Re: RFC: Linux compatibility test framework (was: Re: OT: Letter to TigerDirect)
On Sunday 14 December 2003 02:16 am, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> on Sat, Dec 13, 2003 at 11:15:07AM -0600, Kent West (email@example.com) wrote:
> > John Hasler wrote:
> > >Terry writes:
> > >>Now, if you are just doing this "in good faith" or making a "best
> > >>effort", you're asking for a lawsuit the first time somebody buys your
> > >>stuff and can't get the "backalley joe" Linux distro version 0.0.2 to
> > >>work with it. Either that, or you're just going to be giving people
> > >>their money-back an awful lot.
> > >
> > >So you guarantee that it works with a specific version of a specific
> > >distribution. And ship it with that version installed and running.
> > >
> > Or to make it even simpler:
> > "Designed for Knoppix 3.3 11-02-2003"
> > and include that Knoppix CD without an OS installed. That'd be good
> > enough guarantee for me.
> I've recommended this (strongly) in the past.
What does "this" mean, exactly? There's more than one idea here.
> It would be nice to see HW vendors pick up on this.
> It would also be helpful if a HW regression test fram for various
> peripherals could be created, automated to the extent possible. There's
> some work toward this (lshw, hdparm, my own system-info script, etc.),
> anyone care to mention subsystems and possible tests?
You know, I'm not really sure I know what "regression test framework"
means. I've heard it before, of course, but never really heard a
But if you mean that it would be good to make testing much
easier for the hardware guys by providing automated testing
procedures, I think that's a great idea.
Regarding supporting "Knoppix 3.3 11-02-2003" or some such exact
distribution, I think it's missing the point. Not enough people in the
Linux users community is going to settle for one distribution. And in
this case, the user is optimistically asking for a distribution ONLY ONE
MONTH OLD! Think about what you're demanding!
It's hard enough to stay in the business of selling Debian CDs, when
every few months your customer base decides your inventory
is all "stale" and isn't interested anymore. And CDs are *cheap*
compared to computer systems.
How many good systems must you sell to justify the cost of all the
hardware you had to test and send back because it didn't work?
How many Linux users will *actually* buy these hypothetical computers,
instead of just agitating for them? The actual turn-out tends to be
rather underwhelming, from what little I've been able to see of it.
In order to make a useful size run, the vendor's going to want more
than 1 month lead-time! You need time to decide on a platform
design, test the components, replace any that need replacing, and
then fill bulk orders for enough units to make the sale profitable. I'm
not sure Linux users as a class are that patient.
I'm reminded of the college "human geography" teacher who described
a survey on the usage of public buses in Austin, TX. He said the surveys
overwhelmingly showed that people [said they] would use the buses.
But this survery was devastatingly wrong -- hardly anyone used them
when they were provided, and they lost a lot of money. His explanation
was that what people really wanted was for OTHER PEOPLE to ride
the buses, so they could drive their cars with less traffic on the roads.
Are you sure this isn't what's going on here? Otherwise, why isn't
e-Linux (for example) a household name? Do you shop there?
I mean -- I don't shop there: I can too easily find what I want at
PC Club or the local swap meet, and figure out the compatibility
issues on my own. And I think that's probably closer to the
average Linux users' attitude.
I think that a hardware vendor system that really meshes with the
FL/OSS community is going to have to take this kind of thing into account.
It will have to be sufficiently flexible and robust that it can actually cope
both with lots of different distributions, and with the small core market
that it will have to depend on. And it will have to (somehow) engage
in the same responsibility and "AT YOUR OWN RISK" risk sharing that the
open-source software movement uses.
Terry Hancock ( hancock at anansispaceworks.com )
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.anansispaceworks.com