1. 4

    I think a big problem is the apps aren’t really cohesive; it’s just a big bundle of them. It means authentication, access control, navigation/UI, management, etc. is all going to be inconsistent, and everyone only wants a certain cross-section. For those technical users, they’re already used to administrating their own servers and deploying what they want through whatever means they’re familiar with (some containers, some not, etc.)

    It might be radical, but I think focusing only on a smaller section of application and making them consistent (so they can be treated the same way from an admin and user perspective) would be a good idea. Something like Nextcloud is arguably already moving in this direction; it provides APIs to host applications, including storage and auth; an appliance based on it could make a lot of sense.

    1. 1

      This is how things work at present. There is a web administration system and user accounts are managed from there. NextCloud is also supported as an app.

      I think trying to host things inside of NextCloud would be a bad solution. It’s a good system, but it is in danger of becoming a highly complex “kitchen sink” of all possible things. Where you have high complexity you also have high maintenance needs and development costs. From a maintenance and cost point of view, it’s better if apps are narrowly scoped and straightforward to maintain.

    1. 2

      I find the website font astonishing hard to read.

      Edit: Fixed. Awesome.

      1. 4

        I’ve switched to the very minimalistic blog theme, which might now be better.

        1. 3

          It looks more legible to me!

          1. 2

            On your main site (libreserver.org), my mouse cursor doesn’t change to a pointer when I hover over links.

          2. 1

            And Reader View wouldn’t kick in for me, either. Annoying.

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            This is advocating that you always be a disposable commodity within a labor marker. A repackaging of the “free labour” idea from liberalism - that wage labour frees the worker to engage in any contract as they please. But the reality of being an exchangeable commodity is rather different.

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              You can still be indispensable through your unique contribution and areas of focus that others would not have pioneered. By making it easy for people to follow in your footsteps and take over from you, you are influential, you change the way things work, and people notice that. When it’s for the organization’s betterment they appreciate it too. :)

              I don’t want to be indispensable in the sense of a bus factor. I do want to be indispensable in the sense of “Wow, it’s a good thing /u/kevinc works here.”

              1. 16

                That’s perfectly reasonable, but in order for it to work, there has to be a company at the other end that needs, values, and can recognize innovation and unique contribution. All companies claim they do because you don’t want to project a boring software sweatshop image, but realistically, many of them don’t. Only a pretty small fraction of today’s computer industry checks out the “needs” part, and you still got two boxes to go. For many, if not most people in our field, making yourself indispensable in the sense of a bus factor is an unfortunate but perfectly valid – in fact, often the only – career choice that their geography and/or employment allows for.

                1. 9

                  Well technically we’re all bus-replacable. Some of us have enough experience and/or good-will built up in the company that if you actually do what the article proposes, you actually won’t be easily replacable even if you make yourself “replacable”. It’ll be either too expensive for the company to find and train your replacements, or they’ll lose on the value you’re bringing.

                  What the article doesn’t mention, though, is that you can’t do any of that stuff if you’re a green junior dev. It’s easy to find a job when you’re good at it and you can prove it, but just getting kicked out on the street while I was still young in the industry would scare me shitless.

                  1. 1

                    I agree you want to find a workplace that does value you, and even if you do find that, you have to watch for the organization changing out from under you. Just, on your way there, you can earn some great referrals by giving what you know instead of hoarding it.

                    As an engineer, is it valid to make yourself a wrench in the works entrusted to you? I think no. But to your point, you’re a person first and an engineer second. If survival is on the line, it’s another story.

                    1. 3

                      Just, on your way there, you can earn some great referrals by giving what you know instead of hoarding it.

                      I absolutely agree that it is invalid to make yourself a wrench in the works entrusted to you, but computer stuff is absolutely secondary to many companies out there.

                      Note: I edited my comment because, in spite of my clever efforts at anonymising things, I’m preeeetty sure they can still be traced to the companies in question. I’ll just leave the gist of it: so far, my thing (documentation) has not earned me any referrals. It has, however, earned me several Very Serious Talks with managers, and HR got involved in one of them, too.

                      I know, and continue to firmly believe (just like you, I think) that good work trumps everything else, but I did learn a valuable lesson (after several tries, of course): never underestimate good work’s potential to embarrass people, or to make things worse for a company that’s in the business of selling something other than good work.

                2. 8

                  I think this is a bit unfair. I’ve worked with people who have hidden information and jealously guarded their position in a company and it makes it harder to do your job. You have to dance around all sorts politics and all changes are viewed with suspicion. You have to learn what any given person is protecting in order to get what you need to do your job. You hear stories about people getting bribed to do their jobs. People won’t tell you how to do things, but will do them so they are unreplaceable. People build systems with the eye towards capturing other parts of the organization.

                  Most of that would go away if people did what was described in the article.

                  1. 9

                    Maybe if IT workers had a better way of protecting their job security – such as a union – there wouldn’t be the motivation to do this kind of thing.

                    (Note: I don’t do this kind of thing, but I totally understand why someone would, and worker solidarity prevents me from criticizing them for it.)

                    1. 2

                      I don’t know if I agree with you in this specific case. It was at a place that never fired anyone. People who were not capable of doing their jobs were kept for years. It seemed to be more predicated on face saving, inter team rivalry and competition for budget.

                  2. 6

                    Yes, I had the same thought as you. It’s true that “if you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted”, but since when are people promoted anymore? The outlook of this article is that job security is not something you can always take for granted; indeed, that you can take upward (or at least lateral) mobility for granted. Maybe that’s true for highly-marketable (white, cis-male, young, able-bodied) developers in certain urban areas, but at my age, I wouldn’t want to count on it.

                    1. 4

                      Being a disposable commodity doesn’t necessarily imply low value. You can do something that is highly uniform and fungible, and also well compensated, I think.

                      1. 17

                        you think wrong. Historically “deskilling” (this is the term for when a worker becomes standardized and easily replaceable) corresponds to salaries going down. This happens for a variety of reasons: you cannot complain, you cannot unionize easily, you cannot negotiate your salary. You get the money you get just because your employer has no mean to find somebody that can do exactly the same and get paid less. If that becomes possible and you don’t have rights that protect (minimum wage, collective agreements, industry-wide agreements) or collective organizations that can protect you, the salaries go down. Fighting deskilling is not necessarily the most efficient strategy and doesn’t have to be the only one, but for sure giving up on that is no good.

                        On top of that, deskilling is coupled with more alienation, less commitment and in general a much worse working experience, because you know you don’t make a difference. You become less human and more machine.

                        Programming, I believe, naturally fights against deskilling because what can be standardized and therefore automated will eventually be automated. But the industry is capable of generating new (often pointless) jobs on top of these new layers of automation of tasks that before were done manually. Actively pursuing deskilling is unreasonable also from an efficiency point of view, because the same problem of “scale” is already solved by our own discipline. The same is not true for most other professions: a skilled factory worker cannot build the machine he’s using or improve it (with rare exceptions). A programmer can and will if necessary. Deskilling means employing people that will only execute and not be able to control the process or the organization, leaving that privilege and responsibility to managers.

                        1. 7

                          the article is not about deskilling, it’s about communicating your work with your peers. Those are very different things.

                          1. 8

                            it says explicitely to try to be disposable. Disposability and deskilling are equivalent. The term, in the labor context, is not just used to say “this job should require less skill to be done”. It’s used for any factor that makes you disposable or not, regardless of the level of skill involved. Clearly skill plays a relevant role in the vast majority of the cases. What he’s advocating is to surrender any knowledge of the company, the platform and so on, so that you can be easily replaced by somebody that doesn’t have that knowledge. You’re supposed to put in extra effort deliberately (not on request from your boss and maybe often going against company’s practices) to make this process more frictionless from your employer. That’s what the article is saying

                            1. 3

                              it says explicitely to try to be disposable.

                              While it does say that, I think that the actual meaning of the article is “make the work you do disposable”, not “make yourself disposable”. That way you can go through life making changes that make it easier for everyone around but also highly profitable for the company so that while the work that you currently are doing can be done by whomever, the potential value you bring at each new thing you do is incalculable. So they’d keep you, of course.

                              1. 1

                                What he’s advocating is to surrender any knowledge of the company, the platform and so on, so that you can be easily replaced by somebody that doesn’t have that knowledge.

                                Are you suggesting that the replacement will not have that knowledge, or will at the moment of replacement have gained that knowledge?

                                Disposability and deskilling are equivalent.

                                This is not the case in my mental vocabulary, and I don’t think it is the case in the article linked. Disposability is about upskilling as a team, becoming more engaged in craft, and having a community of practice, so that the community doesn’t rely on a single member to continue to upskill/self-improve.

                            2. 1

                              While I agree that deskilling is a thing, it might be more something that affects blue collar workers working on an assembly line than IT professionals (to an extent). Replacing someone isn’t just firing the more expensive person and hiring a cheaper one. It involves onboarding and training, which may take several months, which directly translates to lost earnings.

                              1. 1

                                It happened to plenty of cognitive workers throughout the work. Deskilling is also replacing accountants, fraud analysts or many other professions with ML models that live on the work of data labelers somewhere in Pakistan.

                        1. 7

                          Unicomp model M. I bolted it a couple of years ago because the plastic rivets were falling off.

                          1. 4

                            I have two. If my wife uses one to murder me with, no jury will convict her.

                            1. 3

                              Heh.

                              “… Why is there a large drill press on the kitchen table?”

                              “You know my buckling-spring keyboard that you hate? Well, I bought the drill press because I plan to bolt mod it.”

                              1. 2

                                You should try the new model f. Mine is 4+ kg…

                            1. 2

                              Improving the shell browser experience with Epicyon. Trying to smooth out the rough edges and make it really easy to do the main things, like making a new post in a browser like Lynx. https://epicyon.net

                              1. 1

                                Currently self-hosting:

                                • NextCloud
                                • Synapse
                                • Email (Exim)
                                • Etesync
                                • Prosody
                                • Epicyon (ActivityPub)
                                • Gogs (might convert to Gitea in future)
                                • Bludit
                                • Mumble
                                1. 2

                                  I’m starting on the next version of freedombone (https://freedombone.net) which will be based on Debian Bullseye. I usually takes quite a while, depending upon how significant the differences between Debian releases are. Last time the biggest change was the firewall. I’m probably also going to move over to using a more recent version of FreedomBox freedom-maker for building images.

                                  1. 2

                                    Finishing the first phase of adding Indymedia-style functions to Epicyon. Newswire, news timeline and moderation. A news system for the fediverse. https://epicyon.net

                                    1. 15

                                      No, source code these days isn’t “fundamentally wider”. Keeping things simple is still an advantage. Think about the amount of nesting which can go on beyond 80 columns. We don’t need more spaghetti in the kernel.

                                      1. 5

                                        I really feel current best practice leads to wider code: we use longer variable names, longer parameter names and longer function names.

                                        We mostly stopped using goto and rely on blocks for flow control and often we pass closures to other functions, causing further indentation.

                                      1. 2

                                        Parabola. I used Trisquel for a couple of years, but the packages were getting old. Parabola is in the sweet spot of being entirely Free Software and also having recent packages, since it’s based on Arch. When packages are recent and it’s a rolling release there isn’t any incentive to distro hop.

                                        1. 14

                                          This list seems to be based on a super Frankenstein’d, incompletely applied threat model.

                                          There is a very real privacy concern to be had giving google access to every detail of your life. Addressing that threat does not necessitate making choices based on whether the global intelligence community can achieve access into your data — and less than skillfully applied that probably makes your overall security posture worse.

                                          1. 1

                                            I agree that mentioning of the 5/9/14/howevermany eyes is unnecessary, and also not helpful. It’s not like if your data is stored on a server in a non-participating country that it somehow makes you more secure. All of that data still ends up traveling through the same routers on its way to you.

                                            1. 1

                                              If you’re going to put a whole lot of effort into switching away from Google, you might as well do it properly and move to actually secure services.

                                              1. 11

                                                In a long list of ways, Google is the most secure service. For some things (i.e. privacy) they’re not ideal, but moving to other services almost certainly involves security compromises (to gain something you lose something).

                                                Again, it all goes back to what your threat model is.

                                                1. 3

                                                  Google is only the most secure service if you are fully onboard with their business model. Their business model is privacy violating at the most fundamental level, in terms of behavioral surplus futures. Whatever your specific threat model it then becomes subject to the opacity of Google’s auction process.

                                            1. 1
                                              • email
                                              • ActivityPub server
                                              • NextCloud
                                              • Prosody
                                              • Matrix homeserver
                                              • Gogs
                                              • Bludit
                                              1. 2

                                                I think what’s happening with this is that they maybe whiteboarded the possible regulation scenarios. One would have been “mandated to support an open protocol”. So what they’re really doing is hedging against that scenario with a small dev team, diverting a tiny amount of resources to it. If they’re later regulated to support a protocol then Jack probably figures that things will work out best for him if he’s the one defining the protocol, or at least he will have something prepared to recommend during negotiations.

                                                1. 4

                                                  Mostly its just network effect: that people want to be where their friends are. Also most people don’t necessarily understand the software or the Holy Wars between different ideological camps such as open vs proprietary. They have other agendas.

                                                  Also FOSS tends to have little or no marketing. Contrast this with Facebook and Twitter being frequently mentioned in popular TV shows. There are no billboards promoting Mastodon or Matrix.

                                                  The ease of use arguments I don’t really buy into. Facebook has one of the worst and most difficult to use interfaces of any software, yet it has billions of users. People clearly aren’t using it just because of the UX.

                                                  1. 10

                                                    Linux may not be a “platform”, but GNU/Linux or Android/Linux is. I may not have an app store, but the “app ecosystem” seems pretty viable on my distro, and has done for a while.

                                                    1. 4

                                                      Parabola Arch/Linux, LXDE, KeepassXC, Emacs, bash, python, IceCat and Tor browser are the main ones.

                                                      1. 1

                                                        Pleroma is more suitable for self-hosting, but its limitations were becoming increasingly obvious when confronted with more serious levels of adversarial activity.

                                                        What does that even mean? Pleroma has the most advanced tools for moderation and control. Did they make something better than the MRF framework?

                                                        Also what did they do about C2S having no defined way to include attachments?

                                                        1. 1

                                                          They weren’t very interested in implementing allowlists and said they were imminently about to remove the allowlist which currently exists. They even claimed that I was “not authorized” to use the allowlist configuration without their permission and that I must fork the project if I wanted to make use of it. This indicated that my days of relying upon Pleroma or the judgment of its developers were thus at a conclusion.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            Allow lists are not going away. I require them indefinitely.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              Well this is one of the main Pleroma developers told me directly, so I assume they know what the roadmap for the project is.

                                                              1. 1

                                                                I think there has been a huge misunderstanding all around. You’ll be contacted.

                                                        1. 10

                                                          I don’t use Github and only use Gitlab as a mirror. In general it’s better to avoid features which get you stuck to the platform in a manner where you can’t easily move away later.

                                                          1. 3

                                                            Since they were acquired by Microsoft, GitHub is doubling down on their “value-added” model. There should be a point where those additions should be standardised in some extent though, because that lock-in might become a big issue in the future.

                                                            1. 6

                                                              I don’t think it’s in microsoft’s best interest to ‘standardize’ with other CI services. They want to lock you in.

                                                              1. 6

                                                                There’s a book out there about how big change won’t occur until a disaster strikes. It might be “Lessons of Disaster” but I’m not sure if that was it. It was pretty convincing and gave good examples in history. Most importantly, the book showed how a lot of safety laws are implemented, not when people raise concerns, but after many people die from the lack of such laws. It takes a disaster to implement disaster preventions.

                                                                I think that might happen to a lot of FOSS communities, where people talking about how it’s bad to get locked-in to a proprietor/vendor won’t be taken seriously (to the point of action) until disaster strikes. It probably won’t happen for a while and won’t be as dramatic, but I think there’s a good possibility that without standardization/decentralization, many will eventually be confronted with the pain that is vendor lock-in.

                                                                I think Fossil has the right idea about including the issue tracker, wiki, etc. in the decentralized repos. I hope we see more solutions like that come up and see adoption.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  There should be a point where those additions should be standardised in some extent though, because that lock-in might become a big issue in the future.

                                                                  For you, or for the org tasked with maximizing the number of mouths at the feeding trough?

                                                                2. 1

                                                                  features which get you stuck

                                                                  Are you talking about GitHub actions or GitLab CI here?

                                                                  Because I don’t think that is much of a problem for GitLab CI. Since your jobs are purely script based, it’s quite easy to transition to different platforms. Yes, you can create stages, job dependencies and what not, but still.

                                                                1. 4

                                                                  A little word about what this is might be useful to those of us who browse lobsters at work, thanks.

                                                                  1. 12

                                                                    I agree, it could be read as a new version for a dating app for libertarian swingers. I’ve suggester the linux tag.

                                                                    1. 2

                                                                      A quick google shows there’s also a gun attachment with the same name.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        I think this project pre-dates the gun attachment. As usual I searched to see if anyone was using that name in 2013, and they weren’t at the time.

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          I just mean it’s good to say what it since there exists a name conflict :), also because the name doesn’t tell me anything about what it is or does.

                                                                  1. 12

                                                                    Freedombone is a Debian based system for self-hosting on hardware which you own and which resides in your own location. It’s similar to Yunohost or FreedomBox. It can run on an old laptop or a single board computer. The project has been going since 2013, originally based upon the Beaglebone Black.

                                                                    1. 4

                                                                      As you seem knowledgeable, could you elaborate a bit on the differences to the Freedombox project? The FAQ only mentions Yunohost and Sandstorm, but I think project were the name has a Levensthein distance of 2 could be easily confused with Freedombone. Especially given that both seem to be based on Debian.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          Thanks! Not sure how I missed that…