Show me the code! (UserLinux)
Posted Sep 15, 2005 21:41 UTC (Thu) by Duncan
In reply to: Show me the code!
Parent article: UserLinux: Autopsy
Something always bothered me about UserLinux, but I could never really put
my finger on it, tho you'll see me trying as far back as the comments to
the original LWN announcements on it. Finally, you put your finger on it.
My complaints centered around the fact that it seemed to me like it was
developed mainly over a case of bad feelings over RH's moves, and I
thought that was the wrong reason/way to go about founding a distribution,
but I couldn't point out /why/ it seemed that way to me. Your analysis
supplies the missing causative: at the root, I was uncomfortable with all
the pronouncements, without even the beginnings of the code behind them to
lend them support. The result was that of the pointing finger effect -- a
message (unintended and entirely innocent I'm sure) of willingness to
condemn someone else without being willing to "walk the talk".
So.. I'm glad you were able to put your finger on what I could never quite
Meanwhile, the practical effect on the project was much as you outlined.
A project being born without code and without even many of the underlying
assumptions worked out was an invitation for all sorts of idealists and
do-gooders to sign up, while both by the same token and from the result of
the first, proving rather repellent to the practical sorts of folks that
would have preferred to simply dig-in and get to work, leaving the
debating for others.
As for the KDE stuff... as with you, I'm a KDE user, and knew as soon as I
saw the project favoring Gnome over KDE, that it wasn't something I'd be
interested in. However, apparently unlike many, I didn't go join the list
and argue the point. Rather, I simply wrote it off as something not worth
trying -- unless it developed a KDE version.
OTOH, given GNOME's very public targeting of the "simple" user, one who
gets confused by too many config options and the like, as well as the LGPL
licensing vs. Qt/KDE's GPL licensing, GNOME may have been better for the
"locked down corporate desktop" types as well as the "inhouse and
outsourced developed solutions" types (noting of course KDE's kiosk mode
and the fact that the GPL wouldn't prevent proprietary development if it
were to remain inhouse either, but GNOME will still seem a more "natural"
fit to the PHB types that were a prime UserLinux target, in any case).
That I /can/ admit. Such targets couldn't be farther from my own
interest, granted, the reason I wasn't personally interested for my own
use, but they'd be better for UserLinux's target market, it being what it
In any case, it would seem that the community has yet another example of
how "design by committee" doesn't work so well. Design the specs first,
within a much smaller limited non-public group, or just let them evolve
naturally from the initial code, but in any case, get that initial code
OUT THERE, BEFORE the public announcement. THEN make the announcement,
and if the code and concept (or even just the code) are good, and
particularly if they uniquely fill a niche that no other product out there
fills (as arguably was the case for UserLinux when it was announced), the
users and further developers WILL come. The latter assumption, provide
even a rudimentary but unique solution filling a need, and they WILL come,
has after all been demonstrated time and again within the FLOSS community,
and is to a large degree what it's all about.
All IMO, FWIW...
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