[linux-elitists] Fuck the cloud, but use it anyway

Don Marti dmarti@zgp.org
Mon Feb 2 12:19:09 PST 2009

begin Vineet Kumar quotation of Mon, Feb 02, 2009 at 12:56:36AM -0500:
> * Ben Finney (ben@benfinney.id.au) [090201 21:50]:
> > I could ‘curl http://feeds.example.com/bignose/opml/’ (or whatever the
> > thing is I want to keep safe) on a daily basis; but then it occurs to
> > That leads to “real” backup, of course, with all the administrative
> > burden: volume management, rolling archives, indexes, blah blah. I
> > know where to look for tools to do this for networked filesystems.
> Combine those two, and it starts to look like one decent answer.
> Just grab the stuff periodically to your local filesystem somewhere, and ensure
> that your local filesystem (which includes the network stuff, along with the
> scripts used to fetch said stuff) is backed up properly.

Here's a place to look for ideas:

Subversion is all centralized and 2.0 and stuff.
But point your handy git-svn at it, and you can
work git-style, on your Franklin Street-friendly
user-controlled copy of everything.

The first concept that I'm trying to get my head
around is the useful overlap between the concept
of an online discussion forum and the concept of
a peer production project.  With some plants, you
eat the leaves and compost the roots.  With other
plants, you eat the roots and compost the leaves.
Both projects and fora have "roots" (archives) and
"leaves" (conversation).  You don't think of a git
repo as a conversation of commit messages, and you
don't think of a mailing list as a peer production
project to build list archives.  But they're closer
than they look.  (Ikiwiki is fun because it shows the
blurring of the line.  It's a web service with the
2.0 bells and whistles: a web form!  OpenID! RSS! but
it's git-backed, so you get DVCS features for free.)

So let's say you're participating in this list,
and you're worrying about me turning Evil or taking
Venture Capital money to start rewriting Mailman in
the hot language of the day, not finish, and get laid
off and get the server sold at the bankruptcy auction.

So you write a git hook to mirror the list archives,
split them up into a Maildir that you keep under
git, and copy new mail to an incoming folder.
And another git hook to take new mail that you
save to a certain Maildir, commit it to your repo,
and send it to the list.  Then you put yourself in
"nomail" mode in the Mailman web interface, and add
a Mutt hook to run your git hooks when you enter and
leave your l-e folder.  You're participating in the
list just as before, with the same client software,
just a DVCS layer in the middle.

Now I turn Evil, and one of the other list
members sends you private mail saying, "Man, that
linux-elitists list was great before the list admin
turned Evil.  Bummer about not having that list any
more."  Then you say, "No problem, just pull from my
git repository, and here are all my hooks and stuff."
And other members join you, and the list is back and
you're sort of reinventing Usenet, actually.  But you
could apply something similar to more complicated
web applications.

Don Marti                                        +1 510-814-0932
http://zgp.org/~dmarti/                          +1 510-332-1587 mobile
See you at OpenSource World: August 10-13, 2009 in San Francisco
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