“In Dennis Powell’s ‘The view from the desktop‘ column last week, he noted a problem with the development of KDE (and other Open Source projects). Generally speaking, KDE developers work on KDE for fun, and while interested, they are not necessarily concerned about the needs of end users. Obviously hobbyist developers should not be required to do anything for those using their code, but this situation often causes features that users want and need to be overlooked.” Editorial at LinuxAndMain.
The Itchy Open Source Problem
2002-07-08 KDE 20 Comments
This is an interesting take, but I wonder what the author would have to say about the pervasive nature of Open Source applications vs FSF stuff. It seems to me like there is much more free software available now under the GPL and other OS licencing efforts than there ever was before the Open Source movement took root.
However, the license breakdown on FreshMeat shows that GPL is the most used license on Linux:
>> . . . KDE developers work on KDE for fun, and while interested, they are not necessarily concerned about the needs of end users . . .<<
If you’ve ever read any of my past comments on OSS, you’ll know I’m not a big fan. But pardon me, I’d like to point out that most of the KDE developers ARE users TOO and while an ‘interesting’ take on the quality of OSS, its a flawed view. While it may contain nuggets of merit, its not where OSS main problems stem from.
I could go on for days about where/why OSS needs work – – but that would be trolling flaim-bait (AKA: to say anything of Linux that is less than positive).
While that usually doesn’t stope me, I grow tired of the same redundant replies.
“It seems to me like there is much more free software available now under the GPL and other OS licencing efforts than there ever was before the Open Source movement took root.”
Not really, but they definetly helped to get some commercial OSS development going like Mozilla and OpenOffice. RMS recently stated that this is definetly a good thing.
I like Miguel’s views on the FSF vs. OSS topic:
“We all converge on the licensing and the basic guidelines for what constitutes free software/open source software and we agree to cooperate, because open source/free software has the pieces required to have multiple parties participate. But the different parties might not necessarily agree on the objectives. And I do bring this up, because I was asked a few times whether I was an `Open Source’ person or a `Free Software’ person and what was mi position on the debate. I personally think that the distinction is silly and a complete waste of time. I do have many different reasons for using and developing Linux, Gnome and Mono, and they are not the same as everyone else. Sometimes I care about freedom, sometimes about security, sometimes about innovation, sometimes about the gadget factor, sometimes it is nice to be part of a community.”
IMHO the problem is users that think they have
the “right” to demand something from developers
that are working for free(and yes, that includes
you Eugenia, what makes you think that the poor
developers, that are giving away their hard work,
also need to have PR and marketing skills?)
The answer is simple, if you want something,
pay for it*, there are lots of companies working
with open source, if you have a problem with
how KDE works, buy a copy of SUsE, or Mandrake
or whatever, and complain to them, after all,
then you are a customer, and the customer does
*have* the right to complain.
But the developers that are giving away their
hard work don’t have to listen to your whining,
and sure will go away(leaving you with nothing)
if they get tired of the complaining.
Even from a egoistic point of view, complaining
to the developers is counter-productive, as you
will not get anything useful from it, and you
can lose something you are getting for free.
And of course, this is opensource, if you dont
like something, forks exist for some reason,
And talking about forks, the FSF isn’t famous
for putting their users first, or don’t you
remember GNU/Emacs vs X-Emacs and the GCC fork?
both needed because the FSF ignoring the users
needs… and don’t forget
“We are not here to give users what they want”
— RMS, at GUADEC 2001
P.S.: BTW, the GPL and LGPL *are* OSI approved, so little
matter that most open source software is GPL
P.P.S.: I know that some developers are paid
for their work, but IMHO it’s easier to complain
to the company they work for, avoiding possible
confusions; and in case you complain directly
to the developer that you know for sure is working
for a company you are customer of, make clear that
you are complaining as customer…
P.P.P.S.: I want to make clear that IMHO constructive
criticism is a very important part of the opensource
ecosystem, but seems that this days destructive
criticism is much more popular, and that is only
negative to everybody, including the person that
P.P.P.P.S.: I hope I have done everything right
this time and this post isn’t censured, I have
already wasted too much time on it
* Well, in the case of PR and marketing, just
ask for it, and you can ask a minimum of PR
work from foundations like the FSF, or OSI, but
not of hacker projects like GCC… after all,
they are supposed to be antisocial geeks, right?
And what makes you think that you can press ENTER each time you go to the end of the form’s textarea in the submit comment form, resulting to have such a long message that only uses HALF the screen space that it is given for your comment?
If your browser does not support automatic new line, please use another browser, or your next comment will not be authorized.
And if you have problems with this web site, I do not care. Because in this case, I am the developer, and you are the user. And I do OSNews for fun.
So don’t even think that the poor developer (me), that is giving away her hard work, also need to have PR and marketing skills. Because she doesn’t need to. Or does she?
I think that a lot of us forget that OSS started out as a kind of “for developers, by developers” system. It has gradually become more popular and more mainstream which leads to the point of there being a lot more users than developers, for any given piece of OSS. In the “old days” it was common for a one who uses OSS to either fix/report a bug in whatever piece of software he/she found. Nowadays, people have their own agendas, often that are fiscally bound — I don’t think that an Apache developer working at IBM wants to stop what he/she is doing to fix a latent Linux kernel bug.
Also, there seems to be a perception of a “line” between who is a “developer” and who is a “user.” I think things are more subtle than that — a “user” of one piece of OSS may be a “developer” of another. I think that there’s a happy medium somewhere for what people are clamoring for in OSS development:
Developers: Accept criticism/suggestions gracefully. The more your can integrate the suggestions of others, the more your product will be improved and liked by more users. Also remember, if you take the route of “it’s my project, I’ll do what I want”, then people will disagree, and possibly use harsh words.
Users: If you’re not a developer, and can’t plan to be, don’t want to be, or just don’t have the skills, then please remember that most developers actually want suggestions to make their programs better. Try to be constructive, and not just say what “sucks”. It is, often, a hobby, and sometimes it’s a job, in which case the developer might not even have a say.
That being said, I think Eugenia is doing a terrfic job, and is running a terrific site.
Cheers from a long-time OSS users,
Sorry, I wrote my rant in vi, and forgot to pass it thru fmt(1).
I don’t remember to have written that I didn’t like this site. All my criticism
is with constructive intentions if you don’t like it feel free to delte it.
And thanks for letting the other post pass thru, maybe you could add a feature
to the censure system that gives an explanation of why the post have been
rejected… so if a post have any editing mistake it could be fixed and posted
again… ho, maybe a feature to allow editing your own posts would be better…
So don’t even think that the poor developer (me), that is giving away her
hard work, also need to have PR and marketing skills. Because she doesn’t need
to. Or does she?
No, you already do a nice job, no problem with that
P.S.: 80 characters per line is fine?
I agree with most of your post, and it’s one of the few that IMHO “get’s it”, just a few
“Also, there seems to be a perception of a “line” between who is a “developer” and who
is a “user.” I think things are more subtle than that — a “user” of one piece of OSS may
be a “developer” of another.”
I agree completely, but I think that the kind of people that is complaining in this case
are “just users”, developers, even if they are from other projects, typically do something
about it, be it have a constructive discussion with the project maintainer, send a patch,
fork, or whatever. the problem is with the people that is just whining and think that the
developer is their personal slave… (to complain about no binary compatibility is quite
lame, having in mind that the KDE people aren’t M$ obligating you to upgrade, you are free
to continue using KDE 2.x if you think that it is superior, and if enough people agree
with you, you can be sure that the distros will make sure that it is maintained…)
As a side note, other problem is that there are so many users, that they will never agree
on what the project should do, so even in case the the developers agree to “ovey” the
users, there are always going to be conflicts, that is the reason why forks exist, I
really don’t understand why people is so afraid of them, they have a very useful purpose:
adapt the projects to different and contradicting requirements.
And one last minor point: “Users: If you’re not a developer, and can’t plan to be,
don’t want to be, or just don’t have the skills“ this skills aren’t something
you need to be born with, almost anybody can learn the necessary skills to help and
influence the development of any project, of course developing skills is something that
takes time and hard work… but you can’t have everything you want, right?
Censure and all, I also like this site , otherwise I would create my own and post my
There are some important issues to keep in mind about whether or not developers pay attention to what users want. Many developers work on software for the ego boost of knowing that other people like using their code. The comment was made that if people don’t like the app then they should complain to the distribution company. The distribution companies have very limited resources to fix code themselves. The result would be that, hypothetically speaking, let’s say KDE developers quit listening to users, but Gnome developers are responsive to users. If that’s the case then Red Hat, Mandrake, etc. would stop including KDE and only include Gnome or other apps that are responsive to users. That’s the way it should be. If an app doesn’t help users then take it out of the distribution and put in something that does. With that hypothetical example, if KDE was taken out of the distributions then we’d never hear about it again and people would forget what KDE was (except for the few die-hard developers that work on it and use it themselves). If KDE developers want KDE to be popular then they need to be responsive. If not then take it out of the distributions. BTW, remember that’s hypothetical talk. I really like KDE myself and it’s my default desktop I would like to develop for KDE except that i don’t know enough C.
My point was: developers “vote” with their work, user”vote” with advice, support, constructive
criticism, money, etc. But by just whining you accomplish nothing. (by “vote” I mean: influence in
the project development)
“I would like to develop for KDE except that i don’t know enough C.”
You can always learn,get the K&R(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0131103628/) it’s really easy, if even I have learned, any one can
And once you have started, programming it’s really fun… try it! (note that I’m not talking about C++, that is a completely different beast, you can also learn it, but it will take you more time and effort…)
Microsoft moles can be identified by their unwavering committment to preventing windows users from installing linux. A microsoft mole might be identified by one or more of the following activities:
1. Tells a newbie who is having a problem to shut up and RTFM
2. Claims that a user-hostile program that lacks any kind of usability is “perfectly ready for the desktop”
3. Tells said developer of program to “keep up the good work”.
4. Tells people who criticize a badly designed free software UI to “quit whining” or “you get what you pay for”.
5. Uses the word “Idiot”,”Simpleton” or “Moron” in the same sentance as “GUI”. An example would be the sentance “GUI’s are for morons who can’t think”.
6. Runs around screaming “Don’t standardize linux GUI’s. It’s a matter of choice–don’t promote facism.”
7. Assaults the credibility and necessity of UI designers, chasing them off and therefore insuring that linux will be as user-hostile as possible.
If you see your friend, spouse, employer, LUG members, or poster to on-line forums such as Slashdot or Advogato engaging in one or more of these counter-revolutionary activities, there is a very good chance that they are an agent of microsoft committed to making sure that linux will never be installed on the machines of existing windows users.
The point: Bill Gates doesn’t have to lift a finger to sabotage linux on the desktop because so many people in the linux community and Free Software development community do his job for him.
I have tried to learn some C++ before. I shelved it because of the learning curve involved and that my time is limited. Now, i’m studying Perl and PHP. I only need one of those two, but i figured i’d learn both and then i could decide which one suits my purposes better (e-commerce websites at the moment). Back to the C though, why is it so much easier than C++? I have Sams Teach Yourself C In 21 Days. Do you think it’s adequate?
People are egotistical, we all are. And we like to blame someone. Microsoft, satan, jews, developers. They all seem to be perfect scapegoats at certain points in time.
I won’t write a long rant (I just did in the ad post), I just wanted to give the few who read this a little message. Think about the developers, of what they get out of this. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Partialy agree with Ilan Volow, I only would not put as a counter example the company that tells OEMs to ‘shut the fuck up’, yes, Microsoft. End users are also treated quite nastly like that.
Completely agree regarding the results mainstream open source is giving so far. I have never been in a bazaar where the client was so meaningless, for a bazaar it should be the other way around, client is king.
I thought Caldera, Suse, Mandrake and some other Linux distros were commercial ones, that is ‘bazaars’. I paid good money for a boxed Mandrake, not in a bazaar but close: a shopping mall. Yet… not entirely, not entirely, such an unimportant piece of software in them like KDE ‘farts’ in the users direction. Hey, you want it, you write it. Mandrake’s support is not famous to be the kindest either.
Maybe Open Source is not a bazaar after all, it’s more of a hobbyists club, so closed source is going to end up being the real bazaar. Cathedrals are pretty neutral, shall we retitle now “The bazaar and the hobbyists club”? Work it out from there.
Jay S. Lazlo,
C is a subset of C++, it’s a really small, very simple little language. Get the K&R, it isn’t
expensive, it’s easy to read, only ~200 pages, and there isn’t any better book to learn C. (My
little experience with “Learn XXX in 24h” type books haven’t been too good, and it doesn’t take
much more to read the K&R)
C++ is quite bloated, and I doubt much people really know the full language, but if you want to
try, get Stroustrup’s book, is a bit dense, and not the best one to learn to program, but is
very good too.
Other thing you can do is learn Python, Qt have good bindings for it, and is IMHO the best
programming language you can start with, really simple and beautiful, and unlike with C, you
don’t have to worry about pointers and memory management, wich will make your start much less
Hope this helps
K&R is a little out-dated. I’d recommend O’Reilly’s “Practical C” if you can still find a copy. Out of more than 10 books I’ve read on C, that’s the best. Do yourself a favor and avoid the “Learn C in X hours/days” books at all costs.
Thanks for the info:) Like i said, right now i’m trying to set up an e-commerce webserver. I know Visual Basic pretty well (hey, don’t laugh). So, doing the site with ASPscript would have been the easiest for me. But, i’m working on a shoestring budget. Win2K Server at $1200.00 is out of the question. ChiliASP at $500.00 is also beyond my means. So, the plan is to use Linux with Apache, Perl or PHP and mySQL.
I would actually like to use FreeBSD instead of Linux, but on the last couple of versions of FreeBSD that i’ve installed my TCP/IP connection fails when i do large downloads (i.e. anything bigger than a webpage). So, i’m sticking to Linux. I’m testing it on a cablemodem. I have heard that PHP is a lot like C.
When I tried to learn C for the first time, back in 1987, I found K&R aunreadable. I ended up learning C from a Sybex book at the time called “Understanding C” (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0895881233/qid=1026292930/sr…) , it was difficult learning C even using that book. My previous experience at the time was with Basic, 6502 assembly, and a Pascal-like language called “Action”.
Compared to other languages, C has a pretty obtuse syntax that is very difficult to follow.
I do have a copy of K&R; however the book is a reference and not a tutorial.
My C programs are mostly open source, and can be seen at http://www.samiam.org.