Show me the code!
Posted Sep 15, 2005 7:42 UTC (Thu) by hingo
Parent article: UserLinux: Autopsy
Great article! This is a topic I'm especially interested in: why os projects succeed or why they fail. UserLinux in particular has been interesting to follow.
Personally, I've always thought that UserLinux' fate could be seen already in the way the project was started. Bruce simply did it the wrong way. (Sorry Bruce, who would have known...) If we compare with Ubuntu and virtually all other distributions that exist today, they always code first, then start with announcing something that exists, that then will further be be improved.
What happens when you do thing's the UserLinux way is, you get a lot of people to join your mailing list. These people are interested in discussing what an ideal distribution should look like or what it's name should be. The people interested in trying out your distribution (also known as developers and users!) have nothing to get from you. In shortyou attract the wrong kind of people. It was clear that this group would not succeed in delivering a serious distribution.
Same is true for the name thing. Once you pick a name, be prepared that it will stick no matter how bad it is. Without a BDFL, no amount of mailing list discussions will ever get the name changed.
For the same reasons I disagree with the KDE analysis above. You brought this problem on yourself. You invited people to debate the issue of which DE is the better one! And even worse, to pick the only one to be used. For me personally, as a KDE user but not developer, this was the junction after which I knew for sure, that even if UserLinux might have ever delivered something, I would never use it. This is what the people on the mailing list have tried to explain to you, even though I wasn't one of them. (I just stuck with my current distro that provides a good KDE desktop, which again is a better thing to do than to whine on a mailing list.) That's what you wanted, that's what you got. Again, compare to Canonical. They made a decision only to provide Gnome, even before anyone knew about Ubuntu. When Ubuntu came out, that's what it had. That posed a challenge to KDE fans. They knew no amount of crying on a mailing list would change things, but they could accept the challenge and produce an Ubuntu with KDE -> Kubuntu. Now people can try both and actually decide for themselves whether one is better than the other. Again, if you have something to say, show me the code.
In short, UserLinux was an experiment in design by committee. I don't blame Bruce for anything though. I agree with the view he then held, that he is the person who could do this kind of thing. Now that he couldn't do it, we just know that the concept really doesn't work. (Which we kind of knew already.)
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