Friday, June 4, 2010

May -- A TIme of Beginnings and Endings

For still in school or who have children in school, May is always an interesting and busy month. It was the end of another academic year for my four children and the end of high school for two of them. It is the anniversary month for my high school, Bachelors and PhD graduations. At the high school graduation commencement, we were once again reminded by the speaker that commencement is a ceremony to celebrate the end of one thing and the beginning of another. It is more a recognition of a milepost on a journey than a goal in itself. At this point, you are probably asking yourself what this has to do with software and the answer is nothing and everything.

A successful software project lives on -- it is not something that is ever complete. Each release announcement is comparable to a graduation commencement. It captures what we have done and is just a milepost. It is a useful milepost in the software world because it represents a completion point. It is a recognizable measure like a diploma that means that the software has passed some measure of completeness and quality.

RTEMS is now over twenty years old. It is the same age as my daughter who is entering her senior year in college. It has matured just as she has. It has gotten more capabilities just as my children have learned more. It is smarter and more efficient than it was. My children are also somewhat more self-sufficient (not efficient yet) but I can hope. RTEMS is in many ways my first child. I was there at the birth. I held its hand as it moved from a research project to an independent free software project.

Today I cut the 4.10 release branch. This represents a major milestone in the life of RTEMS. I can say with certainty and the pride of a parent that this is the best release branch so far. With both coverage testing and the daily builder, the testing has improvement markedly over the past few years. We have automated testing for all of the GNU tools we use. We have overhauled the main web site to be more modern looking and hopefully friendlier. The core technical content was largely unchanged from the older site so this is a lot like a girl getting a make-over before a school dance.

But just as with a graduation commencement, there is a past and a future. The future for RTEMS includes both maturation and additional capabilities. I want to see the RTEMS Project mature its processes by further expand our automated testing and improve the patch review and merge process. I want to see RTEMS grow in capability and I know this is going to happen because there are multiple interesting efforts waiting to be reviewed and merged. There is a SPARC64 port with multiple BSPs, a USB stack, a port of the LWIP stack, and my work on symmetric multiprocesssing support for RTEMS.

So remember that life is full of milestones but those are also points of reflection and landings from which one can climb to the next level. So reflect a bit on 4.10 and look forward to what RTEMS 4.11 or 5.0 will look like. I am excited and hope you are too.

1 comment:

  1. I started to follow RTEMS development since it was 18 years old. And, even with this short time, I'm very excited too. It's good to see how the development of a project like RTEMS can be similiar to a real life time of a person. This brings us an interesting perspective for the future. I hope to be there to see its victorious apogee.