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Free Software Magazine: Interview with Alan Robertson of the Heartbeat Project

Jan 24, 2006, 13:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Maria Winslow)

"MW: How did the Heartbeat project get started?

"The project was started in kind of a funny way. I was working for Bell Labs at the time (1998) and we were looking at new technologies for our development environment. It had become obvious that Linux ought to be considered, and I brought this up to my second line manager, Ken Switzer. Ken asked me what did Linux have for high-availability. I said I didn't know--while not telling him that I didn't know what high-availability really was! So I went to research it, and found that there was this mailing list--the linux-ha list, and a document describing HA techniques, but no software. I had an interest in someday participating in an free software project to see how this free software stuff worked, but there were typical legal complications related to who would own the intellectual property. So, I saw this as an opportunity. Ken was a forward looking guy who really loved high-availability. So, when I met with him later, I proposed that I should write some initial software as a sort of seed crystal to help jump start the project, if he would help me get corporate permission to own the copyrights on what I wrote. He agreed, as I knew he would, and I wrote the first 'heartbeat' code over a spring break holiday spent with my in-laws..."

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