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Re: YotH 2010 -- a Year of the Hurd 2010

From: olafBuddenhagen
Subject: Re: YotH 2010 -- a Year of the Hurd 2010
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2011 02:16:19 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)


On Sun, Jan 09, 2011 at 11:37:09PM +0100, Thomas Schwinge wrote:

> Prompted by Karl Berry who is currently preparing a general GNU status
> report, I just contributed the following text -- a Year of the Hurd
> 2010!
> If you'd like something changed / added / removed, please tell so
> quickly.

Thanks for taking the trouble to write this up :-)

I'm not happy with the text as it is though. Most notably, many of the
points are way too defensive. Trying to preempt possible objections is
never helpful; it only highlights problems. There is no need to justify
things, unless people specifically ask about them. In a progress
statement, we should only talk about that: progress.

> Contrary to popular belief, this project is not yet dead.

"Yet"? Ouch.

> Of course, it's not the world's most active project either,

No need to underline that. It's not like people will mistakenly believe

> but a small group of volunteers (a handful, mostly)

Again, no need to stress this in several repetitions... Just say "some
developers" and be done with it.

> striving to keep this advanced research prototype system going.

The Hurd is *not* a research prototype!

While it does struggle with some issues that are still open research
questions, the one thing making the Hurd really unique among advanced
system architectures, is that it actually strives (and almost manages)
to be production system.

> They are accompanied by another handful of Debian GNU/Hurd, and (new:)
> Arch Hurd packagers.

Again, no need to stress the "handful"

>   * Apart from having done a lot of other work, Samuel Thibault, our
>   Jack of all trades, merged his development branch that brought us
>   Xen domU support.

I guess it would be good to mention what kind of other work -- bug
fixing, POSIX compatibility, Debian packaging etc. Might be good to be
even more specific, giving some examples...

>   * We had Zheng Da work on user-space device drivers, based on L4's
>   DDE project.  This is a project we've long been wanting to
>   implement, so this was good progress.  Unfortunately, due to
>   accepting a PhD position, he didn't have much time anymore to bring
>   this to completion.

You should point out that network driver support *is* indeed pretty much
complete. (Minus cleanups and upstream integration of course, but I
don't think this needs to be stressed.)

Also, no need to point out that the work is currently stalled.

>     But due to modern revision control systems, all his development
>     and code are publically available, and waiting for the next
>     developer to pick up again.

This only makes it worse...

>     Olaf Buddenhagen is our main guy for organizing this, as well as
>     he's spending considerable time with software design discussions,

I think we already discussed this once... "As well as" is not the right
conjunction in this context. You could say something like "[...]; and he
also spends [...]"

>     As GSoC projects, Jérémie Koenig ported the Debian Installer to
>     GNU/Hurd,

Perhaps a sentence about what this means?... (You have something kinda
like that further below; but I think it would be better to discuss the
projects in order.)

>     and Emilio Pozuelo Monfort was working on a task that may be
>     perceived as less exciting from the outside, but yet is extremely
>     valuable:

Again, no need to be defensive.

>     fixing compatibility problems exposed by projects' testsuites.
>     During that, he uncovered a bunch of programming errors in the
>     Hurd code,

"During that" is not the best word here -- it doesn't really express the
causal connection. I'd use "in the course of this" for example.

>   * Right in time with Jérémie's Debian Installer success, Philip
>   Charles, our 72 years old provider of Debian GNU/Hurd installation
>   CDs has now resigned from that position -- a job he had been doing
>   for nearly ten years.

That doesn't say anything about progress... While I understand your
desire to acknowledge Charles's past work, I don't think it really
belongs in here :-)

As usual, I'm sorry for nitpicking so much -- hope you take it as
constructive criticism :-)


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