[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Back to Windows??

At 08:21 AM 2/20/2001 -0500, Adam C Powell IV wrote:
Christopher Wolf wrote:

> Free
> software is usually not as easy to use because no one has the time to work
> out all the bugs like a dedicated company might (don't even bring up MS;
> they don't write software, they market software), or everyone is taking it
> in their own direction and giving it feature creep, which eventually
> strangles the project.

I'm sorry, but as a Debian maintainer I find this statement *offensive*.

Welcome to life. I find many of the things my users say are dumb or offensive. Chalk it up to my stupidity, and you'll feel a lot better.

We spend MONTHS in testing cyclles trying every possible configuration to ensure a perfect upgrade for all users, and NOTHING is released unless ALL of the RC bugs
in ALL critical packages are eliminated on ALL platforms.  If a less important
package has an RC bug, it gets booted.  Period.

You're talking about single releases, which Debian does very well. But I'm talking generally about the lifetime of a free product, not necessarily Linux, in responding to a statement that free software is better. Debian does not write (all of) Linux. Linux is bloating, modules just move that bloat from memory to disk. You're going to be spending more and more time in validation. What happens when the time to validate exceeds the time between releases, especially considering the variety and history that you mention maintaining (below)? There's always more and more hardware being created which needs more and more custom patches to support it. And while the individual Debian releases are easy to upgrade, the individual pieces of the product itself are getting harder to install and configure, not easier, because of the variety of minor differences.

The quality is so high that people can upgrade from bo to potato in a single
step, without rebooting, and it just works.  Packages are made available to
maintain kernel 2.0 compatibility years after its release, because there are
some users who still need that kernel. We are the ONLY distribution to release for legacy processors like m68k and (likely for woody) hppa and mips, extending the supported lifetime of such machines indefinitely, and the ONLY distribution
that runs on light low-power ARM chips.  Try that with Microsoft or Sun or IBM
or SGI or Q or ... Get the point?

Yes. Debian is one of the better companies. Obviously, or I wouldn't be running Debian releases. But when we wave a purchase contract in Sun's face, they're at our door today, fixing the problem, because if they're not we'll go to someone else. There is no-one at Debian or "Linux" who will do that. If we can't use the new hardware, who cares how much the OS cost. And a company such as Sun will not spend all their time pointing finger at others when their product is about to be lost. I don't care if a well-known manufacturer is stretching the truth about their Linux compatability; who's there to stop them under a free software situation?

Of course, this slows down the incorporation of new features (like how GNOME 1.2
didn't get into potato).  But contrary to your statement, this means the focus
is on quality and NOT feature creep.  We can ONLY do this because the software
is free, as in speech, so we can fix our own bugs and add our own usability
features (see below).

The fact is, GNOME 1.2 will get in eventually. While the _focus_ may be quality, the product _will_ get all the features added to it. If you leave out all the neat features forever, people will go to other releases eventually.

I understand your frustration with some projects, but to make such a blanket
statement on a Debian list is demeaning to the hundreds of volunteer maintainers and hundreds (thousands?) of other volunteer testers who work very hard to bring
together the highest-quality distribution possible.  If you have a specific
complaint, make it, and file a bug report. But don't just dump on quality when
you can't get anything like what we have in the proprietary world.

Just because I said it on a Debian list doesn't mean I was speaking specifically of Debian, especially since I wasn't. If I say here I can look up and see blue sky will you correct me that your ceilings are beige?

And hiding behind a "proprietary" hardware shield won't actually solve anything. This however, is also not Debian's problem.

Usability is another matter. Volunteers will generally make things more usable
for themselves.  So we have the best package management system anywhere in the
industry (dpkg/apt), with unrivaled ease of configuration (debconf), and
centralized application menu management which puts its menus in all of the
window managers and desktop environments (menu), and documentation registration which links all docs from /usr/share/doc/HTML/index.html (doc-base), and indexes
it as well (dhelp/glimpse).  One or two of these usability features are
available elsewhere (like Windows' documentation system and single Start menu),
but the combination is unique to Debian.

Bravo. Thank you very much for going farther than anyone else with these new, very useful, and additional features.

However, drivers are a problem when vendors refuse to release specs (so file a
bug report and mailbomb the vendor), and since people only have to install it
once, the time they're willing to put into the installation process is
relatively small.  So the usability of those parts of the distribution lag the
rest by quite a bit.  The new installer doesn't look like it will be ready in
time for woody, so this condition wil persist for at least another year.  But
the installation problem is easy to solve: get an old Corel CD and upgrade to
potato over the net (took me about 15 hours over a 56K modem, but it all
worked), or get a Progeny beta, or go to http://www.odslinux.com/ and
custom-configure your own easy-install CD, or get hardware with Debian
pre-installed- which solves the driver problem too!

...solve the driver problem only until you need a new piece of hardware. I may have missed it, but I don't believe you're implying that hardware never changes in a system.

> Either that or the primary author graduates or
> finally gets a date.

Whoops. Typo there. date should have been mate, as in, "something to significantly occupy their time other than code". And for those of you watching for it, don't think for a moment that I would have used a masculine pronoun there.

I graduated nine years ago and have been happily married for the last four,
thank you very much.

Congratulations, I believe you've beat the divorce odds.

There have been helpful constructive criticisms in this thread, but yours was
not one of them.

I'm a middle of the road user. I can hack the kernel and believe Linux can make a difference, but I also have better things to do. Until you get me using Linux on all my computers, you won't get all the rest of the world; you certainly won't get most of the people I know, who are in my family or who I work with in the software world -- they simply have better things to do with their time and most will spend $50 to make all the Linux issues go away with Windows, as much as many of them dislike it. Accept it or ignore it, but its there.

Remember, customer satisfaction is determined by the customer. You can tell me I'm wrong as much as you want.


Reply to: