[gobolinux-users] A few uneasy questions...

MLA-Gobo mla-gobo at forrussia.org
Wed Feb 28 07:44:02 UTC 2007

On Tuesday 27 February 2007 23:21, Jonas Karlsson wrote:
> Once again I can't follow you. In what way do we lack in information
> to the users of GoboLinux? Wich system development isn't presented? As
> I said, this distro is for advanced users. They should be able to take
> care of them self.
    If I may insert my 2¢: this view (that Gobo is for advanced users) is 
exactly the problem. Now, I don't deny the *truth* of that statement; I would 
definitely not suggest Gobo to anyone who isn't ready to get their hands 
muddy, However, if my calendar does not lie, it is 2007, not 1997. That is, 
there is far less incentive to get one's hands muddy today, even among 
advanced users. I have used Linux since February 1999, and consider myself an 
advanced user. I've been lurking on this list since February 2004 and on 
the -devel list since September 2005. But I am writing this email from 
Kubuntu, because it *just works*. Back in 1998, I didn't expect everything to 
work. I was willing to invest more time in tweaking my system just so. I was 
more willing to put up with bugs and fundamentally broken parts. But my 
expectations of what a Linux distro should look like has radically altered 
since then. Given the amount of GPL stuff out there, there's no reason why 
Gobo can't build off the backs of more user-friendly distros. "User-friendly" 
isn't just for newbies; advanced users generally appreciate it, too, except 
for those people who use ratpoison for a window manager.
    I installed 013 back in December, and was horrified to see how many 
obvious bugs cropped up within just an hour of installing it. I even started 
writing a (very) long email detailing all the problems I saw, but then I 
started going through the mail archive and realized that others were having 
the same problems, so I decided not to add to the noise. I haven't booted 
into Gobo for over two months now, because there's no incentive. If the base 
was more stable, then it might be worthwhile, but even the base is constantly 
shifting and changing. If Scripts and Compile have stabilized, I'm not aware 
of it. UnionFS, /System/Index, and all the other stuff that's been discussed 
on the -devel list for the past two months give me the impression of a system 
in a wild state of flux. Why would even advanced users want to get involved, 
when the entire thing could change from underneath their feet?
    Here's my suggestion: assuming that all the bug fixes reported from 013 
have been incorporated, all the core developers should sit down and 
say, "Given our limited time constraints, what kind of *stable* release can 
we get out the door in three to four months?" I am suggesting three to four 
months for 014, because I believe the focus needs to be stability, rather 
than new technology. 013 focused on new technology, and we know the results. 
If the technological base of Gobo cannot be stabilized in three to four 
months, even with limited time commitments, no, *especially* with limited 
time commitments, then it means that the technology is harming, rather than 
helping, the distro.
    I realize that Gobo is "experimental." But you really need to decide if 
you want others to participate in the experiment or not. If Gobo cannot 
achieve a level of polish and usability, then you should ask yourself if it 
is really worth the effort of making this public. An unstable, unpolished 
system just makes *more* work for yourselves, because you need to answer 
people's questions as to how to make basic, fundamental things work. If you 
emphasize that 014 is for polish, bug fixes, and usability, and then declare 
that the "experimental" portion of 015 is to focus on one, max two, new or 
different features, then you have a good chance of appealing to both 
intermediate and advanced users.
    People look at the idea behind GoboLinux and think, "Hey, that's something 
that has promise," but when they discover the amount of kludge involved, it 
scares them off, even (especially?) the advanced users. No one wants to work 
on something that's put together with chewing gum and duct tape. If the core 
technology of GoboLinux does not *just work*, then it means that GoboLinux is 
FUNDAMENTALLY AND HOPELESSLY BROKEN. "Polish" is not just a Slavic language, 
    Which brings me to my last point: lower the bar. Don't say that advanced 
users are your target audience. Identify those areas that will attract 
intermediate users, too. Many eyes make bugs shallow, and all that. If you 
focus on making GoboLinux accessible to intermediate users, you have a 
greater chance of really propelling it forward.

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