April 3, 2006

Mandriva RPM site is a labor of love

Author: Tina Gasperson

Cliff Wade loves Mandriva Linux so much that he spends his time and money to create and host RPM files of most of the new applications that show up on the Mandriva Cooker. Last month, he got more than a million hits at his SeerofSouls.com (SoS) site, which hosts more than 5,400 Mandriva RPMs at no charge to site visitors; the only money that comes in is about $50 a month from AdSense. "I do it because I enjoy it," Wade says.

Wade has been an avid IRC user for six years, and it was there that he first heard about an operating system called Linux. "A friend of mine started talking about what 'distro' he used, and how he liked it," Wade says. "He gave me access to his [Mandrake] box and told me I could play around and learn things on my own, [and] he would teach me before installing it myself. I took him up on it." After about a month of reading everything he could get his hands on and "playing around" on his friend's system, Wade was ready to take the plunge.

"I went to Best Buy not knowing if they sold any Linux, and what do you know, at the time they sold SUSE and Mandrake. I spent $75 that day and bought myself a 7-CD powerpack box set of Mandrake 8.2." After testing it on his own computer, Wade decided to toss Windows out. "Never looked back," he says.

SeerOfSouls.com was born because of Wade's desire to help other people who are learning about Linux. "It started as a simple request one day to rebuild a package for a stable release, and it was appreciated by the user," he says. "I got a couple more requests and it escalated. I decided I would start doing it as much as I could. Little did I know it would end up being as big as it is currently, and still growing."

Wade credits the site's popularity to his constant presence as a channel operator on #Mandriva at irc.freenode.net, and to the fact that SoS is linked on "thousands of sites. I build the only RPMs for Mandriva that are listed on xchat.org, and I am also linked on DistroWatch and PcLinuxOnline. I speak to many users on a daily basis that are in need of help. Most everyone in the channel knows me and recommends SoS." As a result, the site traffic has grown from about 20,000 visitors a month a year ago to about 250,000 a week as of last month.

To add to his ever-growing collection of RPMs, Wade keeps an eye on Mandriva Cooker, the development testbed for future Mandriva releases. "I take things and backport them to the latest stable version of Mandriva," he says. "I do the most popular apps like Mozilla Firefox, X-Chat, Irssi, and those kinds of things, as well as backport kernels, KDE, GNOME, and stuff like that. I also do things for users who might have an issue with something on a current version, and they want to try a newer version. I also have a script that takes a CVS checkout of Enlightenment and builds RPMs directly from the CVS code."

Wade plans to branch out soon, adding Fedora Core 5 RPMs to the database as he begins using that distribution in addition to Mandriva.

Click Here!