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6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Glen MacArthur recently released AV Linux 6.0. AV Linux is a popular distribution for audio and video production. The H reports that 6.0 will be the final release. "While the project has received positive feedback from users, MacArthur says that version 6.0 will be the final release of AV Linux for a number of reasons, most notably a lack of donations. The distribution is being provided "as-is" and will not be updated and maintained, although the developer notes that tech support will be provided in the project's forums for one year. "Obviously this will be a disappointment to some users, however before you walk away I urge you to try the latest ISO and let it prove it's own worth," said MacArthur, adding that, "people who want to install and create multimedia will not be disappointed... people who live for the next software update will be better served by KXStudio or Dream Studio, both excellent projects in their own right."
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6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 17, 2012 22:11 UTC (Fri) by juliank (subscriber, #45896) [Link]

So, he does a lot of work only to say that he won't support it anymore? Why did he do this in the first place?

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 17, 2012 23:11 UTC (Fri) by josh (subscriber, #17465) [Link]

Perhaps in the hopes that someone else will pick it up and run with it, or that support from users will pick up to the point where he can continue support. Or, perhaps, he had a pile of work in progress and didn't want to just throw it away.

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 18, 2012 0:35 UTC (Sat) by Duncan (guest, #6647) [Link]

I'd guess it's mostly the pile of work completed...

Based on the 6.0 version number it has been an ongoing project for awhile. Decisions such as discontinuing a project as large as a distribution at version 6.0 tend to take time and not be made lightly. It's self-evident, but if a project is to end, and at least for individual finite human beings they all do eventually, there must be a time at which that end comes. Just like death itself, unfortunately that end doesn't always come at a convenient time, even everybody knows it's coming "someday".

So I'd guess he's just no longer in a position to keep it up, but awareness of that came slowly, and once a decision was made, he both already had some work put into the next version, and felt he had an obligation of sorts to his users, to at least put out this one more.

So here we are. But with luck, as you mentioned, someone else could pick it up. Or, perhaps as with LWN's "this is the end" article several years ago, the release and declaration itself will bring enough new interest that instead of it being the end, it's a new beginning.

Time will tell. If it's of enough interest to enough people, one way or another, it'll continue, either directly or as a fork. Not only is that an oft stated benefit of FLOSS, but in the FLOSS community, it's as certain as death itself. The only reason a FLOSS project ceases to exist is because there's simply /not/ that level of interest, at least not to enough people.

Duncan (who had a neighbor die the other day, after I had just talked to him and happened to get the power saw back that he had borrowed, the day before, so death and ends, and the nature of human experience in respect to them, is something I've been thinking a bit about the last few days...)

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 24, 2012 10:00 UTC (Fri) by ebirdie (guest, #512) [Link]

Maybe, and emphasizing **maybe**, he is trying to repeat the effect made to its course in its history. I think it is a wake-up call worth repeating, if you are honest to your audience in your intentions AND your audience/users want to show your work is valued AND you are honestly willing to let your audience influence your work also by means you may not have to think about or you may not be willing to set at first.

That is three conditions to fill and there exists those very unmeasurable things called "honest intent" and "interaction with audience/users", what can collapse the whole thing very easily, IMHO. I don't really have any clue, what is the real situation with AV Linux and its creator/maintainer, just depicting my thoughts to the first comment.

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 17, 2012 23:19 UTC (Fri) by mikov (subscriber, #33179) [Link]

We take far too many things in Free Software for granted...

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 18, 2012 2:16 UTC (Sat) by bats999 (guest, #70285) [Link]

From Gmaq in the comments:

"Linux is wonderful in so many ways but at the development level a lot of the 'freedom' more closely resembles anarchy and the never ending shifting sands of the underlying support libraries and the unbelievable amount of babysitting and building from GIT, SVN etc, required to maintain 50 or so applications is simply not possible for me to continue and lead a balanced life."

Could the LWN readers who maintain distros share insight into how they face these challenges? Tools that have saved your sanity? Organizational approaches?

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 18, 2012 3:24 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

I maintained my "distro" based on LFS for our devices. Yep, there was too much insanity. WAAAY too much.

We'd switched to Debian for MIPS and our life got infinitely better. We've even got enough time for things like sleeping :)

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 18, 2012 8:40 UTC (Sat) by kleptog (subscriber, #1183) [Link]

I havn't done much package maintenance myself but I've created the occasional Debian package. What I've noticed is that over the years the tools have gotten better, but one thing hasn't changed: developers do not know how to release software in a way that makes it easily to distribute.

This isn't surprising, it's not a course you can follow. You learn only by seeing how other people do it. Though the rise of alternative build systems like cmake en autotools have reduced the number of sharp corners.

In the beginning the debian/rules file was a makefile you made that described how to build the software, I guess similar to the Gentoo ebuild. Nowadays you have debhelper which has so much intelligence that it correctly guesses defaults for a large number of build systems and builds a decent package. The rules file can be almost empty.

My guess though is that much of the software that makes AV Linux special is of the kind where the quality of the build system is "a makefile that works for me", and turning those into decent packages is a *lot* of work.

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 18, 2012 8:55 UTC (Sat) by pabs (subscriber, #43278) [Link]

For folks who are writing software as upstream, please take a look at Debian's (incomplete) guide for upstream developers and also the links in it (my favourite is Tom Callaway's list of FAILs). Debian current pushes new packagers to read this when we find out they are also the upstream devs.

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 18, 2012 13:10 UTC (Sat) by cabrilo (guest, #72372) [Link]

I maintain several in Arch Linux's AUR. These are "user contributed" packages and there is no quality check on them so I can't really speak with high authority on this issue.

As far as tools are concerned: it really depends on the distribution and packaging systems - they all differ.

However, after maintaining a package for some time, you get to learn about how the upstream functions, so you just subscribe to their mailing list and watch for changes. If something doesn't work for you, you either contact upstream for a fix (and they are often very responsive, but of course it depends on individual developers) or try to provide your own patch.

Some packages take more work then others - e.g. some always work straight out of tarball, and some make you jump through hoops just to install them in /usr instead of /usr/local, or make them work with your distro's version of a library.

With 3-4 packages, that's a breeze. It's even fun and that's why I do it.

With dozens of packages, it's a different story... You can have all the tools for building a package in the world, but there is no easy way to package software which depends on an ancient version of a library which you don't care to include in your distro, or requires a brand new git checkout to make it work.

Resolving those issues, patching things, spending days on mailing lists, etc. is what gets you. Users of Linux distros don't go through dependency hell anymore because packagers do it for them. And they have to balance and shuffle packages for the entire distribution, and not just a single installation. It's all too common for two pieces of software to require two different versions of a same library...

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 18, 2012 8:52 UTC (Sat) by pabs (subscriber, #43278) [Link]

I wonder if he plans on joining forces with other projects? I'm sure the Debian multimedia team could use more people.

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 20, 2012 9:56 UTC (Mon) by basmevissen (subscriber, #54935) [Link]

I think these specialized distros are far better off being based upon an existing and well maintained distro. Then there is a much smaller set of packages to be maintained. Hence the maintainer can concentrate himself on what makes this distro specific.

6.0: The beginning of the end for AV Linux (The H)

Posted Aug 20, 2012 12:37 UTC (Mon) by Company (guest, #57006) [Link]

I think most distros would be far better off not existing at all.
All they do these days is make upstream development hard.

Why don't they all just join forces?

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