Ports system quality and trolling

Doug Barton dougb at FreeBSD.org
Sun Aug 28 23:26:30 UTC 2011

Including postmaster@ on this since IMO Jerry has earned himself a short
vacation from posting privileges.

On 8/28/2011 3:40 PM, Jerry wrote:
> On Sun, 28 Aug 2011 14:43:14 -0700
> Doug Barton articulated:
>> On 8/28/2011 1:54 PM, Michal Varga wrote:
>>> On Sun, 2011-08-28 at 15:30 -0400, Sahil Tandon wrote:
>>> [...]
>>>> Criminal?  Indifference?  This sort of troll-ish hyperbole is
>>>> decidedly unhelpful. 
>> FWIW, I agree with Sahil that this post of Jerry's was over the top,
>> as several of his have been of late. To use the word "criminal" in
>> this context is sufficient all on its own. To accuse people who spend
>> an enormous amount of their own free time trying to make this thing
>> work of being indifferent is just plain rude.
> Specifically, I said "borders on criminal". Get your facts straight.

I'm not sure why you think that makes a difference. The point that Sahil
and I are trying to make is that both your words and your tone are, at
best, unhelpful.

No one who is involved with actually making things work around here
believes that the system has no flaws. Quite the contrary, we know the
flaws better than most users. But a constant stream of angry messages
doesn't do anything to improve the situation.

> Second, I was specifically referring to the act, not the individual. In
> addition, "Spending enormous amounts of time" != "valid excuse". A mass
> murderer can spend enormous amounts of time planning his crime. Does
> that absolve him from the actual crime?

You seem to be operating under the assumption that we owe you something,
and that by failing to provide that thing we owe you we have wronged you
somehow. You may wish to take a step back and consider that premise in
light of what you're paying for this stuff. :)

>> FWIW, my experience has not been even close to yours, although I do
>> find broken things occasionally.
> I have 1,112+/- ports installed on any given day on one of my machines.
> Your statement, without knowing your exact configuration, applications,
> etcetera is not a valid counter statement.

And yet, you felt totally comfortable in criticizing it anyway. Without
trying to toot my own horn (since this was a minor part of my overall
point) I have a non-trivial number of ports installed on my personal
systems, support hundreds more on (at least) 4 different combinations of
FreeBSD versions and architectures on a regular basis, develop
portmaster for people who are using it for massive package building
clusters (as well as personal use of course), and receive
portmaster-related bug reports from users of an even wider variety of
ports. As a result I have a fairly good window into the state of the
ports tree at any given time.

But all that said, we have almost 23,000 ports. Intimate familiarity
with 2,300 ports (a number much larger than I think is reasonably
possible for any one person) would still only be 10% of the tree.

> It stands to reason that an
> increase in the number of ports used would show a corresponding
> increase in the number of port failures.

Yes, I think you're right about that.

>>> And I know that every time I'd start writing a mail about it, my
>>> tone would be exactly the same as Jerry chose. With the expected
>>> result of "Zomg stop trolling",
>> First, if you find something broken, please report it; in a calm,
>> factual manner; ASAP. That will help us fix it ASAP and help avoid
>> other users having to share the same frustration. Second, if you have
>> concerns about the direction that things are heading in a more
>> general way, feel free to express them as you have here. You may find
>> that people agree with you. :)
> And then again, you may not.
>>> or for a change, the ever popular megahit "Patches welcome"
>> Sometimes that *is* the correct answer though. There is only so much
>> that the existing pool of volunteers can do. If we don't get new
>> people who are willing to get their hands dirty, the project dies.
> A quick death is often the best course of action.

I'm sorry, why is it that you're using FreeBSD at all if you're so
overwhelmingly dissatisfied with it?

>>> On a weekly basis, again and again, there are port
>>> updates being introduced with what seems to be absolutely no testing
>>> whatsoever, some breakages take multiple takes on fixing by their
>>> respective port maintainers,
>> While I'm certainly not going to say that mistakes never get made,
>> with very nearly 23,000 ports, and a nearly infinite number of
>> possible OPTIONS combinations, shaking out all of the corner cases
>> can be very difficult for even the most dedicated of maintainers.
>> But, see below.
>>> new versions of major dependencies get introduced only to be rolled
>>> back few days later;
>> If you're talking about the recent ruby update, an enormous amount of
>> work went into that prior to the trigger being pulled in an effort to
>> make it as smooth as possible. It's unfortunate that in spite of that
>> effort there were still some "issues" that were only discovered after
>> users rushed to perform the upgrade. In this case backing out the
>> change was the responsible course of action.
> If this was an isolated issue, I would certainly agree with you.
> However, it has become the norm and not the exception for this sort of
> behavior.
>>> So, was really Jerry's tone so trollish?
>> Yes. There is a world of difference between expressing concern about
>> the issue (as you have done) and attacking people on a personal level.
> The root problem is group mentality. Attempting to convey a message
> that runs counter to the "group" is like making a statement against the
> Pope, or the towel head god,

... and here is where you go completely over the top. This kind of
statement does absolutely nothing to add to the substance of your
argument, and in fact detracts from whatever valid points you may be

> or what ever. People immediately become
> paranoid and defensive. They act like a group of school girls who have
> to have their egos messaged on a daily basis.

.... and once again your tone detracts from the valid point you're
making. (I.e., that sometimes this reaction does occur, unfortunately.)
However, IME what's more common is that the response of "the group" is
factually accurate, however much it may be frustrating.

>> Now, how do we fix this? It has been suggested numerous times that one
>> solution to this problem would be a "stable" ports tree. The idea
>> being that after changes have had a chance to shake out for a while
>> in the head of the ports tree they get merged back to a stable
>> branch. This needs to happen, yesterday.
> What really needs to happen, besides that, is that FreeBSD realize that
> there are wireless-N devices in existence, have been for over 5 years,
> and actually develop real, fully functional drivers for them. Opps,
> sorry, I forgot to blame the manufacturers and, or Microsoft for that
> failure. I'll skip the part about getting the device to operate without
> having to waste time attempting to get it manually configure just to
> make a simple network connect. That would be assuming that there was a
> driver available for the device to begin with.

Um, yeah, once again, totally unhelpful. First, you're (gratuitously)
carping about something completely unrelated to the topic of this
thread. Second, you're ignoring some important realities:

1. Of course we're aware
2. Work actually is in progress
3. Drivers don't write themselves

If you don't like the pace of the progress you can help, either with
contributing code of your own, or contributing financially to the people
doing the work. I realize that you're not likely to appreciate either of
those answers, but those are the only ones available to you.

>> The other thing that will help between now and then is to manage your
>> change windows a little more conservatively. Except for
>> security-related updates there is almost always zero reason to
>> upgrade to new versions of things immediately after they hit the
>> ports tree. With all due respect to those involved, one of the
>> reasons the ruby thing was such a mess was that users jumped in and
>> started upgrading stuff without knowing what they were doing, or why.
>> Personally as soon as the notice about the upcoming change went out I
>> put the knob in make.conf to keep my systems at 1.8 to make sure I
>> wasn't affected.
> I have no problem with that. No one should be forced to update their
> system if they choose not to. However, to carry your statement to its
> logical conclusion, you should issue a warning that attempting to
> update your system carries dire risks

... that's always true ...

> since the updates have not been properly tested.

... and this is, once again, unhelpful.

> For the record, users knew exactly why the were
> updating "ruby", they wanted to. If it was not to be used, then why
> release it? What they did not know was that it was going to bite them
> in the ass, like so many other updates (cups+gnutls) have lately. If it
> had been failing on a few obscure programs, then I could probably say it
> was an unfortunate oversight. When it starts failing on major
> applications used by a large number of FreeBSD users, then it should be
> labels what it is, incompetency. Opps, did I hurt someone's feeling?
> Well, you screwed up my system and wasted hours of my valuable time, so
> now we are even.

And the fact that you think you have the right to lash out like a
petulant child is exactly why I'm suggesting that you take a break from
posting for a while. Whether postmaster@ attempts to enforce that or
not, you might find that getting away from the keyboard is good for you.

>> So all this is not to say, "You're wrong!" but instead to try and
>> constructively address the concerns you've raised, and hopefully
>> provide some suggestions on how to address them.
> That and $1.50 (give or take) will get you a cup of coffee.

I don't drink coffee. :)


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