Foswiki v1.0 hits beta

On the 26th of December 2008, Kenneth built Foswiki v1.0 Beta 1, and then Foswiki v1.0 Beta 2 on the 28th. Since then we’ve been busy testing and fixing things that are side effects of the Secure by default policy we’ve instigated.

I’ll be releaseing a Windows installer using Apache 2.2 and Strawberry Perl when Beta 3 is released – we’re still working through some Windows oddities.

its pretty amazing what has been achieved in the 2 months since the project forked.

  1. Massive XSS and parameter validation changes
  2. much more resistant input validation (Perl taint checking)
  3. over 160 bugs fixed

Happy new year, and a happy new Data Wiki release.

TWiki: a case study of howto lose users?

In a clear example of TWiki.NET’s new no-testing policy [1], Their star worker has yesterday un-necessarily uploaded over 300 plugins from the wrong branch in Subversion.

Rather than testing each contrib before uploading, as has been the policy on since the Plugins web was created, is now full of buggy, outdated or just plain wrong packages. The only stable option they have is to revert the uploads using rcs – as many plugins are either not up to date in subversion, or worse, are works in progress in Subversion.

Adding that to the latest TWiki 4.2.4 release, which was released with failing unit tests, and some very dubious changes:
we have already submitted to them an updated exploit that is present in 4.2.4 for the CVE-2008-5304 XSS exploit
– presumably they will release 4.2.5 in the next week?

Its a pretty sad time for those of us with users on TWiki (as Foswiki hasn’t released yet), but it has certainly spurred us along, now we need it more than we ever expected.

[1] Tom Barton: issues … impeding progress: an excessively rigorous approach to testing that actually inhibited less experienced developers from contributing code; …

Strawberry Perl rocks Windows.

if you’re working or just running Perl on Windows, drop everything, run, don’t walk, to StrawberryPerl. Adam Kennedy has not only made a real Perl for windows, he’s made a proper Perl . One where CPAN just plain works.

Even better, he’s made a Perl that you can use portably, from your USB stick, so you don’t even need to install Perl on your locked down computer.

To learn about his code, I’m building a FoswikiOnAStick distro based on his code, and then I hope to work out how to extend the concept to other platforms.

Foswiki: 790 commits in 3 weeks, and now we have a name!

3 weeks into a fork compelled by the Trademark problems of the 10 year old TWiki name, and we’re almost fully reborn.

Foswiki – started out as Free, Open Source Wiki – When Community matters.

Next steps for us will be to create the Foswiki Association, and to release Foswiki v1.0 – all before Christmas 🙂

Week 2 in ‘NextWiki’ – still running at breakneck speeds

We might not yet have a name, but we’ve had over 100 commits per week, plus the 400 odd coming from my importing into our repository. The rebranding changes for the ****** v1.0 release have been declared 80% done, so the worst case estimate would see the other 80% take about 8 weeks :).

Our bug and task tracking system’s live, with connections to svn commits, twitters and lots and lots of activity both on irc and the Wiki – Its almost impossible to keep up with everything.

One week later in ‘NextWiki’

What a busy week. We’ve now been freed up to execute our plans, and so as of the first NextWiki meeting (4am Sydney time – i’m shattered) we have:

A plan for a new name (round one selections done), so we can re-brand with our own message and a functioning web site, with a newly created skin.
We’ve also set up a Subversion repository, in which we’ve already begun work on the new release, and the future release and added more automated testing facilities to ensure release quality only goes UP.
A massive cheer and support squad from an amazing number of users and helpers came to visit (and stay) us – some even just poping into the IRC channel to say hi and good luck, and then instantly logged off – not even time for us to thank them. AMAZING

We’re also working on geo-distributed Wiki servers, both for speed (your requests will go to your nearest server) and for redundancy – so its likely that in the near future, you’ll be able to replace your TWiki with something faster and more scalable (I played with searching a bit, and was receiving 1365 results in a 1.25MB html file as fast as my net connection would go).

For anyone worried about what the NextWiki fork means to you, here’s an excerpt from WhatTheForkMeans :

The democratic community model has worked for the TWiki community – developers and other contributors – and has brought you TWiki v3, 4.0, 4.1 and 4.2. That is why the reaction against the recent piracy has been so strong, and so unanimous. All the key TWiki developers are now working on the fork. The democratic nature of the project means that there is no weak point in the governance model (see Rod Beckstrom’s book for more about the power of leaderless organisations).

The winds of change have set people thinking, as well as brought back to life people who were previously inactive because of what was happening in the old project. The initial chaos is clearing fast, and plans are being made. Some of the plans include bringing back upgrade scripts, and using them to be an import tool – so upgrades will be much easier. Because we’re going to have to rename so many topics, we’re working on backwards compatibility code, migration tools etc, which will make things much simpler into the future. It’s hard to say exactly how long before we are able to release, but to put it in perspective, the biggest challenge we face is rebranding the code and documentation to avoid the unwelcome attentions of Peter Thoeny’s lawyers.

Why you should not be afraid your TWiki site will fall apart. KennethLavrsen (the ex-TWiki release manager) has summarised our position:

One thing that some key developers promised me when I agreed to support a fork (if needed) was that the fork remained 100% backwards compatible. This is one of the make or break ones. I do not have the funding to train 1000+ users to learn new terminology. It will be work enough to teach them that TWiki is no longer TWiki.

For this reason we have asked Kenneth to continue to lead in the project’s ReleaseTaskTeam – assisted as before by SvenDowideit, and to only allow the next release out the door when this promise is fulfilled. The entire decision making (and action taking) team has moved from TWiki to the Fork. Our direction, goals and aspirations have not really changed – we’re just less encumbered.As for upgrades; at this point there is no reason to change the way you have always done things. We will do our very best to make sure the upgrade is as painless as possible; we recognise that most of the people who use TWiki seek security, continuity and stability above everything else.

TWiki stops being open source.

In September 2008, there was a TWiki Summit in Berlin, at which a Community Council was elected by Community members to move the project to independence from the TWIKI.NET startup. A few days ago, TWIKI.NET responded, by taking over full control of all of’s servers, locking everyone out and converting the project to Commercial open source.

As I’ve been working on the TWiki codebase for almost 10 years – and started from JOSWiki too, I too feel uncomfortable about this change, Especially as re-signing up to requires that I not only agree to a new terms of use, but also to their very evil commercialy based privacy policyPersonal information you provide (or have provided) to may be shared with TWIKI.NET to support ongoing business and communication processes. – essentially saying that they can use your information for marketing themselves, and to sell that information on (you can only opt out of being contacted.)

In the short term, I hope to continue supporting the TWiki installers I build, and with the rest of the active development community, to build an independent alternative.

Please support the twikifork if you’d like to support those that previously developed the codebase called TWiki.
TWiki's hunt for cash fractures its community (CNET)

What makes an Enterprise Wiki Special

OSDC 2008: Sydney

see me at OSDC 2008 – 3-5 December 2008. I’ll be giving a short talk and demo:

Traditional Wikis are about developing ‘legacy’ documents. Wikipedia is an asymptotic example where the ideal is to craft a perfect topic that accurately and concisely covers its subject matter.

Enterprise Wikis have a different focus :- they attempt to dynamically integrate processes, workflows and data, to support and automate an Enterprises Business Intelligence.

They provide integration points to provide not only an up to date status of an Enterprise, but to provide a Historical record of the development of that status, providing a Knowledge management and decision making framework.

Today, Enterprise Wiki’s are Social Knowledge management systems, recruiting peers throughout an organization, but leading into the future, Enterprise Wiki’s will become Knowledge driven Performance indicating Dashboards.

TWiki 4.2.3 JeOS Virtual Machine

TWiki 4.2 JeOS VM

download mirror 1 460MB (USA) TWiki 4.2.3, (does not include VMware):

Easy installation on Windows, Linux and OSX!

Trivial upgrades of TWiki and TWiki Plugins

Summary: This package enables you to quickly and easily install a pre-configured TWiki 4.2 ‘software appliance’ on Windows, by using the free VMware Player or VMware Server – like another computer running within your computer. This generally performs better than a normal WindowsInstallCookbook approach and is easier to install than IndigoPerlCookbook (takes just 5 minutes, a bit like installing a hard disk that has TWiki and Linux pre-installed). Although running TWiki on Linux on top of Windows may seem complicated, it’s actually much simpler than installing TWikiOnWindowsno TWiki or Linux knowledge is needed to get a working TWiki installation!

IDEA! This uses TWiki VM 4.2.3 released on 12 September 2008. It is installed using SvenDowideit‘s fosiki TWiki debian package repository to make upgrades, and installation of TWiki Plugins (with external dependencies) easy.

Open source culture clash

Larry Augustin talks about the difference in how open source is selected and perceived between the US and Europe – roughly boiling down to:

US companies see Open source as a free ride they can take to getting their millions, whereas Europeans see Open source as a way to reduce risk, and localise expertise.

In many things Australia follows the US examples – but with their economy imploding due to criminally negligent stupidity, and the Australian government contemplating a 50% tax rebate for companies that work on open source – perhaps things are looking up here.

The open source project has a governance crisis for exactly this mismatch reason. The main code contributors for the last 5 years have been, well, me and Crawford Currie – both of us with very European ideals for the project, and most of the users and other contributors feel the same way. Then, last year, Peter, the project founder found some angel funding to build a startup to capitalize on his ownership of the trademark – very much in the US open source way.

This isn’t being handled cleverly enough PR wise – most likely because the ‘US’ open source style companies aren’t even aware that they are behind.