Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Posting on the Libranet forum

Read my posting on the Libranet forum.

A 1CD version is not going to happen. 1CD just doesn't have enough room for a modern GNU/Linux system and a graphical installer (which takes up a fair amount of space on its own). Personally a single DVD would my favorite option, but it will be a while before everyone in the Libranet target market has a DVD-ROM drive.

As to other suggestions:

Going back to a text-mode installer isn't going to happen. It's just not needed on modern hardware. Same for a text-only Adminmenu. As for things like remote administration, web based interfaces or X tunneling over ssh are still more desirable than a text based interface.

Copying another distribution's model isn't going to work. Libranet has been and needs to stay unique. This is not to say that Libranet can't and hasn't learned from others. I have always felt that RedHat and SuSE are Libranet's biggest competition.

Sadcat is correct in stating that it is an impossible job for a small team to control the quality of thousands of software packages. However, with the help of the free software community and projects like Debian providing a pool of readily available packages providing a large high-quality set of packages is not just do-able, but desirable.

The "one app per task" doesn't really work for me. My choice of an application to get a given task done is very often different than another persons. The "one app per task" mindset works if you are pandering to the computer illiterate, which to be frank is the biggest market out there. However, Libranet isn't targeted to the computer as a appliance, what to I click to get to the internet crowd. I don't use “illiterate” as a derogatory term in this context. It is unreasonable to expect the average Joe to learn how a computer works just to be able to “use” a computer. As the internet expands into evermore areas of our lives computers will become much more like automobiles. Almost anyone can drive a car, but very few people know or care about how their car works. Fortunately it's not possible to get injured crashing a computer Smile Anyone remember Apple's “what's a dip” TV commercials from years ago?

In my mind Libranet has always been geared to the happy middle ground: those users who want an easy to maintain working system, but don't want someone to dictate how they go about doing their work.

That being said I don't think there is a need to provide every application on the planet, only those that do a good job. Providing both Firefox and Opera as web browsers makes sense, but adding little used “project” browsers adds little value since the type of users who would be using that type of software would be able to install the software themselves. Perhaps a better example is the world of email clients. There are many, many, different email clients available. What ones really bare inclusion? In my opinion: Thunderbird, Evolution, and Kmail.

The GNU/Linux system is going through the process of maturing from a hobbiest only system to a system usable by the everyday woman in the pub. The fact that there are distributions with so many different targets available is a testament to the diversity of the computer market and the ability of GNU/Linux systems to adapt to many different areas.

GNU/Linux is moving forward at a rapid and exciting pace, and I earnestly hope Libranet will be part of the big changes that we are beginning to see. To this I will add that I make no guarantees whatsoever as to the future of Libranet. At this point it's go big or go home; the two man distribution model just doesn't work for me anymore.

What I need to do now is find partners who have an interest in seeing something amazing happen. It will take me a while to gather my thoughts and figure out how best to go about this.


David Pastern said...


I disagree with the view that everyone knows how to drive a car. The vast majority of the drivers on the road do not drive their cars in an adequate or safe manner. Just because you know how to steer and accelerate and brake doesn't quality you to be a good driver.

Let's take a few examples:

driving will smoking/drinking/eating/talking on your mobile phone etc - distraction. As an old saying goes "two hands for beginners", and imho, every *single* driver out there is a beginner. If you're racing professional in F1, then I'll consider that you're not a beginner. And even those guys use two hands!!! Does that say something?

speeding - downright dangerous

non adaption of driving technique to suit the road conditions - downright idiotic and dangerous

lack of attention to the road ahead AND behind - asking for trouble

overcautiousness and recklessness (yes, I've grouped them together) - downright idiotic and dangerous

not knowing how to *handle* your car properly - the car is a tool, an extension of your hands, your feet, your eyes, your brain. You need all of your senses to safely drive a car.

Computers are asimilar - your average person who has no idea of the basic usage and fundamentals of computers is asking for trouble. Viruses, worms, trojans, you name it. I see it frequently, and I've fixed various people's PCs for them in these types of scenarios. This type of activity means an increase in network traffic, nuisance spam (since it's mostly organised gangs that are introducing new worms etc with the sole purpose of system infiltration). Why should I have to put up with a slower internet/network because of others sloppiness? Where's my rights to have an internet working properly? If you can't use a system adequately, then imho, you simply should not be using it.


Tal said...

My point was more that knowing how an internal combustion engine or a gearbox works isn't a prerequisite for being able to drive. My mother is a good, safe, driver, but she knows very little about any of the mechanical working of the car that she is driving. Do I think she would be a better driver if she did know more about how her car worked? No, I don't. Does knowing how a car works and the physics involved in driving make me a better driver, yes I think it does.

She and I are different in this sense. We look at the world differently. I can use something much better if I have an idea of how it works, to her that doesn't make much difference. She on the otherhand has an incredible sense of design and color, and can do amazing artwork that is well beyond me.

Do you really think that it is reasonable to expect everyone who uses a computer to know how or why everything works the way to does? This would make computers unusable for the vast majority of computer users that I have come across. Software needs to be better designed. The fact that computer users need to know how to run a virus scanner and set up a firewall is a testament to how low our expectations of software really are.

The fact that entering a CAPTCHA to post on this blog is necessary to keep it spam free shows what kind of a computing culture we take for granted.

I think that the connectivity and convience that computers and worldwide networking are doing are bringing a big change to society, and I think that we are in the early days of this change.

Steven Thompson said...

There are a lot of us out there who don't want to be Window slaves and look to Linux for an operating system because it fits into our values and the way we would like the world to be. Not big governments and companies controlling every aspect of life but communities helping each other and sharing their knowledge. So Tal go the way you feel is best suits your values and the way you see Libranet.

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