This website is a cleaned up reconstruction of the Free Software project www.rule-project.org. I rebuilt it because, in my opinion, RULE was based on very good ideas, mostly very valid even today, and it would have been a pity not to maintain them available.
Back in 2002, I and other Red Hat users where not really satisfied with some trends in our favourite distribution and in Gnu/Linux in general. What we didn’t like was (in 2002!) the tendency of Gnu/Linux systems to become fatter and slower (on the same hardware, of course) at every release. Sure, there already were package managers to figure out all dependencies, but… was it really needed to fill one’s hard disk with tons of libraries for all possible combinations of human languages and hardware peripherals (e.g: having to install PCMCIA or infrared drivers even on desktop computers, or 10/12 locales for each package when only one was used)? Especially considering that Gnu/Linux desktops were not becoming sensibly faster at each release of each distribution?
On top of all this, in February 2002 we noticed a paradox: Anaconda, the Red Hat installer, that is a program that by definition runs once per distribution version, required much more memory than the Linux kernel itself. You could very well run Red Hat on computers with less than 32 MByte of RAM (I told you, this was 2002!)… but you couldn’t install it on the drive because the installer would refuse to run. This meant that lots of perfectly working conditions would become obsolete for no real reason, generating unnecessary pollution or expenses for their owners.
We felt that hardware, instead, is only as old as the software it runs. We felt that it should be possible to Run Up to date Linux Everywhere (RULE!), even on older computers, instead of trashing them away or running unsecure distributions without support or maintenance anymore. So we started the RULE project: not another Gnu/Linux distribution, but a way to install existing ones on older computers and configuring them with standard applications, but in the best possible way to achieve modern features with the smallest possible hardware resources.
In my opinion, we did something good, or at least had a few very good ideas. Unfortunately, we the founders where never really able to find the time to complete it as we wanted. We also had to move from server to server several times, losing or duplicating files along the road and recovering from hardware crashes, until we found a home at www.rule-project.org, kindly hosted by the Athens Linux Users Group to which we are very grateful! However, around 2006 activity stopped almost completely.
Around 2009 I decided that I wanted to at least clean up and freeze the project and its website in a clean, ordered state. The task wasn’t simple. I had all the data (web pages, backups, code, etc…) but for the reasons above, they were a complete mess with lots of duplicates. Besides, www.rule-project.org was running a very old version of Drupal which would take lots of time to update (even if the Athens LUG was available to help), I had files that had never been put online anywhere, I had lost track of the guy who registered the domain… To cut it short, it seemed to me that it would have been much better to redo everything from scratch, that is clean up all the “source files” and then re-enter everything in a modern Content Management System on a server on which I had complete control.
At the same time, but for totally unrelated reasons, I also decided to study how to (partially) automate web content creation and management with Free Software (I’ll document how in the future at FreeSoftware.zona-m.net. It then seemed a natural field trial to rebuild RULE. It took a lot of work, but the result is what you are looking at now. Today you can browse the articles, talks, docs, screenshots and the other stuff in the “Categories” section of the sidebar to see what we tried to do. I’m sure that you will find some interesting food for thought.
Will RULE restart?
It would be great. As much as I’d like it, however, I don’t have the time to do it. However, thanks to all the work I’ve done here, today it is certainly much, much easier, for whoever may be interested, to restart RULE for real, at www.rule-project.org (1) or anywhere else. This website will remain available in any case.
Errors, broken links, miscellanea…
In spite of all my scripting and testing, there are surely broken links or actual copying / rebuilding errors lying around in these pages. They are my fault only. If you find them, please tell me in the comments to the corresponding pages.
Why the ads here? For two reasons. One, minor, is to partially recover the costs of this server. Another is that automatic ads insertion in html pages is just one of the things I wanted/needed to test.
License: all the text on this website is published under the GNU Free Documentation License. All the software is under the GPLv2 license.
(1) on 20101025 a friend told me that the www.rule-project.org website returns a 404 “url not found” error. I don’t know why yet, or if it is temporary (I hope it is), but it confirms that it was indeed a good idea to rebuild everything myself first.