEM and, as seems to be a recurring pattern when I fly long distances home after attending a conference, a recap is readily flowing from my fingertips. This was my first year at FOSDEM, and I’m glad that I came. I’m already excited for next year! It was also my first year volunteering, which was equally great and another thing I expect to repeat.

Why I chose Flask to build sr.ht's mini-services

sr.ht is a large, production-scale suite of web applications (I call them “mini-services”, as they strike a balance between microservices and monolithic applications) which are built in Python with Flask. David Lord, one of the maintainers of Flask, reached out to me when he heard about sr.ht and saw that it was built with Flask. At his urging, I’d like to share the rationale behind the decision and how it’s turned out in the long run.

Why I use old hardware

Recently I was making sure my main laptop is ready for travel1, which mostly just entails syncing up the latest version of my music collection. This laptop is a Thinkpad X200, which turns 11 years old in July and is my main workstation away from home (though I bring a second monitor and an external keyboard for long trips). This laptop is a great piece of hardware. 100% of the hardware is supported by the upstream Linux kernel, including the usual offenders like WiFi and Bluetooth. Niche operating systems like 9front and Minix work great, too. Even coreboot works! It’s durable, user-serviceable, light, and still looks brand new after all of these years. I love all of these things, but there’s no denying that it’s 11 years behind on performance innovations.

  1. To FOSDEM - see you there! 

I'm going to work full-time on free software

Sorry for posting two articles so close to each other - but this is important! As I’m certain many of you know, I maintain a large collection of free software projects, including sway, wlroots, sr.ht, scdoc, aerc, and many, many more. I contribute to more still, working on projects like Alpine Linux, mrsh, musl libc, and anything else I can. Until now, I’ve been working on these in my spare time, but just under a year ago I wrote “The path to sustainably working on FOSS full-time” laying out my future plans. Today I’m proud to tell you that, thanks to everyone’s support, I’ll be working on free software full-time starting in February.

Backups & redundancy at sr.ht

sr.ht1 is 100% open source and I encourage people to install it on their own infrastructure, especially if they’ll be sending patches upstream. However, I am equally thrilled to host sr.ht for you on the “official” instance, and most users find this useful because the maintenance burden is non-trivial. Today I’ll give you an idea of what your subscription fee pays for. In this first post on ops at sr.ht, I’ll talk about backups and redundancy. In future posts, I’ll talk about security, high availability, automation, and more.

  1. sr.ht is a software project hosting website, with git hosting, ticket tracking, continuous integration, mailing lists, and more. Try it out! 

Patches welcome

Happy new year! This is always a weird “holiday” for me, since all of the fun happened last night. Today is just kind of… I guess a chance for everyone to sober up before work tomorrow? It does tend to invite a sense of reflection and is the ideal time to plan for the year ahead. One of my goals in 2019 is to change more people’s thinking about the open source community and what it means to count among their number.

Anatomy of a shell

I’ve been contributing where I can to Simon Ser’s mrsh project, a work-in-progress strictly POSIX shell implementation. I worked on some small mrsh features during my holiday travels and it’s in the forefront of my mind, so I’d like to share some of its design details with you.

Porting Alpine Linux to RISC-V

I recently received my HiFive Unleashed, after several excruciating months of waiting, and it’s incredibly cool. For those unaware, the HiFive Unleashed is the first consumer-facing Linux-capable RISC-V hardware. For anyone who’s still lost, RISC-V is an open, royalty-free instruction set architecture, and the HiFive is an open CPU implementing it. And here it is on my dining room table:

How to abandon a FLOSS project

It’s no secret that maintaining free and open source software is often a burdensome and thankless job. I empathise with maintainers who lost interest in a project, became demotivated by the endless demands of users, or are no longer blessed with enough free time. Whatever the reason, FLOSS work is volunteer work, and you’re free to stop volunteering at any time.