Posted by: Richard Chennault | June 11, 2008

FaceBook OpenPlatform? More like SadFace BrokenPlatform

A colleauge of mine was interested in utilizing social networking as an adjunct to a project she is running.  The idea was to use a Web 2.0 technology that would enable people to connect with people with similar interest.  “Easy!”, I said.  FaceBook just released their platform as open source.

Of course I had only read the press releases.  I hadn’t actually tried to install the blasted thing.  But I was feeling pretty good about my mad Linux and FOSS skills after getting MythTV to work on an old Pentium 3 1ghz machine I had.  So how hard could installing a popular Web 2.0 application be?  I’m hosting my own WordPress blog, so I had no fear.

Warning Will Robinson! Warning! Overconfidence in ‘mad’ FOSS installing skills can lead to hours of frustration.  It turns out that the FaceBook open platform was more press release than working code.   It took me about three hours of google search just to find the download and THAT was the easy part.   I have become lazy and use Ubuntu as my main Linux distro.  I’ve grown found of apt-get install and I was already to execute from the cli $sudo apt-get install facebook and watch some magic happen.

Needless to say Ubuntu return the dreaded Couldn’t find package facebook.  I should have stopped there.  But I persevered.  I obtained the tar package and was read for a round of make install.  Sadly that was not there as well.  Instead there was a directory structure of a somewhat confused mess with a single README file that said I had to manually grep through all files and look for the string FBOPEN:SETUP and customize what it said to customize.

I mean WTF?  Really WFT?  Sure I can grep FBOPEN */* and vi to my hearts content but I hadn’t done something that ineffective since working on the Netscape Web Server 3.5.1 (1998!).   So feeling a little nonplussed I did as the instructions stated.   Well nothing really happened after that because I had un-archived the files my home directory.   Since this a Web 2.0 application I assumed that was going to do me no good so I moved the files over to my Apache2 doc root directory and fired up firefox.

I surfed around the site and found some files that looked like they might do something and clicked.  Of course it didn’t work.  Six hours later it still didn’t work.

I’ve given up for the moment as I can find no active community trying to install the platform.  Plus according to the scarce documentation that does exist it states that the FaceBook Openplatform is only supported on Gentoo and CentOS.

Now I’m no Linus Torvalds but I’d hazard a guess and say that Linux is Linux when it comes to Web 2.0 applications.  I mean does Apache2 and PHP really care if it is running on Redhat, Suse, Slackware or Gentoo?  Really?

None the less I’ve given up on Facebook for the moement as it seems to be only for the diehards.  I’ve posted a couple of comments on their ‘support’ forums but based on the traffic of other would be installers I hold little hope of this open platform being usefull anytime soon.

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