[OpenAFS] Re: [OpenAFS-announce] fin

Derek Atkins warlord@MIT.EDU
Fri, 25 Sep 2015 12:12:57 -0400

Dear Daria,

I remember those early days with much fondness, and I'm happy then (as
I'm happy now) to be able to call you my friend.  While I haven't been
extremely active in OpenAFS for a while, you have certainly been a rock
of the project.  However I'm also sure that it will, somehow, survive
with your departure.  Regardless, you will be missed.

Please keep us aprised of your future endeavors.



Daria Phoebe Brashear <shadow@gmail.com> writes:

> It's been two years, today, since one of the defining moments in my recent
> life. As I picked myself up from my toppled bicycle, some folks pulled up, and
> shortly I was speeding across the city. I couldn't see what was passing
> outside, but I knew where I was every inch of the way. This is my city. A
> friend jokes that the person I used to be died in the hospital that night so I
> could be born. He is not far off the truth. Not all such defining moments in
> my life have involved broken bones and being bandaged like a mummy, though:
> I've never seen a computer with such a large monitor, I thought, as I sat down
> in front of a 19" monochrome display. Just a hair over twenty-four years ago,
> I found myself sitting at a DECstation 3100, typing the username and initial
> password of the form all students received, and having an unfamiliar graphical
> user interface come into view. Until that point, the single Macintosh with
> System 7 at my high school was the extent of the GUIs I'd come in contact
> with.
> I don't remember what I first typed up, but the custom-built computing
> environment that had preceded me at Carnegie Mellon by only a few years
> offered its own rich text editor. I'd become quite familiar with it while
> doing assignments over the next few months. I saved my file, and logged out.
> Curious as to what would happen, I logged in again immediately to confirm that
> things looked the same as they had moments earlier. But it was time for work,
> and I again logged out so I could go into a back office in the library and
> spend several hours cataloging new books. Later that day, though, I chose a
> different computer, and tried again. My files were there, too. The concept was
> completely new to me.
> By my second year as an undergraduate, I was well-acquainted with AFS. I had
> acquired a workstation of my own, a Sun 3/160, and had set it up as a hybrid
> between the university's computing system and standalone. AFS was a commercial
> product, but I was able to find binaries the university had licensed that I
> could use. Weeks later, in a moment that would presage work I now do in
> helping to improve security and usability, I realized that source code
> probably could be found in a readable place somewhere in this giant global
> filesystem, and soon had something only slightly obsolete that I could build
> myself.
> My first full time job was with the university's academic computing
> organization. When the previous Transarc/IBM site contact left for a job
> elsewhere, AFS became my responsibility. By this point, I knew how the pieces
> worked, even if I was not familiar with every detail of the internals. So, six
> years from when I discovered the wonders of a distributed filesystem, I found
> myself in a position to push to legally develop for what was essentially a
> closed source commercial product for most of the world. The community
> grapevine suggested the DARPA grants used to fund some early work on the
> product could be used to obtain public domain copies of some of the source,
> and I used my new-found role as site contact to ask hard questions. After all,
> I had been given a bully pulpit.
> The first piece to be thus freed was Rx, the RPC system layered above UDP. A
> copy of the letter I received from the corporate attorney describing what was
> legally available has been online since shortly thereafter. I passed the
> source along, and a group of developers at a university in Stockholm picked it
> up for their project: an AFS protocol-compatible client called Arla. I soon
> found myself working on it, but at the same time I still had access to the
> fully-functional closed source product, so I had to exercise care in what I
> did.
> Just a couple years later, after increasingly-scattershot support of the
> product, IBM announced their intended end-of-life for AFS. I was one among
> many voices who started nagging immediately. And so, when in summer 2000 I was
> at an academic computing forum in Seattle, the call we received from IBM
> provided news that was welcome and relieving: AFS would be open-sourced just a
> few months hence. My peers at other institutions that used AFS and had source
> licenses joined with me to help create an organization which would be ready to
> take the code drop and do something great with it. I proposed an organization
> modeled roughly on the one that had hosted the forum where the call had been
> taken. To insulate against member organizations trying to sink the product,
> their employees would be individual members of our board, and represent the
> interests of their employer in the way they felt best captured it. For better
> and for worse, the open source organization I proposed then is the one we have
> had ever since.
> OpenAFS, as it would come to be called, was released just about the time
> Subversion was. Transarc had built their own version control on top of RCS,
> but our code drop would not include that. We got code representing a distinct
> point in time, and had to build a new means of managing it. Again I drew on
> what was familiar, and built a partial toolset above CVS to mimic the best
> parts of the way in which Transarc had managed their source. Among the first
> things that happened was the need to apply the IBM Public License to the code
> in a way that correctly represented what rights could be ascribed to which
> files. There, again, I can tell you that the group of us who did the work made
> some unfortunate mistakes. We did the best we could in the face of limited
> accommodation from IBM's legal staff, who felt they'd spent too much time
> already in getting to the point we were at.
> In hindsight, the license OpenAFS was saddled with has been its biggest issue.
> IBM never used that instance of the license again. Ongoingly, its
> incompatibility with the GPL has combined with other factors to make Linux
> support a heavy burden: sometimes free isn't *free enough*.
> In spite of the issues facing us and the bare shoestring of resources
> available, we were able to support and improve OpenAFS on a variety of
> platforms. The common ones, Solaris and Linux, got more love than the exotic
> enterprise System 5 variants, to be sure, but we released and supported
> platforms including AIX, HP/UX, and IRIX. We added support for NetBSD and
> eventually MacOS X. Just under a year into the project, I found myself on a
> train to Boston. Over the course of the long ride, I built the first autoconf
> support OpenAFS ever had. Mobile internet was not in my grasp, and laptop
> drives were considerably smaller. I took some documentation and examples with
> me, and learned as I went. It was characteristic of my experiences getting to
> that point: my formal education was in engineering rather than computer
> science.
> Over the course of the next several years, there would be a community to grow
> and sustain in addition to simply caring for code. The community was comprised
> of the end-users of the product, the developers -- volunteers from the
> perspective of OpenAFS, and the organizations which deployed it. As with any
> mature technology, we had many people you'd consider to be 'characters'
> involved. Certainly at the time I was one of them. My personal life was one
> high in stress and low in happiness, and so anyone who perceived me as
> miserable probably wasn't far off the mark. It was made no easier by being,
> effectively, the provider of last resort. If no one else would do something
> that we absolutely needed, I marshaled the only resource I controlled: me.
> Still, I tried with varying success to be involved in positive change.
> Four and a half years into the OpenAFS project, I had reached a point where I
> felt that my relationship with Carnegie Mellon had reached the point of
> diminishing returns. We were bad for each other, even toxic. I moved on to a
> full time position with Sine Nomine Associates, for whom I had been doing
> contract work on OpenAFS for several years already. More personally, I took
> the largest leap of faith I'd ever done in my life. By the time I hosted the
> 5th birthday of the project at my house, I had unloaded much of the misery as
> well as about 90 of the pounds on my person, meaning the weight thus lifted
> was both literal and figurative. For the next 3 years, I continued to work on
> growing OpenAFS while also supporting a number of corporate and academic
> customers in my new-found role.
> Again, though, I felt the need for change, and moved on to try my hand
> independently. I considered again, as I had when I left CMU, if the time was
> right to do something else with my life. As previously, though, I felt I had
> more to give to OpenAFS, and I did not want to let the community down. So, I
> kept contributing, and ended up getting onboard at Your File System, Inc.
> Much as when things started with AFS, the global filesystem product we have
> been developing is just one piece of a suite, the fabric which can and will
> tie together many uses. Auristor was built from the start to be compatible
> with the AFS protocol shared with the original IBM product, OpenAFS, Arla and
> Linux kAFS, while still offering new security, reliability and performance
> features not previously available in any of the others. It has been an
> exciting time, again, to work on a distributed filesystem.
> As you have possibly also noticed, though, it has also been an exciting time
> to be me. Forty years into my life, I finally came to grips with something I
> knew but did not fully understand on the day I sat down at that DECstation so
> many years ago. I did not learn much of the reality of what it meant to be
> transgender until I found the Internet. Even in its primitive state, the
> indexes to information I was able to find when I was finally introduced to
> Gopher far dwarfed what I could learn simply from perusing the card catalog at
> the vast library across the ravine from me. What I learned, early on,
> contributed to the hopelessness that would continue to accumulate. So when at
> last I realized it was time for a second giant leap of faith in my life, I
> again jumped.
> My new epoch came just about when my unplanned hospital visit did. It was very
> trying to explain the situation repeatedly at the time. I had to carefully
> pick about in the world, ensuring I would find support to sustain me in the
> face of possible devastation, and it took many months to again patch together
> my life in a manner where I felt like I could safely just exist. And there
> would be damage unintentionally inflicted upon me even more often than when
> deliberate malice was in play.
> In spite of that, just weeks after beginning hormone replacement therapy, I
> found myself in a lecture hall at CERN with some of you, and spoke as I always
> had about the status of our progress. My self-awareness as I did so was
> certainly far greater, though, than it had been for any other time, and the
> blazing red dress that clothed me was a statement of self-embodiment I had
> never made in a public forum before. I had no idea what to expect, but what I
> got was pretty much the same as always: the respect you'd hopefully accord any
> peer.
> As I continued to work both on filesystems and on myself, I was afforded many
> opportunities to see shortcomings that I had managed to overlook before. The
> journey to becoming externally congruent with the person I always was inside
> lifted a lot of extra weight from my shoulders, and so unburdened I could take
> on things I might previously have glossed over. The OpenAFS community had
> never had much consideration for diversity, as in many ways we were not so
> much recruiting new members as trying to sustain and support the ones we
> already had. This is probably my greatest personal regret looking back. And
> while I was not and have not been made to feel unwelcome, I felt it best for
> others to ensure that going forward, a code of conduct for contributors was in
> place, something OpenAFS has just adopted. We also, for the first time, had a
> code of conduct for attendees at an AFS Workshop just weeks ago. To my
> knowledge, there was no inappropriate behavior, but having a framework in
> place to deal is like with anything else a good idea.
> My spouse, my colleagues, my family and my friends have all been wonderful and
> supportive regarding my transition, but it has imposed new needs in my life,
> as well as allowing me the opportunity to see new ways to contribute to the
> global good. I can honestly tell you that the present is the happiest I have
> been in my life. But there is still much work to be done personally,
> professionally and globally, and I am but one woman. I will have additional
> stresses in my transition. Auristor, our signature product, will require yet
> more of my time. And there are so many injustices in the world that I feel I
> need to help right.
> So it is with great regret that I now tender my resignation from the OpenAFS
> project as an elder, a gatekeeper, and a member of the foundation creation
> committee. It has been a great run over these past nearly 15 years, and as
> someone who works at a vendor supplying AFS-compatible technology I shall
> continue to be part of the community. However, I have been increasingly unable
> to devote sufficient time to OpenAFS, and rather than give far from the best I
> have to offer, I feel it is best to move aside and give those who might step
> up and do better the full and unburdened opportunity to do so. I hope to run
> into you at future AFS events, and please know that I will continue to
> contribute in the ways I feel I can.
> All the best,
> Daria Phoebe

       Derek Atkins, SB '93 MIT EE, SM '95 MIT Media Laboratory
       Member, MIT Student Information Processing Board  (SIPB)
       URL: http://web.mit.edu/warlord/    PP-ASEL-IA     N1NWH
       warlord@MIT.EDU                        PGP key available