Installing a compiler by default

Henrik Nilsen Omma henrik at
Fri Jun 9 19:43:16 BST 2006

Adam Conrad wrote:
> I'm not sure what problem we're trying to solve with this proposal
> except for "old skool UNIX hacks expect to have a compiler on their
> system", which is a pretty poor reason to do anything in a shiny new
> distribution that isn't really targetter at old skool hacks out of the box.

I agree with Adam here. I don't think the fact that old Linux hands 
expect it is reason enough to install it.

I'm also worried that it might become a crutch for us in the long term. 
When something fails to Just Work we should focus our efforts on making 
it work better. That includes improving the technical hardware support, 
but also the community aspect of working better with upstreams and 
hardware manufacturers to make sure that we can supply relevant binary 
modules that work with our kernel (not to be confused with binary-only 
modules, which we should reduce the reliance on where possible).

We have to an extent built our reputation on the phrase 'Just Works' and 
that is worth defending. If the phrase 'well, you can always compile 
this from source' starts getting banded around as good standard 
solutions, then we will lose some of that reputation. Our closed source 
competitors are very fond of saying 'well Linux is OK for geeks, but you 
very often have to drop to the shell to compile something to make it 
work'. It's a standard line used consciously. Let's not give them that 

I also want to split the use case up further into the Live and Installed 
scenarios. It's true that it might be cool to compile some little thing 
in the Live session and that installing build-essential into RAM is a 
poor option. But how often do you need to do this in a live session 
other than just playing around? When is this ever a show stopper for 

If someone has serious intentions of using Ubuntu on a machine they will 
generally install it, and in that case build-essential is on the CD, so 
you don't need the net. People have been citing IRC questions about the 
lack of gcc and the user groups of those new to ubuntu but familiar with 
linux. But how often has this issue popped up when someone is using the 
Live CD and don't have the option to install?

- Henrik

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