Sep 112007
 

With the second release in the 5.2.x series, OutKafe reached a whole new level of performance and stability. I spent most of the development time here with code profilers tracking down the things that slowed it down, and were prone to crashes.

Not that is neither fun nor easy, but the results are most satisfying. The newly released 5.2.2 version is without a doubt the most stable [tag]OutKafe[/tag] yet, and of course it has all the features of the 5.2 series including gettext support and themeing through an html layer.

The wiki is getting more and more complete with each day, and we’ve even begun a project to translate it. It is a good feeling to see people using and liking your project. I have seen no evidence of anything happening whatsoever at [tag]openlab[/tag] or with [tag]zybacafe[/tag] so it seems that OutKafe has effectively replaced the latter in the market. I personally don’t find this surprizing as it’s a much more mature product.

So what does the future hold ? Well I have some ideas I am playing with. Like a module to allow [tag]chillispot[/tag] to authenticate via OutKafe, which would be a much cleaner way to do wifi control (if it is possible that is – I haven’t confirmed it yet).

OutKafe being now fully GTK2 project (as of 5.2) is set for the future, and with the growth happening on the [tag]lazarus[/tag] and [tag]fpc[/tag] fronts (FreePascal released version 2.2.0 yesterday) several other opportunities open up. Future versions could very well support native QT interfaces and I haven’t ruled out fpgui either.
Whatever I decided to do, where-ever I take it in the end, I reckon OutKafe is here to stay as long as people want it, because working on it is fun.

Aug 022007
 

It was 3am on November 28 2001. I was sitting in Abuja, Nigeria. I had, had a very real problem that day. I needed a [tag]cybercafe[/tag] management suite for [tag]Linux[/tag], which would coincidentally work well with the (then still very new) LTSP project. No suitable candidate had been found – so I wrote one. It was simple, but it did the job.
With my usual flair for naming things I called it ¨AJ´s [tag]internet cafe[/tag] management toolkit for LTSP¨, and with my usual love for all things free, and the realization that I had done it way past normal work hours, I released it to the world under the GPL.
It was included on the CoverDVD of LinuxFormat the following month. Which was the point where I think I first began to realize just how badly the Linux world was in need of such a program. It didn´t have the glamor of a bash-shell but it was needed – and I was the only one who had actually done anything about that need.
That first suite was made up of about 10 small commandline programs, hard to setup, and limitted to run only on LTSP systems – but it would grow.
Not long afterward it received a much nicer name – direqcafe. It would continue to be developed under that name for 5 years. It had a steady following of users over 3 major versions (with a whole bunch of small minor version in between) and I think was generally a very, very successful free software project, at least for a niche market.
In September of 2006 however, things began to change. New horizons in my life meant that I now had more and more reason to explore new horizons for my little pet project.

I began with a grounds up redesign -the purpose of which was to rid myself of the limitations of the earlier project. The design was all encompassing, it would be multiplatform, backed by an SQL server with every database action completely abstracted inside a library and it´s own user-database completely independent of the underlying operating system. It would be highly extensible and it would be so damn cool.

The new project was dubbed ¨[tag]zybacafe[/tag]¨ and had one alpha and one beta release. This however was also a time when my personal life changed. As December neared, I quit my job and began a new career as an entrepeneur.
ZybaCafe was forgotten. For a long time, nobody worked on it, users were begging for features and nobody was answering their pleas. But I had made one big mistake with ZybaCafe, I had let a third party have the copyright. Sure the main thing was [tag]GPL[/tag]´d  but the addons were not.
I realise that there was only one of two futures. Either somebody would fork zybacafe, or it would be doomed, ultimately replaced by something (hopefully), and since everything else out there was badly maintained, slow-moving and generally as basic as my program had started out to be (without the five year evolution in the meantime)… this seemed tragic.

So I decided to fork it myself. Take the GPL´d part and restart the project anew, replace the proprietary bits from scratch, add the features I wanted and refuse the ones that don´t belong.

The result was [tag]OutKafe[/tag]. Now most of this history is (at least partially) known to most of you, though I don´t think I´ve ever given it all in one clear chronological timeline like this. Which must make you wonder why I felt the need to post it all today.
The reason is that today marks the release of version 5.2.0 of OutKafe – and I have a sense today of my project´s maturity that I have been aiming for, for a long time.
The newest features are all focussed on letting the users adapt it to their environments, themability and translateability making up the core of this.
It has become stable, fast and easy to use with a growing userbase and several other developers actively helping me grow it.
It has also (through paid development of specific features or grandscale customizations) become my largest source of income. My baby has grown up I guess.

Of course, it´s far from over. This version is nice, but no doubt there will be bugs discovered, people will look at these features and help me see where the next obvious gaps are. It will keep growing, evolving – and more and more cybercafe owners will start to see Linux as a viable solution in their business, ultimately a goal which I for one think has perhaps just a tiny bit of nobility to it.

Jun 122007
 

OutKafe Thumb
I am happy to announce the availability of the first OutKafe Client
beta for Windows. The beta was based on oklin 5.1.0 and should be
fairly stable. This is a port to a radically new platform however and
I wanted a beta period so people can try it and report any problems.
Image
The windows port is ONLY of the client, not the server-side and still
requires a Linux based OutKafe server to function.

I would like to convey my gratitude to Graeme Geldenhuys for his
contributions to this port, and in particular to Philip J. Hess who
graciously volunteered to act as maintainer of the win32 port and has
done by far the greater majority of the work needed to make this
version a reality.

You can download the windows beta from the usual OutKafe website.

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 Posted by at 6:10 am  Tagged with:
Jun 022007
 

Hi All,
I’m happy to announce that OutKafe 5.1.0 is now available for download
from http://outkafe.outkastsolutions.co.za.
The new version is primarily a bugfix release containing fixes for
many critical bugs and a few multidistro compatibility improvements,
here is the changelog:
2007-06-02
Ported application to GTK2
Fixed multiple crash bugs in counter
Fixed layout and accounting bugs in admin system
Fixed counter-window button layout bug
Fixes for several LTSP related bugs.
Better handling of remote admin functionality
Fixed a bug with number entry in sell-time dialog.
2007-05-21
Added pid-storage support to outkafed
Enhanced boot scripts to use pid-stored value
native installer support for chkconfig or rc-update when available

I also made significant progress on the promised win32 client – but I
simply couldn’t get it to quite work. At this stage though, it’s far
enough complete that I am putting out a call for a volunteer who can
help me finish it off. Anybody with experience of lazarus/delphi on
Win32 who is up for helping me maintain the win32 client please mail
me – I would welcome all assistance with this part, experience with
postgresql will be useful but not critical (everything is pretty
abstracted).

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 Posted by at 4:51 pm  Tagged with:
Mar 162007
 

It gives me great pleasure to announce the first release of OutKafe, a full-featured next generation cybercafe management suite under the GPL. OutKafe was forked from the GPL’d parts of the ZybaCafe project by the original developers with the specific intent to replace all the proprietary modules with free alternatives, thus creating a completely free suite.
This first release numbered 5.0.0 (following up to the last ZybaCafe version number) matches the full feature set of the free parts of ZybaCafe as of it’s last release, the code however has been greatly cleaned up and stabilized.
The next phase is to begin grounds-up reimplementation of the non-free parts (including the Win32 client) which will not include any code owned under proprietary licenses by any party, and can thus be released under the GPL.
Obviously, in order to prevent any conflicts of interests – I will therefore no longer be in anyway involved in the development of ZybaCafe (which still belongs to another party).

OutKafe comprises several parts: a management tool, a number of platform specific user-clients, a control daemon, a postgresql database and any number of easily created extensions which can be plugged into the system at various points. The core system is entirely developed in the Lazarus RAD environment.

Unlike previously, there is no outside sponsor for the project now, instead it is being sponsored by OutKast I.T. Solutions C.C.
Since I am a 50% partner, and the CEO of this company – it is therefore within our power now to declare OutKafe a development done for joy and the benefit of the community – where every part will always be fully free, not to mention providing a wonderful piece of inspiration for the new logo, Trudie (the OutKast Mascot) sitting in a coffee cup (yes it’s a bad pun on cafe, you may groan now).

OutKafe’s homepage with all relevant links are to be found at: http://outkafe.outkastsolutions.co.za

I look forward to as much feedback from current and new users as possible to help grow OutKafe in the future.

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