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Failures… maybe giving up?

Tonight I feel quite depressed; I’m not sure myself why, I just can’t sleep.. I slept a few hours, but in the past weeks, every night was a bad dream, and every time I finally was able to wake up, it was a new salvation, and these few hours were also tense; I woke up, and I tried to focus my mind to stay awake as much as possible, even though I know it’s not good not to sleep. But I cannot sleep.

I suppose that one of the reasons I cannot sleep is that, well, I feel like I’m a total failure lately. Don’t get me wrong, I always knew I wasn’t a very good developer on many fields, but I’ve understood now that the only thing in my life as a free software developer that wasn’t a failure was Gentoo, where I was able to actually get something done, and somehow done right, but I resigned from there, and that means I made it into a failure even the only time I was going not to fail.

I think I have a special feeling for failing projects; NoX-Wizard started crumbling down when I’ve joined… and in a few months even Fabrizio, who was the admin of the project, gave up on it; I’ve been working on a CMS of my own, before the sprouting of CMS everywhere, it had quite a few edges, for what I could tell, things that were later implemented by more complex CMSes, but I was never able to release anything usable; ATMOSphere lasted just the time needed to get out of high school, and I wasn’t able to actually make it scale as a true working project. I blamed most of these failures to inexperience, but it doesn’t seem like getting more years of experience helped me on this. The most recent example is xine, which is a project that is going to fail unless the development flow is totally changed and new developers are brought on board, which is what me and the few developers left are trying to do, but it will take some time I’m afraid, and it’s also a high risk, as if we are not able to handle the switch correctly, the project will probably wither and die at the same time.

I’ve been able to provide patches here and there, but they are usually trivial fixes, or boring stuff that required just to be done, and nobody cared (not sure why, but I often ended up caught in doing those little things that everybody know are needed, but nobody wants to do, this since I joined my first UltimaOnLine shard, Dragons’ Land, and I was able in 24 hours to fix bugs standing there since months… nothing esoteric really, just a couple of fixes here and there… and at the end, that project died too). My projects are mostly dead or dying, I’m not even sure myself why sometimes.

Gitarella was promising, but then beside me not having time for updating it in a while, nobody else seemed interested in it. I received no feedback about it, and I don’t know of anybody actually running it, so I don’t know what to do with it. Rust got me one feedback (David’s), and I do hope it won’t die just yet – I just didn’t have time lately, but I will restart working on it tomorrow’s night).

I even chosen a dying software for my blog, as Typo doesn’t seem that much alive.

Ignorance is bliss

Now that I feel this way, I’m tempted to shut down Farragut, give back Prakesh to its owner (well, this I should probably do already now that I don’t have to care about Gentoo/FreeBSD), and sell away Enterprise.. then I could buy an iMac, and just use that for the rest of my life, without having to care about development anymore, without having to fail once again.

I’ve considered changing distribution, to cut the ties with Gentoo as much a I could, but I can’t really find anything that provides me with what I need, which first of all is a good multimedia support without patent-crap stuff (which rules out most of distributions already) and a vast selection of packages for development. I can’t really see myself using anything but Gentoo anymore, and this is driving me crazy because I have to stand here seeing stuff going kaput without being able to do anything to correct them.

I’m not sure what is letting me down so much, maybe it’s seeing the months spent on ALSA going down the toilet or maybe it’s the dreams that are upsetting me all too much. I should really reconsider my life, right now I feel like it’s being a total waste of chemical energy without anything good coming out of it.

Comments 14
  1. Diego, don’t be so hard on yourself. You are one of the most committed and hard-working FOSS developers I know. Even if some of your projects fade, the work you have done has benefitted many, many users, even if they haven’t thanked you fot it.

  2. I agree with Mark. You’ve been a blessing to OSS and just because you aren’t doing much currently doesn’t erase your past worth.Also, a failed project is one that dies and ISN’T OSS. OSS projects that die can be resurrected or the code reused, the latter being something I find very useful.Would it be possible to rejoin Gentoo and just refuse to join certain mailing lists/bugs/IRC where you get abuse?

  3. Diego… I don’t really know what to say to you to make you feel better though I really would like to find the right words here.I think I speak for the majority of Gentoo users who know you when I say that you were one of the most valuable developers Gentoo had in the last year (at least this is the time where I observed much of your work in portage). I mean, the number of comments who expressed their regret about your resignation in your blog speaks for itself. If you really felt so good with development in Gentoo, please return. And always keep in mind that there are more people who appreciate your work very much than people who don’t. All those schnook who scared you off are not worth the time reading their nonsense they write the whole day.And by the way… I can’t imagine that you believe yourself when you write that you are a bad developer. I mean compared to you, how bad would be the majority of Gentoo-devs that are currently working on Gentoo?RegardsPoly-C

  4. Remember that most users are very bad at providing feedback and at showing appreciation. Like Christel wrote in some recent blog post, saying “Thanks!” really matters.Don’t be discouraged that not everything you work at becomes “finished”. Work on things that you use yourself and that you find fun to hack on.Also, I’m sure all of us that write code have loads of failed or unfinished projects behind us. It’s just easier to forget about them when you never showed any code to anyone. Partial programs like that are only useless if you didn’t learn anything new at all while working on them. (Haven’t happened to me yet.)Thanks anyway for all the work you’ve done and of course is makes a difference. :-)/C.M

  5. “My projects are mostly dead or dying, I’m not even sure myself why sometimes.”that’s probably because you focus on too many things at the same time. when you get bored with your project – leave it be and come back later with new ideas.when i read your blog you almost sound like a workaholic sometimes :]i’m tinkering with an c++ xmlrpc blogging application and now i got stuck at atom api implementation. so i gave myself some time to do something else until i come across some new ideas.that’s what i usually do when i start getting bored/stuck with a project.there are people who use/would like to use your software. some don’t have a habit of thanking the devs, some don’t know about your utilities yet.and some just don’t need them 😉

  6. Dude, you saved us all from XMMS :-)Seriously, I agree with Yoshi – you work on too much stuff at once. Focus on just a couple of projects, then switch like Poly-C says if you get stuck or bored.I also agree with the idea of you going back to Gentoo but on a limited scale – I’ve disagreed with you over some of your decisions but you did a really good job, kept the commits coming and the tree clean (hence the XMMS line). ALSA and Xine are 2 major Linux apps, I never knew you worked on Xine before reading your blog, so maybe you could concentrate on those two projects as they are kinda related.Also, take a vacation. Go, leave town for a week and relax somewhere. Believe me that’s probably the best thing you could do right now – you’re stressing yourself out and there’s no need to.All the bestPhil.

  7. Cheer up! You’ve been a great contribution to Gentoo and I’m sure you’ll be to Xine or some other project you choose.

  8. As said above, cheer up! Oh, and you’ve been doing a great job on xine, I hope you’re not giving up, I don’t want to use mplayer! :)P.S. We still need a _good_ ALSA maintainer *plop*

  9. Wow. What a post.Diego, as a proud Gentoo user since summer/fall 2002, please accept my sincere thanks for all the work that you and other excellent Gentoo devs do, and my sincere apologies for not thanking anyone publically (except in Bugzilla).This post, and the comments, shows that apparently, users (such as myself) who proudly use your efforts to this day, need to thank our stressed-out devs every chance we get. I’ve seen your work in some of the Bugzilla threads, in the changelogs, even in package.mask.We all have our dark times, and times we say “fuck this shit.” But please take this pearl of wisdom: no piece of software is dead or a failure until the last dev destroys (not closes) the code, AND (that’s a boolean AND) the last user stops implementing said code. I hate to use this example, but look at XMMS1 if you don’t believe me. It may be considered (somewhat rightly) an ancient piece of junk that is no longer developed, but there are thousands of folks using said P.o.J. And that, my friend, is not a failure.And neither are you, Diego.I hope to see back in the game at Gentoo, even just posting in the forums, not as a dev…take your time, relax, and live!Once again, thank you./sermon

  10. Wow, that line about XMMS really made me chuckle. But it’s true, you saved us from the abomination that is XMMS. That decision took guts and you clearly showed that you have the guts.Next is ALSA. When you were handling it, ALSA worked. It simply did. It still works now, but how long will it last without your care?I also don’t believe for a second that xine will die. You managed to get it to switch to mercurial. You have plans on how to make it better. There are still xine developers around that share your views.What I’m trying to say is, you did a lot, for gentoo and for other projects. You are not a failure in any way. Thank you for everything.

  11. Firstly, everybody loves a triumphant return, so you could go back to Gentoo, and try out different projects.There are other projects that are not dying, lots of them. Many of them using scripting languages.

  12. Diego, 95% of people I know that are actively programming software will not think once, not, twice about the size and necessity of allocated structure.And the same percentage will never, i say NEVER find that a bug simply caused by a structure being of a size more than “64k”.You are a better programmer, way better than many others, you may not have a good deal of experience, but in time you will.Vampirizing us with your cries and laments will not work, cheer up or otherwise I will come to your house and put a wooden stake through your heart! 🙂

  13. Oh, yes, by the way: when your friends needed you, you were there. That’s something that I will never forget. 😉

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