Debian-Administration: Our first full year

Posted by Steve on Thu 29 Dec 2005 at 09:02

As the year draws towards a close I wanted to take the time to thank all the readers and contributors who've made running this site such a rewarding experience. Without your readership, and contributions, there would be little point in making this site available and dealing with the problems that arise - so a big thank you!

The site was started towards the end of September 2004, so strictly speaking we've had our first anniversary already. I don't really count that as the official start though as many of the early pieces were primarily posted to ensure the CMS was working correctly. It took a while for some of the bugs to be ironed out, and for the various tweaks to be applied.

Despite that we managed to have just under 70 articles published in 2004, a reasonable achievement in only four months.

In 2005 many more articles were posted both by myself and by outside contributors and all told we managed to carry just over 250 new, original, and interesting articles. A significant achievement.

Of all the articles posted to date I have several favourites. Some pieces were written quickly and I didn't put much effort into them, others took days to finish, tidy, update and publish. Here's my list of highlights from 2005:

The Three-Part introduction to CFEngine

cfengine is a distributed system for controlling multiple machines from one central server. I only started using it this year, and found writing the introduction helpful in clarifying how I understood it to work.

Even today these pieces get a lot of traffic since they managed to get carried upon the cfengine website.

Upgrading From Woody

There were several articles posted covering various aspects of upgrading from Woody to Sarge - the long awaited new stable release of Debian.

Most of these were well received and they were a lot of fun to write.

Perhaps the single biggest achievement of the year was the availability of the new Debian Stable release, codenamed Sarge. This was something that many people had been waiting for, and really managed to give Debian a whole new group of users.

Other changes within the project were mentioned here, and were positively received by the Debian community at large; most notably the transition to for Sid.

With the new supporters came the rise of the machines of the community, and the creation of several new Debian community websites. A positive step, and a continuing example of the importance of the Debian user community.

Controversially this site also upgraded to a CSS based layout changing the design and making several vocal users very unhappy. Still the change brought in a lot of positive things behinds the scenes such as a comprehensive test suite which has helped ensure the site continuted to run correctly and was reliable. In 2005 we managed to get slashdotted twice with no major pain!

This year ends with this site having a membership of just over 3000 users, not bad considering there were only 38 users present at the end of 2004.

On that happy note I'll wrap things up for the moment. Thanks again to all contributors past and present, all users, all commentors, and those people that make this site so much fun.

Every single time I thought I'd run out of things to write about somebody would make a useful suggestion and the site kept coming. So here's to a happy 2006

We'll return to our more usual updates in the New Year.

Update: I've made the site archive available now. This lists all the articles published month by month. And allows people to easily move back and forth in the articles - more easily than via the front-page.



Posted by Anonymous (82.181.xx.xx) on Thu 29 Dec 2005 at 15:06
thanks for the site, this is where I come to for Debian articles. Happy new year!

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by kamaraju (24.58.xx.xx) on Thu 29 Dec 2005 at 18:25
Thanks to steve for setting up and maintaining this site. 3000 is not a small number. According to debian-user itself has around 2900 users. What about the financial aspect of running the site (like hosting and maintenance costs etc.,)? I keep clicking on the ads once in a while so that they will generate some income for you. I hope that is sufficient for maintaining this site ....

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Thu 29 Dec 2005 at 20:03
[ View Steve's Scratchpad | View Weblogs ]

The dedicated server this site is running upon costs about 600 UK pounds a year. This is shared amongst maybe 12 sites all run by me.

Assuming advertising revenue is constant I reckon that I'll earn about 500 UK pounds a year - so the shortfall isn't a lot, and I can afford to pay it myself.

(I did receive some paypal donations when I used their advertising, but not enough to put up with the slow loading of the external paypal logo - so I removed it. I have also received a couple of items from my Amazon wishlist, with text thanking me for this site in particular, which I guess also counts as "revenue".)

Clicking adverts which interest you is useful, but fraudulent clicks are probably something to be wary of - if I lost the account due to abuse then I'd have no income and the server would be unsustainable!

Money isn't really a concern right now, in the future I don't know. I think the worst possible case is me being unable to manage it and offering the code/texts/domain name to somebody else. I'm sure it would be possible for somebody else to volunteer to host things if I were desperate - there are a lot of people using Debian in their workplace who'd be happy to sponsor/host it.

So far I'd rather keep it where I can control everything, but if that becomes a problem I'm happy to reconsider. Same again if ever I need a hardware upgrade/mirroring setup - I can't really afford that, but right now I don't need it. If it becomes a problem in the future then I'll post about it!

Thanks for the pointer to the list stats - I didn't realise they were available!


[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by unixsurfer (80.56.xx.xx) on Thu 29 Dec 2005 at 20:06
Thank you Steve for a site which always has information for things that as I debian user I need to know.
Please keep up the good work.


[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by advocatux (217.216.xx.xx) on Fri 30 Dec 2005 at 01:41
Thanks a million for running this site, Steve!

apt-get install Happy_New_Year.deb for everybody



[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by rob (70.185.xx.xx) on Fri 30 Dec 2005 at 03:28
[ View Weblogs ]
I have used a lot of Linux resources the last eight years to learn and troubleshoot my Debian systems and I can say that none are better than Debian-Administration.

Thank you very much Steve for your effort, time and devotion to this site.


[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by simms (216.46.xx.xx) on Fri 30 Dec 2005 at 16:12
indeed, thank you Steve.
d-a has quickly become my #1 Debian reference.

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by viper (64.6.xx.xx) on Sat 31 Dec 2005 at 17:54
Thank you!!! Quite a few articles have saved my you know what over the past 6 months. Happy new year to you and yours. Stay safe and healthy :)

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by chme (83.227.xx.xx) on Sat 31 Dec 2005 at 22:30
Thanks a lot for this excellent site, and happy new year!

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by suspended user k2 (65.92.xx.xx) on Sun 1 Jan 2006 at 06:50
[ View Weblogs ]
Thanks Steve for all the work you have done to maintain the website. Even though is a little baby just over an year old, it maintains an important place in the debian community as a source of information for various articles and documentation.

Happy New Year to all the 3k members and uncountable anonymous visitors :)

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by josh (68.96.xx.xx) on Sun 1 Jan 2006 at 07:24
Congrats Steve! Thanks for the articles, and the help and advice you've provided for me personally.

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by Anonymous (62.147.xx.xx) on Sun 1 Jan 2006 at 20:14
Thank you very much for all yours efforts! For me, this is one of the top sites for clear, brief and understandable articles on useful topics.

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by sjpwong (203.42.xx.xx) on Thu 5 Jan 2006 at 00:31
Well done on such a great resource.

I drop by every work morning to learn a little more each day :-)

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by Anonymous (158.125.xx.xx) on Sun 15 Jan 2006 at 16:56
I have gained a lot of knowledge about Debian from this site and have appreciated the effort Steve has put in.

Great work -- please do keep it up :-).

best regards,

Matthew T. Atkinson

[ Parent | Reply to this comment ]

Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Mon 16 Jan 2006 at 11:14
[ View Steve's Scratchpad | View Weblogs ]

Interesting link, thanks a lot for sharing.


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