16 April 2007

Linux for Newbs :-)

Well, here's a change from the usual posts - I'm going to do a bit of a rant, I guess...
Taken from DistroWatch:

Speaking about downloads, here is an interesting piece of statistics found in the latest Linux Mint weekly newsletter: "Seven mirrors were made available for [Linux Mint 2.2] Bianca. Three of them counted 592,950 downloads." Linux Mint has been climbing rather dramatically on the DistroWatch's Page Hit Ranking statistics and the download figures -- nearly 600,000 (!) downloads recorded by just three of the seven available mirrors -- confirm the simple truth: many Linux users are looking for a distribution that works out of the box, without any post-install installation of device drivers, multimedia codecs and browser plugins. Linux Mint has delivered exactly that. And although the advocates of Free Software will not be pleased by this fact, there is little doubt that many computer users are attracted to Linux not because it offers the freedom to modify the source code, but because it's good, it's fun, and it's free of cost.

My thoughts:
How exactly does this "Linux Mint" help the overall state of free software? They are catering to new users, and perhaps by doing so, they are getting more "market share" (whatever that means). Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh, but as a whole, those "new users" are most likely lazy - they don't want to have to do any research on their own or figure out how anything works. Furthermore, since they're drawn more to the lack of cost as opposed to the open nature of the software, those users are almost certainly not going to be contributing financially to their distribution of choice. Maybe I'm missing something, but what's the point? So you've got users who are too clueless to help with development and too cheap to pay for it. Congratulations - I hope you're proud.

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4 Comments:

At 19/4/07 09:45 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

yup people want an out of the box copy of windows. Free and not a pirated copy .

 
At 17/5/07 18:24 , Anonymous AG said...

Rob:
As an avid Slackware user, I'm almost embarrassed to state that I've only recently made a financial contribution to the Slackware project.
Although, I'm not an established code slinger (read: not a programmer), I'd like to contribute to the project. I sent Pat V. a msg offering my assistance, but haven't rec'd any feedback.

What sort of help do you guys need? Documentation, evangelism, bug submittals, etc.?

 
At 18/5/07 21:13 , Blogger Robby Workman said...

AG:

Well, as you've probably guessed by now, Slackware development is really Pat. There are a few regular code contributors who are often thought of as developers, but the only official developer is Pat.
With that said...

You've already done one of the most important things that can be done to help development -- contribute financially to the project. The other good way is to run Slackware -current, the development version leading to the next stable release. Follow the ChangeLog, do the upgrades, and if you run into issues or find problems, report them. Even better, report them with a fix. Find something that Slackware is lacking and work on it (assuming that its potential inclusion wouldn't change the overall philosophy of the project), and when you've got something ready for public testing, post it. From experience, it's a slow process building trust with the "elite" of the Slackware community, but good work builds that trust. For a bit more discussion about the bug reporting process, see my interview at The SlackWorld -- http://slackworld.berlios.de/2007/robby_workman.html

 
At 16/6/07 10:42 , Anonymous Chess Griffin said...

Well said, Robby. I have often said that computers are not toasters and that folks really should understand the _why_ and the _how_. There is an ethos and a philosophy behind free software that all users should understand. It's because of those ideals that we are even able to use Linux as it is today. I find that too many people treat those ideals in a dismissive manner, and that's very disappointing.

 

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