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Final days: Tectonic to close

By   |  July 7, 2009

This is my final post on Tectonic. After more than nine years I have decided that it is time to close the site and move on to new projects.

This has not been an easy decision to make. Tectonic has been so much a part of my life for for that time that not doing it will leave a sizable gap. On the other hand, Tectonic has come under increasing pressure with other projects and work vying for attention. Because of that, keeping the site running is simply not viable and I no longer have the resources to make the sacrifices that in the past have kept the site running.

Through Tectonic I have met amazing people and made incredible friends. I have also been lucky enough to travel to interesting places and see the innovation and commitment of the free and open source community first hand. I started Tectonic because I was passionate about free and open source software and that passion for FOSS has not faded in the least over ten years, even if my ability to maintain Tectonic has been diminished.

Group effort
While I have run Tectonic from its inception I am not the only one who can be credited with its success. Over the years there have been many writers that have filled the site with news and views. Among these were also many volunteers who expected nothing in return for their knowledge. To Jason, James, Richard and everyone else who contributed time and effort, thank you.

One of the major supporters of Tectonic over the years has been Obsidian Systems without which the site may well have been shut down a lot earlier. Thank you to Muggie, Charles, Robin and everyone else that made this a lot easier than it ought to have been.

Over the years Tectonic also developed a strong relationship with many community organisations from user groups to advocacy groups which both provided information and prompted me to do more. There were also individuals that were consistent and unfaltering supporters offering insight and feedback at every turn. I can’t name everyone but I think you know who you are. Thank you.

“Closing” is not really the right word. Come August 1 Tectonic will not simply be switched off. I plan to maintain the existing site in an archived form for as long as is reasonable so that the information remains available.

I will not, however, be posting new articles on the site from today and from the end of July I will disable the comments and discussion areas on the site. I have considered various options for extending Tectonic’s life without my input. Depending on resources these may or may not happen, but I am not promising.

On a personal level I have many new plans and opportunities that I am excited about pursuing, many of which naturally involve free and open source software. As these plans take shape I will write about them on my, until now largely ignored, personal blog: Drop by and keep in touch.




26 Responses to “Final days: Tectonic to close”

  1. Walter
    July 7th, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

    This is very sad news indeed. Tectonic will be missed… a lot. :(

    Thank you, Alistair, for your years of sacrifice and contribution. You rock! Tectonic has always been and will be remembered as a very important part of the ZA FLOSS movement.

    Looking forward to what your other projects will bring. Good luck!

  2. Wogan
    July 7th, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

    I’m sad to see it “go” – Tectonic’s proven an essential source of OSS news in SA. I hope you find some way to keep it going!

    ~ Wogan

  3. Thulani
    July 7th, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

    How sad ? I guess I have to remove tectonic from my bookmarks now as it was my favourite open source knowledge base.

    Have you considered selling the blog to an established publisher? Or is this another example that blogging , open source and other technology opportunities in the world are not working in South Africa. Hosting , bandwith is very expensive here. One of the reasons that many small enterprises are failing in Africa.

    I always wanted to blog , but then I thought , it’s not worth it in South Africa. We like things that come from abroad. Surely , you should have had sponsors and advertisers to keep you running.

    Farewell brother , we love you.

  4. A.J. Venter
    July 7th, 2009 @ 2:11 pm

    Well Al,
    What can I say, tectonic has become an institution in the FOSS world in Africa and particularly in
    South Africa. Your site was syndicated by news sites around the world so you gave a voice to the local FOSS community that could be heard around the world.

    I remember when I first met you many years ago – heck I remember the many articles I started writing for the site, most of which were never finished, but the few that were ultimately published, and I remember how your site had consistently shone a spotlight on the efforts of local developers.

    It was here that some of our proudest creations like knowledgetree first became known. Here that I came to tell the world about projects like outkafe and kongoni.
    Here that I, like every other FOSS developer in the country, knew we could always find a platform to say “look what we’ve done”.

    The service you’ve done our community is imeasurable and it’s sad to see you go, but life goes on and I’m sure your future projects will bring your the fullfillment and passion that you are now seeking. Good luck ahead. As one of the thousands of developers who came to rely on you as our journalistic voice, I thank you for the role you’ve played in our young community.

  5. kmf
    July 7th, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

    We are going to miss you!

  6. nuvolari
    July 7th, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

    *gulp* uhm, ya… a sad day it is indeed. I might not have had a lot to do with Tectonic but it surely is something that I, a member of the OpenSource Community of SA is proud of.

    Thanks for your commitment and service to the community. We will surely miss Tectonic like Walter said, a lot. All of the best with your future projects and all that you may be doing from here onwards.

    Good Luck and Thanks again!

  7. Craig A. Adams
    July 7th, 2009 @ 4:31 pm

    Hi Alastair,

    Sorry to see the site go.

    Tectonic was always a daily visit for me and even published my OOo 2.0 article, not only online, but in the print version as well.

    Will miss the site for sure.

    Kindest regards and all the best for the future.

    Craig A. Adams

  8. morgs
    July 7th, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

    Alastair, thanks for all you have done for SA, Africa and the world.

  9. Craig A. Adams
    July 7th, 2009 @ 5:31 pm

    For those of you interested in seeing what Alastair actually looks like, have a look at this picture:

  10. Hilton Theunissen
    July 7th, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

    Hi Al, eish I know this was a very very difficult decision. Your work over the years continued to inspire me. Not reading a post on tectonic is going to leave a huge gap in my daily feed of what is happening in the OS world, especially in South Africa. From tuXlabs and Inkululeko we will continue applaud you and tectonic will always be recognised as a catalyst of spreading news of tuXlabs. Infact tectonic gave tuXlabs a presence within the SA OSS community. Best of luck with your new endeavours.

  11. Alan McKinnon
    July 7th, 2009 @ 6:40 pm

    This is a sad day indeed. Tectonic has been in my RSS reader since forever and Alistair always managed to find interesting content relevant to SA.

    I even managed to pen a few articles and have them published here over the years – I still have them all safely stored in a box. One day my kids will be old enough to grasp what Tectonic was really all about and I’ll be able to take out those old mags, dust them off and show them off with some pride.

    Alistair, I met you on many occasions over the years and it’s been a pleasure to know you. I wish you all the best for the future and much success.

  12. Mark C
    July 7th, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

    Hi Allistair

    Sorry to see that posting interesting FOSS news on this site will stop. Your articles helped me a lot to further the use of free and open source software in the organisation that I work for. I will kiss it.

    I hope your other ventures work out well.


  13. Raseel
    July 7th, 2009 @ 10:30 pm

    Didn’t like reading this. Hope you guys succeed in whatever you do in the future.

  14. Ian Sherman
    July 7th, 2009 @ 10:44 pm

    Alastair – so sorry to hear this. Will definitely miss the focus on SA open source. Good luck with your new ventures! Wish you all the best.

  15. Jaco
    July 8th, 2009 @ 3:47 am


    sorry to hear.

    Good luck with your future endeavors

  16. Lester
    July 8th, 2009 @ 8:51 am

    Alastair – Sorry to hear. Good luck for the future.

  17. James
    July 8th, 2009 @ 1:57 pm

    Thanks for all your work. Tectonic was a regular and much anticipated stop in my rss reader. I miss it already.
    Best of luck for the future.

  18. mannemerak
    July 8th, 2009 @ 2:56 pm

    Sorry to hear this.
    But, seeing this is all about freedom and sharing – have you considered just handing it over to someone else? I am pretty busy myself, but surely someone out there might be interested in continuing the great work?

    Just my 2c

  19. Alastair Otter
    July 8th, 2009 @ 6:13 pm

    To all,

    Thank you so much for the kind words. I really do appreciate them. Tectonic is going but I’m not. Right now I am looking forward to some time to think through ideas without the pressure of constantly producing news.

    For those that haven’t already done so, join us on OpenZA. It’s not complete yet but over the coming months I hope to be spending time on developing it.

  20. Alastair Otter
    July 8th, 2009 @ 6:40 pm

    I don’t really see this as a failure, of blogging or open source. Tectonic started as a hobby and simply ran its course. And during that time it (I believe) had a positive effect on the position and role of free and open source software in South Africa.

    I think what Tectonic demonstrates is that anyone can do something like this and have a positive impact. For almost all of the nine and a bit years that Tectonic existed I was the only person running it. Tectonic was simply a blog with a lot readers, even though it was started before the word “blog” was coined.

    Would I do it again? Without a doubt! But right now I am happy to just move on. Tectonic was a ten-year-long “job” and everyone needs a little variety in their life.

    For the right price (anyone got a half-a-million lying around?) I would consider selling Tectonic, but to be honest that’s not my agenda and never has been. Tectonic may yet manifest in a different form in time to come but for now it is to close.

  21. Alastair Otter
    July 8th, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

    Fair point and I have thought about this option. Problem is that it most certainly can’t be a single person and it would have to be the right type of group. I’m not saying it can’t happen but I am saying it is unlikely.

  22. Duncan
    July 8th, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

    All the best Alastair, and thanks.

    In music there is always someone else to take up the mantle of “the revolutionary” or “the angry kid” so I hope that in the ZA scene there will be someone who takes this up where you left off.

  23. rob allen
    July 9th, 2009 @ 8:42 am

    So long and thanks for all the open source fish. I hope the future bears well

    One quick question = will tectonic jobs continue?

  24. Alastair Otter
    July 9th, 2009 @ 8:55 am

    @rob allen:
    Thanks Rob. For now Tectonic Jobs will continue as it is. In time to come I will look at migrating it to a new (hopefully equally appropriate) home. Either way I hope to keep it going.

  25. Bonokwakhe
    July 9th, 2009 @ 11:49 am

    This is so sad…I always visits this site almost everyday. I find it so interesting and informative, so i hope it will come back in future…Great stuff.
    Good luck..

  26. Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen
    July 10th, 2009 @ 10:20 am

    Well done with this site! Even a person without technical skills (like me) could understand what was written, and thus begin to see the potential of open source. Change is sometimes wonderful! Hope you find a group that can take over the site in some way or form. Good luck with future projects.

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