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Re: Usability: Technical details in package descriptions?

On Sat, Jul 23, 2005 at 01:30:24AM -0500, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
> On Thu, 21 Jul 2005 12:33:32 -0300, Ben Armstrong <synrg@sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca> said: 

>>> 2.  Programs written in obscure languages may prove unmaintainable
>>>     if the original developer disappears.  Besides threatening
>>>     obsolescence, this can be a security issue.

>> Now we're *really* getting touchy-feely.  I think we're losing sight
>> of the goal: the user, reading the description, should get a sense
>> of what the package does, whether it is likely to meet their needs,
>> and whether it offers distinct advantages over any of the
>> alternatives. (...) have some mild bias towards packages
>> implemented in it, it certainly isn't a primary indicator of
>> whether the package is suitable for a particular use or not.

>         I also select a program based on languages I know; since it
>  makes it more likely that I can tweak the program rto my needs, or
>  help with stalled development.

And this is one of the central points behind free software after all:
the freedom, both legal and practical, to do exactly that.

That in the current times most people are technically unable to do
that is just an unfortunate temporary situation to me, that comes from
a conjunction of factors like youth of the field, that the programming
language of choice still changes way too often (probably linked to
"youth of the field"), etc. Our (grand-)^n parents' generation got to
the point of a society where *everyone*, or nearly, can read and
write. So I don't see why our (grand-)^n children's generation cannot
get to the point of a society where everyone can program. Not everyone
has to be a Don Knuth, of course. Just like not everyone is a
Shakespeare today.

I like to see the Free Software movement as a precursor in this
direction. And Debian as a spearhead of the Free Software movement,
not merely a provider of prepackaged goods.


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