Opensource Web services
Whilst downloading, installing and running Debian packages is easy, fun and “free”, most Web application services aren’t. I can’t be the only one that thinks there is a problem somewhere as for example, where are the all the free software Web services listed on Freshmeat?
I have an idea for a Web application though I thought it would be cool to make it as Free software though it can be a pain.
- Getting a reliable host
- Host has to be Debian and probably unstable to get the bleeding edge stuff :)
- You probably want to have root, hence dedicated
- It is probably expensive and you might have to watch bandwidth
- You have to create accounts, where your colleagues also want root.
- You could use sudo though you’ll probably get frustrated with it and end up with “ALL = NOPASSWD: ALL” and no one checks the logs ;)
- You’re probably want Xen and a few IPs
- Since Web application packaging with current tools is near impossible with all the different httpds and DBMSes, you’ll probably have to use some odd hand crafted setup.
- You will probably want a DBA sooner or later, to figure WTF is going on with your DBMS ;)
- You’ll probably end up with a several step build&deployment process (that’s bad)
- Testing (if you ever get that far) will probably be a kludge
- To lower the barrier of entry, you will probably go for PHP which is great to deploy. Scary to secure.
- Though non-PHP avenues will probably require FastCGI. And FastCGI on Apache last time I checked is PAIN.
- Your developers probably can’t run the Web application locally as it such a pain to setup (esp. forget offline)
- Your Web application will probably need mail server access and all the pain that comes with that.
- Your application will have to deal with difficult abuse problems like spam that ordinary applications don’t usually deal with.
- If your project’s site becomes popular you’ll have a ton of maintenance and scalability head aches that will probably require money to be thrown at the problem.
- Someone will think your Web design stinks. Then if you use some “designer”, he creates some awful XHTML template and some fixed px style sheet with images replacing text. ;)
I think there is a few more “barriers to entry” problems running a Web application service as a free software project. Web hosting is generally quite poor and a lot of the Web centric deployment/packaging tools aren’t up to scratch.
Though there are a couple of amazing examples of “open source” Web services, like the stuff My Society do. Any other good examples?
Nonetheless I would like to see Debian serve as an even better Web application platform.
Update: I think “services” makes more sense than “application” in this context… I hope you’ll agree.