A Jocund Eulogy

Blog post by nielx on Sat, 2009-04-04 21:12

According to my resume, I’ve been contributing to Haiku since 2002. I don’t remember how I determined that start date, and GMail is only five years old so searching that does not provide me with an answer either. What I do know is that I feel a strong connection with this project. Which really makes it all that harder to part.

I remember I started by writing a naive proposal about internationalization back when this was still OpenBeOS. You should know that at the time I was sixteen years old, so I never really knew BeOS, and I just came from the translation team from KDE. I left that project in search of something bigger, more integrated, more … I think we have all been there. BeOS seemed like a materialization of that dream. Only, Be Inc. already turned into ashes when I started my quest. A bunch of silly coders with a vision were determined to continue that dream. Little did they know that seven years later their code would boot on many machines - even though mine right now seems to be left out of the fun. My proposal on internationalization, however, never came to materialize.

Little do I remember of those early years. I have been trying very hard to think of what I did in the early period. You know, I’m a self taught programmer, but I never really did something substantive. The first project I thoroughly remember was the USB stack. Full of enthusiasm I started reading through the docs, hashing out the structure and even started my first steps in C, in kernel land! Good times. Then I hit a wall, nobody was able to help me out and I let the code lie around. Bad times. Later Michael Lotz picked up the code, turned a ‘delete fRegisters’ into ‘delete fRegisters[]’ and with that restarted the USB project. He probably rewrote every line of code I ever committed, but I still pride myself that I layed the foundations of the USB stack. Perhaps this is a whisk of vanity (which I occasionally seem to suffer from), but alas, I do not expect anyone to counter me this at this point in time.

Later on I started the ‘Haiku Book’ project. I spend countless hours studying other API docs, Qt, KDE, GNOME, MSDN and much more. I spend my time categorizing practices I liked and practices I very much disliked. I dove in Doxygen, wrote a guide and started with the support kit. The project is sort of dormant right now, but I hope that when R1 is nearing, others will finish that book, and they will be glad the foundations are there.

I most recently worked on the websites that support the community of this project. I have been involved with Trac, porting the customizations from 0.10.x to 0.11 and migrating it across servers several times. I worked on porting the website to Drupal 5. I really learned a lot, again. It makes me very happy to hear how many people enjoyed (and still enjoy) my work.

I am sitting here at BeGeistert, surrounding by the most influential contributors to this project. I find it more and more difficult to announce that I am going to part from this project. But I have to. Every day I realize there is so much more I want to do. The sad thing is that while writing up these memoirs, I realize that I spend of most of my talents starting things I am really excited about, but I hardly never manage to finish them. And I have so many more interests: languages, infrastructure, web communication, but also things like feminist theory. I have so many ideas that need to be worked out. Now is the time I have to start finishing things and I probably have to start by finishing off some things I like. Kill my darlings.

And Haiku is most certainly one of my darlings.

I won’t be a stranger.