Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sliding into first base

For grins, I created a slide-deck that provides an overview of Aloofix.

Beyond self entertainment, I had couple other motivations:
  • I peruse SlideShare quite a bit, but had never uploaded anything.
  • I wanted to test the latest version of OpenOffice (2.3.1).
I was horribly lazy and chose one of the canned themes provided by OpenOffice. I like the colors. They might resurface in future slides. I don't care much for the line-spacing, but was too lazy to dig into changing it.

OpenOffice continues to get better. It's still not up to par with PowerPoint. It most definitely doesn't pass the "have Kate use it" test, but it's quite workable for my purposes.

At any rate, there you go - a slide-deck for Aloofix. I knew you were dieing to get one.

On the development front, I've intentionally slowed the pace a bit. As the 1.0 TODO list gets whittled down, the focus has shifted to documentation. The current manual is a texinfo file that generates a 40 page document, but approximately 10 of those pages consist of TODO items.

Speaking of texinfo - it does seem a bit old-school, doesn't it? I've contemplated converting it to an online format. On the other hand, my workflow makes it easy to keep the documentation somewhat in sync with the code. I'd love to hear comments on this topic.

Beyond documentation, it would be nice to get a few more bug reports before moving too far forward.

Ooh - here's an interesting piece of development news: one of the mailing list members wants to help improve the toolchain. The current build recipes use a bit of a dodge, so it would be nice to improve this part of the build.

Until next time, cheers!

You would think I do enough PowerPoint at work. *sigh* Old habits die hard.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Aloofix Cinema Debut

Watch out Spielberg, there's a new genre in town!

Hmmm... maybe not.

For grins, I've created a screencast of a running instance of Aloofix.

The screencast shows an Aloofix installation consisting of the following steps:

  1. boot an Aloofix ISO in VirtualBox
  2. installation to the virtual hard drive
  3. rebooting to the hard drive
  4. running a couple of commands
  5. powering down the instance
Total elapsed time: 1 minute 30 seconds.

On the development front, I released version 0.6 last weekend. I was going to blog about, but life got ahead of me. As always, the new version is available on the SourceForge project page.

I'm now working on two primary things:
  • add-on packages
  • documentation
Version 0.6 added some important add-on packages: gnumake, gcc, and binutils. The svn trunk also contains ncurses, bash, patch, and strace. With a little luck, I hope to be able to build Aloofix in Aloofix in the not too distant future.

I'll gladly admit, it was pleasant to watch ncurses successfully compile inside a running instance of Aloofix.

Feel free to give the latest version a spin - I'm getting very close to a 1.0 release.

And no, I will not be creating a screencast of a full build.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Mildly House-Trained

That's my wife's way of saying Aloofix is now in beta release.1

Early today I release Aloofix version 0.5 (the Mildly House-Trained Pup release). There's nothing earth shattering in the release - just lots of bug fixes, feature enhancements, and steady progress toward a 1.0.

But that's the boring part, and nothing worthy of a blog article.

I regularly update the TODO list while working on the code. Sometimes it seems to border on an obsession, but I find the act of scrutinizing upcoming tasks to be a form of therapy.

I add items, remove them, move things around, even use the list as a way to gather my thoughts on how to proceed with the next set of changes. I'm sure anyone reviewing the svn logs for the TODO file will chuckle at the fluid nature of the contents. I know a few project managers that would run screaming from the room.

While noodling, I noticed myself making some very notable changes to the TODO list. Suddenly, I was pushing items from the 1.0 section to the 2.0 section. Don't get me wrong - I've done this countless times as a major release approaches. It's a classic technique, where what is wanted is vetted against what is needed.

In the case of Aloofix, I had succumbed to the classic problem of having eyes bigger than my stomach. Shuffling items from the 1.0 section to the 2.0 section is my way of making sure Aloofix adheres to a 'Release Early, Release Often' principle.

Or put another way,

If you had to choose, which would you select:

  • a dog that does tricks
  • a dog that is house-trained.
Fun stuff...

Feel free to grab a copy of Aloofix 0.5 and kick the tires -it's mildly house-trained.

1. Put another way - reports of success, with no reports of catastrophe...