[nSLUG] Article on why monoculture gets picked

Ian Campbell ian at slu.ms
Wed Apr 25 16:29:29 ADT 2007

On Wed, Apr 25, 2007 at 04:11:21PM -0300, D G Teed wrote:
> Ian Campbell mentioned issues with stability and developers of
> lighttpd - this would be an example of the pitfalls of using
> software from small nucleus projects.

That's not really the point I was trying to make, and it's a bit of an
unfair generalization. The quality of the code is more a function of
the talent and attitudes of the developers involved -- you're just as
likely to have bad/unstable code in a small(er) project as a large

Look at Mozilla, BIND, Sendmail... all large and popular projects, all
with moderate to poor code quality, security track records etc.

> There are niche requirements which have spawned the development
> of software such as busybox, but I question whether we need
> everyone's shot at making lightweight software for no other reason
> than to try and make something simple or leaner.  In many cases,
> the feature requests drive the thing back to the bloat they wanted to
> avoid.  Projects like Firefox are a demonstration of that Honda Accord
> kind of transformation.

... and Opera is a proof that you can listen to feature requests and
still stay lightweight. The problem is when people start gluing code
onto applications that weren't designed to deal with it, or without a
thought to the future.

> Really, I'll never evaluate all 800+ Linux distros, nor try every type of
> shell, etc.
> so it is pointless to have the extremes of variety.  However, I might look
> at a few imap server options or content management options.

'I only want this kind of variety, not that kind'

I imagine the extension of that is that you appreciate variety in
things you're looking for an improvement in, and you don't like it in
things you're already happy with.

Personally, I find the glut of CMSes useless and irritating (ditto for
pretty much every other web application)

I like having diversity in shells -- some people swear by csh, I'm a
fan of zsh myself.

I'm paraphrasing what I said to Jeff off-list, but if you've heard of
a given software package, chances are it's scratching someone's itch,
so there was a reason for its creation.

> If the reason for working on this stuff is to have fun, then
> isn't it more interesting if it is really useful as well?  That's
> what I'd like to see happening - and it should be possible
> with less of the "I'll do it my way" and more community.

Dealing with other people's (generally bad) code isn't fun. Trying to
glue code on to a framework that wasn't designed to handle it isn't
fun either, and probably bloats and drags the quality of the code down
with it.
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