Let’s ride the wave together

For several years, I have been working in various capacities for companies that highly valued their intellectual property, like Hewlett-Packard or DxO. But I’ve always been passionate about free software, and it’s finally time for me to join the community full-time. Let’s ride the wave together.

Proprietary means it’s not yours

Over time, I’ve been doing very cool stuff. I’m proud to have designed a commercial operating system, one of the earliest 3D video games, or to have contributed to making C++ truly portable.

But at the same time, I was always unhappy about the restrictions placed on my work because I was doing it in a closed environment. Today, I can’t look at the source code of HPVM, and that deeply frustrates me. After all, I wrote the first line of code of that product (and many others after that, over the span of almost ten years). That should give me some right to at least look at it.

But the nature of proprietary software is that it is… proprietary. Duh. Problem is, if you write it, it’s not your property. It’s someone else’s. Unfortunately, that someone else feels entitled to prevent you from sharing ideas, code, concepts, you name it, even from just looking at the stuff you wrote. I don’t like it. I wish I could see what happened to the code I wrote over the last six or seven years.

I’ve always wanted to share

Deep down, I’ve always wanted to share. I have a track record of sharing. I published the source code for my games. I’ve contributed the first graphical Emacs on MacOSX. All the programming languages I invented (XL, Moka, XL2, XLR, ELFE, Tao3D) have been published as free software sooner or later in their life.

I want to discuss ideas, to show how things can be done. XL2, for example, was born of a frustration of how C++ became complicated, and how to build a language that was practically at the same level as C++, but was also truly homo-iconic.

You can only discuss freely in the open. It’s OK if folks ignore my ideas, or disagree with them. There will always be someone out there who feels interested.

I feel at home, finally

So when the opportunity to join Red Hat presented itself, it was not a difficult decision. It was a long and tortuous one, because I had other commitments. But now that I finally joined Red Hat, I feel truly at home.

I just returned from DevConf, and it felt so good to see so many bright minds that share the same vision, the same ideas, the same focus on getting things done.

Going into Spice

Spice is a good place to start at Red Hat, for several reasons:

  1. It’s a project I know virtually nothing about, so there’s a lot to learn.
  2. It is, however, connected to virtualization and to 3D, two areas I love working on. I stopped actively working on virtualization about 7 years ago, so there is a lot of stale cache data I need to update, but it’s OK.
  3. I believe it has a huge potential for Red Hat in the not so long term. I dream of server farms delivering high-quality 3D contents through streaming to your devices, and Spice is one key piece of the puzzle to make that happen.

The start is slow and painful. In the past month, I barely got to the point where I expected to be in the first week. But that’s the life of the developer, and it’s a good thing. If it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be interesting.

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