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Making Open Source Beer

A year ago, some enterprising lads at the IT University of Copenhagen released a recipe of beer under the Creative Commons license. Because of the license, anybody that made money from selling the beer would need to give them credit and publish any changes to the recipe under a similar license. It was a novel idea and got some press from both the Open Source and the beer brewing communities.

But just like many applications in the Open Source world, getting an Open Source beer recipe is the first (and usually easiest) step in a long, involved, sometimes unpleasant, process. And I hope that anybody making Open Source anything takes criticism really well….

Steps to make Open Source beer

  1. Buy all of the equipment necessary to brew the beer. If you’re a home brewer, you’ll already have much of the equipment. But if you’re starting from scratch, you may have some hefty startup costs (e.g. a stove, fuel, stainless steel pots, carboys, etc.). And depending on the amount of beer needed, you may need a really big fermenter. Note: I’m assuming that you’re brewing and not at some pay-to-brew establishment.
  2. Download the Open Source recipe from Vores Ol.
  3. Buy all of the ingredients. Or if you have a spare year, grow your own barley, hops, sugar and yeast.
  4. Mix all of the ingredients together following the recipe.
  5. Let the ingredients cook for a while but make sure they don’t boil over.
  6. Add the yeast and ferment for two weeks.
  7. Bottle the beer.
  8. Drink the beer. No matter what it tastes like, you’ll love your beer. But you’ll need to see how others will respond. Let your friends drink your beer. But don’t resent them because they don’t appreciate the hard work that you put into making the beer or the flavors in the beer. Create a journal to track the feedback. Comments like “this tastes like teriyaki” usually mean that you skipped some necessary ingredient.
  9. Make modifications to your recipe based on the feedback.
  10. See if any improvements have been made to the original recipe that may make your beer better. Get the latest recipe and hope that applying your changes to the new recipe doesn’t make it taste like teriyaki.
  11. Sit back and enjoy your beer – until you need more beer.

Let’s see how this compares to an Open source application

  1. Buy all of the hardware necessary to run the application. If you have an I.T. department, then you’ll hopefully have much of the equipment already. But if you’re starting from scratch, then you’ll have to buy a server, switch, firewall, etc. And depending on the application needed, you may need a really big server. Note: I’m assuming that you’re running on some flavor of Linux and not some operating system you have to purchase.
  2. Download the Open Source application (known as version 0.7) from SourceForge or other website.
  3. Download all of the necessary applications (e.g. Apache HTTP Server, MySQL, etc.) to run your application. Or if you have a spare year, write your own applications.
  4. Install and setup the OS, web server, database, etc.
  5. Run the peripheral applications for a bit and make sure your system doesn’t crash.
  6. Install your application and test for a bit.
  7. Release the application.
  8. Use your application. No matter how buggy the application is, you’ll love your application. But you’ll need to see how your users will respond. Get feedback from your user community. But don’t resent them because they don’t appreciate the hard work you put into creating the application or what the application actually does. Create a bug tracking website to track the feedback. Comments like “it crashed the system” usually mean that you failed on some key element.
  9. Make modifications to the application based on the feedback.
  10. See if any improvements have been made to the original application that may make your application better. Download version 0.8 and hope that applying your modifications to the new version don’t break anything.
  11. Sit back and enjoy your application – until you need more features.

And finally

It’s usually easier to go to the store/bar/pub and buy the beer that you really want.  But where’s the fun in that?!?

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