[UFO Chicago] what draws you here?

Ian Bicking ianb@colorstudy.com
29 Jan 2002 09:09:04 -0600

On Tue, 2002-01-29 at 02:07, Larry Garfield wrote:
> Ian Bicking wrote:
> > > True, but by the same token you can find an awful lot of crap for Linux
> > > systems, too.  It generally won't kill your system, quickly or slowly,
> > > because the fundamental architecture is unquestionably more resilient
> > > and more stable.  The problem is that the cost of that increased
> > > reliability is you have to know a lot more about what you're doing than
> > > you do with Windows.
> > 
> > No, it's not that Linux is harder because of the packaging system.
> > Quite the contrary.  This is something that Windows has simply not done,
> > apparently because Windows OS programmers are dense -- I think it's one
> > of the biggest flaws of Windows, and they seem to be doing little about
> > it beyond band-aid fixes.  There's certainly nothing stopping them,
> > except maybe that a good packaging system keeps its integrity with a
> > good permission system, which does have some (not a whole lot) of
> > ease-of-use issues.  There's issues with the way Linux is about it, but
> > filesystem integrity could be maintained without all the problems, and
> > by having the packaging programs be suid.
> > 
> > Oh, maybe I'm talking myself out of it.
> I didn't even get into packaging systems. :-)  It's not as much that
> Windows programmers are dense as the Win9x InstallShield (~ package
> manager) is simply missing an uninstall component.  The Win2k version
> fixes that bug, and actually does uninstall MOST (not all) applications
> decently.  It's still not as clean an uninstall as RPMS or dpkg provide,
> by a long shot, but at least it's worth mentioning in the same breath.  

I wasn't saying Windows programmers were dense, but the programmers who
have designed (and redesigned) Windows have been dense for not creating
robust installation tools.

> DLL Hell is another matter entirely, which is handled on GNU/Linux
> systems by recompiling everything against everything else and
> aggressively upgrading every component (by the developer), and isn't
> handled at all by Windows. :-)  (Slight oversimplification, but only
> slightly.)
> Of course, we could spin this discussion off onto the "Why do we need
> multiple package systems, isn't that rather stupid" thread, but we won't
> go there. :-)
> > > I'm not convinced that is inherent in the
> > > software.  I DO, however, believe that it is the "fault" of the FS/OS
> > > attitude.  There is a very strong "by geeks, for geeks" streak in the
> > > Unix-oid community at large (including the GNU folks, the Open Source
> > > people, the hard-core old=school Unix people, etc.), which I think hurts
> > > Linux and Free Software in the world at large far more than any
> > > Microsoft ad campaign could hope to accomplish.
> > 
> > Well, it must be remembered that the most important aspect of the
> > continued existence and success of Linux is the happiness of those
> > geeks.  Not to be elitist about it, but having a larger grandmotherly
> > population using Linux doesn't actually do anything to help Linux,
> > because they don't program or do other activities for the community.
> And right there in that paragraph is precisely the crux of the point I
> am making.  "... population using Linux doesn't actually do anything to
> help Linux."  Why should they?  Why should people be expected to help a
> program?  

Because they didn't pay us.  In a proprietary world, all you have to do
to enter the good graces of the programmer/company is pay them.  If
consumers payed us, they'd get different treatment.  Hell, even one guy
wanted help on the software, and he payed a programmer $50 outside of
any formal agreement, I'm sure he'd get very good support -- if only
because that money would signify that the person had respect for what he
was asking for.

In fact, simple humility and graciousness will get you pretty far as

Perhaps Linux needs more ways to pay for support at a consumer level, or
a more clear responsibility from those that sell Linux products and
computers.  But without that, the community has a responsibility to
protect its own.