Sunday November 13, 2011
by Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper
I’ve been an Open Source developer and hacker for a loooooong, long time. It has become far more than a part of what I do. It has become part of who I am.
At first, it was mostly about the freedom to run what I want, where I want, how I want. Desktop Linux has always been exciting to me for that reason.
But then it grew beyond that and enabled me to contribute back. Open Source allowed me to teach myself new programming languages. It allowed me to make friends literally all over the world. It became the thing that I enjoyed doing most, technically, especially since my daytime jobs didn’t let me do the kind of programming and development that I wanted to do.
It helped me to get the best job of my life.
I’ve been working at VMware for more than 4 years now. I only have this job because I’ve taught myself everything I know about programming languages, and most of that has been through my work in the Open Source communities I’ve participated in over the last 15 years.
Most recently, I’ve had a blast as a KPilot/KDE PIM developer. I’ve met more people from all around the world and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. But KPilot and Palm Pilots in general have long since lost relevance. And sadly, I was never able to find a new itch to scratch and a new area to start contributing to. It’s been years now since I’ve contributed any sizable amount of code to any Open Source community. I’ve waited, hoping that I’d find more time, or that I’d find a new itch to scratch, or that I’d get the urge to start hacking on Linux Desktop stuff again. But it hasn’t happened, and I have no reason to think it’s going to anytime soon.
Over the past several years, I’ve become increasingly irritated and frustrated by the ever-changing-and-not-always-in-good-ways Linux Desktop. I’ve blogged before about this and got quite a bit of feedback about it. That was two years ago, almost exactly. What has changed since then? In my mind, absolutely nothing. Now we have Ubuntu turning the desktop on its head again with Ubuntu Unity and destabilizing applications that have worked perfectly well for years and years. I know this because I’ve been working on VMware’s Workstation and Player products for the Linux Desktop for the last 4 years and I can’t tell you how much time and frustration and energy I’ve had to put into last minute bug fixes to work around new and broken in “exciting ways” behavior in Linux Desktop Environments. That’s the kind of thing that really sucks the life and soul out of you, especially when it’s something that you’ve cared so deeply about for so very long.
You have to understand… I have been one of the most outspoken and zealous of Linux Desktop proponents you’d ever want to meet. And I do believe that the Linux Desktop is awesome and a worthwhile thing to use, if only to keep down on the amount of ongoing upkeep you have to do to your PC thanks to viruses, malware, etc. But I have decided to move away from caring about Desktop Linux and I don’t know if I’ll be back, personally.
I’ve always looked at jwz’s “final straw” rant and thought that I could never get there. I’ve invested too much time and energy in Desktop Linux and cared too much about it to give up on it, right? Well, I was wrong, I guess. =:)
So, this isn’t meant to be a slam on Linux or a slam on KDE or a slam on Open Source or anything else. Just chalk it up to an old, cranky dude who became disillusioned with the Linux Desktop if you want. Or chalk it up to said old, cranky dude finally having enough money to buy a Mac and seeing how beautifully it runs and really enjoying it and not wanting to deal with for Linux Desktop on his personal daily equipment anymore.
But anyway, I just wanted to put this out there. I feel like I’m losing part of who I am by doing it officially and all. But I have been using and developing on Apple’s OS X lately and I’m thoroughly loving it. A couple of months ago, the opportunity presented itself at work and I made the switch from the VMware Linux Workstation/Player team to the VMware Fusion team, and I’m really loving it. I had been feeling like I’ve been stagnating lately and not learning or growing as a developer. I had been wanting to make a change and learn new technology and languages. And thus far, I’m really liking Objective-C and Mac development.
So at this point, I’m going to remove myself from planet KDE¬†and take a break from Linux Desktop for a while. I’ve actually been not blogging for quite a while now because I know it’s not going to be relevant to planet KDE and that’s been another source of frustration, so I’m going to rectify that now too. I’ve been meaning to remove myself from the planet KDE feed for a while now, but 1) I felt like I should say some kind of goodbye and 2) I can’t seem to be able to log in to my svn+ssh account anymore to remove myself from the planet feed. =:/
Anyway, sorry to all my KDE friends. I feel like I’m letting you guys down. But truth be told, I haven’t been doing anything in the last couple of years anyway. =:/ I guess it’s just a normal part of life and different phases of it or something. We’ll see where this road goes. I’m hoping that at the very least, this will let me feel like I can start blogging again. =:)