Installing a compiler by default

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Tue Jun 13 19:26:05 BST 2006

On Fri, Jun 09, 2006 at 12:03:17PM +0200, Stephan Hermann wrote:
> How do you get the driver, when there is nobody who can provide you with the 
> sourcecode?

Examples have already been given elsewhere in this thread.  CD-R, USB and
floppy are all common ways to solve this problem.

> As possible use-case I would honour Adams IRC proposal: Quote: 2006-06-09 
> (times in utc+2)
> "[11:15] <infinity> I have exactly one piece of hardware with a source tarball 
> on the driver disk.
> [11:16] <infinity> And it's a RAID controller, so the compiler being installed 
> probably won't help me. :)
> [11:16] <infinity> (Might help to have it in -live, I guess)"
> But for the default install a compiler would bring more problems then 
> advantages.

Again, the argument comes down to benefit vs. cost.  In Adam's example,
having the tools available on the live CD would in fact have helped him out,
by allowing him to more easily install onto the otherwise-unsupported

Yes, Adam knows where to find the .debs on the live CD, how to set up a swap
partition to install them into, and is otherwise capable of solving this
problem on his own, but there are quite a lot more people who know just
enough to get a module loaded.

> To be frank, in the last couple of days, since Dapper release, we have an
> huge ammount of support questions for non stable software and how to
> compile or integrate new drivers for ati or nvidia cards, from people, who
> don't know anything about the architecture of Ubuntu or Debian. They break
> even their system by trying to install and configure XGL e.g.  This is
> something for the support community, which is hard to handle actually, and
> if someone provides a possibility to compile new kernel drivers by
> default, this situation will be getting worse.

This is an interesting point; you're arguing that there is benefit in making
this harder in hopes of forcing the user to solve certain problems in more
correct ways.  I think that if someone is adventurous enough to want to
experiment with things like XGL, and simultaneously not willing to search
the Internet for a how-to document, a lack of a compiler won't stop them
from mangling their system trying to get it to work.

In contrast, there is nothing sinful about compiling a kernel driver from
source; there is a well-established mechanism for doing this because it is
sometimes necessary, and the result is actually still a fairly clean system.
I think that there is a distinct difference between these two examples.

 - mdz

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