The Magic of Free Software and the Self-Organizing System

The magic is not predictable, and sometimes it’s difficult to call it up when you need it. But when it happens, it’s a delight to watch.

The case in point is gnome-utils. It’s a little package of utilities that ships with GNOME, things like the dictionary and a system log viewer and such. It was my first serious involvement with the GNOME project back when I started, the place I did my first CVS commits, and I’ve always maintained a certain fondness, keeping an eye on the docs and a subscription to the bugs alias. The list of people who have contributed to it over the years is like a historic who’s who of GNOME. Heck, even GNOME’s astrophysicist emeritus, Mark Galassi, has code in there!

Of late it’s been something of a chore to maintain, though. Glynn Foster most recently bore the burden, but needed to bail and try to find a new maintainer. And, out of the woodwork, a new team has materialized, which has been attacking the problem with gusto. Davyd Madeley, Vince Noel, Glenn Mason, Dennis Cranston (Dennis has actually been doing a great job of maintaining the file search tool for a while, which is rather like keeping a 1957 Ford pickup on the road – you really admire the person who does it, and are glad it’s not you.) James Bowes.

Davyd today suggested a way to see if a bit of the magic could be made to rub off on the applets. Check it out.