Linked by Kaj de Vos on Tue 8th Jun 2010 22:07 UTC
Syllable, AtheOS

The Syllable project is pleased to announce that the reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated, and that the new version 0.4 of Syllable Server has been released. This release focuses on maturing existing functionality, improving security, ongoing system restructuring, and making the system a suitable base for third-party package managers. Although the project admits it hasn't brought its unicorn factory online yet, extensive work was done on the nitty-gritty, so the full change log is quite long.

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Cool, I guess...
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 9th Jun 2010 00:32 UTC
UltraZelda64
Member since:
2006-12-05

...but dammit, I want to see some Syllable *DESKTOP* progress.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Cool, I guess...
by Kaj-de-Vos on Wed 9th Jun 2010 01:35 UTC in reply to "Cool, I guess..."
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

Most of the development you see here is Syllable Desktop progress. Syllable Desktop and Syllable Server are developed on the same base. They use many of the same components, from GNU and others, and our own build system with only limited variations between the two. For example, all the heavy system restructuring and most of the package upgrades will also be in the next Desktop build. Besides, Desktop has its own advancements going on.

Also, the last Server release was from almost two years ago, and the last Desktop build is from January, so methought Server was eligible for a new release.

Finally, if you want more Syllable Desktop progress, then make some! Syllable is a volunteer project.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Cool, I guess...
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 9th Jun 2010 01:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Cool, I guess..."
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Finally, if you want more Syllable Desktop progress, then make some! Syllable is a volunteer project.

You seem to be forgetting that skill is required to be able to do much. No, open source is not enough--it requires developers, which I am not.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Cool, I guess...
by Kaj-de-Vos on Wed 9th Jun 2010 02:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Cool, I guess..."
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

Sorry, but that's a lame excuse (which I pretty much expected, because it is used a lot). You wouldn't want to put all progress in the world in the hands of computer programmers, now would you? As non-programmers always seem to think, that would be a disaster! ;-)

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Cool, I guess...
by adamk on Thu 10th Jun 2010 10:50 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Cool, I guess..."
adamk Member since:
2005-07-08

So what would you suggest non-developers do in terms of helping out Syllable Desktop? File bug reports for things that just don't get fixed? :-)

http://forum.syllable.org/viewtopic.php?t=1326
http://forum.syllable.org/viewtopic.php?t=769
http://forum.syllable.org/viewtopic.php?t=1220

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Cool, I guess...
by cipri on Thu 10th Jun 2010 11:16 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Cool, I guess..."
cipri Member since:
2007-02-15

From this links related to bug reports, I like one of the posts of kaj:

"Unfortunately, nobody has stepped forward to fix this bug yet. As far as I know, it's in several audio drivers. Anyone want to have a go at this limited problem that would be very useful to fix? I can't believe nobody is interested in a rare opportunity to do modern system development."

yes, he can't believe. But why does he not take this opportunity.

Of course, he likes, that the hard work is done by other people, and he wants only to apply their patches, and later he claimes that he did the most work, and therefore is opition has the greatest value. (I remember the dispute, where he used the word "meritocracy").


And another citation from kaj is (in a threat about a bug report):
"Yes, unfortunately, there have been no changes to the Radeon driver in a long time. It would be great if someone could update our driver port to the latest Linux version."

Again he is waiting and begging for gifts.
But why doesn't he, the so-called co-leader, do that kind of c/c++ coding? The answer is perhaps: he is so much occupied with "leading" syllable, that he has no time for coding.

Edited 2010-06-10 11:24 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Cool, I guess...
by adamk on Thu 10th Jun 2010 11:18 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Cool, I guess..."
adamk Member since:
2005-07-08

Please go troll somewhere else. I'm sure he and the other developers are busy coding, their just aren't enough of them to make any significant progress on Syllable Desktop, IMHO.

Adam

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Cool, I guess...
by cipri on Thu 10th Jun 2010 11:43 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Cool, I guess..."
cipri Member since:
2007-02-15

I was writing about kaj.
And perhaps you forgot, that some time ago, kaj saied, that he is spending "Full-Time" on syllable. (And of course without doing c++-coding for syllable).
And it was just an assumption. I asked him, more than once, to show us the last and the most important c++ - work he did. Are there any c++-applications he developed? And perhaps, and only perhaps, you don't know,that kaj, said with his own words, that he doesn't know much about the syllable api.

I'm happy for you that you can be so sure, without ever seen a proof. I guess you know the expression "dogma".

If you took a look at source code of the syllable api, you will know for sure who is rick. He can tell you more clearly about the c++-abilities of kaj.

It's not a problem that he is not strong at c++, the problem is, that he behaves like the leader, having the strongest word. And of course it's hard for a c++-developers, to continue, to be leaded and restricted by the opinions of a non-c++-developer.
And that's why most of the syllable-developers leaved syllable.

Adam, you don't know what great work related to syllable Jonas did, and how much it would have improved syllable and the syllable api, but because of kaj, this work didn't went into syllable.

Edited 2010-06-10 11:54 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Cool, I guess...
by Kaj-de-Vos on Thu 10th Jun 2010 19:17 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Cool, I guess..."
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

So what would you suggest non-developers do in terms of helping out Syllable Desktop? File bug reports for things that just don't get fixed? :-)

http://forum.syllable.org/viewtopic.php?t=1326
http://forum.syllable.org/viewtopic.php?t=769
http://forum.syllable.org/viewtopic.php?t=1220

Well, they could report bugs that do get fixed:

http://forum.syllable.org/viewforum.php?f=5

For example, you contributed testing information which helped us to get the OpenSSH server running on Syllable Desktop. Don't you think that is progress?

The bug reports list on our forum occupies five pages, while the fixed bugs occupy three pages. So this rough estimate suggests that three out of eight reported bugs are fixed. This does not include fixed bugs that were reported on our previous web sites and bug trackers, and does not include all the bugs we continuously fix among ourselves during development.

I think you know all this, but at the risk of stating the obvious:

- Software projects have bugs.
- Large software projects have many bugs.
- Any change can create new bugs.
- As in nature, bugs come in all sorts and shapes.
- Bugs take effort to fix.
- Bugs are made by people, so they need to be fixed by people.
- Some bugs are easy to fix, some bugs are very hard.
- Ambitious and large software projects tend to have hard bugs.
- If you run out of cooperative people before you run out of bugs, some bugs are unfixed.
- Some bugs are annoying, some bugs are showstoppers.
- Showstoppers can, well, stop the show, meaning they delay releases.
- Annoying bugs can be ignored by those who can stand them.
- One man's annoyance can be another man's showstopper.
- In a commercial project, someone pays others to fix his showstoppers and annoyances.
- In a volunteer project, people are in the first place expected to fix their own bugs.
- If one volunteer wants another volunteer to fix his bug for him, he needs to figure out something to make him do that.

We are entering the social realm here, but this can take many forms. One way to make someone help you is to make other contributions yourself. On your question how non-developers can help, here's how people have helped us over the years. I'm sure I forgot several:

- Write new system code.
- Write new Syllable applications.
- Port existing programs.
- Test code.
- Report problems.
- Fix code.
- Build code.
- Release code.
- Write documentation.
- Set up web sites.
- Set up communication systems.
- Set up download sites.
- Maintain sites.
- Set up web magazines.
- Write articles for the web sites and magazines.
- Create artwork for Syllable.
- Create artwork for the web sites and magazines.
- Translate Syllable and its applications.
- Translate documentation.
- Translate the web sites.
- Buy our CDs.
- Contract us for a Syllable-related project.
- Download Syllable by BitTorrent and leave it open so others can download from you.
- Donate money.
- Donate used hardware.
- Buy us new hardware.
- Provide us food when we don't have any.
- Provide us shelter when we don't have any.
- Promote the project elsewhere. Elsewhere is big, so there are many opportunities here.
- Write articles for other magazines.
- Write articles about Syllable on your own web site.
- Show Syllable locally.
- Spread our CDs locally.
- Help others install and use Syllable.
- Organise conferences.
- Setup a Syllable booth at some other conference.
- Provide space for a conference.
- Provide equipment for a conference.
- Drive us to a conference.
- Sail us around the country in your ship so we can have a nice conference.
- Make photos of our conferences.
- Film our conferences.
- Pay us a compliment.
- Thank us for offering the gift of Syllable.
- Be nice and understanding.
- Stimulate someone else to do these things for us.

It's really not that hard to think of something anyone can do to support the project.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Cool, I guess...
by adamk on Fri 11th Jun 2010 17:00 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Cool, I guess..."
adamk Member since:
2005-07-08

I've done any number of those things in the past (buy CDs, download the torrent and leave it open, donate hardware, open bug reports, and probably one or two others).

I think you can understand, though, that even someone who has been following the project for a long time might be discouraged by the lack of progress in some very important areas :-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Cool, I guess...
by Kaj-de-Vos on Fri 11th Jun 2010 20:17 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Cool, I guess..."
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

Yes, you're one of those people that we have known for a very long time, and that's very much appreciated.

However, you're not on AltME, our most efficient communication system. Since this seems very hard to get through to people, I'll spell it out one more time as clearly as I can:

If you're not on AltME, you have an extremely incomplete picture of what's going on in Syllable. Heck, so much is going on in AltME, that I regularly find out that even our contributors who frequent it haven't been able to keep track of all developments.

The reason we're doing this in AltME is because it's too much to fit into other mediums, such as our forum or IRC. In fact, we have never really used IRC and email has finally become so inefficient that our mailing lists have completely dried up (as they have with many projects similar to Syllable in the past two years, I have noticed).

We would have liked very much for AltME to have a gateway to more popular mediums, but it hasn't. I have lobbied for this for years with the makers, but they haven't proceeded with it. Hence, for many years, the groupware plans that we have for Syllable, anyway, have included a goal to build our own, more open groupware platform to replace or at least complement AltME. This hasn't happened yet because we always gave core Syllable development priority. After six years, and in hindsight before the complete email dry-up, I decided two years ago that it was time to proceed with this. Since then, I have been stepping on the gas to realise this. So far, we have a base Linux server to run it on and a CMS for multiple-language web sites with news, downloads and RSS feeds. As I said earlier, we're working towards exporting information out of AltME to the web.

I have worked on these subprojects by myself, so if this has meant that other Syllable development has slowed down, that's quite possible, but it hasn't slowed down anyone but myself. To give you a perspective on this, look at our code activity graphs:

http://www.ohloh.net/projects/Syllable/contributors

The slump in my core Syllable activity until half a year ago was due to working on the CMS and the web sites. The CMS has now reached a level that I can shift back to other subprojects again. Of course, while it was in heavy early development, some publications could be hindered, but it was necessary because I started it when we lost our entire web sites two and a half years ago. If you take the effort to compare to archived versions of the old sites, you'll see that they were a far cry from the current sites.

I'm only human and I haven't figured out a circumvention yet to the limitation that I can spend my time only once. Until I do, I have a strategy of letting my time count for as much as possible. That's why I have made sure that as much as possible of my work on Syllable Server also directly applies to Syllable Desktop. I know that many people don't believe this, but that's where I have to leave it at. I can't change other people's emotional convictions through reasoning, and I don't have time for it.

In conclusion:

- The good news is, there's much more Syllable development going on than you think. Both development that you don't see, and development that you may not believe there is.
- The way Syllable is developed, even more so than in life in general, if you don't look for developments, you're not going to find them.
- If you don't believe development is there when we present it, we can't help you.
- We are working on presenting more of our developments in more popular ways, but this takes time. If you don't accept this, we can't help you, either.
- The bad news is that, the way Syllable is developed, as an extremely ambitious project with extremely little resources, and with several subprojects, when we need to focus on one subproject for a while, you're right that other subprojects are going to slow down.
- However, we have a strategy. We're not chasing butterflies. When one of our subprojects gets up to steam, it's designed to reinforce the other subprojects. For example, have you noticed this?

http://distrowatch.com/stats.php?section=popularity

- Finally, there's nothing really new here. For the entire decade, the entire life of the project, we have been dealing with the ebb and flow of resources; contributors, third-party projects, audience, media attention, competitors, hosting providers and what not. Obviously, the continuous coming and going of major code contributors is one of the most disruptive things to happen, as you can see in the Ohloh graphs, and it's having clear effects, but look at our long-term behaviour:

http://sourceforge.net/project/stats/detail.php?group_id=55553&ugn=...

The project as a whole has been remarkably stable over the years. Syllable is not going to roll over and die. To suggest otherwise, I consider that an insult to the volunteers who are doing good work for us right now.

This is as good as it gets, until we get a bag of inflatable volunteers for our birthday.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Cool, I guess...
by cipri on Wed 9th Jun 2010 10:55 UTC in reply to "Cool, I guess..."
cipri Member since:
2007-02-15

dream on. Most of the syllable developers are gone. Vanders is still there, but it seems he lost some of his interest in coding for syllable (compared to earlier), I remember he was saying that he is tired.

In the years before, there was a development build every week, now there is a development-build every few month, the last development-build is about 6 month old! Compared to haiku, which has a development-build every day! (not just one, but all kind of version like: gcc2, gcc4, hybrid..., CD, anybot,....VMWare,..., raw,....)

The last syllable desktop release is more than 1 year ago, and even that release needed about 1.5 years! I suppose this one will take about the same time, if not more. If you try to extract information out of the change-log of syllable desktop, you will see, that the "real-development" (not just things like fixing a link, renaming/moving a file) is nearly ZERO in the last year.

In 2004 syllable has been seen as a small OS with a big potential. At that time they were a small group of developers, in that 6 years they even managed to lose developers, and to become even smaller.

Related to Syllable Server:
Yes the changelog is long (imaginary), but if you take a look at it, you also can see, that it has not a big consitence it is mostly:
update package, renamed/moved folder, configure options.... and so on...
but nothing related to real development.
What is the c++ source code, that has been written in the last 4 years by the syllable team, for syllable server, how many lines (roughly approximated) does it contain?

Yes kaj, managed to make a little linux-distro (if it can be called like that) in about 4 years!!!! And once he mentionated that he works fulltime on it :-) Yes this is a great result.

It's funny, that kaj continues to tell, the few syllable users that are still there, that syllable is very successfull :-))


So dear UZ64, I guess you won't see big progress from syllable.... in the near future. 5 years ago, when I start playing with syllable I would have never believed, that syllable in 5 years would come to that result. Everyone expected a lot more.

In the last 5 years they planned to have a "google summer of code" project, that even didn't manage to apply to gsoc. Compared to Haiku which has this year, 7 google summer of code projects that are accepted by google.

I shouldn't have wasted time writing about that subject, but perhaps someone finds it interesting.

Reply Score: 3

v RE[2]: Cool, I guess...
by Kaj-de-Vos on Wed 9th Jun 2010 11:05 UTC in reply to "RE: Cool, I guess..."
RE[3]: Cool, I guess...
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 9th Jun 2010 11:44 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Cool, I guess..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Troll or no, he is right. Despite the claims, Syllable-desktop is pretty much dead. Development has come to a halt. It's harsh, but the truth. Syllable-server, distinctive as it may be, is still Linux. It's not Syllable.

Calling him a troll will not magically make development on Syllable happen, you know.

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: Cool, I guess...
by Kaj-de-Vos on Wed 9th Jun 2010 11:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Cool, I guess..."
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

Declaring Syllable dead is not magically going to make it so, either. I submit that the truth is in the middle, as it always is. And what else would people expect from an ambitious, long-term volunteer project? Especially if they decide to obstruct it instead of help.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Cool, I guess...
by tails92 on Wed 9th Jun 2010 13:05 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Cool, I guess..."
tails92 Member since:
2007-10-07

Kaj-De-Vos, cipri is right, and calling him a troll is wrong. I stopped caring about Syllable (which I installed twice just for kicks) after the moment they announced Syllable Server based on a Linux kernel. That stabbed the project badly, as people who wanted to develop on Syllable simply felt it wasn't worth it, and people who wanted a Linux-kernel based server OS simply used something else more familiar, conventional and supported.

It does no good for an aspiring operating system to split in two like Win9x and WinNT. It just drains very needed resources. A server is just a computer which runs server programs on a normal operating system, it is not, I repeat not, anything special which requires an ad-hoc operating system. And people who wanted to make Syllable more responsible were put off due to the Server version (the "Desktop" kernel just isn't worth it for server usage, they understood).

AtheOS was pretty good already back in the day and Syllable did not need much to become a good operating system for day-to-day use.

It is sad that Vanders and the other developers on board have never been able to understand this simple fact. As much as one may think other operating systems are dead, they have more potential than your Syllable project which unlikely, if ever, will attract much attention again.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Cool, I guess...
by Kaj-de-Vos on Wed 9th Jun 2010 13:35 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Cool, I guess..."
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

It is telling that you say you dropped Syllable the moment we announced Syllable Server. This means you never gave it a chance, you never evaluated it. You just made an emotional decision based on the notion "Linux".

We, on the other hand, need to actually develop Syllable, and we can't do that based on emotional decisions. The machine, the hardware and the software, is forcing us to do the things that work. To the machine, "Linux" is just a byte array string in memory, if even that. Already almost half a decade ago I once did a line count on the Syllable source code, for fun. I knew the basic metrics of the system, but I was still surprised to find that our code was only four percent of the total that went into a system build. Of that four percent, most was drivers ported from the Linux kernel, XFree86, DirectFB and BeOS, so our own modifications comprised only a small portion of it. So our own code was probably less than one percent of the total code out of which Syllable Desktop was built. That was years ago, and we have gone on porting more drivers and libraries, so it will be even less now.

So the system you dumped so haphazardly was actually 99% a Linux distro, only without "Linux". Like I was surprised at how large this factor actually is, I have also been surprised at how unwilling people who consider themselves knowledgeable on the subject are to believe this - but that doesn't make it less true.

This has actually always been the strongest point of AtheOS and then Syllable Desktop: the extent to which it is able to use existing code. Without this ability, the project wouldn't have had a glimmer of a hope for relevance in this day and age, and people wouldn't be winding themselves up about it now.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Cool, I guess...
by sorpigal on Wed 9th Jun 2010 14:22 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Cool, I guess..."
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Syllable server is a great idea that's hindered by being too unambitious.

Creating a new desktop OS is fiendishly hard work and it's all the harder to try and support all of the devices you'll need to support. Syllable Server shows a great way forward: Just slide the Linux kernel in underneath. Yeah it's got all kinds of problems, but if you're really interested in building a nice desktop OS the kernel is the last thing you should be worrying about.

Despite all of the effort the *nix desktop is stillborn even today. Most Linux distributions are 99% the same and share all kinds of problems. I think that there might be a welcoming user base if a Linux-based system that is radically different were introduced. Look at android: The Linux kernel plus stacks of stuff that make it what it is. Who cares about the kernel? Not desktop users! Just build all of your nice things on top of Linux, get stability and hardware support for free, take the FOSS desktop world by storm.

Or just make a crappy server OS no one cares about.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Cool, I guess...
by Neolander on Wed 9th Jun 2010 14:32 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Cool, I guess..."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Creating a new desktop OS is fiendishly hard work and it's all the harder to try and support all of the devices you'll need to support. Syllable Server shows a great way forward: Just slide the Linux kernel in underneath. Yeah it's got all kinds of problems, but if you're really interested in building a nice desktop OS the kernel is the last thing you should be worrying about.

Questionable. Compare Haiku with modern linux distros in terms of performance and API coherence. Linux has never been made for desktop use, and you can feel that in almost all low-level components of a desktop Linux system...

Plus the components of a desktop Linux system are too much tied together. Try to code a X replacement that does not work like X and is compatible with Nvidia's driver, as an example : I wish you good luck.

Despite all of the effort the *nix desktop is stillborn even today. Most Linux distributions are 99% the same and share all kinds of problems. I think that there might be a welcoming user base if a Linux-based system that is radically different were introduced. Look at android: The Linux kernel plus stacks of stuff that make it what it is. Who cares about the kernel? Not desktop users! Just build all of your nice things on top of Linux, get stability and hardware support for free, take the FOSS desktop world by storm.

Such a thing does exist, it's called Pardus Linux and I use it at home. It's a very stable Linux distro with excellent hardware support, an acceptable repository, flawless KDE4 integration, and basically almost everything a desktop Linux user could wish for, combined with some unique tools where the standard Linux tools fail to meet basic desktop user's needs. However, the storm still remains to be seen...

Edited 2010-06-09 14:43 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Cool, I guess...
by Kaj-de-Vos on Wed 9th Jun 2010 15:42 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Cool, I guess..."
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

I advise you to read the introduction documentation on our web site:

http://web.syllable.org/pages/about.html

You're sort of on the right track, but you're confused. You're like contracting a builder to build a house, and then going to the site after a month, and telling the workers: "The foundation you're laying there is too unambitious. You know what, the foundation is unimportant. Actually, the foundation is just hindering you. Go on, build the house right away already. I don't believe you're building a house if I can't see a house."

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Cool, I guess...
by Neolander on Wed 9th Jun 2010 15:24 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Cool, I guess..."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Caution : this post includes pure OT

http://www.somesingawful.com/grawl/screenshots/upload/34ed0c2078c9f...

Sorry, had to put that somewhere in OSnews =p

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Cool, I guess...
by Kaj-de-Vos on Wed 9th Jun 2010 15:57 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Cool, I guess..."
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

Cool. :-) And not off topic.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Cool, I guess...
by zizban on Wed 9th Jun 2010 16:12 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Cool, I guess..."
zizban Member since:
2005-07-06

I have to agree with this. Syllable seems to be stagnant. I visit the web site and before the server announcement the most recent news was six months old.

I like Syllable (I helped choose the logo) but progress is so slow that when they make a release, it surprises me that they are still around.

I have always said that part of the problem with Syllable is that the developers don't eat their dog food. Do any of the Syllable developers use Syllable as their primary OS? I have a hard time believing that they do because if they did, they would see how much is left to be done.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Cool, I guess...
by Kaj-de-Vos on Wed 9th Jun 2010 19:40 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Cool, I guess..."
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

I have to agree with this. Syllable seems to be stagnant. I visit the web site and before the server announcement the most recent news was six months old.


The keyword here is "seems", and an amount of exaggeration. People have very fixed obsessions (I don't mean to single you out). People surf the web all the time, so they tend to take website news items as the measure of all things, but really, this is very superficial. There are many channels through which things happen in a software project, and we make them publicly available, but few people bother to consult them. That would be fine, but people still tend to form opinions that are much stronger than warranted based on the limited information they are willing to consider. And then once they have formed an opinion, they tend to magnify it and discard opposing new information. Our news item from before Server 0.4 was halfway January, and it's now early June, so there were four and a half months between them, not six.

I like Syllable (I helped choose the logo) but progress is so slow that when they make a release, it surprises me that they are still around.


This happens when you measure a software development project by its news releases. The news slowdown you talk about was exactly caused by the frantic work to produce Server 0.4. Surely one can complain that we should publish more than we already do, but we're a software development project, not a news production project. We have to set the right priorities with the extremely limited resources we have.

Yet, we spend a large amount of our time on communication, and the larger slowdown in both Syllable Desktop and Server releases was caused by a necessary shift of focus to our communication and management systems, in particular the development of my CMS. When you have those extremely limited resources that we do, a strategic hopping between goals means that you can't develop all goals equally at all times. But as I said, people seem to be obsessed, so they refuse to see our strategy when they feel that their pet item they chose from it gets neglected.

I have always said that part of the problem with Syllable is that the developers don't eat their dog food. Do any of the Syllable developers use Syllable as their primary OS? I have a hard time believing that they do because if they did, they would see how much is left to be done.


This is a very good question. First I would like to point out that an earlier post in this thread accuses us of the reverse: that AtheOS and Syllable were almost production ready years ago, and that we somehow failed to see that and finish it. Do you see how we can't win this? It has always been the case that people who know very little about our project have voiced strong opinions that we should do it very differently, that were completely contradictory.

Personally, I used Syllable Desktop a lot in the early years, because I developed the build system. I was the heaviest Syllable user, because I routinely built the complete system on itself. Doing that, I was the first to run into some bugs, and the blockers were fixed because of that. I was still running Windows 2000 at the time, and I also used Syllable for all Unixy things I couldn't do on Windows. It was also my favourite web browsing platform, because ABrowse was good with the KHTML engine, and for a time it had the best font rendering of all platforms, period.

I devised a personal plan to migrate to better systems, but to get rid of Windows, I needed to migrate to Linux first due to the lack of applications and stability on Syllable. It was also clear that this would be a many-years strategy. It was a major disruption, but eventually I managed to ditch Windows for Ubuntu. I noticed a side effect: that I was also moving from Syllable to Ubuntu, because it had most of the tools that I had learned to use in the friendlier environment of Syllable.

My Linux migration was after the many years of distro hopping that most people go through, and like I consider Windows 2000 the only acceptable incarnation of Windows there ever was, Ubuntu never felt more than a stopgap and grew into a similar juggernaut as other systems. So after a decade, my Syllable migration plan is still in effect, and there are also still blockers. Several years ago, we launched Syllable Server as our strategy to force a migration path.

The reason the previous Server release was almost two years ago is that I made that version with the goal to be usable, and it was, as a server. We have been developing and running a series of web sites on it. I improved the security along the way, but other than that, it just worked and there was no pressing reason to produce a new version.

The current release is the next step in our strategic plan. I can tell you that it has allowed us to ditch all other Linux distros from our systems in the past few months, including our desktops, laptops and servers. The result is not yet suitable for publication, so we use it internally, but it is a major step towards eating our own dog food.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Cool, I guess...
by Neolander on Wed 9th Jun 2010 20:01 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Cool, I guess..."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

The keyword here is "seems", and an amount of exaggeration. People have very fixed obsessions (I don't mean to single you out). People surf the web all the time, so they tend to take website news items as the measure of all things, but really, this is very superficial. There are many channels through which things happen in a software project, and we make them publicly available, but few people bother to consult them. That would be fine, but people still tend to form opinions that are much stronger than warranted based on the limited information they are willing to consider. And then once they have formed an opinion, they tend to magnify it and discard opposing new information. Our news item from before Server 0.4 was halfway January, and it's now early June, so there were four and a half months between them, not six.

(...)

This happens when you measure a software development project by its news releases. The news slowdown you talk about was exactly caused by the frantic work to produce Server 0.4. Surely one can complain that we should publish more than we already do, but we're a software development project, not a news production project. We have to set the right priorities with the extremely limited resources we have.

I tend to understand you on this issue, but maybe it's because I'm in OS development too ^^

There are times where one designs things, and there are times where one codes the things he/she designed. The design decisions can be described and explained in blog posts without issues, but how can you, seriously, imagine writing weekly news when you're coding ?

"Today, I fixed bugs #124564, #245535, and #256644. Thank for your attention"
"I wrote a code which loads a GDT in GDTR. I have been busy at work, so I couldn't do more."

Coding is a boring activity. That's one of the reasons why only few people bother to learn how to do it. While you can write long and detailed posts full of excitement about design, and get in interesting discussions in the comments, code is... well... just code. Until it's complete, there's nothing much to say about it.

Yet, we spend a large amount of our time on communication, and the larger slowdown in both Syllable Desktop and Server releases was caused by a necessary shift of focus to our communication and management systems, in particular the development of my CMS. When you have those extremely limited resources that we do, a strategic hopping between goals means that you can't develop all goals equally at all times. But as I said, people seem to be obsessed, so they refuse to see our strategy when they feel that their pet item they chose from it gets neglected.

Again, I perfectly understand. People like to get attention, but when you're a small team, you have to make a choice before talking and actually working on stuff. It's a complicated trade-off. Writing random posts about personal ramblings to let people know that you're still alive may help, it's a strategy which I've often seen applied and try to apply myself.

The current release is the next step in our strategic plan. I can tell you that it has allowed us to ditch all other Linux distros from our systems in the past few months, including our desktops, laptops and servers. The result is not yet suitable for publication, so we use it internally, but it is a major step towards eating our own dog food.

Well, could you give, say, some SVN access ? ;)

Just joking. I personally think that long-term evolution of desktop OSs requires completely getting rid of the UNIX legacy and making something which is really optimized for the job from the ground up. But that's a somewhat extreme approach that won't give serious results until many years. If it does give results.

In meantime, I might get tempted by switching from Linux to another development platform like Haiku or Syllabe, if they provide the right tools and that innovative bit which makes the system funnier and a pleasure to work with ;)

Keep up the good work !

Edited 2010-06-09 20:07 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Cool, I guess...
by Kaj-de-Vos on Wed 9th Jun 2010 23:25 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Cool, I guess..."
Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

Again, I perfectly understand. People like to get attention, but when you're a small team, you have to make a choice before talking and actually working on stuff. It's a complicated trade-off. Writing random posts about personal ramblings to let people know that you're still alive may help, it's a strategy which I've often seen applied and try to apply myself.

Yes. There are two considerations for us here. One is that we've already been babbling every day for more than half a decade in our groupware system. That's among the contributors, people who make an effort for us. Other people have always bluntly refused to take part in this. I know it's a darknet, and there's a big difference between the internal and external views of the project, but we're not going to compromise the efficiency of our internal work communication for people who only want to lurk and refuse to make an effort.

The other consideration follows from this. It's much less efficient for us to publish to public places such as the web, so we need to optimise that to make it acceptable. For this, I develop my CMS as a strategic solution. Such a thing takes time, so it's another part of our development plan. Our web sites have been running on it for a few years now. It supports translated web sites and the translators can post their own articles, but it's not comfortable enough yet that they use that opportunity a lot. A year ago we added comprehensive RSS feeds, so together with all the SourceForge and Ohloh output the lurkers are already catered to quite well. We will continue to extend this. We're working on making the content of our groupware system available on the web (the web sites themselves are managed in it, but there's also chat, a calendar and check lists). This will be running on Syllable Server, so everything will come together there.

"The current release is the next step in our strategic plan. I can tell you that it has allowed us to ditch all other Linux distros from our systems in the past few months, including our desktops, laptops and servers. The result is not yet suitable for publication, so we use it internally, but it is a major step towards eating our own dog food.


Well, could you give, say, some SVN access ? ;)
"
Yes and no. We don't do Subversion. We are still on CVS because there are many considerations for us in choosing an alternative. However, what I'm talking about is simply in our CVS just like Syllable Desktop and Syllable Server.

Just joking. I personally think that long-term evolution of desktop OSs requires completely getting rid of the UNIX legacy and making something which is really optimized for the job from the ground up. But that's a somewhat extreme approach that won't give serious results until many years. If it does give results.

Our fundamental approach to this is REBOL.

In meantime, I might get tempted by switching from Linux to another development platform like Haiku or Syllabe, if they provide the right tools and that innovative bit which makes the system funnier and a pleasure to work with ;)

Keep up the good work !

Thanks!

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Cool, I guess...
by cipri on Thu 10th Jun 2010 10:09 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Cool, I guess..."
cipri Member since:
2007-02-15

"Keep up the good work ! "

I can not stop laughing about that :-))

If they really keep up that kind of good work, the next syllable desktop release will be..... I don't know... very far away :-).

You should inform youself, and take a look at the changelog since the last release (which is more than a year ago). Take a look at the bus that were fixed in the last year.

In a lot of cases, if there is someone, who finally decides to write a bug-report, the answer is more or less "formally", somethink like: "if is not on our high-priority list, so it will not be fixed in the near future", or another answer is "thank you, for the report".
Quite visible bugs, like the bug of ListView and TreeView, that were reported about 5 years ago, have not been solved even today.

Basic, and necessar, and easy to implement features, like saving the value of the sound volume, so that the volume-settings are not resetet after a restart, have not been implemented in the last 4 years.

I don't want to give a lot of details, but since I spent a lot of time with the syllable api, I know very clearly how many bugs (and of course even unreported) are in the syllable api, and how many basic features a missing.
A little example, you want to create a window, with a green button (not the standard gray one), how do you proceed? Let's see if Kaj will provide the source code to that little problem.
Yes you can change the background color of that gray button, there exists a global Variable which you can change with your c++-programm, and then you have the nice result, that all buttons on the syllable system change from gray into green. Yes this is great, I'm asking myself who was that c++-genius who introduced such a global variable ;) .

Edited 2010-06-10 10:14 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Cool, I guess...
by cipri on Sat 12th Jun 2010 12:37 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Cool, I guess..."
cipri Member since:
2007-02-15

Thom,
I remember how much I like, even today, to read the interviews that osnews made with Kurt Skauen (atheos) and Vanders (made by Eugenia).
Could Osnews make again such an interview with Vanders?
I'm sure I'm not the only one being curious about the current state of Syllable. For example some questions could be:

1) Is it true, that now Syllable has two leaders?

(Because on various pages, kaj is calling himself a co-leader, that means, syllable must have now two leaders, and I don't know when kaj was elected as a leader. Or he elected himself as the leader? )

2)How many hours does he (vanders) spend on concrete syllable development.

3) What are the main parts of the system, he is working on now at the moment.

4) Why is syllable very successful?
(I have that question, because in another thread, kaj was telling that syllable is very successful, but we just can't see it)

5) What are his plans related to REBOL?
(Because some years, ago, Vanders said in a forum thread, that rebol with be given up, if the release of rebol 3 continues to delay. And rebol 3 indeed continued to delay. Some years have passed since then, and rebol 3 is still inthe alpha stage)

6) When can we expect, to see the next syllable desktop release? Will this release again take about 18 month, like the release before?
(it's more than one year since the last release)

7) What progress can we expect in the near and middle future from syllable?

8) How many hours does he (vanders) spend with communicating with the community.

9) What are the sub-projects of syllable, that kaj is talking about, and whoes results can't be seen too clearly.

10) Please make a comparision of the plans you had 8 years ago when you (vanders) forked atheos and the current situation. How much, an estimation in percents, of that plans have been implemented in this 8 years?

11) When does he expect the final release of syllable 1.0 ?

12) Why doesn't there exist an updated roadmap? (I think the current one is about 5-6 years old, or more)

13)Is there something, related to syllable, that he regrets? If now it would be again the year 2002 and he would fork again atheos, would he go the same/similar way? Or would he change something?

14) If now it would be again the year 2002, would you (vanders) fork atheos again? Or would you spend this time on something else?

15) Do you have now another topic/subject that you are more interested in, than syllable?

16) What do you think about syllable server? Is the idea of syllable server so good, that if you would go back in time, you would suggest by yourself the need of a syllable sever?


This questions should in any case go to vanders, and not kaj, because vanders tends to be more sincer.

I even consider paying vanders, the time he needs to write answers to this questions!!!!

And perhaps there are other syllable users that have interesting questions to vanders.
And perhaps we can make a bountry, and collect money to pay vanders, to have in the end answers to our questions. So that we have more certitude about the current state of syllable.

Reply Score: 1

Syllable Server have Linux kernel
by gnufreex on Wed 9th Jun 2010 11:24 UTC
gnufreex
Member since:
2010-05-06

Isn't Syllable Server in fact Linux distro? I read that on their site...

Reply Score: 2

Kaj-de-Vos Member since:
2010-06-09

That's correct.

Reply Score: 1

Why I'm a "rewrite from scratch" advocate
by Neolander on Thu 10th Jun 2010 09:25 UTC
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

Just something I wanted to share with all those people who are critical about the rewriting approach.

Let's consider a large codebase as a public library, each chunk of code being a book. (after all, for projects which include several millions of lines of code, this is not far from reality ;) ).

There are many ways to tidy bookshelves up. But the methods are generally centered around two philosophies : put everything on the ground (or some other large storage space) and then back in bookshelves in an organized way, or explore the shelves while gradually fixing every single organization defect you find.

The second approach is generally better, because
1/It can be done on a daily basis, instead of closing the library for a long time.
2/If this method is applied daily, with extreme care being applied to the ordering of books, then it is much more efficient, because you don't need to sort again things which have already been sorted.

However, a major organizational defect can defeat it, like...
1/When the shelves have not been taken care of for a long time
2/When the whole organization method being applied for years turns out to be wrong (e.g. when you're a small library, you just sort books by author, but then as you grow larger this becomes less and less relevant and thematic classification becomes a much more sensible choice)

Two factors become then significant :
1/Swapping books is a psychologically more complex task than filling up an empty bookshelf (just like writing new code is easier than understanding and fixing existing one which has been written a long time ago, having to deal with people who want backwards compatibility).
2/It's a more psychologically frustrating task too, because each time you swap a book (fix some function), you see how much mess there's left to tidy up. Whereas when you fill up an empty shelf, all the books which you already put on the shelf are perfectly ordered, and you feel proud of yourself.

I think that the desktop Unix world has reached the point where such considerations make sense. Some think otherwise. After all, we're in the world of hobby OSs and there's room for everyone, I just tried to explain why my point of view is not necessarily wrong.

Reply Score: 2