Whither Tux4Kids: An Angry Time Tirade

Sam Hart

2007-02-05 18:41:20

I've recently rolled out a massive Drupal upgrade across all the sites that I run that are Drupal-powered, and in the process I started using the Captcha Drupal module to try and combat spam. You see, a lot of my Drupal-based sites are fairly high profile, for example FFXI ClanAM is in the top results for most Google queries on FFXI-related things. The end result is that we get hit pretty hard with spam.

Well, one of the sites that was hit REALLY hard was (and is) the Tux4Kids one. In cleaning the mess that the spammers made there, I found some comments from people asking what the fuck is going on with Tux4Kids. They were bitching and moaning about link spam, and how the site has been in transition for a while. But no one was offering any help.

So, I'd like to set the record straight on Tux4Kids right now.

Tux4Kids began in 1996(ish) when I first started working on Tux Typing. Tux Typing was a little educational typing tutor that was intended to make learning how to type on the computer fun for little kids. It was critically acclaimed at the time, featured in many magazines and some books, and was, generally speaking, a resounding success.

The success of Tux Typing lead me to create a larger organization called "Tux4Kids". This organization would be something that would be a safe haven for developers wanting to develop educational software under various Free-Software and Open-Source licenses.

Around 1999, Tux4Kids was doing very well. We had several dozen developers toiling away on a dozen or so projects including Tux of Math Command, TuxPaint, TuxReader, TuxJunior (a live-CD project with educational software), and many others.

Around 2000, everything started to fall apart. The tech-sector crashed, most of the Tux4Kids people found themselves without jobs, and those who still had jobs found their jobs to be in peril. Many of us started having to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet, this meant less and less time spent working on T4K related stuff.

In Sept. 2001, a certain event occurred that just so happened to coincide with a roll-out of a game that unfortunately mirrored real world horrors in a comical way. This really did mark the beginning of the end for T4K. The unfortunately timed software release, and the mental miasma that pervaded the country for the next year after this tragedy, meant that virtually nothing got done in T4K for a good year or two.

Sometime in 2002 or 2003, our one donated server from Sun was compromised by crackers and began serving up porn. Suddenly Tux4Kids began springing up in Web-Nanny and other filtration software used all over the world. This meant that the very audience we were targeting (school children, teachers and parents) could no longer even get to our servers. It also meant that we had to take the server down and effectively lost all of our backed up mailing list traffic, older releases, and websites that this server hosted. We fought tooth and nail with various filtration systems to get us out of their databases, but no one was willing to listen.

Then, in January 2004, the final nail was driven into Tux4Kid's coffin.

See, I had been working three jobs at this point. I was putting my (now-ex)wife through graduate school, working a system administrative job during the day, teaching evening and weekend courses, and doing consulting on the side. The end result was that I was busy with work from 7am to 10pm every weekday, and 8am to 5pm every weekend, and any free time I managed to have was then devoured by my consulting gigs.

The end result was I was fucking busy. I was fucking busy putting a woman through graduate school who would then divorce me via email immediately after graduating, and I had no time to deal with any T4K-related shit.

Unfortunately, this meant that what should have been a simple domain registrar transfer turned into the ideal situation for a domain squatter to steal the Tux4Kids.org domain name. With that domain gone, we scrambled to do something, anything to survive, but alas, we were all too damned busy.

I then divorced, got a new job, moved, got remarried, etc. and so on.

Well, the problem is, I still don't have time for T4K. In fact, I'd say I have less time now than I did before. For reasons I cannot go into (they involve my current job), my time is 150% drained these days. I can't do shit.

Coupled to this fact is the fact that I am increasingly less and less interested in working on T4K related things. There is so much bad history here in T4K for me that even if I had the time to work on it, I'm not sure I'd really want to.

So when some asshole comes onto the T4K site and bitches because we aren't doing anything, it fucking pisses me off. If you want something done then fucking offer to do it yourself. Take the project over from me, become the administrator of the T4K Drupal sites. I don't mind hosting the servers and keeping the software up to date, but someone else must take over the site content and management side from me or else it will never happen.

The problem is, no one is ever willing to do that. They are always willing to bitch and moan and post idiotic comments without understanding the history, but they are never willing to take up the ropes and lead this horse into greener pastures.

If anyone is serious about wanting to take the reigns, they should contact me in the #tux4kids channel at irc.freenode.net. Either that, or send me an IM to sam@jabber.pimpscript.net. Don't email me, it wont fucking get to me. Use one of those two means to get a hold of me or get lost.

But until someone is willing to run this thing, it will continue to languish and nothing will happen.

I still don't consider T4K dead... I just consider it in a severe coma. It wont get better unless someone with the time can come along and revive it.