Movable Type just got a whole lot easier to install for Debian users thanks to newly available Debian packages.
But what makes this addition to the Movable Type Open Source Project so great is not the fact that installing Movable Type can now be as simple as typing "
apt-get install movabletype-opensource" (then again that is pretty awesome) but the fact that it was a project undertaken and completed by the community itself -- and one person in particular: Dominic Hargreaves.
We caught up with Dominic shortly after he announced the availability of the packages he created and conducted a brief interview with him in an attempt to help us all get to know a little bit better those who give so freely to our community.
What drew your interest to MTOS and the MT community?
I'm very much an FOSS-inclined person. For many years now I've almost exclusively used free and open source software - in fact, MT was a rare exception when I first installed it. When I decided to go against my normal ideals and use MT, it was because it seemed to be far ahead of any FOSS alternatives, and the pragmatist in me won out.
I was therefore very excited to read the announcement of MTOS in the summer of last year, since it would mean I could be less tied down by the terms of a commercial license. In particular one thing I wanted to do with MT from the start was make it available centrally on the machine I use to host a few friends' websites, to avoid having lots of copies of MT installed there, but the license terms didn't permit that (and since the machine was being run as a hobby, paying for the commercial offering wasn't practical). Finally, I'm now in a position to set up the multi-blog setup that I wanted to start with, and take away the software maintenance tasks from those friends. And as a bonus, hopefully I've made MT more accessible to others with my Debian packaging efforts.
I also believe that opening up MT can only be good for innovation - there is evidence on the dev list of many talented and interested developers outside Six Apart who are keen to contribute.
What cool things can MT do that you like?
My own use of MT is extremely modest - I've been using it for my personal blog since early 2004, when I imported all the entries I'd written by hand in HTML for the previous 6 or so years. So I'm not really what you'd call a power user, but the friendly user interface was what always struck me about MT, as well as the very powerful templating engine. I felt quite strongly that I wanted MT to be almost invisible to my site's visitors, and simply have it be responsible for publishing a subset of the pages there, which was made relatively straightforward by MT's features.
Although I've so far done very little digging into the code (beyond what was required to debug the package during packaging) my impression is of a very well-maintained, modular Perl application, and since Perl is my speciality, I know that when I do need to dig in to fix something, I won't be too lost.
Is Debian your preferred distro? Why?
Yes! I've used Debian almost exclusively for quite some time now. Originally I was persuaded to try Debian because of its superior package management - at the time, the APT package manager was fairly unique in its power, I believe. It became apparent that, even then, Debian had the widest range of software bundled, that the overall quality of packaging was extremely high, and that this was down to its large community-drive developer base. This reflected (and continues to reflect) the Debian project's tagline "The Universal Operating System".
Debian has had its problems; it is perhaps notorious for the occasional bout of in-fighting on its mailing lists, but I believe that reflects a vibrant, active community who are passionate about making Debian even better. I see Debian flourishing for many more years to come.
I'm also very positive about derivatives, by the way; especially Ubuntu. While I'm not an Ubuntu user myself (I prefer to be closer to the bare metal) I'm aware that it performs a valuable role in making GNU/Linux more accessible in general. I hope that my MT packages will make it into Ubuntu in due course.
What would you like to see next from the MT community?
One obvious thing that's current missing is an publicly accessible bug/issue tracker, but I understand that you're working through some issues, and that the intent is there.
The other main thing is ensuring that all the modules distributed in extlib/ are available on CPAN at the correct version number. There were a couple of times I needed to prod the dev list to get these sorts of things clarified when developing the Debian package (and to the credit of those who responded, did get the answers I needed!). But I do think it's important to make sure that the project stays firmly in the open source mindset by making sure any future innovations are made widely available. I recall that there are further discussions about making the core application framework parts of MT more generic and splitting them out, which would be great to see.
Lastly but importantly, I hope that MTOS will continue to be at the forefront of MT development, and receive the ongoing maintenance that any project needs. So far Six Apart have shown every sign of doing this, which is encouraging!
On behalf of Six Apart, and the entire Movable Type, Debian, Ubuntu and open source communities, let me be the first to give Dominic a standing ovation and say, "thank you Dominic!"
To learn more, check out the resources below: