[Fwd: Re: Appropriateness of posts to this list (Was Re: evince crash)]

Richard A. Johnson nixternal at kubuntu.org
Thu Dec 6 21:58:54 UTC 2007


RESENDING MY ORIGINAL POST TO THE LIST. This way Kevin doesn't blasted because 
of my comments :)

On Thursday 06 December 2007, Kevin Fries wrote:
[...]
| If I don't get my steak the way I ordered it.  I buy my steak from
| elsewhere.  Ubuntu with no users, is not anything but an exercise in
| ego.  What the customer wants is the only real metric.  You need to
| understand that as a developer, and I live with that every day as a
| Consultant, Designer, and Implementer.
|
| Which of those priorities you wish to work on, however, is completely
| your own decision.  But the customer MUST set the priorities of what
| needs done in the bigger picture. And, the customer MUST set the list of
| features that need to be implemented.

I couldn't agree with you more!

| Rule #1 of Business: Its not about you.

Actually, this wouldn't be Rule #1, but it is pretty much the Golden Rule of 
Business. Mark Cuban said it best a few years back, "Treat your customers 
like they own you, because they do." The hard part with this though in our 
little neck of the woods is that all of us are also customers, so it can get 
confusing.

| If you do not make your customers wishes and desires #1 on your priority
| list, your competition will.

And they are (ie. PCLinuxOS, Fedora).

| Lets not forget, Ubuntu is a business product, distributed by a real
| business.  Therefore, its not about you... or me.  Its about the
| customer.  Making the customer feel like they have to talk you into
| something, is just not good business.  This is why I spend so many hours
| providing help to ANYONE who asks.  Even people I would rather not.  Its
| not about me, its about Ubuntu, and what is best for the project.

It was all fine and dandy until this paragraph. This is the one thing that 
really could irk a volunteer to such a project. I have been around this 
community for a couple of years now and talking to some past developers and 
contributors, the one thing that was common was that "we are working for free 
while they are making money from our work." I look at it like this..Kubuntu 
is giving me more than I could ever give it. How?

1) I have a totally free operating system
2) I don't have to worry about all the other things I would have to with that 
other OS
3) The development community allows me to participate in which I get to learn 
the ins-and-outs of what really goes on (after a while, this is a nice CV 
bullet point)
4) The friends I have made in the process are totally worth every minute I 
have put in.

| Even more so in an all volunteer endeavor, egos must be checked at the
| door.  Developer's egos, designer's egos, and consultant's egos.  We as
| the people trying to make this a success, need to listen to the customer
| so that there will be more of them.  Its the one true advantage we have
| over Microsoft which is notorious for blowing off their customer to do
| what is in their best interest (Can we say Windows Genuine Advantage, or
| Digital Rights Management... I knew we could).

I am 50/50 on this paragraph. I wholeheartedly believe there should be 
the "checking the ego at the door," however a little bit of ego never hurt 
anybody. For instance, look at Microsoft. They have the biggest ego of all, 
and they have yet to really fail at what they do. Going on with Microsoft, 
they do indeed listen to their customers, just because we don't see it simply 
because we are not their customers, doesn't mean they don't. If they didn't 
listen, would they really be as big as they are? I mean Apple and other 
operating systems have been around just as long. Imagine if the Linux 
community would have really listened to the complaints in the 90s, I think we 
would then be further than we are today. In our eyes, yes we do have a true 
advantage over Microsoft, but to the billions of Microsoft users out there, 
they laugh at that advantage.

| You allow the customers wishes to be the only real metric because you
| place Ubuntu and Linux's needs before your own.  Otherwise, are you
| really helping?

Very true, but one thing I have noticed from doing so is this:

1) Linux isn't gaining the ground with proprietary vendors. Why? because most 
distros have listened totally to the customer and have provided them with the 
proprietary solutions. This isn't helping in my opinion. And the one thing 
that really sucks with these proprietary solutions, we can't help/support the 
users when problems occur. The only thing we can do is say "oh well, that is 
what you get when using proprietary stuff, we can't help you, ask <insert 
proprietary mfr here>.

The great thing about Linux is its scalability. It can pretty much be adapted 
to most environments. Providing proprietary solutions to the end user isn't 
doing anything for the cause, and is actually making us look like another 
Microsoft. We are starting to provide some of the same proprietary solutions 
(mainly drivers and codecs) to make the customer happy, and by doing this the 
majority of distro developers aren't aiming their efforts in helping the 
advancement of free solutions.

I can go on about this forever. You are right when you say the customer is #1, 
and this is of course, like I said, the golden rule of business, a money 
making business. The tide is different when a great majority of your workers 
are providing their time, knowledge, and everything else for absolutely free 
(there are the exceptions of course, people like me who enjoy the freeness I 
have by using a free operating system). A month or so back Scott and I had a 
similar conversation in IRC and I was upset about it, but after sitting back 
and thinking about it, I can see his point and understand it. We all have our 
egos and that's what makes all of us unique. We are all customers of our own 
creations, so making us happy should also be an important rule. If we aren't 
happy, then nobody will be happy. So unlike a typical business, their has to 
be some give-and-take with the free software community, at least a happy 
medium. So far it has worked for Ubuntu as well as many other distrobutions.

Scott, I do have a problem with the document you linked to about asking smart 
questions. Most of the answers I have seen in there are stupid answers or 
stupid solutions. I was always raised with the idea that there isn't a such 
thing as a stupid question, and I believe that. Just because most of us know 
to Google this or that, or know how to find solutions, that doesn't mean that 
every Tom, Dick, and Harry does. I have a professor who has multiple degrees 
(Bachelors (couple of them), Masters (up there with those too), and PhDs), 
yet he asks his students for help researching information online because he 
isn't as savvy as some of the students, that doesn't make any of his 
questions stupid. I say burn that smart questions document, as it is 
obviously from the 90s with the "STFW" and "RTFM" type assessments. Its a 
miracle that the community has survived through all of that stuff and not 
driven more people away.

OK, </end here> :)

-- 
Richard A. Johnson
nixternal at kubuntu.org
GPG Key: 0x2E2C0124
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