A Dev Eulogy

Editor’s Note: No developers passed away for the making of this post. This is a eulogy by way of the second definition found in most dictionaries, “high praise or commendation.” Further, the original posting of this got stuck in drivel and was hand coppied (as in typed into a text editor while reading the original, because the window was all locked up), so skips in logic (or spelling) are not intentional.

Today when my conneciton to the internet temporarily returned at home, I found in my email this notice , actually dated yesterday from Spider announcing his official resignation.

It’s true, many of the more recent developers won’t remember Spider. Most users probably don’e even know the name as a Gentoo Developer. But let me remind you about him, so that in my memory you can step away knowing what we have lost.

Spider hasn’t posted much in recenet memory. I think I’ve seen him on the mailing lists once or twice in the last year. I’m not aware of too much in the way of current ebuilds that he might have been maintaining. So what kind of dev was he?

An original. When you use Gentoo, it’s the blood and sweat of the Early Ones like Spider that you are sucking like nectar. My first communication with a Gentoo developer was with Spider. As I recall, he approached me about what mail client I was using because my replies on gentoo-user weren’t being threaded properly. I think that may have been the first time a developer in any distro ever spoke to me, come to think of it. OK, so today that may not seem like such a big deal, especially when you can just hop on irc or the forums and find at least one lurking in the shadows. But four years ago, I was still a neophyte in many, many ways, and Spider pausing to ask me such a mundane question shattered a whole bunch of misconceived impressions. [As a side note, yes, back then developers were on gentoo-user because it was one of the only mailing lists around. Not this plethora we have today with most developers sticking to -dev and a fre specialty lists. I think -user and -core may have been all there was for that matter…]

(Distro-)Developers were humans. And they liked talking to people. And they liked it when people talked to them, not just to complain or point out their faults. I went from this “first contact” to investing more time into exploring Gentoo and its culture. No, Spider isn’t why I became a dev, nor was he there to help me along with my first few faltering steps, but he was fun to talk to in irc.

What he says in that email post (here in case you lost track already) was true – there was much less concept of ownership, and far more interest in just getting this working back then. It was uplifting in a weird, geeky fanboy sort of way, to be sitting on the cusp watching all these giants stepping around, trying not to step on the little people while they executed this dream.

Spider was a good person to talk to. He had good ears, a knack for making you smile if that was your secret desire, and was a more than reasonable sounding board.
So the majority of Gentoo, “developer” or not, may not realize they’re going to be missing something here. But some of us do. Good luck, Spider.

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