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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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..."
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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.

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