Do you feel lucky ?

Whenever a corporate cotton-mouth says anything, their lawyers always make them add a footnote to the effect that "Past performance is not predictive of future results." so they do not get sued for being insufficiently clairvoyant.

The lawyers are wrong.

Past performance is predictive of future results: That is how we determine the odds.

Just never forget that the roll of the dice is still pure luck.

Or as author Neil Gaiman said it in a commencement speech in 2012:

»Often you will discover that the harder you work, and the more wisely you work, the luckier you get. But there is luck, and it helps.«

Approximately four million real websites use Varnish now and the number seems to grow by half a million sites per year, as it has been doing for the last 8 years.

That took a lot of luck, and wisdom was probably also involved, but mostly it was lot of hard work by a lot of people.

Wisdom is a tricky thing, the hypothesized "older—wiser" correlation is still in clinical testing and in the meantime Neil Gaiman suggests:

»So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom, and if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave like they would.«

Works for me.

2018

Despite sucking in pretty much any other aspect, 2018 was a good year for Open Source Software in general and Varnish Cache in particular.

People have finally started to understand that Free does not mean Gratis, and that quality software takes time and effort.

From to the dot-com generation reinventing reproducible builds (like we had then in the 1980'ies) to the EU setting up a pot of 850M€ bug-bounties [1], things are moving in the right direction with respect to software quality.

In 2018 the Varnish Cache project had settled into our "March and September 15th" release strategy, and released 6.0 in March and 6.1 in September, as promised, and the next release will be out in ten weeks.

We also had no security issues, and we have managed to keep the number of open issues and bug reports down.

Writing it like that makes it sound boring, but with four million web sites depending on Varnish, boring is good thing.

No news is indeed good news.

2019 and HTTP/3

The Next Big Thing in our world seems like it will be HTTP/3 ("The protocol formerly known as QUIC"), and I suspect it will drive much of our work in 2019.

It is far too early to say anything about if, when or how, but I do spend a lot of time with pencil and paper, pretending to be somebody who is good at designing secure and efficient software.

Around the time of the 2019-03-15 release we will gather for a VDD (Varnish Developer Day), and the big topic there will be HTTP/3, and then we will know and be ready to say something more detailed.

I don't think it is realistic to roll out any kind of H3 support in the September release, that release will probably only contain a some of the necessary preparatory reorganization, so expect to run production on 6.0 LTS for a while.

Varnish Moral License

I want to thank the companies who have paid for a Varnish Moral License:

  • Fastly
  • Uplex
  • Varnish Software
  • Section.io
  • Globo

The VML funding is why Varnish Cache is not on EU's hit-list and why another half million websites who started using Varnish in 2018 will not regret it.

Much appreciated!

ENOLUCK

For me 2018 ended on a sour note, when my dear friend Jacob Sparre Andersen died from cancer a week before christmas.

Society as such knows how to deal with deaths, and all sorts of procedures and rules kick in, to tie the loose ends up, respectfully and properly.

The Internet is not there yet, people on the Internet have only just started dying, and there are not yet any automatic routines or generally perceived procedures for informing the people and communities who should know, or for tying up the loose ends, accounts, repositories and memberships on the Internet.

But deaths happen, and I can tell you from personal experience that few things feel more awful, than having sent an email to somebody, to receive the reply from their heartbroken spouse, that you are many months too late [2].

Jacob was not a major persona on the Internet, but between doing a lot of interesting stuff as a multi-discipline phd. in physics, being a really good Ada programmer, a huge Lego enthusiast, an incredibly helpful person and really good at helping, he had a lot of friends in many corners of the Internet.

Jacob knew what was coming, and being his usual helpful self, he used the last few weeks to make a list of who to tell online, where things were stored, what the passwords were, and he even appointed a close friend to be his "digital executor", who will help his widow sort all these things out in the coming months.

When people die in our age-bracket, they usually do not get a few weeks notice. If Jacob had been hit by a bus, his widow would have have been stuck in an almost impossible digital situation, starting with the need to guess, well, pretty much everything, including the passwords.

In honour of my helpful friend Jacob, and for the sake of your loved ones, please sit down tonight, and write your own list of digital who, what and where, including how to gain access to the necessary passwords, and file it away in a way where it will be found, if you run out of luck.

Good luck!

phk

Footnotes

[1]I am not a big fan of bug-bounties, but I will grudingly admit that wiser men than me, notably Dan Geer, have proposed that tax-money be used to snatch the vulnerabilities up, before bad guys get hold of them, and they seem to have a point.
[2]And it does not feel any less awful if the loved ones left behind tries to fill the blanks by asking you how you knew each other and if you have any memories you could share with them.