Debian: contempt for "end user" values has to stop!"

Ray Leventhal ubuntu at swhi.net
Thu Aug 20 13:47:17 BST 2009


Samuel Thurston, III wrote:
 > On Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 2:28 PM, David Gerard<dgerard at gmail.com> wrote:
 >
<snip>
 >
 > The comment Ray made about hogwash is harmful in two ways. One it
 > suggests that the community shares a "put up or shut up" mentality
 > that I think many newer/prospective members find off-putting. Two, it
 > suggests that what we need is more second-rate coders patching up
 > every little personal gripe.

My point was clearly misunderstood if it's been thought of as harmful.

Lets try to make that point by example.

When I started tinkering with web pages nobody had heard of PHP because 
it didn't exist.  Nobody had heard of CSS because it didn't exist.  Red 
Hat Linux was at version 2.

I enjoyed html editing...simple markup made decent sites which showed in 
Mosaic, then Netscape, then Internet Explorer.

As things on the web progressed, the need for more interactive sites 
became apparent.  Clients were asking for things like forms so customers 
could communicate with them.  Commerce began to take shape on the web.

*I* didn't have a clue about how to write programs - I was less than a 
hack at bash scripting or even batch file writing in DOS.  But when PHP 
came about, I felt the need to learn it....and here's the point - I DID.

I had a need and I took it upon myself to fix MY need.  The blogger who 
says that 'my need for a font manager isn't being met, therefore the 
FOSS community sucks' doesn't get it.  He wants it the way he wants it 
and he wants it for free.  That's not how it works, unless someone has 
already written it and seen fit to open the source for us all to 
use/modify/play with.  Mostly that model works really really well.  I 
thrive on it and revel in it.

And while I will shout at the top of my voice to defend the blogger's 
right to his opinion, *my* opinion is that his conclusions are wrong.

Its not a put-up-or-shut-up mentality that I'm promoting at all.  I just 
think that if we're benefiting from the freedom of open source in 
general, the responsibility to understand the nature of the open source 
'system/method' is just as important as our right to bitch about it.

When I have a need for something that's not installed by default or gets 
broken by an upgrade - and it happens...happens to us all - its 
frustrating.  I concur that things shouldn't break between upgrades, but 
they do sometimes..not often but sometimes.  Anyway, when that happens, 
I remind myself that *all* of what I'm using/doing/working with/ making 
money at - is because other people have made the effort through their 
research and work to make it available to me for free.

Do I run totally free and open source systems?  No.  I don't.  Most of 
what's on my Ubuntu, CentOS and RHEL machines are open source.  Some 
things are 'non-free' (as in source isn't open, not for a fee).  Some 
things are closed source, license purchase type things.  I'm sure there 
are places for our blogging friend to go and either hire someone to 
write or find and buy a font manager that will suit.  Perhaps there's 
even a tarball out there for him to install to accomplish that which he 
needs to.

But to expect that he has a right to exactly what he needs to make a 
living is absurd and that's where 'hogwash' comes in.

Oh...and about second rate coders: All coders start out as newbies, 
hacking at code, making mistakes, being 2nd rate or worse.  Necessity 
being the mother of invention, that's how great coders are born.  I'm 
not proposing that we need to encourage 2nd rate coders - I'm simply 
proposing that the concept of open source should encourage anyone who 
has a need to find a way to meet it; perhaps in the process they'll 
learn how to do things that will benefit the whole community.

Again, my 0.02.

Respectfully,
-Ray

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