[nSLUG] Finding linux products and software

D G Teed donald.teed at gmail.com
Thu Apr 12 21:18:01 ADT 2007

On 4/12/07, Jason Kenney <jdkenney at gmail.com> wrote:
> > So while you do, in fact, make a good point about anticipating needs and
> > choosing wisely, you picked an example to back it up that did not apply
> > to the situation at hand (unless Donald was indeed talking about
> > continuing to milk along to its ultimate death a 5 year old
> distribution,
> > which wasn't entirely clear to me from the start, but I suspected not).
> >
> > Ben

I suspected it wasn't entirely not clear from the start.  Chuckle... Isn't
wonderfully obtuse?  That's why human languages don't work in programming.

Ah, I didn't notice the distinction being made between 3-5 year old
> computers, and 3-5 year old distributions. To me a "system" is not
> limited to just the hardware, but that's unfortunately a very loosely
> (and widely?) defined term.

I may have stated something ambiguous.  What I wanted to get at
was the maturity of the Linux distribution.  Choices like Redhat, Debian
and Slackware get you 14 years of maturity.  They have likely already
made some major bad choices and blunders and adjusted their methods
to progress free of that.

Here is how I see the problem with new distros forming...

Someone like Daniel Robbins or Mark Shuttleworth looks at these
existing distros, and wants a faster pace of change, and other features,
real soon, not 3 years out.  So they forge their own distro, which is
initially free of any of the burdens of upgrade paths, backwards
compatibility, etc. - allowing them to develop and release quickly.

But once they (a generic project, not necessarily these in particular)
get into their third major distribution release or so (3 to 5 years age)
they start having challenges, developers argue, some quit,
impatient people want the fast pace to continue, a release is
done without the best possible considerations, and
then the users get stung.  Then the lessons are learned, processes
and/or leadship change, and eventually the pace slows down to do
things right, QA it more, the distro matures, and they end up with
something that moves slowly and provides a long EOL number.

Then potentially the cycle starts again, with new developers wanting
something faster paced, forging a new distro, etc.

The exception to that might be smaller projects done by only one
or two people, but I am not comfortable with them as I believe
there is too much to Linux for one or two people to get it
right, unless we are talking minor tweaks on some meta-distribution.
Stories like Hans Reiser's murder charge and Patrick Volkerding's
yellow lung granule also make me cautious of small projects.

I just wish the talented people who feel inspired to
forge a new distro would understand what has
come before them, and then join, enrich and revamp
the existing mature distros.  They can greatly benefit from
the time, energy and desires that such people can bring to this.


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