I took over maintenance of alien from Christoph Lameter in early '97. Since he started it, it has a good name and still has wider regognition in the larger linux community (outside Debian) than most other things I've done.

Of the original alien, only the concept and the name remain. Alien has pretty well managed to dominate the linux package conversion space, mostly by virtue of being the first program to do that task, doing it well enough, and since I've enjoyed making it handle all the silly edge cases.

Alien has enjoyed more major number increments than any other software I've developed, I took it on at major number 2 and it's up to 8 now. It's also the first program I wrote that was forked by someone. That fork (and the associated linux distribution) are now defunct. Alien was also the first program I used object orientation in.

Since it's been more years than I can remember since I needed to use a package that was not in deb format, I only use alien now for pulling apart srpm files. Since a small shell script can do that just as well, alien is also pretty much in maintenance mode now.

Lately I've had to do some work to support LSB packages, but I've not tried to add support for entirely new binary package formats, such as the dreaded AutoPackage. I guess it's stopped being interesting. If someone who was a good person to take over alien came forward, I'd be ready to pass it on now. Conversely I'm happy to maintain it indefinitely.

Next: ten years of free software -- part 5 debhelper