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.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: the problem is...
by Obscurus on Wed 17th Jan 2007 05:46 in reply to "RE[3]: the problem is..."
Obscurus Member since:
2006-04-20

I am actually not suggesting that there be only one distro (though I think a bit of pruning is in order), rather, I am suggesting that if distros standardise the way they interface with apps, and have standards for core libraries, it will enable software manufacturers to not have to worry about distros, as they will all work with their binaries straight out of the box. It will also mean that if standardised libraries are used, there will be no need for apps to be installed with extra dependencies - all of the standard libs would be part of the OS, and there would be little or no duplication of libraries amongst apps. Anything that uses some boutique library can just incorporate it into the app without cluttering up the system with extra crap. And given the current size of hard drives, I think monolithic binary blobs are perfectly fine for apps these days - no installation method is simpler than dragging a single executable file onto your desktop or a folder of your choice, and if for some reason, you have an unusually large number of applications, it is pretty easy to create a utility to manage them, without resorting to a full blown package manager.

The fact is that Windows is still more user friendly than the vast majority of Linux distros (and given the shit Microsoft is prone to producing, that is saying something). Linux may be technically superior in many ways, but in the one way that matters most (ease of use for people who don't like computers but have to use them anyway), it(they) simply fails to hit the target. Not that it couldn't, it is just the issue of focus and integration that is the problem. And maybe this is OK - after all the things that make Linux great for what it is (freedom, flexibility, community) also work against the things that make for a great desktop OS: (limited freedom, well defined standards & APIs, commercial viability and support.

Far from suggesting that Linux becomes more like windows, I am suggesting that it adopts some of the features of Mac OS and Windows.

I'm not asking for every Linux distro to disappear - they all have their place (up to a point), but rather for at least one distro to break from the mould and do the things that are needed to give Microsoft and Apple some desperately needed competition.

"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."

And for that reason you will never have the tight, integrated, focussed experience you will get from Amiga or Macs. It is also the reason most people get computers from vendors like Dell etc., where the hardware has been well matched and configured in advance. It is somewhat misleading to say that PCs are successful because of their customisability, since the vast majority of computers sold are Dells and the like that have very much restricted customisation. PCs became popular because they run windows, which through an accident of history (certainly not merit) became the defacto standard for OSs, like it or not.

It's good to see we agree on keeping the system separate form the apps, though we obviously can't agree on the best method for doing that.

Edited 2007-01-17 05:47

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: the problem is...
by twenex on Thu 18th Jan 2007 00:43 in reply to "RE[4]: the problem is..."
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21


And for that reason you will never have the tight, integrated, focussed experience you will get from Amiga or Macs. It is also the reason most people get computers from vendors like Dell etc., where the hardware has been well matched and configured in advance. It is somewhat misleading to say that PCs are successful because of their customisability, since the vast majority of computers sold are Dells and the like that have very much restricted customisation. PCs became popular because they run windows, which through an accident of history (certainly not merit) became the defacto standard for OSs, like it or not.


Whether or not you can customize PC's was not the point. The point was, rather, that you are not dependent on one vendor for IBM-PC compatible hardware. Becoming dependent on one vendor for computers, operating systems, word processors, or anything else is The Road That Should Not Have Been Travelled.

Reply Parent Score: 2