[nycbug-talk] a new direction for NYC*BUG

George Rosamond george at ceetonetechnology.com
Fri Mar 19 14:03:02 EDT 2010

George Rosamond wrote:
> There have been various on and off-line discussions about how to move 
> NYC*BUG forward.
> 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.

BTW. . . Pilosoft just gave me 4 x 300 gig IDE drives. . . so the box 
should be up for next week at some point.

But please reply to the previous email for this thread. . . inline.

And thanks to the quick flurry of offline emails in reply to the query. 
. . I received emails before my post showed up in my inbox :)

> Anyway, read on, and let the discussion begin.
> *    *    *
> NYC*BUG's Bazaar
> 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 
> user group.
> 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 
> and seriousness.
> We could easily become a platform for launching related projects to 
> aggregate others for them and encourage development by providing a basic 
> scaffolding.
> 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 
> mailing lists.
> 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 
> electronic computing.
> 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 
> technology.
> 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 
> community beyond.
> 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.
> Our Bazaar
> 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 
> similar.
> 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 
> so on.
> 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 
> assisting them.
> 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.
> Conclusion
> 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 
> perpheries.

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