Today, I orphaned AUB — my very first Debian package and the first free software project whose maintenance I took over. I had been helping and doing work in Debian and the free software community for some time but AUB was the first package I uploaded into Debian with my own name in the maintainer field and with my key in the Debian keyring.
AUB is a program for working with Usenet binaries. As late as 2002 perhaps, it was a pretty useful tool for a variety of things. Today, however, it doesn’t seem to be useful for much more than indiscriminately downloading large amounts of porn and spam. The software is crusty and written in Perl 4 which, today, seems almost unforgivable. Like Usenet, AUB’s day has come and gone.
During my maintenance of the package, I ended up taking over upstream development and writing and integrating quite a few new features and patches. In fact, there still seem to be a few users! Unfortunately, I am not one them and I officially gave up on upstream maintenance a few months ago and contacted the submitters of all pending bug reports. Today I’m orphaning the Debian package and completely letting go.
None of this is particularly noteworthy, I suppose. If AUB was ever important, it hasn’t been for a long time. I think its worth mentioning because it’s symbolic of the completion of the life cycle of a free software project that was important in my own growth. Languages, the world, and even I have moved on. In the process, I’ve grown hugely as a developer, programmer, and free software activist and advocate. Minor as it be, AUB played an important role in this whole process.
If you are interested in taking over AUB, please let me know. Otherwise, I’m just as happy to let it disappear.