Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Jun 2008 22:31 UTC, submitted by Rahul
Linux Earlier this week, we reported on the Berlin Packaging API, an effort to consolidate the various different packaging formats and managers in the Linux world. Many compared this new effort to PackageKit, and today Linux.com is running an article detailing what PackageKit exactly is, with a few quotes from the project's lead developer, Richard Hughes.
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RE[2]: There is no spoon
by Moonbuzz on Thu 26th Jun 2008 14:56 UTC in reply to "RE: There is no spoon"
Moonbuzz
Member since:
2005-07-09

1. The media has taught people over years that different distros are just different variations.
2. You can go against end users' expectations, ... get pissed off and move ... even less users for Linux, ... less potential developers ... less incentive for hardware manufacturers to provide drivers or hardware specs for Linux, etc.

If all this is sincere, then you're in the wrong side of the road. I could say that if Plan9 would've ditched all the innovations they made and create nothing more than a new version of Unix, it would've been more used; or that if *nix OS' would've ditched their multi-user scheme with all that root privileges and adopt a simpler, less complex system, more people would've used it. But that's not the point.

The point is, that GNU/Linux' not about more users=more developers=more stuff. Stallman didn't create GNU to fill a vacancy, all the tools he wrote were originally clones of existing Unix software. This was made to answer his need of free software. For him, if the alternative is either non-free drivers, or no screen, he'll find an old teletype and hook it.

I don't think that either Debian, nor Gentoo, when they started, gave a second thought to losing the existing crowd because their package incompatibility. I don't think Linus Torvalds who created Linux in the first place thought about "let's make it 100% compatible with Unix so people will use it", but "let's make something BETTER." If package incompatibilities, or X client/server architecture, or the super-user, or whatever GNU/Linux has will cause users to go to Mac os is not the concern of a lot of the Linux developers anymore than saying "use VB instead of C, more people will use it then".

3. For me, as a software developer, it's just annoying as **** to not be able to provide distro-neutral packages.


That's why you release the source. Everyone can install from that.

Why should my end users have to wait 2 months before my latest version, with important new bug fixes and features, are packaged into their distro?

a: they don't. See above
b: Because the distro creators have an obligation to their (non-beta) users. Because your latest and greatest might break their screen driver, or cause the mouse to stop working, or have a security bug that will cause their systems to crash altogether. The distro maker needs to be able to say "we tested this with our OS and it is approved to work". If you, as a user, don't care about your system, fine, package it yourself. AS A DEVELOPER, I am positive you'll never do anything that will jeopardise your work system, why do you expect others to do that?

There are technical problems surrounding the creation of cross-distribution binary packages, but the only reason why those technical problems exist is because of politics and culture.


The same culture that is responsible for GNU/Linux in the first place. The same culture that is responsible for Unix and C, Perl and Python, GNU and Linux, Debian, Red Hat, and so on. That spirit is responsible for nearly everything that is good about computers in the past 50 years. If it wasn't for that culture, we'd still be working on COBOL apps running on IBM mainframes, I guess. This reminds me of a startup I knew who created a service based on GNU/Linux based free-software and then started complaining about those pesky hackers who want them to release their codes. Those politics and culture created the world we're in. The computer's interface, graphic and non-graphic, the different hardware and peripherals, the PC, today's operating systems were all created in universities and research labs, not in Microsoft's board room or in Steve Jobs' ego. You can't make your bread of it, then complain about those smelly hackers weird politics.

You say that all those distros are different OSes altogether. Why should they be different OSes? Why can't they just be different, compatible, flavors of the same OS? There's nothing technical that prevents distributions from becoming compatible. There are benefits to increased interoperability.


You're the tree complaining to the sun about the heat.

Linux is a kernel, GNU is a series of tools. X is a graphical protocol. GNOME/KDE et. al are desktop environments/window managers. Open Office is an "office suite". Firefox is a browser. GCC is a compiler collection. VI is a text editor. Bash is an interactive command line environment (shell). None of these does much on its own, so to get them all to work in a way that will actually "do" something for a user, someone needs to package them in a way that will create an Operating System. Those are called distros, short for distribution and everyone can do it the way he/she/they think is the best. These all abide to underlying standards, so whatever you spin it, if your source was created in a standard language, say C, with standard libraries and compiles and run with standard parameters on any distro, it should compile and run on others, as long as they abide the standard. Other than that, it's a free game.

And to your question, no one forces any user to use GNU/Linux, so if Linux doesn't support that user's graphic card, that user is welcomed to either buy a new card, one that's supported, or try another OS. If you chose *nix as your playground as a user/developer/else, you'll need to accept the rules. If you don't want to play, you are welcomed to try the other side.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: There is no spoon
by FooBarWidget on Fri 27th Jun 2008 09:50 in reply to "RE[2]: There is no spoon"
FooBarWidget Member since:
2005-11-11

Yes, I am being sincere. But how is this "on the wrong side"?

My reasons are simple. I love Linux, I don't want to get a Mac, and I want all my hardware to work on Linux, therefore it is in my best interest for desktop Linux to gain a market share that's as large as possible.
Example: I have a laptop, and I want to have mobile Internet on it. My phone company offers a mobile Internet subscription, but it works via a special USB device that requires platform-dependent drivers. They provide drivers for Windows and OS X, but not Linux, and a Google search indicates that nobody has even attempted to write one. Now I am forced to either boot to Windows or get a Mac. This wouldn't have happened if Linux has a larger market share.

How does Linux get a larger market share? By properly serving end users! By being usable!

The point is, that GNU/Linux' not about more users=more developers=more stuff. Stallman didn't create GNU to fill a vacancy, all the tools he wrote were originally clones of existing Unix software. This was made to answer his need of free software. For him, if the alternative is either non-free drivers, or no screen, he'll find an old teletype and hook it.

I don't think that either Debian, nor Gentoo, when they started, gave a second thought to losing the existing crowd because their package incompatibility


Being Free is not mutually exclusive to market share and usability. See Firefox for Windows.

The distros might not care right now, but they should be, which is my point. The #1 bug on Ubuntu's bug tracker is "MS Windows's market share is too large". Not doing something about cross-distribution installation compatibility doesn't exactly help the situation, does it?

That's why you release the source. Everyone can install from that.


Who is "everyone"? Does "everyone" include people like my mom? I want people like my mom to be able to install software on her own, and she doesn't know what this "source code" thing is or how to use the command line.

Now, I happen to be lucky that I'm creating software for system administrators, so my target users are fairly competent with the commandline. But what if I'm developing a desktop product? Oh uh.

The same culture that is responsible for GNU/Linux in the first place.


A correct, but useless observation. How do you sustain the current culture? By having a stable influx and outflux of people who support the culture. People who are converted to Linux are more likely to support the current culture. If you don't keep the influx going, the culture will die off as more and more people eventually leave.

Also, people are increasingly moving from Linux to OS X:

http://apple.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=406154&cid=21914770 - "I ran exclusively Linux on desktop and laptop for 3 years. I ran Gentoo. I deflibberated many many cronoodleblitzen. I loved it. Still love it. Still manage 6 Gentoo servers. I currently run Leopard an a Macbook Pro."
http://apple.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=406154&cid=21913414 - "I bought a Mac. It gave me the best of both worlds."

Here we have a competitor, OS X. You can still use all your Unix open source software on it, but it has better software and hardware compatibility and has the reputation of being more usable than Linux. Is this a good thing for the culture? If you want the culture to survive, or to spread, then it is vitally important to increase your market share.

You're the tree complaining to the sun about the heat.


No, I'm complaining that the other trees aren't cooperating with me to do something about the heat. Some are even getting burned by the sun without knowing. The only reason why we don't have a building to hide from the sun is because they're not even trying to build one, not cause it's impossible to build one. Hence, a social-political, not technical, problem.

Linux is a kernel, GNU is a series of tools...


A correct, but nevertheless useless observation. See my point about OS X and sustaining the culture. Defining Linux as "just the kernel" is just a cover-your-ass statement, it doesn't solve the problem, which exists.

And to your question, no one forces any user to use GNU/Linux, so if Linux doesn't support that user's graphic card, that user is welcomed to either buy a new card, one that's supported, or try another OS.


Okay, so where do I get mobile Internet that supports Linux. Oh wait... nowhere! Every single mobile Internet ISP only supports Windows, and occasionally the Mac.

You say I need to accept "the rules". Why do the rules say "if you use Linux and you support open source then you can't have mobile Internet"? Why don't people try to turn that into "if you use Linux and you support open source, then you can also have mobile Internet"? Being forced to make this trade-off is insane.

Reply Parent Score: 1