Monday, November 05, 2007

It's The Distribution Stupid

More distribution trashing. I think there is an inverse relationship between having a life and the number of distributions installed.

The Eee Pc runs a Xandros distribution, and in the easy mode it works well if you stay within it's confines. If you want something more, the advanced mode gets you an older KDE, and a very limited repository. Free software moves so quickly, and improves so quickly, especially the desktop.

Is is just possible that free software challenges everyone's assumptions? I'm sure manufacturers and distributors would like something constant, non changing, non-changeable in fact. It keeps life simple. How about starting from the point that everything is in flux, anything can be changed, in every aspect there is any number of viable alternatives, and it works. Let's push that further. How about a constantly improving set of packages, with undefined release points? In my years of using KDE from cvs/svn, release points were noteworthy by the sudden instability of the software. The gradual change and improvement caused few problems, fewer problems than the sudden changes and upgrades that characterized release events. Maybe Shuttleworth's goal of a 6 month release cycle is counter productive, and a better way would be to provide a constant upgrade stream, and instead of a forward looking release cycle, do a release from a backward looking perspective, ie. recognizing points of stability in the stream to produce an installation candidate. The user experience would be jumping onto a moving platform, which is a good description of the development process.

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