Linked by Thomas Leonard on Tue 16th Jan 2007 00:32 UTC
General Development In the Free and Open Source communities we are proud of our 'bazaar' model, where anyone can join in by setting up a project and publishing their programs. Users are free to pick and choose whatever software they want... provided they're happy to compile from source, resolve dependencies manually and give up automatic security and feature updates. In this essay, I introduce 'decentralised' installation systems, such as Autopackage and Zero Install, which aim to provide these missing features.
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RE[3]: the problem is...
by twenex on Wed 17th Jan 2007 04:34 UTC
twenex
Member since:
2006-04-21


Uhm.. it's a pretty big one actually - it is called making a profitable living form the software you write. While some software is well suited to being commercially provided as FOSS on the basis of selling support for the software, in most instances this is not the case. And the model of "we will give you the app + source code for free, and we will sell you support" creates an inherent incentive for the software developer to deliberately create substandard software that requires users to purchase support. .


Ah, an old unsubstantiated FUDstatement followed by an unsubstantiated slur. That may pass for an argument where you come from, but I can't say the same.

Good software should be so elegant and simple to use, so well written and documented that buying support is not necessary

Yeah, 'cos BSD and Windows software lives up to that *wink*.

Not every software developer can afford to spend their spare time writing software,

Who mentioned free time, until you did?

and commercial software companies need a stream of revenue to fund the salaries of programmers.

Prove that FOSS software prevents programmers from getting salaries. If you can.

Closing the source code prevents others from:
a)reducing your competitive advantage by using ideas you may have invested a lot of money developing
b)stealing the focus from a project by forking and fragmenting it (as has happened to a lot of OSS projects, particularly Linux).


Yes, in exactly the same way that allowing Fujitsu to make the same architecture PC's as Dell's is preventing them from "maintaining their competitive advantage" and is thereby bankrupting them.

Oh wait; it isn't.

Closed software/hardware just means the customer is at the mercy of the vendor. No thanks.

No, while I have many gripes with Windows, I am very glad that they provide me with a fairly clean slate to start from - provided I have a web browser, I can add everything I need, and I have little to remove that I don't. I have quite a bit of control over it. I can also slipstream an installation disc so that I can set it up how I like from a single installation.

Er, you can do that with Linux... As for "setting Windows up how I like," if we pretend for a minute that Windows could be set up to my satisfaction, that level of customizability (read: any) went out with Windows XP, didn't it?

Now, there are plenty of minimalist Linux distros that also come with a similarly blank slate, but the problem is that I can't easily and painlessly download the few programs I want to use and install them without having to go through any number of time consuming or irritating processes.

What, you mean like google software, download software, install software, click Next interminably, accept restrictive licence agreement and/or incomprehensible EULA? I thought we were talking about Linux.

If you know of a distro which comes pre-installed with Klik or autopackage and a basic gui + browser and little else, let me know.

Well, installing whichever distro uses click and choosing either something like "minimal installation" or unchecking unwanted software would seem to do the trick.

Where did you get the idea that I was a Windows worshipper?

Because you seem to be wanting to turn Linux into it.

"Nevertheless, I'm not going to sit here and let you (or anyone else) dictate my choice of app, thankyou."

Where was I dictating what apps you use? Of course, you can use whatever you like, and nothing in what I have said would prevent you from doing this.


If you get rid of all the distros but one, and put only one choice of software in the remaining distro, you are enforcing a set of standards which it would be almost impossible to break - just like Microsoft did with all their software.

It sounds like Linux as it is suits you well, and that is fine. I am talking about the one thing that is really holding back linux from widespread adoption (over-reliance on package managers coupled with poor binary compatibility between distros).

Ah, yes, but you see, the number of Linux distros is probably only outweighed by the number of grains of sand on a beach - and the number of different things different people say are "holding Linux back from widespread adoption".


the fact that Windows and OSX remain the two most popular OSes has as much to do with Linux's fragmented and unfocussed chaos as it does with dodgy OEM bundling on the part of Microsoft and Apple.

Yes, and PC's will never be as successful as Macs, Ataris, and Amigas as long as you can get them from just about any manufacturer you like. It's fragmented and unfocussed chaos.

Oh, wait...

And good Windows programs don't spread little bits of themselves around the PC, many don't even use the registry (most of the apps I use are self contained in their own folder)


There can't be many "good Windows programs" then; maybe you are thinking of the ones which cost $$$, which I wouldn't know about.

(granted, there are plenty of badly designed Windows apps that do horrible things to your system). Linux apps tend to spread themselves across a whole bunch of directories (something GoboLinux aims to fix), so I don't think you can honestly claim that Linux (in general) has an advantage over Windows or OSX on this point.

Yes, GoboLinux does install things in centralised directories (or pretends to) but I'm not claiming centralised app directories are a good thing (they're not, unless you have space to waste with statically-linked or endlessly reinstalled libraries); what I'm claiming is that Linux apps don't, in general, install stuff willy nilly in whatever folder they feel like (binaries are in /bin or /usr/bin or /opt/{packagename}/bin, for example, not in /var or /etc. Generally).

"Translation: Linux needs to become Windows. Except that Windows is not exactly simple (let alone rational), and it's "package management" is even LESS "organised and integrated"."

No, it doesn't need to become Windows, rather it needs to become more focussed and streamlined, and simpler to use by people who have better things to do with their time than fiddling with command lines and .conf files.


I fail to see how your suggestions above would make it "more focussed and streamlined" (especially since statically linked apps are the shortest path to bloat) or, if you're not referring to what you've said before, what you mean by "more focussed and streamlined".

If you don't want to fiddle with commandlines and .conf files, then may I suggest you use a Linux distro that does not force you to do that? (Mandrake, and SuSE being two examples).

Windows'package management (Windows Update) is highly integrated into the OS, only deals with the core Windows components that ship with the OS, and doesn't affect other third party apps. You couldn't make it more organised or integrated.

Except by having it deal with other third-party apps.

I prefer to manage my apps my self, and let the OS take care of itself. Hence my desire for an operating system with an XFCE-like DE that keeps the apps separate from the core OS functionality.

Sounds like one of the BSD's is in order. However, I do agree that it would be nice if there were a clearer separation between system and apps; Slackware probably comes closest to this within Linux.

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