Software errors (Was: problem connecting to corporate LAN)

Mark Greenwood captain_bodge at
Sun May 23 13:21:24 UTC 2010

On Sunday 23 May 2010 14:06:47 Reinhold Rumberger wrote:
> On Sunday 23 May 2010, Mark Greenwood wrote:
> > On Sunday 23 May 2010 12:07:02 Reinhold Rumberger wrote:
> > > On Sunday 23 May 2010, Mark Greenwood wrote:
> > > > This is Linux. Any one of a million things could have changed.
> > > > It's the downside of open source development that things just
> > > > break from time to time.
> > > 
> > > So, this doesn't happen on Win or Macs? Seriously, this happens
> > > in all areas of development because the systems are way too
> > > complex to be able to test/think of everything that might go
> > > wrong.
> > 
> > I'm not criticising, just saying it's an inevitability. I
> > understand the complexities of software testing only too well.
> I got that. You were just making it sound a little too much like the 
> problem was unique to the Linux world for my taste.
> > The difference with Windows or Macintosh is they have a lot more
> > money to throw at testing,
> You'd think so, but it sure doesn't seam like it sometimes.
> > and a lot more central control over
> > the development process of the code that goes into an OS release,
> That is just plain wrong. The distributors have as much control as 
> they want, due to the open nature of the code. In fact, go ask the 
> kernel devs how many distros they know that don't patch their 
> software... ;-)
> > as well as the fact that third party apps are the responsibility
> > of third parties, who also do their own testing.
> > 
> > Uniquely with Linux, every single application is "released" by the
> > Linux distro. They actually have more testing to do than MS or
> > Apple, with about a millionth of the resources. The collaborative
> > and open nature of Linux development allows person one to go off
> > and change his library code as and when he pleases. Whether
> > person 2 who is using that library in his application actually
> > updates his application in time for Kubuntu's LTS release is up
> > to person 2, not Kubuntu.
> As explained above, they are free to apply any patches they please. 
> Sometimes distros even have errors removed that are still present in 
> the original software...
> > Updates are frequent, collaboration is
> > wide-ranging and flexible, and the number of potential pitfalls
> > and incompatabilities is simply vast when compared to the
> > uncollaborative closed-source world where app developers work in
> > a vacuum with a pretty much stable (in terms of updates) OS.
> > Hence, sometimes, Linux releases will contain software that
> > doesn't work. Hence, sometimes, Linux updates will break software
> > that was working before. Yes it happens in Windows-land too, but
> > it's much more likely to happen with Linux for all the reasons
> > I've mentioned. I call it the price of free software.
> Well, you kinda comparing apples and oranges because you include all 
> the software present in the repos in a Linux distro but only the 
> software present in a typical install of Windows.
> I would like to put forward the thesis that if you evened that out 
> (by either including more software on the Windows side or just a 
> default install on the Linux side), you would find that there are 
> more problems in the Windows world, actually *due* to the closed 
> nature. Somehow, the developers don't seem to feel enough pressure to 
> develop cleanly and securely since nobody can see their code and 
> criticise it. Ever tried using a non-mainstream device that didn't my response was simply meant to say that it could be almost anything,
> come preinstalled in Windows? In Linux it will often just work while 
> in Windows you will have to spend days tweaking (not to mention 
> rebooting). Add all the faults due to bad documentation and no code 
> access...
> I seriously don't understand why people assume that software quality 
> in a commercial project is automatically higher than in a free one. 
> My experience is that there is no difference on average.

I understand what you're saying but you've sort of missed my point because I've pushed a button with you about open vs closed source software. Forget about comparisons with Windows and Macs, those are not even relevant to what I'm trying to say. Forget about 'software quality' because that's also not part of my argument, it's a meaningless bullshit phrase invented by people with spreadsheets.

What I'm talking about is the nature of, let's call it 'Free Software Development', and the inevitable outcome of that process.  A distro release is a snapshot of many different threads of development at a point in time. This may easily mean that the release of one thread of development has not yet caught up with the latest changes in the release of another thread. Now, the distributors have the control to fix bugs, and to choose which versions of applications to take, but are you seriously suggesting that if some fundamental library completely changed its API that Kubuntu would fix every application that depended on it? If you are, you are a fantasist my friend.

That's the way it is, and that is why things that worked in one release are often broken by the next. It's just the way it is - lots of individuals working to no particular plan with no resources for testing. Personally I'd like it if the whole world worked that way.


>   --Reinhold

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