2006-12-25

Life after Etch

This week, following the announce of the freeze, I upgraded most of my home cluster to Etch. The upgrade went surprisingly smoothly, although I had a bit of a scare when the kernel upgrade pulled in a bunch of dependencies that resulted in the forced removal of all previous kernels. This minor scare asides, kudos to everyone who made this new Debian release possible!

My only disappointment about Etch is that we're stuck with Firefox 1.5.0.7 instead of 2.0.1 or Iceweasel. Then again, speaking of Iceweasel: Forget it! Breakages it introduces have been marked as pending or patched for a number of weeks and yet there's still no updated package. At this rate, better wait until Etch r1 or Lenny to introduce it, rather than release Etch with a browser fork that has not undergone several months of thorough testing!

This got me thinking about life after Etch, or more specifically, about what I'm gonna do with the packages I maintain. The Dunc Tank debacle and similar other unfortunate events that overtook Debian this year have prompted me to reevaluate my motivation. Another unrelated issue is, I've been working in software development for more than 10 years and my guts are telling me that it's time to move on so, while my computers will still run on Debian or Ubuntu, I don't intend on doing any more development per-se.

Thus, I have already taken the initiative of soliciting co-maintainers for most of my packages. The Debian GNOME team agreed to be added for Planner, which is nice given the sheer number of bugs that are regularly found against this package. CUPS-PDF, Gaim-IRChelper and NumlockX haven't seen a meaningful bug in ages and can be rebuilt using bin-NMU magic, so they're pretty much taken care of. This leaves the issue of the Estonian and Russian dictionaries (plus a large patch in my personal repository that would upgrade Aigars' Latvian dictionary to generate the Aspell wordlist from his MySpell wordlist) open. For these, native speakers that develop for Debian or Ubuntu would be welcome to join me.

What next? I have a couple of interesting offers, one on the Business side of computer hardware manufacturing in Estonia and another one as the manager of a western company's Latvian office. The tricky part in either case would be the immigration process: despite close to 9 years of living right here in Europe, I am still perceived as foreign labor whose hiring must be thoroughly justified (in the case of Estonia, I even need to request an explicit exemption to the immigration quotas), whereas if I had been granted EC Long-Term Resident status or Finnish citizenship, I could just sign the contract and notify the local authorities of my change of address. Instead, 9 years later, I'm stuck at the passport control queues for non-EU citizens with its disgustingly suspicious border guards. Sigh!

Thus, while I indeed have shares in Linutop (yes, we are finally shipping - stay tuned for details) that might eventually turn into gold, I also have close to zero motivation left in my personal life, because lingering European bureaucrazy prevents my talent from reaching its customers - turning all my attempts at having a career into a neverending series of bitter disappointments. Is it any wonder that I'm so adamant about getting out of the Rat Race to return to more gratifying creative activities like composing and photography, then?

Post Scriptum

Actually, there is a second disappointment about Etch: we are stuck with Evince 0.4.0, at a time where upstream just released 0.7.0 with strong recommendations that everyone upgrade to that. Heck, even Ubuntu has 0.6.0 already. I find the Evince situation way more annoying than the Firefox one, because, from a user's perspective, Evince 0.4.0 fails to display several PDF documents that more recent releases handle just fine.

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