Author: Ben Armstrong

  • Keeping free software projects fun as they grow

    On the whole I agree with Erich. Subprojects are key to preserving positive energy as a free software project scales. But I wouldn’t say the ill effects suffered by projects as they age is just “a matter of size”. And I wouldn’t de-emphasize the importance of guidelines like the Ubuntu Code of Conduct and the […]

  • Plumbing the depths of cdbs

    On #debian-games we were discussing today how opaque cdbs is for those who aren’t intimately acquainted with its inner workings. I want to be able to easily see, at least at the level of detail visible in a purely debhelper-based rules file, what’s going on inside just by running make itself, e.g. debian/rules -p | […]

  • XPilot change of upstream growing pains

    XPilot development has changed hands over the past several years. While the original website at continues to be run by the original developers, XPilot-NG ( is where all of the new development has been happening. But still performs an important function for the user community: they run the meta servers1 that list all […]

  • Work around GTK+ open type ahead find

    Typeahead find in gvim’s GTK+ open dialog box is driving me bananas, but today I discovered a trick I hadn’t seen before that will help work around it with a bit of relearning. For those who aren’t familiar with the problem, John Goerzen describes how painful this feature is for large directories. Just imagine, then, […]

  • Geek father

    Being Father’s Day today gives me pause to consider Debian Jr., a project for kids. The goal was to make Debian the OS kids prefer to use. I wanted my own kids to grow up enjoying using a system that puts the fewest barriers in the way to learning about how computers work, and to […]

  • Junior programming refocused on “kid languages”

    I’ve refocused the Debian Jr. programming metapackage on languages made for kids. I’m sure there are some who have used scheme or python with their kids, and sure, if you want to do that, go ahead. But these were only initially included because of a lack of choices. Littlewizard is an icon-based language only recently […]

  • Tinkerer and explorer

    Always a tinkerer and an explorer, I’ve known I wanted to self-host a blog for some time. Blog hosting sites have their pluses, but I couldn’t resist making something distinctively mine with cool technology like the Rails-based Typo. Besides, I couldn’t be outdone by my wife, who has for months now kept a successful knitting […]