Search Results: "bfulgham"

28 August 2011

Christian Perrier: 10 years being Debian Developer - part 3: the news and genealogy years

I stopped my story in early 1994, after my Big Switch to the mysterious and new world of Linux. My home server, kheops, is now running Debian and is fed with news and mail by FrMug, formerly French Minix Users Group and now run by AFAU, the "Association Fran aise des Amateurs de Usenet". As I'm still console-challenged, I'm reading mail and news on another machine I have at home, named "khephren", which is running an, ahem, beta copy of Microsoft Windows 95. Yeah, I know...:-) These 1994-1999 years were mostly the Usenet years, for me. I gradually became more and more involved in several fr.* newsgroups, either related to the Linux world...or to the Windows world. The latter was professionnally a bonus for me as 1994 is also the year where I switched from the Material Science department at Onera to the Network and Computing Department. My mission there was to accompany the increasing prevalence of personal desktop workstations in the daily life of what was formerly the Big Castle of Computing at Onera, hosting various generations of Cray computers, most of which being in the Top500 world supercomputers (we even had one in the Top10, very briefly, at somepoint). So, I was "the PC and Windows guy" in this world of supercomputing, Unix and network wizards. But my hobby at home helped me keeping and growing skills in both "worlds" which, over the years, has proven to be a not so common profile..:-) Meanwhile, at home, I was spending hours and nights reading those newsgroups...or getting involved in fr.* hierarchy management..or expanding my friends network to many people in the news, Linux, BSD worlds. That lasted for about 3 years with ups and downs (with three young kids at home, you end up having slightly less time...). I was gradually improving my home server use, adding more functionalities to it, for instance setting it up as a file and print server with Samba 1.9.something (this will be the beginning of a long story with samba!). Unfortunately, my dear Ren had passed in the meantime. Ren did so much for Linux in France that he'll be the only link I give in this article. If you happen to go through P re Lachaise cemetery in Paris, go to its Memory garden instead of visiting Jim Morrison's grave and drink a whisky bottle in memory of Ren . Or just install one of the most funnily named Debian packages: le-dico-de-rene-cougnenc and, again, drink something to his memory (whisky is highly preferred). We then reached 1997 and a specific event: my father (who was very sick for years) passed during summer, some time after my grand-father passed too. As it apparently happens for many people, it triggerred me into the interest for family history. After all, those people who are going away are family memories. And, in some way, I wanted to keep track of this memory. As a consequence, I started collecting family memories, interviewing my close relatives (the oldest ones) and ending, of course, in tracking all this with my computers. That was the start of a long genealogy research that sent me on the track of the Perrier family (of course), but also all other branches, on my mother and father side, as well as reconstructing the tree of cousins we have, etc, etc. As anybody who did that knows, this is quite an endless task but I went very committed to it. I quickly ended up in joining research groups that were using the recent growth of personal access to Internet communication. Those groups were, in these 90's, building elaborated systems where people can help together in their research instead of having to travel to places where archives are stored. I participated to many such groups and even ended up animating one who was doing research in archives of the "Yvelines" "d partement", my place of living (even though I have no family branch there). At the same time, other groups were sending me research results for my own family in the French region where my roots are. Collective effort, help others for free, you can recognize things that are a constant all over these years, indeed. It actually helped me in tracking my Perrier ancestors up to about 1680, with 11 generations of men holding that name (from Jean-Baptiste, my son, up to tienne Perrier, who is born about 1640-1650, in the small village named Briant in Sa ne et Loire, in France). Or even climbing up to Laurent Polette, born circa 1510, mentioned in a document date February 1562. He his my oldest known ancestor.Those folks being 15 generations before me. My oldest ancestor is born under Fran ois the First, King of France, protector of Leonardo Da Vinci, at the time La Joconde was painted or the Chambord castle was built. Doh. Unfortunately, genealogy software, at that time, was quite poor for Unix systems. Lifelines was a quite strong development but wasn't that user-friendly and I ended up using a Windows-based "shareware" software written by an individual. Still, my Linux machine was used quite intensively: databases were stored there, and saved there, all important informations were there, my mail was received there, along with dozens of mailing lists I was reading. I even hosted a few mailing lists on my home server. Still, in the meantime also, again in 1997, in October, another event happened. We had a pollution peak in Paris area and October 1st was the first (and as of now the only ever) day where driving restrictions were applied. Up to that moment, I was driving to/from work (30 kilometers one way). I decided to use this opportunity to really test public transport, for one full month. As I knew it would take me much more time than driving, I tried to imagine a way to use that time. How about reading mail and news on a laptop instead of only at home? Done... In a few days, I found a used Compaq Aero laptop (486 16MHz), I installed Debian "bo" on it, switched my mail and news workflow to console programs (mutt and slrn) and here we go! So, finally, in October 1997, I was using Linux nearly all time long, the only exception being genealogy data handling. That laptop was named "mykerinos" (the small pyramid) laptop is still named mykerinos, though it's now the 5th mykerinos I have..:-) Ah, and since then, I nearly always use public transport to go to/from work. Debian addiction is good for the planet! At some point (I don't remember exactly when...about 1999, I think), DSL connections appeared and one of the first DSL FAI emerged on France: Free. I was already using their services for dialup access, but DSL was then a revolution: persistent connection! And nearly immediately, static IP! I became one of their first DSL customers (and I'm still one). Moreover, I had then friends working there...and they had many Debian machines to host their services. So, with the help of my Freenix friends, some DNS hosting on their machines and the still tireless entirely free domain, was born. Immediately, this gave me opportunities for doing many interesting things with my home server: setting up and use it....for learning web things and sharing genealogical data. For instance, I ended up hosting some data sent by other genealogists such as digital copies of archives for some French regions, all served through my 512/128kbps DSL line (quickly upgraded to 2Mb, IIRC). And, very quickly, I felt the need to share my family tree, of course! And here comes Geneweb. Written (in Ocaml) by Daniel de Rauglaudre, Geneweb was (and still is) by far one of the best tools to share genealogy data over the Net. So, I ended up installing it on my home machine. Guess how I did that? "apt-get install geneweb", of course. Yes, it was packaged. Indeed by Brent Fulgham who did the initial release on July 22nd 2000. Here, my memory is a little bit vague. I think I actually packaged Geneweb for my own use and sharing it on upstream FTP site, forking Brent's package as a start, but updating to latest upstream release. Then I quickly ended up having discussions with Brent about this new upstream release, and that lead to:
geneweb (3.10-3) unstable; urgency=low
  * Merging with unofficial package from Geneweb ftp site
    (in preparation of new maintainer [Christian Perrier] takeing
    over responsibility).  Note that all of this work is from
  * Default database dir is now writable by members of geneweb group
  * New geneweb group added at installation
  * Package tries to properly handle former installations of the
    unofficial Geneweb package available on Geneweb ftp site
  * Debconf dialogs translated in french
  * More languages available
  * Creation of /var/geneweb/etc, /var/geneweb/cnt, /var/geneweb/images
    with proper permission so that authorised users may use these also
  * When de-installed, all databases are exported with gwu (should allow
    smooth upgrades when the databse format changes)
 -- Brent A. Fulgham <bfulgham>  Mon, 22 Jan 2001 19:30:47 -0800
See? Already "debconf translation to French"! "More languages available". Here we are. As discussed with Brent, he propsoed me to take the package over. So, on January 11th 2001, I had applied in the New Maintainer Process. I'm amazed how quickly it went indeed: there was a tool I needed, it needed to be packaged, I could handle the packaging...and then I decided to be involved. Here we are: bubulle is on his way to become one of those magicians who are building the best universal operating system. Yes, me, the clueless material scientist..:-) How did it go? You'll know this in next episode, of course...