Alyssa Ross
@qyliss

I’m making free software for now and the future

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Until October 2020, if you donate to me on GitHub, they will match your donation. Please donate there if you can.

I’ve been creating and improving free software for years. Formerly, I was a maintainer of Homebrew, a package manager for macOS. Currently, I’m a Nixpkgs committer, helping to develop NixOS, a purely functional GNU/Linux distribution. I estimate that I have made small improvements to more than a hundred free software packages, big and small, over the past few years. Some highlights are the csv and rexml modules in the Ruby standard library, and Mesa, part of the graphics stack on Linux.

In the next year, I want to continue improving Nixpkgs by contributing code and participating even more in the RFC process. I have so far been on the shepherding committees for two NixOS RFCs, and I’d like to be able to continue to do that. I also have one or two in my head I’d like to write down and submit. I want to continue offering improvements to every part of the free software ecosystem when I run into things that could be better (which I very often do). But the really big thing I have planned is Spectrum, a NixOS distribution focused around security through compartmentalisation in the style of Qubes OS, but with the diversity of hardware support and ease of maintenance afforded by the Linux kernel and Nix.

Don’t you have grant funding? Why are you asking for money?

For Spectrum specifically, I do have some grant funding to cover the work I do on that. However, this only pays out when I hit milestones, which can make things extremely stressful and planning my month to month expenses very difficult. I believe in it strongly enough that I quit my job to pursue it, but it’s a very ambitious project and having my income entirely dependent on its progress leads to stress that gets in the way of being able to make that progress. Additionally, with Spectrum as my only source of income, it’s very difficult to prioritise other work in the wider ecosystem. I think I have a lot to give there as well, and your support will help me continue to do that important work in addition to my work developing Spectrum.

Can I see what my donation is going to?

Absolutely. I publish regular status updates on my work on my blog. If I start getting money through donations, I’d like to expand these and talk in more detail about all the work I do. I want to at least mention every little patch, and dive into the really interesting ones in more detail. But without your support, I just can’t justify the time it would take to publish in that level of detail.

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