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Qualified opinions

Qualified opinions

Posted Nov 8, 2012 23:02 UTC (Thu) by man_ls (guest, #15091)
In reply to: Seigo: ending the cults of personality in free software by aseigo
Parent article: Seigo: ending the cults of personality in free software

Not to trivialize your post, but there is a proverb that says: "make your product easy to use for idiots, and soon only idiots will use it". Remember proverbs, those things that existed before memes; they all have some truth in them.

In this case we don't pay attention to Linus just because he is a celebrity, but because he happens to be an excellent developer, integrator and designer. He also expresses things clearly and has great analytical power, so he can probably explain things that others can just feel intuitively. That doesn't mean that he is a Pope; quite often he will be wrong or just spout plain nonsense, as we all do.

I don't care if JWZ said catchy things, but he makes good points sometimes (and is also a very good developer); his analysis of CADT is spot on. Not everything he touches becomes gold, though.

The same happens to Paul Graham, Richard Stallman and so many others: when they speak you have better listen carefully, and then you can counter their points or just disregard them. Clever people are in short supply and they tend to be busy; when they pay attention to your project you are a fool if you just ignore them.

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Qualified opinions

Posted Nov 8, 2012 23:07 UTC (Thu) by fest3er (guest, #60379) [Link]

"Clever people are in short supply and they tend to be busy; when they pay attention to your project, you are a fool if you just ignore them."

This should make it to LJ's 'They said it' column.

Qualified opinions

Posted Nov 9, 2012 0:02 UTC (Fri) by galens (guest, #23805) [Link]

This should be accompanied by a quote from the PHB in a recent Dilbert(2012-10-21):

"We don't care what smart people think. There aren't that many of them."

Qualified opinions

Posted Nov 8, 2012 23:31 UTC (Thu) by vonbrand (guest, #4458) [Link]

So a rant complaining that bugs to a obsolete, not maintained anymore, package won't be fixed is "spot on"...

Qualified opinions

Posted Nov 8, 2012 23:47 UTC (Thu) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

Yes, to me it is. Perhaps you missed the first part where the bugs are silently ignored for a year. It could also be argued that obsoleting a version after a year is not a good idea; especially when the market leader, Microsoft, supports the full OS for ten years at the very minimum. Instead of rewriting software all the time, which is another good point he makes.

So, please read carefully and extract what you can, instead of just disregarding it as a "rant".


Posted Nov 8, 2012 23:51 UTC (Thu) by louie (subscriber, #3285) [Link]

his analysis of CADT is spot on.

Totally dead on, once you assume a magical, endless supply of developer time and interest, and a narrow, limited influx of bugs and complaints. Which is almost the exact opposite of reality for any large, mostly non-corporate open source community. Maybe I need to convince our dear editor to let me write a guest column on the wrongness of CADT some time.


the ADT


Posted Nov 9, 2012 1:31 UTC (Fri) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

Yes, please write this! I must be among the confused masses. CADT perfectly describes the Linux desktop experience for me: just when I'm getting used to an environment, the rug gets pulled out, all the bugs are closed, and I'm back with a seriously buggy v0.2. (maybe I shouldn't wait until KDE and Gnome are mature before using them -- that only leaves a couple years before the rude surprise)

If there's an explanation for this pattern other than CADT I'd love to hear it. Especially if it includes why the Linux kernel doesn't suffer from this affliction yet also shows stunning development speed.

If developer time is THAT limited, why not select more achievable goals?

I would love to read that column.

-- the OCD


Posted Nov 9, 2012 2:20 UTC (Fri) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

> If developer time is THAT limited, why not select more achievable goals?

And then this limited developer time is further eroded by having Gnome, KDE, XFCE, LXDE and what not, all basically trying to solve the same damn problem. And while this is going on, Microsoft and Apple are laughing.


Posted Nov 9, 2012 7:38 UTC (Fri) by Duncan (guest, #6647) [Link]

What you miss is that in a volunteer environment, the game isn't zero-sum.

I'm a kde user, but I'm VERY glad gnome is there, because were it not there, arguably a good 80% of the effort put into gnome would simply disappear from the desktop, since kde doesn't fit the gnome style of "there's only one right way and it's ours, so no configuration option could possibly be needed since we're already doing it the only possible right way, and if you think differently, you're simply wrong."

What's worse, probably 80% of the other 20% would bring that "only one right way and it's ours" attitude with them, and disrupt kde's "people are different and work differently, so let's make it an option so if they don't like the defaults, they can change them" philosophy. If they won that debate, it would kill the biggest reason a lot of people use kde, especially those like me who have never seen a default desktop they were happy with and don't expect to ever do so either.

Obviously that's painting with incredibly big and inaccurate brush strokes (as well as assuming they'd all end up with kde for simplicity of argument, they wouldn't, but with your argument take to it's logical conclusion there'd only be one left to switch to) and is thus simplistic at the level described above, but the point remains, there's all these different projects because people are volunteering their time and effort to what they're interested in, and if the number of projects was somehow artificially constrained, it would actually result in very little more work getting done on the remaining projects, both because people would simply find other things to do with their (after all volunteer) time, and because if they didn't, it'd dramatically increase the friction factor on the remaining projects as people spend all that gained time fighting with each other instead of working on their own separate projects.

So as a kde user who LIKES all those extra options, since they allow me to configure a desktop that I actually enjoy, I'm EXTREMELY glad all those "only one right way and it's our way" gnome folks have their own project to work on, and can leave kde to its "confusing mess of options". =:^)

But there certainly are people who "just want the defaults to work so I don't have to mess with it", and others who get horribly confused by all those extra options. For a good portion of both of those sets of people, gnome's going to be a more appropriate option than kde, and that's fine. I wouldn't want to take that away from them, and since all those folk putting so much energy into gnome wouldn't actually do a lot to benefit kde if somehow it became the only viable alternative anyway, it's not as if it hurts kde much, either.

In fact, the alternate implementations give people a chance to see the same idea from another perspective, and the competition is useful and healthy.

Meanwhile, there's the compatible standards effort, where it /does/ make sense to work together, which is why X-based apps can ship a common *.desktop file that "just works" with both major desktops and several lighter alternatives as well, among other things.

The same thing of course applies to distros. I'm a gentooer, again, because I like having that extra level of control over my computer and the OS it runs (while still automating most of it once the choices are made). But it's not for everyone. But if all those folks working on all those distros were happy working on the same distro, don't you think that's what they'd be doing? It's volunteer (either of the distro devs directly or of the people paying them), and they work on what they believe in. Try to force them to all work on the same distro and it's simply not going to work, they'll find other stuff to do with their time/money, and to the extent that they don't, most of the would-be added effort will be spent simply overcoming the extra friction of all that extra disagreement, so that single one or a very limited few distros won't be much better for it after all, and the community as a whole would be a whole lot smaller and poorer as a result.



Posted Nov 9, 2012 8:09 UTC (Fri) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

Strangely, I actually agree with you here. Just because I think there should be one Linux desktop, doesn't mean interchangeable parts cannot be used to run it or that it should not be customisable.


Posted Nov 9, 2012 10:52 UTC (Fri) by robert_s (subscriber, #42402) [Link]

"Just because I think there should be one Linux desktop"

It's not that anyone who believes this is just "wrong" - it's more that they clearly don't understand what the "linux desktop" _is_.

It's a bit like believing that humans "should" evolve wings.

Or a bit like wishing butter was a good material for making jet engines out of.


Posted Nov 9, 2012 21:04 UTC (Fri) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

Take a snapshot of Linux desktop distros and see how many are not using X. Then think again about what I said and you will find that nobody has to evolve wings to figure this one out.


Posted Nov 11, 2012 1:07 UTC (Sun) by robert_s (subscriber, #42402) [Link]


The reason almost everyone's using X is there's a massive barrier to getting a basic working solution for an alternative. Lots of difficult drivers to write. EDID data to handle. Lots of really difficult event handling code to write. Then you've got to get lots of applications to support drawing onto you - or support the X protocol, which is a huge amount of work. All for something that's reasonably transparent to the majority of users and for most users doesn't greatly affect their day to day workflow.

Writing a simple working alternative desktop is child's play in comparison.

So let's say you get your way and there's "one linux desktop". Well, I don't like it because of reason xyz. So I go and write a different one with a couple of buddies. Bam. There are two linux desktops.


Posted Nov 9, 2012 15:30 UTC (Fri) by davide.del.vento (guest, #59196) [Link]

It's of little consolation, but you are not alone. Pretty much everyone (well, everyone I speak with) suffer from this "rug pulling and go back to the immature v0.2".

Personally, I'm really sick of this, and after 13 years of exclusive Linux Desktop use I'm seriously considering to go back to windows. I say that because I expect it to horrify me even more (if the things I've read from windows 8 are true) and thus might bring me back to Linux Desktop Rug Puller as the best thing in the world nowadays.


Posted Nov 9, 2012 17:06 UTC (Fri) by hummassa (subscriber, #307) [Link]

Goto KDE. Just don't jump to KDE5 without trying it extensively in a VM first. That's it.


Posted Nov 9, 2012 18:45 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

My Xfce has not changed much in years. Trusty mouse.


Posted Nov 22, 2012 16:23 UTC (Thu) by TRauMa (guest, #16483) [Link]

A new major Gnome version every 10 years, and you can't keep up? :)

Qualified opinions

Posted Nov 9, 2012 1:08 UTC (Fri) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

> Not to trivialize your post, but there is a proverb that says: "make your product easy to use for idiots, and soon only idiots will use it". Remember proverbs, those things that existed before memes; they all have some truth in them.

'Make your product easy to use for idiots, and soon only idiots will use it.'


'Make your product pointlessly frustrating to use, and soon only three people on LWN will use it.' - Stone's Corollary

Qualified opinions

Posted Nov 9, 2012 1:39 UTC (Fri) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639) [Link]

I'm pretty sure I've got software I'm actively hacking on in-house right now that breaks Stone's Corollary. In that no other LWN reader would choose to use it.


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