On competition (Was RE: Back Home)

Just come across on this post from Rodrigo Moya, beloved GNOME hacker and friend. He is sort of upset by the amount of duplicated work and he is sort of sad about the feeling of competition between free software projects and the duplicity of work that it implies.

Somwhat Rodrigo thinks that we would be better off if we worked together instead of competing among each other. Up to some extend I agree that a level too high of fragmentation is not any good as long as you pursue the success of the freedesktop.

However, I do think that competition is essential, and instead of discouraging it, we should try to understand why peolpe have to start so many different projects to get something right. I would like to share some thoughts about this:

  • Building a team of developers is hard, for a team to work well there should be some sort of complicity, vision and easy going atmosphere in a community. And that means that the group of people creating a project have to share the bulk of a common vision. This involves having good leaders, good software architects and perform a good promotion of the project among the open source community.
  • Competition and fragmentation are two different things. Ideally competitors have to follow a certain set of common rules, and more importantly, they should participate in the process to set the rules (standards), this is, if competitors pursue the best for their users. Fragmentation only spreads confusion ammong users and makes downstream projects’ life harder (there is where the duplicity of work comes from).
  • Competition is our key differentiator against the closed source model. Is the one thing that makes us appealing. Of course it has its downsides, but our efforts shouldn’t go towards constraining that competition, instead, enforcing a set of rules that we all agree about, and commit ourselves to those rules.

I think that companies like Canonical, RedHat or Novell have a lot to say about this, if we have 16 different libraries for a single purpose, don’t you think developers would stop using most of them if these 3 key players decided not to distribute them anymore at some point? As long as these libraries get distributed, developers won’t make the effort needed to keep a sane dependency tree, and if they don’t even then, we are better off without software that is poorly maintained.

Farewell Sun

It’s been two years since I moved to Dublin to work as an intern in the desktop virtualization group, and they have been by far the most exciting years of my life. Lots of stuff have happened since then, I’ve got promoted to full time engineer, my team has grown to more than double since I got in and we’ve been building an incredible product right from scratch that is actually quite successful, Jan Schmidt moved to Dublin to work in my team, Carlos, Luis and Adrian all of them college mates, best friends of mine and three brilliant engineers, came to work at Sun as interns last year and we moved together, I’ve lost 26 kilos… I cannot think of a better way to start my professional and personal life after college.

When I look back, I can only see positive things about the decision to leave my home land and work in such a great company, among such a talented group of people and with two great managers Dirk and Geoff that have always trusted me and from whom I’ve learned a lot. Actually it’s been feeling too good for a while, I would like to try risky things before I get too old to be able to do them and also there’s a whole skill set of mine that I can’t apply to my current day job and that’s sort of frustrating. And therefore after loads of thoughts I have made the move:

In three weeks I will be moving to Manchester, UK, to work with Rob Taylor and the rest of the codethink team! How cool is that? Exciting times ahead!

Tip when booking your flights to the Desktop Summit

If you can’t find the Gran Canaria airport in the autocompletion field for your tour operator, airline or flight search site of choice, try with Las Palmas or LPA.

On a side note that I don’t know whether if helps or makes things even more confusing:

  • Gran Canaria: name of the island
  • Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: name of the city
  • Las Palmas: name of the province, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are the islands that belongs to tha province.

To make it a little more confusing, people usually refer to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, as just “Las Palmas” which has ended up to be the most common way to refer to the city as most times people don’t talk about the province.

Yes, we like to mess things up with names, that’s what you get when you are a fragmented piece of land 🙂