Random notes from mg

a blog by Marius Gedminas

Marius is a Python hacker. He works for Programmers of Vilnius, a small Python/Zope 3 startup. He has a personal home page at http://gedmin.as. His email is marius@gedmin.as. He does not like spam, but is not afraid of it.

Fri, 13 Jun 2008

Out of touch with reality

I used Windows at work until January 2002, when I changed jobs and went to Linux full-time. I barely remember what life was back then. Driver CDs you had to install before plugging in new hardware, shareware apps that you had to pay for and couldn't see how they worked, web pages full of blinking advertisements. Magic voodoo rituals you had to do to fix your IS when it broke down, that you had to do by rote without full understanding of how it all fit together.

These days I run Ubuntu. Hardware just works (or doesn't). Apps are an apt-get install away. Web pages I read mostly end in .org and rarely have obnoxious ads. The system breaks rather more often than I'd like, but at least there are no artificial obstacles in the way of debugging. Download the sources, recompile with debug symbols, go.

I am a programmer, and I've been one for many years now. I found something that works for me, and I'm mostly happy. I do not want to tell you how you should live your life, or what OS you should use on your laptop.

Recently I was hit on the head with the understanding that my point of view is somewhat atypical. As a programmer and a long-time Linux power user I have the skills and knowledge to download sources of applications, apply patches, and build packages. I don't view these tasks as development, because I'm not creating anything new. I'm just using the fruits of others' labour a bit earlier than I would have if I'd just waited for the next Ubuntu version to bring me the updated package in 6 months.

I want to apologize to timeless for expressing myself badly. I did not mean to complain or demand anything. I wanted to encourage transparency by disagreeing with a previous claim (which was that marking bugs as fixed was useless unless the developers provided updated packages for the current distro or released the next distro ASAP). But then I couldn't resist adding a poorly-written postscript and got the opposite reaction: timeless quoted my words as an example of How can people discourage transparency:

Personally, I'm disappointed that when a bug is closed as "fixed in diablo", as a user I've no idea how to get the updated package on my N810. I've got scratchbox handy, just point me at the new source package and I'll backport it -- but repository.maemo.org has no 'diablo' in dists/.

This is what I'm used to, with Ubuntu, and open-source software in general. When a bug is fixed, I get a choice: wait for the updated package, or dig out the fix from the publicly available version control system.

It's what I'd like to have, but not something that I demand of Nokia (or its employees). I do not think I have the right to demand it from anyone.

I should finally learn to think more and write less.

posted at 23:01 | tags: | permanent link to this entry | 0 comments

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