[nSLUG] Debian 3.1 (sarge) is released

Ben Armstrong synrg at sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
Wed Jun 8 15:24:43 ADT 2005


Woah!  This is coming out of left field, but I'll see if I can do some
damage control here ...

On Wed, 2005-06-08 at 14:40 -0300, Jack Warkentin wrote:
> it does not prevent anybody from "exploring the alternatives".

If you explore alternative tools to Adminmenu, if you break things,
you're on your own, right?  So yes, Adminmenu discourages exploration of
alternatives explicitly.

> The real reason I said not to alter the sources.list file was, Libranet
> offers  email support for registered users of their system, but only if
> updates are performed through the Adminmenu.

That's an even stronger discouragement than I thought.  The way you
stated it at first, it seemed like there was a technical problem one
might be able to work around somehow.  But now I see that it runs
deeper.  This is not just an incompatible piece of software.  This is a
"warranty is void if seal is broken" sticker.  Please, please don't
taken anything I have said personally.  My vitriol is *entirely*
directed at the developers, not you.

Now, it may be that this restriction actually saves the user from harm.
If it prevents them from using the system in a way that would break it,
then I understand the restriction.  But the way you stated it, without
any qualifications, it seemed very arbitrary.  Does the restriction
prevent the user from doing things that they ought to be able to do with
their system (e.g. use the "natural", command-line way of doing system
maintenance) or just from doing things that they *should* not be able to
do with their system (e.g. mix in packages from third-party sources that
break compatibility with Libranet).  If it is the latter, then I
understand the motivation, while not necessarily agreeing with their
technical solution.  If it is the former, then I am wholly in
opposition.

> Now then, who *wants* to "expore alternatives"?

Some people don't.  If this is you, none of my complaints apply, and you
can carry on, largely unaffected by the things I am complaining about.

> I have had some version of GNU/Linux (dual-booted with Windows 95 and
> later Windows 98) ever since 1994. The first time I got X running I had
> to create each modeline from the video card and monitor specs (after
> spending days reading all of the available documentation, which warned
> about blowing up the monitor if you got it wrong). Setting up ppp was
> even more painful.

Yes, I have had my share of pain in these areas too.  But I have also
learned my share of valuable lessons, and have developed a broad and
deep understanding of Linux as a result.  Throw me at any distro with
any problem, and I will give it a shot, and usually come up with some
answers, or at least be able to come up with the right questions that
will ultimately lead to the answers.

> Frankly, I have better things to do with my time. Libranet was the first
> distro I came across that made it sufficiently easy to administer the
> system that I have now switched completely to GNU/Linux from M$ except
> for doing my income tax.

I'm glad it was a positive experience for you.  At no time did I sling
mud at Libranet for the upstanding job they have done making things
"just work".  It is surely a sign that they have produced a distro of
some worth that they have happy users like you.  I merely pointed out
that in order to do that, they cut some corners.  Mind you, given your
positive experience and stated preferences as to how your time is spent,
the corners have probably not been cut in areas that matter to you.  I
did say "some users", not "Jack Warkentin".  None of my rant was a
sideswipe at you.

> And by the way I am *not* a "naive user". (I included some background
> material on my computer background in an earlier posting.)

I in no way intended to identify you as a naive user.  I was not even
thinking of you in particular when I wrote this.  I merely generalized
about some set of "naive users" (of which you are clearly not a member)
who might actually be affected by the corners that were cut.  I sincerly
apologize for the confusion.  And by the way, "naive" was not meant as
an insult, but rather as an accurate depiction of the many new users
coming to distros like Libranet for the first time: they may be
intelligent people with extensive experience with computers, and even
with Linux, yet naive about the inner workings of the distro until they
start to trip on some of the messier bits, and start trying to work
around them.

> I could take the above as a personal attack on myself, but in the
> interest of not starting a flame war, I won't.

I cannot fathom why you would.  First of all, as I said earlier, I had
the developers of Libranet in mind, not you.  Second, the "admins [who]
grow up" I am talking about are also not you.  On the other hand, they
are not just hypothetical people, but are represented by the various
people I have seen go through this growth process right here in this
group.  These people started out knowing very little about Linux, but
gradually, driven by their curiosity about how it all works, moved from
a shallower Linux experience into a much deeper one.  It is at the point
now, where some of these people are now surprising me with things that
they now know and are able to figure out on their own, exhibiting an
ability to think on their feet in novel situations pertaining to Linux.
It is this group of people, both real people I have in mind, and
potential Libranet users who may be like them, I feel are being done a
disservice by the Libranet & Adminmenu authors.

So Jack, please relax, assured now, I hope, that I wasn't taking
pot-shots at you.  I care deeply about the people I have mentored in
this community over the years, and it was with them in mind that I
levelled these criticisms at the Libranet developers for the decisions
they made.

Ben


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