Even though I've been on vacation on and off for nearly two weeks, the rest of the world has been moving:
- IBM has finally posted their OMNI printer driver system. The architecture is the thing here; they provide only drivers for a smattering of Brother and various Epson devices, all of which I think were already supported by free software. The Epsons, in particular, are supported better by free software.
- Robert reports that we have finally found a printer which really does require bidirectional support - the Samsung ML-85G.
- Work on integrating the gimp-print drivers in with cups continues; Mike has made them into cups-raster drivers.
At work I'm unhappy and trapped. Our management is incredibly awful, and the organization is simply not viable. I really must find a job working on free software, where I can do something useful, instead of just twiddling my thumbs half the time wating for the division to self-destruct. Unfortunately I cannot offer a representative portfolio of my software because I mainly write proprietary network firmware. The networking industry is not really a free software kind of place, and it's not obvious how to escape without becoming either a peon at a Linux house or going broke. Or both.
On my own project front, I'm swamped as usual, and see no end in sight. This will never do; it's time to do some triage. The obvious thing to cut is foomatic, which is suffering from the second-system effect (despite being a third system) and not attracting much community interest. I'll give a go at a web interface for it this weekend, but if that fails, foomatic will be retired. If it succeeds, of course, community involvement will be possible and the driver execution information section of the database wills stand a chance in hell of being populated. I remain convinced that a database-driven solution to printer configuration is the correct one, and I am convinced that most other implementations of this concept are rather poor. I just wish it were a practical problem for me to solve in available time.
Beyond foomatic, I think I can handle the workload; the question is, do I want to? I've offered the HOWTO and the database to the community for years, but the "community" has changed in the past few years; now some of my heaviest users appear to be support organizations inside Linux companies. While it's obviously correct for these parallel support organizations to share data, it's not obvious that a random unpaid volunteer should be that mechanism. It's also not obvious that the companies which use the data actually provide any new data; while I'm sure they do occasionally update a printer's info, they certainly don't make a practice of doing so. VA is the only company to provide any support at all, although I have yet to actually realize anything from that (note to self: send them a bill).
In any case, it's time to change things. I can't keep donating all of my free time to this one project without having anything to show for it, so either I need to find someone willing to hire me to do it, or it needs to be handed off to a new maintainer, or some other compromise needs to appear. Anyone with any suggestions can email me at the address on my web page.