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Re: geekyness and ESR's recent tome

From: Lawrence Kesteloot <lk_at_teamten.com>
Date: 2004-03-02 21:29:10 CET

GreyGeek wrote:
> Thanks for letting me vent.

I had a lot of trouble installing svn as well. At work I wanted to
compile and install only the clients, and it took forever to figure out
that I needed all three of the following flags:

     --without-berkeley-db --without-apache --without-apxs

even though the configure documentation says that you only need the
first one.

I think that GrayGeek's basic point is correct, and most of the replies,
although technically correct, miss the point. There's way too much
machoness in the Unix culture. Too much attitude like, "If they can't
figure it out, then they don't deserve to be running our software," or,
"He wouldn't have spent five hours installing the software had he read
the documentation, the FAQ, and the mailing list archives."

The reason why such a good Windows installer came out before a Linux
installer is that Windows developers realize that users need things to
"just work". The speed that Subversion spreads is proportional to how
easy it is to install. There's no sense in arguing that the user "only
needs to upgrade Apache." That's frighting even for me, mostly because
I immediately visualize the several hours I'm about to spend fighting to
repercussions of the upgrade.

I want to make it clear that I think Subversion is mostly just fine,
especially for such an early release that needs so much recent other
code. But all the knee-jerk macho reactions to GrayGeek's original post
  worry me. It's that kind of attitude that makes open source software
such a notorious pain in the ass to use. Try to be more empathic of
people who don't have as much kung fu, free time, or patience.

Specifically, I wish the reaction had been something like, "You're
right, it's often a pain to install. Please try to find one thing that
would have made your experience easier, and we'll stick it in the tree."
Instead he got, "It's not Subversion that's broken; you're broken."

(Oh good, I joined the list last night and I'm already sending out an
inflammatory mail.)

Lawrence

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Received on Tue Mar 2 21:28:20 2004

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