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

Derek Broughton derek at
Thu Aug 20 19:11:09 BST 2009

Samuel Thurston, III wrote:

> On 8/20/09, Derek Broughton <derek at> wrote:
>> Samuel Thurston, III wrote:
>>  > On Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 8:42 AM, Ray Leventhal<ubuntu at> wrote:
>>  >
>>  >> The complaint that 'I'm not a developer, I can't do this' is hogwash.
>>  >
>>  > Is it? Do you think it's a good idea to have amateur coders
>>  > spitballing package fixes to get things done?
>> Absolutely.  They don't get "commit" access - somebody still has to check
>>  and then commit their patches.  Now, if he submits a fix, and the
>>  maintainer either ignores it or dismisses it derisively (both things do
>>  happen), _then_ he has grounds for his complaint.
> I don't know if you read the linked flame in BTS from the blog post,
> but the maintainer's flame amounted to "don't crowd the BTS with stuff
> because I don't have time."  Now, if the maintainer doesn't have time
> to mark bug reports as duplicates and move on with his life, does he
> have time to qualitatively evaluate alternate configuration tools
> submitted by amateur coders and choose the best one(s), fix glaring
> problems with them and continue to maintain these tools as well?

Of course not, and I'm saying that if that's the maintainer's attitude, 
people have a right to complain.  I say you have no grounds for complaint 
when you're using free software and it doesn't work - but if you're doing 
your part to try to make it better, and being ignored, or apparently in this 
case being told not to, you've just bought the right to whine.
> I'm not saying am's shouldn't try their hand at coding, but there's a
> difference between "good enough to use on your home system and maybe
> distribute from your homepage" and "good enough to include in a
> mainstream distro."

But it's _never_ a problem.  If it's good enough for the maintainer, it's 
_good enough_ by definition.  And novice programmers don't _get_ to commit 
their own code.

>>Yes, _users_ find "put up or shut up" off-putting - but they should!  They
>>have no right to gripe about quality if they're not willing to do their
>>(whatever their talents) to help fix it.  Actual _developers_ don't have a
>>problem with "put up or shut up" - they're more likely to complain that
>>they _did_ put up, and nobody wanted their input.
> But that's exactly what the original article addresses: the attitudes
> that prevent widespread user-level adoption of GNU/linux in general
> and debian specifically.  

This is where I have a problem with him.  It's FREE software, for heaven's 
sake.  You get what you pay for, and if you don't like it you _can_ go 
elsewhere.  Debian is _not_ committed to "widespread user-level adoption".  
It's not in their mandate.  Now, Ubuntu, to some extent is - but I honestly 
don't feel it's that important.

> Of course developers don't have a problem
> with it because they can and do "put up," but, as both a developer and
> user, for way too long I've heard the chorus "fix it yourself" which I
> just really don't think is helpful.  It creates more work for everyone
> down the chain, and frankly, it's a copout on the fact that the
> software in question doesn't address some need that's being
> articulated.

How is it a copout?  It doesn't address the need because Free software 
always addresses the needs of its developers.  It's not a copout, it's just 
a completely circular argument.

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