The Once and Future Rubinius

Engine Yard has posted their statement about ending sponsorship for Rubinius, which gives me the opportunity to clearly address the future of Rubinius.

First of all, Engine Yard deserves great respect and admiration for their contribution to Rubinius and the entire Ruby community. I had the pleasure of interacting often with three of the Engine Yard founders: Tom Mornini, Lance Walley, and Ezra Zygmuntowicz. I have rarely had the good fortune to work with people as ethical, careful, and visionary as these folks. They endeavored to build community and business together, and they were highly influential in both.

Engine Yard’s sponsorship of Rubinius certainly accelerated development and brought the project to the attention of many developers. Additionally, Engine Yard’s sponsorship contributed to the success of RubySpec as an idea and tool for unifying Ruby compatibility across more than a half-dozen significant implementations of Ruby for the benefit of the Ruby community.

So, thank you very much, Engine Yard!

The simplest statement about the status of Rubinius is that there are now zero people paid to work on the project. This fact has several implications, none of which are inherently negative.

On the one hand, Rubinius is free to aggressively pursue the goals of the project in helping build the future of Ruby. On the other hand, I have significantly less time to devote to the project. While unfortunate, I’m not discouraged. I worked on Rubinius for over a year before Engine Yard hired me and we accomplished a tremendous amount.

We still have numerous things yet to do. Over the past several weeks, I have been working to simplify and focus the project so that all the time we can invest pays significant rewards for developers and businesses. We’ll continue to streamline and accelerate delivering value to the people investing their time to use Rubinius.

Rubinius has a broad and ambitious vision. Since Evan Phoenix created it, Rubinius has been pushing the envelope. It was one of the first projects in the Ruby community to use git. One of the first big projects on GitHub. One of the first projects to use LLVM outside of the LLVM ecosystem. There have always been skeptics voicing their opinions about Rubinius using Ruby, building RubySpec, building our own virtual machine and garbage collector, removing the global interpreter lock, using gems, about almost every aspect of the project.

Despite this, Rubinius keeps moving forward. People are experiencing the tremendous value of running concurrent applications on modern hardware, saturating the CPU cores instead of blowing out the memory. It’s trivial to migrate from MRI to Rubinius, continuing to use familiar platform tools and running C-extensions. The terrific response to the 2.0 announcement has been ample validation of our vision for Rubinius. We’re just getting started.

Visit us in the #rubinius channel on Freenode and check out ways you can contribute to the project. The simplest, and always the most fun, way to contribute is to use Rubinius to do something you find interesting.

The future is, by definition, undefined. Let’s define it.

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