29 Jul 2005 MichaelCrawford   » (Master)

LinuxQuality or, The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

My original plan for The Linux Quality Database was originally to create a featureful bug database for the Linux kernel developers. I had a grand vision but not much of a clue as to how to implement it. I knew about bugzilla, but bugzilla didn't do what I want, so I planned to write a whole bug database from scratch that would put bugzilla to shame.

Well, the dot-com crash intervened and I found I had very little time to contribute to any Free Software projects. Finally someone set up a bugzilla for the kernel that, while it doesn't do all the cool things I envisioned, it isn't vaporware, thereby proving once again that Worse Is Better.

But something did come of my dream. My objective was not simply to improve the quality of the kernel but to improve the quality of Free Software in general. It's record is mixed: for every Free Software project of stellar quality that anyone can name, I can name ten whose quality is... less than stellar.

That's why so many years ago I wrote on the homepage of The Linux Quality Database:

I feel that software must not just be Free, it must be Good.

I felt that The Linux Quality Database must also have a mission of education, to help developers write better software, and to help users both to test it better and to write better bug reports.

This led me to write several articles on software quality that have turned out to be both useful and popular. So far they are:

They used to have the GNU Free Documentation License but the Debian developers have concluded it is not compliant with the Debian Free Software Guidelines, as I wrote in Which License for Free Documentation?.

Once Debian Sarge became stable, Debian started removing such GFDL documents as the Emacs and GCC manuals from main and moving them to non-free. To encourage Debian and other distros to include the LinuxQuality articles, just tonight I relicensed them to have the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.5 License.

In late August I'm going to revisit all the articles to bring them current, fix broken links and add any new material that seems appropriate.

I also updated the markup to XHTML 1.0 Strict. My HTML/CSS coding skills have come a long way since 2000 with the help of my wife the web designer. I'll seek her advice in creating a new design to replace the current appallingly primitive one.

I always intended The Linux Quality Database to be a community just like Advogato or Kuro5hin where anyone could contribute articles, but focussed on educating the Free Software community about quality. The Dotsrc.org Open Source hosting service (formerly SunSITE.dk) offers MySQL hosting, so I expect I could set up some kind of message board to allow anyone to publish articles more easily than via FTP as I do now.

If you'd like to be involved, there is a mailing list with instructions at the bottom of the homepage. I'm not completely sure it still works, it's been years since anyone posted to it. I just sent a query to ask if anyone is still subscribed... and recieved my post, so it still works!

Thank you for your attention.

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