Thursday, May 05, 2005

Counterintuitive

So much about free software challenges conventional wisdom.

I don't know for sure if my experience is representative in any way, but I suspect it may be.

I started my Linux experience with Redhat 5.2, then 6.idon'tremember. The rpm madness drove me to Debian, where I enjoyed solid engineering that characterizes the distribution. As advancements in the desktop, compiler and libraries left Debian behind I installed Gentoo. Oddly enough the long builds were very similar in length to the dial-up apt-get upgrades, especially using the KDE packages regularly put together by Ivan E. Moore II. To digress a little; Watching the effort Ivan put into the project moved me to find a way to contribute.

I remember wondering at the time how the free desktop would survive the demands of a less technically adept user base. Attempting to freeze a release in software that was under rapid development seemed to be a colossal wasted effort. It seemed an affront to my profoundly lazy nature. And to call something 'stable' that was frozen even a few months previous didn't make sense. Real bugs, real functionality, real usefulness had been incrementally added over that time.

So I did the only reasonable thing. I ran right off of cvs HEAD. Gentoo had easy ebuilds that made simple work of keeping up to date. I noticed two strikingly important things: the maintenance of the packaging was almost trivial since it pulled directly from the KDE repository, and, the experience was very stable. Oh there were the odd issue, mostly due to rapidly changing software. Most everything worked well, and the important improvements were experienced immediately.

This doesn't make any sense. I should have had failures, data loss, or at least a bad experience. I'm a realist. I knew I was living on the edge. But oddly enough, the most unstable and treacherous times were when KDE was preparing for a release. It should be the opposite. This in spite of the valiant efforts by Stephan Kulow and Dirk Mueller before him as release coordinators. It seemed that the release process broke something.

I don't think this is restricted to KDE. The Kernel developers recognized that fast moving development and attempts at bi-annual or annual releases was fundamentally broken. The distributions maintained (and paid for) a huge duplicated effort. And the kernels were still unstable. Now the releases happen regularly, new stuff is put in and deployed quickly. In general the stability has been reasonably good, again surprisingly.

What brought this whole thing to mind is my recent experiences. My gentoo installation, similar to my Debian and Redhat installations, got too big and ugly, and needed to be mucked out. The easiest way is to reinstall. Lacking time, I installed Kubuntu. It was quick and painless, and I got what I thought was a stable installation. Finally I was no longer living on the edge.

Or so I thought. I'm seeing behavior that I've never seen before. OOM killing, having to delete KDE configuration files. In fact my box isn't as stable as it was before. And I'm running into the frustrations of living with the builds done by others for their purposes. The audiocd ioslave doesn't do mp3's. Mplayer would need a forced install with all the attendant maintenance issues.

Sure I could wait for the bugfixes, or updates to the packages. A slight problem though. I already see fixes and features since KDE 3.4 that I need, that won't be in 3.4.1. No minor stuff either. For example the kpilot work by Jason vanRijn Kasper fixes some issues that I need.

Is it possible that the problems that I've described are from trying to apply conventional wisdom solutions to free software? Almost anything can be done by brute force, by applying unlimited resources to the problem. Free software doesn't have unlimited resources. The duplication of effort to try to package something unpackageable, to the satisfaction of no one seems crazy. To try to announce, organize, test and finish a release when everyone knows the results will be unsatisfactory again seems crazy. Sure, these things could be fixed with tighter discipline. Oh yeah, that doesn't work unless releases every three years is deemed acceptable. Maybe our headaches will stop when we stop banging our head on the wall. Trying to do something that doesn't work to solve a problem that doesn't exist to satisfy conventional wisdom that is wrong.

I have become a firm believer in the importance of source code distribution. The resulting installation represents what the designers of each project had in mind. The feedback mechanism is shortened, duplication of effort is avoided. The only problem is the computer resources and complexity. Gentoo is in some ways purposely complex, not desiring to coddle the users. That isn't necessary. And Moore's Law again comes to the rescue. How long does it take to build KDE on a well endowed AMD 64? That and the compiling speed improvements in GCC 4.x. Beineri's timings show a dramatic improvement in build times, with more speed improvements to come. Instead of trying to control the uncontrollable, organize the unorganizable by packaging everything neatly and instantly obsolete, maybe the solution is to build on the strengths of free software


Comments:
This blog is awesome! If you get a chance you may want to visit this old software site, it's pretty awesome too!
 
Help! I am lost. I was searching for free business software and somehow ended up here. How that happened I don't know, however I do like your Blog a lot. Would you mind if I add your Blog to my favorites page so others can visit?
 
Recycling is good, if you are looking to sell your old items go to one of theseannounce emploiannounce emploi it's better for all of us to recycle what we don't use anymore. read why on my blog, if you don't like this idea, maybe someone else will.
 
Hey i got here searching for mortgage affiliate program
Your sites not too bad!

You got good rankings for them keywords mortgage affiliate program

Check out my site
mortgage affiliate program
 
Nice KDE rlated blog. Visit my 2005 3.3 kde le linux mandriva blog.
 
Hello, your blog is informative. I have a linux server related website, please visit and hope that it is helpful to you
 
Yo, This blog is pretty neat. You should check out mine sometime. It pretty much covers six figure job search related stuff.
 
Nice Job!

I have a dating affiliate program site/blog.
It pretty much covers dating affiliate program related stuff.

Check it out if you get time :-)
 
Plan and monitor your finances, plan your holidays and parties and keep all your crucial recordstrading softwaretrading software
 
Yo, you have a Terrific blog here! Lots of content means more readers, more readers means more Sales!
I'm definitely going to bookmark you!
I have a free computer speed upgradefree computer speed upgrade site/blog. It pretty much covers free computer speed upgrade Problems with your Windows Xp Computing !
Come and check it out if you get time We are just a Click Away ! :-)
 
I really like your blog. Did you know that you can find all kinds of Money Making Home Business Idea
online. It's the best place for finding Money Making Home Business Idea
so tell everyone.
 
Last month I made $12,124 with Google Adsense...Click
here for free on how you can do the same!

 
Easy to use software that allows even a complete beginner to create their own ebookeducational softwareeducational software
 
I would like to say this is a great blog about niche affiliate marketing program. I think alot of you might be interested in my site too. Click the Link below to visit my site.
Click Here

Thanks!
 
Come take a Journey

How To Make Your Computer Faster: "You are about to learn how to:
Add 30% More Memory Without Hardware!

Eliminate Computer Freeze Ups!

Prevent Computer Crashes!

Extend Your Computer Life Almost Indefinitely!

Create Computer Speed That You Have Never Seen Before!

Keep Your PC Clean In Everyway And Keep It That Way!

Never Have To Upgrade Again!

Everything You Need To Know About How To Make Your Computer Faster!

Do All The Above With The Least Expense !
Right here right now*
computer faster make ways
 
Hi thanks for your blog, I liked it! I also have a blog/site about mortgage calc that covers mortgage calc related stuff. Please feel free to visit.
 
website traffic from
http://branchiseinc.com

get targeted traffic, free downloads, free software and ebooks at my bonus area.


http://branchiseinc.com

 
I was searching blogs,and I found your site.Please,
accept my congratulations for your excellent work!
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
make money on e bay
It pretty much covers make money on e bay related issues.
Have a good day!
 
I was searching blogs,and I found your site.Please,
accept my congratulations for your excellent work!
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
computer video card
It pretty much covers computer video card related issues.
Have a good day!
 
I just came across your blog and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here.
I also have a web site & blog about interest only mortgage calculator
so I know what I'm talking about when I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work!
 
Hi Blogger!I like your blog! Keep up the
good work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!
If you have a moment, please take a look at my site:
yamaha computer speaker
It pretty much covers yamaha computer speaker related issues.
Best regards!
 
I just came across your blog and wanted to
drop you, Blogger, a note telling you how impressed I was with
the information you have posted here.
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
quick way to make money
It covers quick way to make money related contents.
I send you warm regards and wish you continued success.
 
Hey Blogger, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!
I have aquick ways to make money site. It pretty much covers quick ways to make money related subjects.
Come and check it out if you get time :-)
Best regards!
 
Hey Fellow, you have a great blog here! I have a web
site & blog about need to make money.
Yours is top-notch!
If you have a moment, please visit my site
need to make money
I wish you all the best!
 
Hey Fellow, you have a great blog here! I have a web
site & blog about work at home computer business.
Yours is top-notch!
If you have a moment, please visit my site
work at home computer business
I wish you all the best!
 
Have you seen any information on mortgage software? I just have not had the best results when blog surfing today. Anywho back to my endless search for mortgage software.
 
Wow what a cool blog you have here! I am impressed. You really put a lot of time and effort into this. I wish I had your creative writing skills, progressive talent and self- discipline to produce a blog like you did. Your blog really does deserve an honest compliment. If you have some time, stop by my site. It deals with stuff like, click here: mlm business and then feel free to e-mail me with your words of wisdom.

P.S. I'll sure put the word out about your site and I would appreciate any business you may send my. way... Later, Scott.
 
New Blog Submission Software Takes Total Domination To A whole New Level, And Allows Complete Control Over Any Market and Any Product You Sell.--Renders All Other Marketing Methods Totally Useless by Comparison"
Click here: FREE DEMO
 
Hi Blogger!I like your blog! Keep up the
good work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!
If you have a moment, please take a look at my site:
make money
It pretty much covers make money related issues.
Best regards!
 
Congratulations Friend for your excellent blog on make money!Keep up the good work!
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
make money
I send you my warm regards and wish you continued success.
Have a nice day! :-)
 
I just came across your blog and wanted to
drop you a note telling you, Friend, how impressed I was with it.
I give you my best wishes for your future endeavors.
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
make money site
It covers make money site related contents.
All the best!
 
Congratulations Friend for your excellent blog on make money!Keep up the good work!
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
make money
I send you my warm regards and wish you continued success.
Have a nice day! :-)
 
Hey Fellow, you have a great blog here! I have a web
site & blog about make money.
Yours is top-notch!
If you have a moment, please visit my site
make money
I wish you all the best!
 
I Like your blog! Do you make money with it? data entry
 
I Like your blog! Do you make money with it? data entry
 
I Like your blog! Do you make money with it? data entry
 
This is a very interesting post. I found it when looking for generate site traffic web.
Regards, Website Traffic Info
 
This is a very interesting post. I found it when looking for guaranteed site traffic web.
Regards, Website Traffic Info
 
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]



Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]