[nycbug-talk] a new direction for NYC*BUG
george at ceetonetechnology.com
Fri Mar 19 12:31:48 EDT 2010
There have been various on and off-line discussions about how to move
I wrote up this doc recently as an overview to a new approach.
I alluded to some of the ideas at the last meeting. . . that we would
work to provide something of an "open source platform" for various
projects spawned out of NYC*BUG.
Various people on admin@ and off it have looked at the doc. . . and I
look forward to opening up this discussion to the talk list.
As a quick operational note, we need 3 large IDE drives to build out a
jail box for the base functionality we are looking to provide.
Anyway, read on, and let the discussion begin.
* * *
Since we began in December 2003, NYC*BUG sought to be a platform for
others in the realm of BSD Unix.
That platform entails an array of roles.
It might be entertaining queries on the talk mailing list. Maybe it's a
systems administrator looking for a better way of scripting a task. Or
a new user having installation problems with a certain network card. Or
even a developer seeking new contributers for a software project.
The monthly meetings and biannual conferences allow various projects to
be explained, users to network, bridges to be built.
More broadly, we have regularly contributed to all the BSD projects,
looking to strengthen their at-hand resources.
The profits from our conferences are sent to the projects, and we host a
multitude of services for the community.
But there is another angle in which to approach our role as a technical
We have had instances in which individuals launch similarly inclined
user groups or mailing lists. They may seek advice or resources,
particularly since we have maintained a longevity and relevance uncommon
for techncial user groups.
I think, however, it is time to approach that role with more structure
We could easily become a platform for launching related projects to
aggregate others for them and encourage development by providing a basic
BSDTV: A Case in Point
Let us start with a recent example.
Two regular members of NYC*BUG recently approached a member the admin
group and mentioned the concept of a BSDTV: an online video program
covering the projects, developers and maybe corporate users of BSD Unix.
While we can not offer a full studio and massive distribution on the
scale of Viacom, we can provide colocation space in our New York
Internet cabinet, hardware for a server with a public IP, plus some
advisement and pointers to other possible directions and resources.
Within a few weeks, the two BSDTV initiators had Plone set up on a
server, and began uploading various videos to several video-hosting sites.
They can immediately begin to enlist others to their efforts, and gain
some degree of validation, if needed, in the eyes of the larger
technical community, by their association with NYC*BUG.
And they have a captive audience of hundreds on the talk and announce
Where Do We Stand Now?
I do not want to fully ingest the classic "Cathedral and Bazaar" concept
from Eric Raymond for a number of reasons. Rather we can talk about
providing a full "open source platform" for launching projects related
to the BSDs.
I use the term "open source" in the basic sense of the term, as it was
acted upon but not necessarily labeled as such since the beginning of
In the Cold War period and often before, computer developers and
technicians often had a large resource pool and networks from which to
enlist guidance and involvement from, dependent upon the state of the
world's current affairs and public expenditures that trickled into
That was the mark of the Bell Labs.
But while we are clearly in no position to launch the next Thompson,
Kernighan or Ritchie, we can provide resources and more to the scores of
people who regularly are involved with NYC*BUG on some level or another.
No, they will not be inventing the new C or Unix 3.0, but they could
launch projects beneficial to the BSD community and to the technical
Inventors in our era are more "assemblers" and do not require blue-sky
budgets and endless time. We are essentially enabling assemblers.
We have been fortunate to assist the BSD Certification Group in
providing colocation space, veteran BSD users for the Subject Matter
Expert sessions, and much more.
However, we should look at a simple basic framework that eases the
problems of initiating projects and publicizing them beyond.
While the details could be approached as requests are raised, we can
posit the following resources to any group of people interested in
initiating a project:
1. Colocation space, most likely a FreeBSD jail with a public IP or
maybe a 1U server.
2. A listing on the NYCBUG.org web site's "projects" page, providing a
summary of the project, web site and a versioning system's repository
addresses and contact information.
3. Space for that web site, maybe a virtual host of .nycbug.org if not
in the provided jail or server.
4. Space for a public repository, allowing others to view their commits
while only providing write access to the participants.
5. Direction to additional resources and guidance, as most projects
have been initiated at some point or another in the past. Or maybe
there is something happening today.
6. Some degree of publicity by a short listing on the NYC*BUG home
page, a mention on our announce list, etc.
7. A public or private mailing list hosted on NYCBUG.org's mailman.
While each of those benefits may not be immediately realizable, we can
develop and customize the offerings as the concept gains steam.
And keeping the ideas flowing and open will be encouraged by
semi-regular updates to NYC*BUG via the talk mailing list and our
monthly meetings. The progress will be open for all to discuss, free
for all to criticize and available for merging, forking and salvaging
for other directions.
Why Use the NYC*BUG Bazaar?
Certainly, anyone could use SourceForge or their own virtualized host at
one provider or another to start up the project.
But working with NYC*BUG has some significant benefits.
NYC*BUG contains a large group of people, whether in the monthly
meetings, on the various mailing lists, attendees for our conference,
etc., who are often situated in the New York City metropolitan area.
There are extensive contacts for each of the BSD projects, not to
mention a host of BSD-using and community supporting entities.
Most importantly, NYC*BUG can provide validation to your effort and
provide a profile among a concentrated group of people.
How Would the Bazaar Work?
Initially, we would request that each project email admin@ or approach
us at a meeting.
Give us an overview of the direction, what resources may be required,
and so on.
But in better keeeping with the "open source platform" arena, it is
logical that any project would present at both our monthly meeting and
also on the talk mailing list. In these forums, feedback could be
provided, similar efforts could be made light of and the general
plausibility could be assessed.
This would allow other interested individuals to get involved or maybe
just provide some insight.
The project would then get the resources it needs to launch.
What Types of Projects?
While we started with the BSDTV example, it would be false to use that
project as a "true" bazaar example, since no two projects will likely be
Supported projects might include porting some software or another to the
BSD port systems. Working on getting technical documentation for a
network card from a vendor. Organizing a series of installfests. And
How about an open sourced computer-based exam software? While one would
immediately think of the BSD Certification Group as a beneficiary, other
community-driven efforts could certainly utilize it.
What about a "meta-port" for ports commonly installed together, like
Apache, MySQL and PHP. The sub-group might focus on one of the BSDs
port systems, then move on to others. Or they might just contact a
developer of one of those ports, and see if they can play a role in
Another idea might be maintaining mirrors for the BSD projects. What
about a (small) group of people with a server for each project, with
some large donated hard drives, with mirrors for each project. Instead
of having to use the main OpenBSD mirror for older releases, NYC*BUG
could provide this service.
The list goes on and on. It might include heavily technical,
developer-run porting. Or it might include more advocacy-focused
instruction for university and high school students.
Maybe all of these projects spawn out of the bazaar. Or none of them.
Let the level of interest drive the projects.
There is little critiera for project approval besides being relevant to
the BSD community at-large, and welcoming the involvement of others,
with an open approach to conducting the effort.
Becoming a truly dynamic user group requires NYC*BUG to evolve in its
role. We are deeply ingrained in and also reflecting of the BSD community.
Take the reins now, initiate a project, discuss with admin and gauge the
interest of others on talk or at a monthly meeting. Work through the
idea, and consider its requirements, plausibility and benefits.
The NYC*BUG bazaar concept allows us to provide a real framework for
others to initiate related projects that may not be in the immediate
scope of our regular activities.
Our bazaar could be the beginning of a dynamic structure for future
projects, and potentially provide direction for the multitude of
assorted projects that today only reside in the minds of NYC*BUG and its
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