If You Think It’s Great

A few months ago, I wrote about the strange case of the misbehaving color.js and faker.js open source libraries. These popular tools were sabotaged by their own developer, who had become disillusioned by the way large companies were using his code without contributing or providing compensation.

Dear Reader,

A few months ago, I wrote about the strange case of the misbehaving color.js and faker.js open source libraries. These popular tools were sabotaged by their own developer, who had become disillusioned by the way large companies were using his code without contributing or providing compensation. But the larger point was about the need for an orderly transition when a developer has to step away or step back. Burnout is a serious thing for FOSS developers. And sometimes it isn’t even a matter of burnout but is simply that lives have a way of changing. People change jobs, get married, have kids … open source projects need to provide continuity when a lead developer bows out.

When you call out a fiery explosion like the color.js crash, it is good to also shine some light on the successes – projects that successfully pass the baton in an orderly process that maximizes continuity. In the June 1 monthly report at the Linux Mint site [1], Mint announced that it had taken over maintenance of Timeshift, a system snapshot tool that is described as being “…similar to the System Restore feature in Windows and the Time Machine tool in macOS.”

According to the news post by Mint project leader Clement “Clem” Lefebvre, talented but busy Timeshift developer Tony George stopped working on the project in order to focus on other tools he develops and maintains, such as the Aptik setting migration tool and Ubuntu Kernel Update Utility (UKUU). See the TeejeeTech website for more about Tony George’s work [2]. According to the Mint blog, Mint developers reached out to George to see how they could help with maintaining Timeshift, and the result was that he passed the maintenance over to Mint. Timeshift is now maintained as part of Mint’s XApps collection, which Clem calls a collection of “generic applications for traditional GTK desktop environments.”

George thus engineered a soft landing for Timeshift as he moves to other things, and Mint stepped up to take leadership for a tool that ships as part of their distribution. The best part is that all this appears to have happened quite amicably. Of course, the Mint guys could have forked Timeshift and created their own project, but it is much better for the rest of us to keep it all together and avoid the confusion and duplication that comes with unnecessary forks.

After I wrote my column in Issue 256 [3], I heard from a reader who suggested I mention that one good way to make sure worthy open source projects continue (and a good way to show appreciation for the hard work that goes into them) is to make a contribution. Many FOSS projects offer a way to donate. Linux users tend to click past those contribution pages – it is supposed to be free, right? But nothing is really free – someone out there is spending their precious time to improve your experience and, in some cases, paying out of pocket for web hosting and office supplies. The suggestion was, download the tool and try it out; if you like it, go back to the site and make a donation. That seemed like worthy advice, so I’m passing it on. If you think it’s great, remunerate.

BTW: The announcement on the Mint blog includes a link for Timeshift fans to send a $5 donation to Tony George for his work [4]. Oh, and there is also a page where Mint users can kick in for Mint [5].

Joe Casad, Editor in Chief

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