[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

State of the GNUnion 2020

From: Andy Wingo
Subject: State of the GNUnion 2020
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2020 20:14:27 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.3 (gnu/linux)

Hello Alfred,

On Mon 10 Feb 2020 18:46, (Alfred M. Szmidt) writes:

> You make grandiose claims about the demise of the GNU project and the
> FSF, but you do not back up it with anything of substance

You see, if GNU had effective leadership, I would be able to point to
some discussion of project health, backed up by metrics of interest.
This discussion would be a periodic time to reflect on the recent past
and plan for the future, and energize a collective of hackers to act in
such a way that GNU would be better in the future.

But, in the absence of effective leadership, we have to take on
responsibilities ourselves.  Recently I put dozens of hours into
analyzing past GNU releases.  The result is here:

I will simply paste the body here, as it seems that you do not read
planet gnu.



                             * * *

Greetings, GNU hackers!  This blog post rounds up GNU happenings over
2019.  My goal is to celebrate the software we produced over the last
year and to help us plan a successful 2020.

Over the past few months I have been discussing project health with a
group of GNU maintainers and we were wondering how the project was
doing.  We had impressions, but little in the way of data.  To that end
I wrote some scripts to collect dates and versions for all releases made
by GNU projects, as far back as data is available.

In 2019, I count 243 releases, from 98 projects.  Nice!  Notably, on we have the first stable releases from three projects:

GNU Guix

  GNU Guix is perhaps the most exciting project in GNU these days.  It's
  a package manager!  It's a distribution!  It's a container
  construction tool!  It's a
  Hearty congratulations to Guix on their first stable release

GNU Shepherd

  The GNU Daemon Shepherd is a modern dependency-based init service,
  written in Guile Scheme, and used in Guix.  When you install Guix as
  an operating system, it actually /stages/ Scheme programs from the
  operating system definition into the Shepherd configuration.  So

GNU Backgammon

  Version 1.06.002 is not GNU Backgammon's first stable release, but it
  is the earliest version which is available on  Formerly
  hosted on the now-defunct, GNU Backgammon is a venerable
  foe, and uses neural networks since before they were cool.  Welcome
  back, GNU Backgammon!

The total release counts above are slightly above what Mike Gerwitz's
scripts count in his "GNU Spotlight", posted on the FSF blog
This could be because in addition to files released on, I
also manually collected release dates for most packages that upload
their software somewhere other than  I don't count releases, and there were a handful of packages for which I
wasn't successful at retrieving their release dates.  But as a first
approximation, it's a relatively complete data set.

I put my scripts in a git repository
if anyone is interested in playing with the data.  Some raw CSV files
are there as well.

# where we at?

Hair toss, check my nails, baby how you GNUing?  Hard to tell!

To get us closer to an answer, I calculated the active package count per
year.  There can be other definitions, but my reading is that an active
package is one that has had a stable release within the preceding 3
calendar years.  So for 2019, for example, a GNU package is considered
active if it had a stable release in 2017, 2018, or 2019.  What I got
was a graph that looks like this:

PNG image

What we see is nothing before 1991 -- surely pointing to lacunae in my
data set -- then a more or less linear rise in active package count
until 2002, some stuttering growth rising to a peak in 2014 at 208
active packages, and from there a steady decline down to 153 active
packages in 2019.

Of course, as a metric, active package count isn't precisely the same as
project health; GNU ed is indeed the standard editor but it's not GCC.
But we need to look for measurements that indirectly indicate project
health and this is what I could come up with.

Looking a little deeper, I tabulated the first and last release date for
each GNU package, and then grouped them by year.  In this graph, the
left blue bars indicate the number of packages making their first
recorded release, and the right green bars indicate the number of
packages making their last release.  Obviously a last release in 2019
indicates an active package, so it's to be expected that we have a spike
in green bars on the right.

PNG image

What this graph indicates is that GNU had an uninterrupted growth phase
from its beginning until 2006, with more projects being born than dying.
Things are mixed until 2012 or so, and since then we see many more
projects making their last release and above all, very few packages
"being born".

# where we going?

I am not sure exactly what steps GNU should take in the future but I
hope that this analysis can be a good conversation-starter.  I do have
some thoughts but will post in a follow-up.  Until then, happy hacking
in 2020!

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]