Installing a compiler by default

Dane Mutters dmutters at
Fri Jun 9 08:32:56 BST 2006

Hi, everybody.

I have been watching this list for some time now, and thought I should insert 
my two bits on this one.

On Thursday 08 June 2006 21:15, Adam Conrad wrote:
> Corey Burger wrote:
> > 1. Person compiling something to get them on the internet
> > Ignore the fact that I have not seen a solid case where you can get
> > the source without being on net already, nor a solid case where this
> > is even necessary (I am sure there are, I just haven't looked at
> > deeply), how many users are actually technically adept enough to do
> > this?
> After sleeping on this, this is the one that jumped out at me too.
> We're assuming that you need a compiler to compile a driver to get you
> on the internet.  This can be broken into two subclasses:
> 1) If we shipped the driver sources on the CD ourselves, then the
> failing is OURS for not pre-compiling it for you (and we should do so).
> 2) If we didn't ship the driver sources, then how the heck are you
> getting them without having the previously-mentioned access to the
> internet?

I have a laptop with a D-Link Atheros-based WIFI card in it and in addition, a 
standard ethernet port.  When I first installed Ubuntu-Breezy, it didn't have 
a working driver for the WIFI card.  I had to use my existing land line 
network to download the source code and install the driver (madwifi-ng; the 
one in the repository at the time was too old for my card).  

As another poster mentioned, it wasn't particularly obvious what I needed to 
download in order to compile the driver.  Coming from a Slackware/Gentoo 
background, I found this a little disconcerting, since even in Slackware 
(Dependencies?  What are those?) the libraries and all could be found on 
the 'net by their given names.  I ended up downloading all the dependencies 
to build-essential separately (and yes, it made me warm and Slackware-ish 
inside) because I didn't know where to find them all bundled together, and 
several hours later, was able to get my shiny new D-Link A/B/G card working.

I guess my point in all this is that yes, there are reasons why you would have 
to compile some drivers to get on the net, and yes, you can get those drivers 
even if your hardware isn't yet set up.  (Sneaker net anyone?)  I just think 
that it would be a lot easier if: 1) "build-essential" had some more 
intuitive name (such 
as "compiler-essential," "compilers," "compile-my-stuff," etc.); and 2) it 
was installed by default.  That would mean less stuff to search for, burn on 
CD, download via another connection (like a 56k modem...*shudder*), 
re-download because you got the wrong stuff the first time, etc.  Ultimately, 
it would lead to a more user-friendly experience for somebody whose 
hardware/software isn't supported by default.  And it wouldn't hurt to teach 
the user a trick or two concerning how to install stuff that's not in the 

Have a good one.


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