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The Buckblog

assorted ramblings by Jamis Buck

Net::SSH, Capistrano, and Saying Goodbye

24 February 2009 — 2-minute read

It is with mixed emotions that I announce two things this evening.

First, I’m announcing the final release of both Net::SSH (2.0.11) and Capistrano (2.5.5). Both are minor changes: Net::SSH 2.0.11 adds support for a :key_data option, so you can supply raw PEM-formatted key data. Capistrano 2.5.5 enhances the role() method so you can now declare empty roles. Either way, not much to get excited about, but the changes were pending and deserved releasing.

Secondly: I’m ceasing development on SQLite/Ruby, SQLite3/Ruby, Net::SSH (and related libs, Net::SFTP, Net::SCP, etc.) and Capistrano. I will no longer be accepting patches, bug reports, support requests, feature requests, or general emails related to any of these projects. For Capistrano, I will continue to follow the mailing list, and might appear in the #capistrano irc channel from time to time, but I am no longer the maintainer of these projects. I will continue to host the site and wiki for as long as they are of use to people.

This was a very hard decision, and one that has taken me months to come to grips with. I cannot express how much I appreciate the huge support from everyone that has found value in Capistrano, in particular. Your kind words and encouragement have meant a lot to me. But I’m burning out, and I have to drop these before things get worse. Maybe after some period of time I’ll come back to them—I don’t know. But I’m not planning on it.

So where do these projects go from here? That’s entirely up to the community. If you have a neat idea for any of these, please feel free to fork the project on GitHub (see my profile page for the links to the individual projects) and release updates on your own schedule. If no one steps forward, that’s fine—I’m not asking for volunteers. But if someone feels passionately that any of these are not “finished”, and has ideas for how they could be further improved, I will not stand in the way.

However, please know that I am not available for questions about the code, or for advice on how to implement changes. I’m trying to cut as cleanly as I can. Any emails I get asking about the code will likely be ignored. I’m not trying to be rude; I’m just setting expectations.

I won’t disappear, though. These libraries were just becoming millstones around my neck; without their weight dragging me down, I look forward to being able to experiment and play with new projects and new ideas. We’ll see what the future holds!

So, thanks all for a fantastic couple of years.

Reader Comments

Nothing wrong with starting projects and abandoning them (publicly or otherwise). I hope so anyway. Else I am going to hell.

Thanks for Capistrano + its underlying dependencies. They make life better.

Capistrano is a great tool, most people I work with use it daily without any complaints. I would say you took it as far as anyone could have hoped. Thanks for all the work, looking forward to what you decide to work on next.

Hi Jamis,

I think it goes without saying that you’ve done a fantastic job on all these projects. For one, Capistrano has been (and will continue to be) a huge part of my every day development process. I’m sure the same can be said for most other Rails developers out there. It’s become one of those rock-solid tools that gets out of your way and is easy to forget – something that not many tools achieve.

Good luck with the development reboot. Hopefully you can get back to having fun with what you’re good at, without the burden of supporting an entire community.


Nathan de Vries

Thank you for all the countless hours of hard work and effort you’ve put into Capistrano and other Ruby libraries.

I’m looking forward to hearing about what fun stuff you cook up!

There is no doubt in my mind, the best is yet to come.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Seriously, thanks for all you contributions (thus far) and have fun!

Jamis, a very heartfelt thank you and good luck.

Thank you for capistrano. When I come across a project that doesn’t use capistrano the first thing I have to do is capify. It has probably saved me hundreds of hours of headaches and general bad feelings, so instead of worrying about deploying code I could write code, which I actually love to do. Good luck on your future projects.

Thanks for capistrano! Deployment is very, very easy with it and I can’t imagine life without it.

Jamis, just to ask about your process of managing the projects up until now – were there ever “core contributors” who could be all added to the rubyforge project’s admin so they can start releasing new versions? Or did you ask all of them and no one said they’d take over the project?

I’ve been using Capistrano from back when it was still called Switchtower and it has been a huge help. Looking forward to finding out what catches your (non-woodworking) interest next!

@Nic, no, there are no other core contributors. I tried once to create something like that, but no one else seemed to have the “passion” or “vision”. Lots of people submitting patches (many of them quite good!), but no one demonstrating a real, general desire to dig into the internals. That’s kind of why I left it like I did—there really wasn’t any heir-apparent that the keys could be left to.

That said, if someone steps forward and seems to be getting community support (for any of the projects) behind them, I’ll be happy to give them admin access to the appropriate rubyforge pages.

Thank you Jamis for Capistrano and Net::SSH

I’m guessing that the open source killer app that is Github will allow continuing development to proceed as needed, and people will step forward to support the toolkits as well.

Enjoy your fresh start!

Thanks for your work on these projects, Jamis, especially Capistrano, which I use a lot. Take care.

Thanks for such a great, reliable tool, Jamis. I couldn’t imagine my last three years of deploying Rails apps without Capistrano.

Thanks for an awesome set of tools Jamis. They’ve all become daily tools in my job. I don’t at all blame you for wanting to move on, it totally makes sense. Good luck in whatever your latest project(s) are.

Thanks again, C

Jamis, thanks for all your great work for the Ruby and Rails community, and all the best for your new projects, be they personal or code-related!

Thanks Jamis,

I’ve been using Capistrano and Net::SSH for years and I really appreciate your work on these tools.

Thanks for all the hard work you put into these libraries. Rails would not be where it is at today without your work.

Thanks Jamis, your packages have made a big difference to many of us and certainly empowered us in ways we didn’t know possible.

All the best with the blank slate, hope it turns out to be even more spectacular than the current one.

Wow – I’m actually quite shocked about this!

Thank you for Capistrano, and for turning the dreaded deploy into a pleasurable experience.

Jamis, you’ve worked very hard on Capistrano and Net::SSH family and it ended being an invaluable helper for many sysadmins, thank you very much!!!

I don’t know what to say. Capistrano is one of the tools I started to love the most after I moved in to the Ruby scene. Thanks you Jamis, for Capistrano and Net::SSH.

I think I feel the same way I feel about the stepping down of current Sri Lankan Cricket captain: You managed great deeds, we all are grateful and would love to have you remained. But we respect your decision. We know you wouldn’t be doing this unless you really had to.

Hope to see you with great code and great projects. Good luck!

@jamis thanks for your awesome work with capistrano and saved me from fierce nightmares of sys-admin..hope someone will take the initiative to lead the projects.

Thanks for all your hard work on these projects, Jamis. They’ve made my life, and I’m sure that of many other coders, much easier. Good luck!

Thanks Jamis for all the work you have done. You have really moved the Ruby on Rails field forward, it could not have blossomed so well as it did without you. When one door closes, another opens. Tacky I know, but this might be just the thing for someone else to pick up where you have left. By open source’s nature that is bound to happen some day.

I can only join in on the wave of thankfulness. Accepting the fact that these things might be better off in someones elses hands is always a though decision, but it sounds like it’s the right thing to do if you’re feeling the burnout.

But, I do hope you’ll transfer any (rubyforge etc) project administering rights to whoever steps up for the job. The art of release management seems to be slowly dying in these parts of the Ruby community. There’s still those of us, and our sysadmins, who feel that “just download whatever the latest HEAD is” isn’t always a proper strategy for production level things, despite the fact that we have a certain level of trust in certain authors like yourself.

Thanks for your awesome contribution to the Rails deployment experience. Good luck Jamis, enjoy your new free time.

Hi Jamis, Just wanted to say thank you so much for all the effort. I mainly use Capistrano and it’s a fantastic tool. Hope you feel more relaxed an I’m looking forward to (hopefully) see new tools.

I’m surprised about your decision, but it’s your decision. You did great changes in rails world.

Thanks Jamis!

Thanks, You’ve definitively made my life better with these tools!

Thanks Jamis, don’t know how I’d have survived without Capistrano these last few years!

This was shocking news, but understandable. Thanks Jamis for all the work you’ve done.

thanks for some excellent libraries!

Thanks for Net::SSH and Capistrano. I use them often, and they make my job easier!

Enjoy the peace and quiet :)

Thanks Jamis for all your effort, Capistrano and net-ssh save my mind every days. Hope to see you later !


Just a thank you for changing lives of devs and sysadmins.

I hope you will find another great project to have fun with.

Jamis, thanks a LOT for your creations! The community will take good care of them, for sure!

Thanks for all your hard work on Capistrano. It really is a godsend for the community and makes our lives so much easier.

Thanks for all the work you have put into making everything easier for everyone :-)

Hi Jamis

Sad to hear, but very understandable. Capistrano have meant a lot for my business – it makes our life’s so much easier. Good luck in the future and I look forward to see what projects you take on next :)

Hey, Jamis. Thank you so much for Capistrano! I use it daily and enjoy it immensely.

thank you make it :)


Hey, Jamis – I can’t help but echo everyone’s thanks for Cap. It took me a while to get used to the name (I thought switchtower was a cool name :-) )

Using it daily I have a high appreciation for how easy it is deploy applications now. You made that happen.

Thanks again – I’m looking forward to checking out a cool new project from you.

Cap is a huge help to every single person who does serious Rails work. Maybe in the future you’ll be able to monetize it somehow, it’s definitely worth paying for. Either way it’s something you can be extremely proud of.

Good luck and thanks very much for all your codes.

Well… just thanks =) I think nothing can explain better than that how gratefull we all are! Thanks!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Great work sir, Cap is one of the core tools that made RoR a joy to work with and the standard that all other deployment tools will be held to – your work is done here, go have a beer ;)

Thank you sir, for some of the best and most useful Ruby/Rails code ever written. The debt of gratitude that the community owes you can never be expressed in words.

Thanks for a great set of libraries!

Thanks for building a great set of tools! I can’t really imagine deploying rails apps without them…

Thanks for building a great set of tools! I can’t really imagine deploying rails apps without them… (+1)

Thank-you, everyone. I’m really overwhelmed by the comments here and on twitter. I, too, hope someone steps up to maintain these projects, and I’ll be more than happy to give them the keys to the rubyforge projects. Regardless, I hope the projects are still useful to people, whether someone is at the helm or not. Thanks again, all!

So, just a big big big thank you, Jamis. You achieve so cool and useful piece of code for the community. Be sure that we’ll take good care of your children :)

I wish you a full bunch of successful stories for your private life as for your (eventually public) projects.

Thanx Jamis for Capistrano. Still in use everyday.

Now take a nice vacation and show off your woodcarving skills. How about a nice Twitter bird?


Capistrano is so extensively used that I wonder if there would have been a place for you to put a PayPal link on your page and say “Would you be interested in having Capistrano developed and supported? $5 (or some other obscenely low amount of money that everyone could pay up)” I’ve often wondered about open-source projects that are so helpful to people, and to so many people, that could monetize them a bit to try to keep them alive—not sure if it would work in the current environment, but it would be nice for the creators if it did. Heck, if you put a link up for some form of payment I’d pay you $5 easily.

@Greg, the thing is, I wasn’t burning out because I was doing this for free. I was burning out because I didn’t have time to work on other projects that were interesting me. Adding money to the mix wouldn’t have helped, it would have made it worse, because it would have increased my sense of obligation, and increased the sense of being “trapped” by Capistrano. I think it’s a common misconception to think that getting paid for something compensates for a lack of passion. Money cannot replace passion; all it does is add a sense of obligation.

The good news, though, is that I’ve had a few emails from folks interested in carrying the torch. Hopefully they’ll announce their intention somewhere and the community can start organizing around them.

Sounds great to me. Folks can fork if they’d like to change things. I’m excited to see the next things you get passionate about creating, now that some of the millstones are removed. Well done!

Having read all the above “thank you”s Jamis, I can’t believe I hadn’t said thanks before now.

Your book was the content for my very first writing job – the Capistrano chapter for The Rails Way. As much as I enjoyed the process of writing, Capistrano was a fabulous product to write about.

Thank you again for your great and lasting contribution(s). Looking forward to hear what your creative genius will next invest in.

Good projects will continue to be abandoned, because good coders get bored working on the same thing ad aeternam. The larger issue to be considered in this context is the centralization encouraged by RubyGems, Rubyforge, and the idea of the canonical incarnation of a project. Communities like GitHub don’t supply the full solution, because much of the problem is social: how do I know which incarnation to use?

Experienced coders can make decent heuristical guesses based on the messages in the commit log, the fork hierarchy, the recency and spacing of commits. This is not a solution to the immediate problems of people who are just trying to accomplish a task.

I use Capistrano every day and wanted to just thank you for letting the community use such a great tool. Don’t feel bad about letting it go—someone will keep it going.

Capistrano sucks anyway.

@James: Thank you for dedicating your craft to make all of our lives better!

Thanks so much for all your hard work. I’ve been a cap evangelist since the first time I used it. It just made sense, unlike all the other hair-brained, half-baked solutions I’d used before.

Oh, and thanks for your random NPC generator too. I don’t think I ever said thanks for that. ;)

Hi Jamis,

Excellent work over the course of the project, Net::SSH and Capistrano are excellent tools, I do fear that inviting people to fork them on GitHub will mean there isn't a definitive version for people to use anymore.

I look forward to continuing your exceptional work, and will be sad to see your influence on the Capistrano community … having a go-to-guy has been good for people thus far, but I completely understand your need to cut your losses before you fall out with contributing to open source.

I’m sad to see you go, and many people that rely on Capistrano will be reading this announcement with much trepidation about the future of hassle free deployments!

- Lee Hambley

Jamis, you did a great job with Capistrano and now you’ve come to a point where there’s hardly anything to improve. You can be proud of this and of the fact that you made life easier for probably more people than you can imagine. Good luck with your coming projects and let us hear what’s up next!

Thanks for the great tools, and good luck with your new projects!

My quality of life has improved because of Capistrano. Thank you so much!

That decision is completely respectable. Thank you for all of your hard work over the years. These tools have improved the lives of many people, myself included. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

Jamis, I hope you start enjoying programming again. Thanks for all the work up to now. As I’ve been diving into the cap internals I’m finding the code immensely more solid and understandable than most of the other third-party code I use. Much appreciated.

Just want to say thank you very much. Capistrano makes our life easier. We use it everyday and thank you , thank you , thank you.

Thank you for contributions to the community! But please do not forget to appoint a successor, before you begin your retirement.

Another thank-you from someone who types “cap deploy” every day and is amazed how smooth capistrano makes things

@Ron, thanks! But I will not be appointing anyone. Either someone will step up and carry the torch (in which case they’ll do it because they’re passionate about it, and not because they were appointed), or no one will, in which case an appointment would have failed too, because there’s no one passionate enough about it.

Well deserved break. Thank you for Capistrano & friends. Take care!

So what’s the deployment strategy being used at 37Signals? I always thought about Capistrano as the open sourced 37Signals deployment tool. Why isn’t it supported by the company?

@Matthijs, we use Capistrano. It isn’t supported by 37signals for the same reason that Rails isn’t supported by 37signals: these aren’t corporate projects, they’re spinoffs. They live or die by the support the community gives them.

Thank you, Jamis. Good decision if you’re burning out. Can’t wait to see what you release next.

Hi Jamis. Thanks for all your work on the great projects. I’ve been reading the source for Net::SSH and it’s a joy. :) Great stuff. Take a break and hope you at least stick with the Ruby community. :)

Thanks, Jamis, for all the work that you put into Capistrano/Net::SSH, etc. You’ve given us a great boon and set a great example.

Hey Jamis. Thanks for making our lives better by writing these tools and good luck with whatever you decide to do next!

Many, many thanks. Capistrano has made my life much better. Good luck on your new endeavors.

Thanks much for cap, learned lots from the source :)

A heartfelt thanks for the tools you gave the community, including the Japanese Rubyists!

Thank you, Jamis, for your hard work and your gifts to the community.


Well done on making this call. I have seen too many developers drive themselves into the ground, myself included.

Life > Work.


Thank you Jamis, for the excellent work you’ve put in on Capistrano, NetSSH, and Sqlite3. You’ve been a prolific member of the ruby community and your (temporary) leave of absence will be much deserved.

I’ve used capistrano daily at work and it’s a wonderful tool. I also like that you got sqlite3 running on ruby 1.9 when you did.

I’m definitely raising a beer in your honor tonight. If your’e ever in Chicago, i’ll buy you one

Jamis, thanks for the great work on Capistrano.

Thank Jamis!

I have to admit, I found Capistrano a little too bulky, so I went with the Cap spin-off, Vlad. If it wasn’t for all your hard work and great ideas put into Cap though, Vlad wouldn’t exist! But now I wanted to roll my own deployment library for grins and giggles, and I decided to use your awesome Net::SSH library. Full circle baby!

Good luck!

Jamis, Thanks for tools and community advice that has helped me put food on my family’s table. Well done. Now, let’s see more of those wood carving pieces!

Thanks Jamis!

Good to know you’ll still be using Capistrano yourself…until another maintainer is elected by acclamation I guess we just need to know whose repo you’re pulling 37signals’s copy from. :)

Definitely thanks, although it seems not enough. You made my life way better with this!

Thanks for capistrano. Its probably saved us countless hours on Good luck!

Your code has made my life easier. Thank you!

If Cap and Net::SSH are what you do when you’re burned out, I can’t wait to see what awesomeness is coming when you’re energized again. :) Thanks for everything so far!

Thanks a lot for your hard work on creating Capistrano and related libraries!

I remember deploying Rails apps before Capistrano (or rather Switchtower back then) came along, and it’s hard to imagine not having Capistrano these days. Much appreciated!

Let me echo the thoughts of so many others in saying “thanks” for all of your work in the past, present, and continuing in the future. You’ve been an inspiration for many, and your code has been inspiration in its own right.

I will continue to use Capistrano as long as I am able, and thank you greatly for all of your efforts.

Cap’s awesome, you should be proud. Nothing wrong with letting people maintain it for you, likewise the other stuff. Gotta avoid burnout, it’s the devil and then some.

Cap’s been a life saver – thanks so much for your work! I’m sure that good karma will follow you for a long long time.

Thanks Jamis++!

Jamis, your work is awesome, thank you for the time and dedication you have given over the years.

So Vlad won!? Heh, just kidding, I use cap every day!

Your work was awesome and will be missed! (unless you’re planning to release another amazing tool?)

Thanks Jamis!

Hey Jamis, I would like to wish you all the best because you have done an AWESOME job as the lead person on these projects. Finally, here’s another opportunity for someone to give back to the community. Thanks again.

I completely understand. You’re so much more useful to the world if you’re enjoying what you’re working on.

Capistrano has been a part of every project I’ve ever developed. It’s been a fantastic tool, with very few bumps along the way. Net::SFTP has totally helped us in deploying non-versioned large files across our cluster.

God speed!

Your work is great, and this was a very classy way to step down.

All too often projects get abandoned without any indication, and your public announcement definitely helps the community move forward more smoothly.

Appreciate the work, Jamis – great product, looking forward to seeing what you got next.

Jamis, thanks for your excellent work. Best wishes for your future endeavors.

Thank you so much Jamis for all of your hard work. I’ve been an admirer for quite a few years. These sort of decisions are very tough. I also recently had to pull away from some projects and a weekly podcast because it was become too much for me and my family. I wish you the best, and look forward to seeing your future endeavors.

Thanks Jamis, Capistrano has been an immensely useful tool in making all of our lives easier.

Thank you for your hard work on these awesome projects, Jamis. You’ve made an admirable decision to pass the torch to the community, I look forward to what “unleashed” Jamis comes up with next, you’ve set a high bar :)

Thanks Jamis. I really appreciate all of the help and amazing work you’ve done. You’re awesome, and I wish you the best of luck.

Jamis, thanks for your awesome contributions to the Ruby and Rails toolset. I have been using Capistrano happily for several years now without problems. It’s great that you are so honest and clear about your decisions. Good luck with your future projects, whatever they may be.



Thanks Jamis, Capistrano rocks and you rock. Looking forward to whatever you put out next!


Thank you for Capistrano, its a wonderful tool. It saved me countless hours of pain, and without it I am certain that the project I was working on would have failed.

Many Thanks – Mark Rafter

Thank you for all your work on Cap and Net::SSH as well as putting all the time into trying to leave the projects in the best way you felt you could. Many people would have not deliberated and worked on a solution for months as you have.

Both of these projects have made an impact in my work. I had one project where Net::SSH worked when nothing else did (include Perl and Python libs) when working with an old Sun box with a proprietary SSH server. Thanks again and good luck.

Wow…don’t think I’ve ever seen so many “thank yous” in the comments for a blog post.

Thanks a million Jamis for making an awesome tool that has been a huge contribution to the Ruby/release community at large.

Wishing you all the best in your future efforts—hope you get jazzed about that next big project! :)

Just wanted to add my name to the list of people you’ve helped with the development of Capistrano, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Capistrano has made the principle of “deploy often and early” accessible to untold numbers of developers, businesses and entrepreneurs. Your contribution is immeasurable. Thanks.

Thank you!

Hi Jamie,

just wanted to say thank you. Capistrano has been helpful almost everyday and has also been very inspiring.

you are so right to move on and avoid burning out :)



Great run Jamis! I’ve seen your hardword in the forums. Your deserving of a long break.

Thanks Jamis, I recently made my first deployment with Capistrano. With The Rails Way to guide me, the experience was like using a new power tool for the first time. As a fellow woodworker, I appreciate a reliable tool that produces superior results in the final product.

Thanks Jamis.

Seriously, thanks for all you contributions.

Thanks so much, Jamis. Capistrano is a great tool. Enjoy your recharge time and next project. I’m looking forward to seeing anything you release.


It was very shocking news for me and Ruby developers. Thank you for your great works.


Take it easy! You’ve done a lot of good things for us all. Thanks and take care.

Capistrano will continue evolving, as we all can no longer deploy without it ;-)

Thanks Jamis, for all the time and care you’ve given until now.

Thanks Jamis, you’ve earned the break! Our site (one of the top 10 in japan) is entirely ruby-free, except for cap – we deploy with it about 5 times a day, so words aren’t really enough to express our appreciation. I was too thoughtless to thank you until i read this news – suffice it to say your efforts were appreciated by 10s of thousands of people from around the globe.

good luck with wherever the future takes you!

Jamis, thank you for your great work and good luck with your new project.

I just wanted to add my thanks. Capistrano is an amazingly useful tool and all of your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Thanks for capistrano Jamis, a really great tool. Only sad thing about it is we will no take any good new version or patch coded by you.

10x and from our Rails team . It’s awesome tool and we use it every day.

I hope you will find your new passions and new interesting projects to invest your time in.

Thanks Jamis for a great product and service to us all, I value your honesty with the community. Good luck on future projects!

As a father and a programmer, I was always in awe of your ability to raise a family and also code for fun and profit, not to mention deal with the drudgery of managing open source projects that provide neither.

I use sqlite3-ruby all the time, and I am surprised so few comments mention it. Hopefully we can all come tother and give it the TLC it deserves.

After all, every ‘parent’ has to kick his ‘babies’ out the door some day and let them sink or swim on their own!

At least you didn’t pull a Zed Shaw on us :P

Hi Jamis,

Thank you so much for everything you have given to the online community. Aside from any project or product, time is the most valuable commodity in the world, and you have given so much of yours to help the ‘greater good’.

Your post for me comes to down to ‘balance’ (whether work/life or other personal challenges) and the fact that nothing is forever.

This message was timely for me as well, as I am going through the situation of closing down a company that I have built over the past few years. While I know in my heart nothing can be forever, the ‘human’ in me has a hard time letting go of something that I have put so much time and energy in to. It is reassuring to hear the perspectives of others who have struggled with similar issues and come out ‘alive’ on the other side.

Your contributions to Capistrano and other tools have brought success, happiness and profit to many who have used them. Your insights now are thoughtful and heartfelt, and will surely leave an impact on your readers much like Cap has left on it’s users.

Thanks for everything.

I’m looking forward to your future open source projects, which I’m sure will be as great as Capistrano and all the others. Thank you so much.

Thank you for inspiring a new wave of automated deployment solutions. You’ve made a real difference in the Rails community. My sincere admiration and best wishes for your future projects.

Greetings from Argentina, home of Tango, Maradona & Dulce de Leche!


Thank you very much! I use Capistrano for more than 2 years (and will continue to use it), and it’s been great.

Good luck on your new projects.

Thank you so much for Capistrano. It is amazing tool for which many, many people are grateful. Good luck with whatever you decide to do next.

Thank you Jamis, Net::SSH has been an invaluable tool for several projects over last few years, and just discovering the joys of capistrano – best of luck with the future.

Capistrano made my life easier and saved my sanity. Thank you for everything. I look forward to whatever you come up with next.