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There are different kinds of "zero maintenance":

* sqlite says it's "zero maintenance" because nobody has to keep a database server running, and your .sqlite3 files don't need a defragmentation step or similar.

* There are middlewares like RabbitMQ where an upgrade through the OS installer generally Just Works [TM], no additional steps necessary. Yet somebody should monitor the RabbitMQ instance, just in case the service does go down, or reaches resource limits

* There are tools that have very limited scope and API surface to stay stable for a looong time, those are also kinda "zero maintenance".

In my experience, all serious business applications that automate workflows or otherwise create value do need some kind of regular maintenance.

Depending on the installation base and maintenance effort, striving for zero maintenance might not be cost effective.

> How do you as a developer, not become a lifetime maintaimer?

A maintainer is a developer.

Depending on the project, things you can do if you don't want to burden yourself with maintenance:

* Build a community around the project, and hand maintenance to the community

* abandon a project

* leave lots of documentation that makes it easy for others to maintain it

* pay somebody to maintain it

* work as a consultant/contractor, and fire the client after the initial development phase (might not be the best for your reputation, could be OK if you are up-front about it and make a very good handoff).

* If most of the maintenance is keeping it up at all, engineer for availability over consistency (if applicable to the business domain).

* Accept that maintenance is part of the normal lifecycle

The appropriate strategies highly depend on the kind of project.

>and your .sqlite3 files don't need a defragmentation step or similar

They do benefit from a VACUUM from time to time [0].

[0] https://sqlite.org/lang_vacuum.html

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