Supporting free software: TortoiseSVN

It’s a new month, which means it’s time for me to pick a free, open source product to donate to. This month was an easy decision: I picked the product that I use every day to manage my code (and code history): TortoiseSVN.

I’m not the only one who’s ga-ga over TortoiseSVN; they recently were declared the Best Tool or Utility for Developers by the folks at SourceForge. With Subversion being the de-facto source code management standard (even Microsoft is starting to pay attention to it), it’s no surprise that TortoiseSVN is so widely loved.

I’m happy to have joined the list of those who’ve donated to TortoiseSVN!

My donation history to date far is as follows.

Supporting Free Software: FileZilla

Last month, I announced that I’ll start donating $5 per month to a free and/or open source project. The first donation went to OpenOffice. This month, the donation goes to FileZilla, the free, open-source FTP client.

FileZilla is one of those utilities that you take for granted. It works so well that you tend to not think about it. There’s barely a day that goes by when I don’t fire up FileZilla at least once. Granted, there are plenty of FTP clients out there, and I’ve used many, but none satisfied me as much as FileZilla.

Thanks to Tim Kosse for starting and maintaining FileZilla over the years.

Supporting free software II: The saga continues

Last month, I posted about how I will start donating $5 per month to a free and/or open source project that I feel is worthy of my $5. (The first recipient was OpenOffice.) Over the past few days, the focus on .Net OSS projects has grown, partially thanks to Jeff Atwood. Ayende talks about putting OSS funds to good use on his projects (notably Castle/MonoRail/ActiveRecord), and a month ago Phil Haack talked about the growing .Net OSS attention.

Speaking of Phil Haack, he wrote today about his push for June 26th being “Contribute to Open Source Day“. To those professionals who use OSS projects regularly, I think $5 a month is hardly a lot of money.

(It’s not July yet, so I won’t announce who will get my next $5, but I assure you they will deserve it.)

Will you join the initiative to give $5 a month to a worthy open source project?

Supporting free software: My drive to donate

I’ve been a fan of free things for a long time, whether it be software or web sites. “If it’s for free, it’s for me.” Scanning through my list of installed programs and bookmarked web sites, I find the following.

Note: The list below includes free software that is not a free version of commercial software. As an example, Grisoft‘s free software is excluded, as those are feature-limited versions of commercial software.

There’s many more than those listed above, as well — those are just the ones I was able to identify quickly.

Most of those projects are voluntary efforts spearheaded by a few good men (and women) with no financial reward. Being a provider of free software myself, I realize how important it is to get the occasional donation — not just to help defray costs (my baseball game, CSFBL, costs over $250 a month just for the Internet connection and server, and the latter is woefully inadequate), but to also give you the incentive to keep plugging forward. Each donation becomes a validation that what you do is worthwhile and meaningful to someone other than yourself, and in many ways, getting that donation helps give you the incentive to keep plugging away.

That all being said, I decided that, starting June 2007, I will donate a small amount of money ($5.00) each month to one free project that I feel is worth the cause. Sure, $5.00 is not a lot — it amounts to $60 a year, an amount that does not reflect the economic value that these products bring to me — but my goal here is to start a trend.

We all use free stuff, and we all reap the rewards of it. Think how much more free stuff there would be — and how much better it would be — if each of us gave $5 a month to a single worthy product or service?

Sure, you can think, “It’s not free if we give money.” That may be true, but that’s not the point. Free software means that someone is giving you something with no expectation in return. By giving something to those people, we are saying “Thank you” and giving them the incentive to keep doing what they’re doing.

My first pledge goes to OpenOffice. They accept donations via PayPal, which makes it very easy. For $5.00 (rather 5 euros, so they get a little more than $5.00 thanks to favorable exchange rates), I have saved hundreds of dollars buying a commercial productivity suite. It’s money well-spent.

So, what do you say? Will you join the movement to pledge $5 a month to a free product or service that you feel is deserving? Make your pledge and let me know you’re on-board!

CodePlex: Did they forget to back up a server?

CSSFriendly, the ASP.Net CSS Friendly Control Adapters, is an open source project I contribute to. Source code, issue tracking, and other services are provided using CodePlex, Microsoft’s alternative to SourceForge. Since last week, our source control server (Team Foundation Server, or TFS) has been down.

The reason for the downtime, as reported by someone on the CodePlex team:

At 3pm PDT on April 11th an operator error occurred that caused source control and issue tracker data on one of the Microsoft CodePlex servers to be accidentally overwritten. During the standard data recovery effort, a recovery backup configuration oversight was discovered in the routine backup process for this CodePlex server which is currently impacting immediate restoration of the data.

Fortunately, thanks to my years of experience in medium and large organizations, I can translate this into layman terms:

At 3pm PDT on April 11th someone screwed up and accidentally blew out one of the CodePlex servers. When we looked for the backup tapes, we realized that this server was never being backed up, forcing us to use expensive and time-consuming data recovery services to get the data back without too much egg on our faces.

Granted, this is speculation, but it’s the only plausible reason why you can’t get a server back online in four days. Fortunately our project has only been going for a few weeks, and we don’t have a significant history of source code changes or work items. Still, this does not give me any confidence in using CodePlex for any other projects, especially considering my excellent experience with and the availability of Google Code and SourceForge.