For eleven years now, I’ve been part of the Samba Team, the core group of developers that lead, develop, and release Samba (http://www.samba.org/). It has been a wonderful, at times stressful, experience for me. However, during April of this year I decided it was time to step down from my position within the team. There are lots of events that played a role in my decision, not the least of which is my involvement in the development of a new open source SMB/CIFS server as part of the Likewise Open project (http://www.likewiseopen.org/). But I was also curious about experiencing Samba development without upstream commit access and see how far the distributed development model with git could go.
The real question for me as I look back on the past decade is, “What have I learned?” There are the obvious technical things like the Windows printing architecture, authentication protocols, and a slew of DCE/RPC operations. But what did I really learn?
One piece of knowledge that I hope I have gained is to never allow your identity to be determined by the code or project you work on. In the end, it is just code. It should be code that you are proud of, but like all things it will eventually be replaced or fade away. Someone will rewrite what you have written or it will simply be removed from the base as it becomes unnecessary. These events are inevitable and should be seen as the cycle of life reflected in code. Letting go that emotional ownership allows one to view things in a more objective light and avoid feeling threatened by logical assessments of the code’s value by others.
Secondly, there is something to learn from everyone. Engineers of all types have a strong tendency to be opinionated at the expense of not asking ourselves, “What wisdom can I glean from this comment?” Never cease to listen to the ideas of others. Humility will not fail you.
I read once that the human brain can only truly grasp seven concepts at once without resorting to an additional memory mechanism. For myself, if I can only remember these two and put them to daily use I believe I will be the better for it.
(Originally published on 5/9/2009 on www.plainjoe.org)