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Ladislav Bodnar's reporting

Ladislav Bodnar's reporting

Posted Jun 11, 2004 13:25 UTC (Fri) by ladislav (guest, #247)
In reply to: Ladislav Bodnar's reporting by popinet
Parent article: Gentoo Package Management with Portage

Thank you for being honest. Like any author, I'd much rather see praises and compliments from my readers, but of course that could only happen in an ideal world. The truth is that I actually agree with you.

I have been researching Linux distributions for over 3 years. The result of this research is that I know something about every distribution, but I am not an expert on any of them. Unfortunately for me, the readership of LWN is full of experts; there are readers who have been using Red Hat (and Fedora) for years, so there is little they don't know about it. When I have to write an article about Fedora, I need to boot into it, spend some time investigating the new release, research the mailing lists and forums, even ask developers or people who are more knowledgeable on the subject. But even if I spend all day in Fedora, there is no way I can match the expertise of those who have been using nothing but Fedora since its first release.

And that's true about any other distribution. I run Debian Sid as my production system and have about 25 Linux and BSD partitions on my two hard disks with all major and interesting distributions on them. I know a lot about them on surface, but I don't have any deep knowledge of any of them, except perhaps for Debian.

Which leads to the following question: am I writing for the right audience? Since it would appear that the vast majority of LWN readers are seasoned experts on whatever Linux distribution they have settled on, there is no way I can teach you anything new. Perhaps my articles would be more suitable for users who are relatively new to Linux or for those who are still deciding on a distribution. Or perhaps I should write about more general distribution topics without attempting to go too deeply into technical details. I don't know.

In a word, I am considering quitting as a LWN contributor. I do enjoy writing and I do enjoy spending extra time in different distributions while researching their technical aspects. But writing is also stressful. It basically kills my every Wednesday, a day which is normally very busy on my own web site. I am not a native English speaker either, so writing and revising (and revising again...) takes me a lot longer than it would take most native speakers.

But before I quit, I'd love to hear your opinions. If most of you feel that my articles do not match the high standards of LWN, then I'll quit. But it's also possible that, except for a few vocal moans, the majority of the readers are quite happy with my stories, in which case I'll continue contributing to LWN. If you can think of any improvements, please mention them too. I'll make a decision after I read your feedback (if any).

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Ladislav Bodnar's reporting

Posted Jun 11, 2004 18:46 UTC (Fri) by piman (subscriber, #8957) [Link]

Perhaps you should try different kinds of articles; out of those 25 distributions (and many more you've probably tried), there's got to be some that no one has heard of. For example, I enjoyed your Gobo Linux article; although I don't agree with the goals of the design, the article itself was informative and interesting. YA package manager isn't interesting, but an attempt to replace the whole Unix filesystem is.

I'd also be interested in direct comparisons; I have absolutely zero idea how yum works or what it can do, besides some vague notion that it solves some of the same problems as APT.

Ladislav Bodnar's reporting

Posted Jun 13, 2004 23:21 UTC (Sun) by sweikart (guest, #4276) [Link]

I agree that "even the experts" will probably learn about minor distros on which you write reports. In addition...

Even if many LWN readers are more expert then you on a couple of distros, most of us are probably not expert on all the major distros. So, most of us (including me) will find most of your articles informative, which is very useful (to me).


Ladislav Bodnar's reporting

Posted Jun 14, 2004 17:03 UTC (Mon) by EricBackus (guest, #2816) [Link]

You had the bad luck to pick a topic--package managers--that generates
lots of passionate opinions (look at the number of responses your article
generated!). Because of that, articles about package managers have been
written before and many people already know a fair amount about them.

While I know redhat and suse fairly well, all I know about gentoo is from
reading articles like yours and the comments that such an article
generates. I know enough to know that I don't want to try gentoo myself,
but it still seems like a good idea for me to know more about it.

So, on the whole I liked your article and would prefer that you keep
writing. I know the LWN experts are intimidating, but nobody is an expert
at everything.

As for suggestions, it would have been helpful to show the equivalent rpm
or apt command for each of the portage commands you gave, or talk about
what specifically (if anything) makes portage different than those.
That's potentially a lot of work, but would have been useful to me.

Ladislav Bodnar's reporting

Posted Jun 18, 2004 22:57 UTC (Fri) by roelofs (guest, #2599) [Link]

But before I quit, I'd love to hear your opinions. If most of you feel that my articles do not match the high standards of LWN, then I'll quit.

While it's certainly true that the tone of your articles doesn't match that of Jon's, and while I very much enjoy his style of writing, I don't find yours deficient in any way; it's just different. For the most part I've truly enjoyed and appreciated the content of your articles. I may be a dyed-in-the-wool, 10-years+ Slackware hacker myself, but I also like to keep abreast of the latest developments in other distros, both for myself and for recommending distros to friends and relatives. It's because of your coverage that I've gone ahead and experimented with KNOPPIX-to-disk, several of the specialized "live" CD distros (including a do-it-yourself variant that was an absolute godsend), and a couple of the "old-hardware/limited-resource" distros. I'll also probably give Gentoo a go on another system in the not-too-distant future, partly because of this very article.

In short, I encourage you to stay...but having been on the receiving end of a lot of ungrateful whining myself, I certainly wouldn't fault you for leaving. It's basic human nature that people are never completely satisfied with what they've got--it's always got to be a little bit more, a little bit better--and that can be difficult to take when they want it from you. :-) But I suspect there are a lot of us who truly appreciate your efforts, not least because we don't have anywhere near enough time to do this kind of review and experimentation ourselves.


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