A quality operating system
odhiambo at gmail.com
Sat Aug 20 07:43:09 UTC 2011
On Sat, Aug 20, 2011 at 07:47, Evan Busch <antiequality at gmail.com> wrote:
> I make decisions about hardware and software for those who work with me.
> Talking with my second in command this morning, we reached a quandary.
> Ron is completely pro-Linux and pro-Windows, and against FreeBSD.
> What is odd about this is that he's the biggest UNIX fanatic I know,
> not only all types of UNIX (dating back quite some time) but also all
> Unix-like OSen.
> I told him I was considering FreeBSD because of greater stability and
> He asked me a question that stopped me dead:
> "What is a quality operating system?"
> In his view, and now mine, a quality operating system is reliable,
> streamlined and clearly organized.
> Over the past few years, FreeBSD has drifted off-course in this
> department, in his view.
> Let me share the points he made that I consider valid (I have deleted
> two as trivial, and added one of my own):
> (1) Lack of direction.
> FreeBSD is still not sure whether it is a desktop OS, or a server OS. It is
> easy for the developers to say "well, it's whatever you want," but this
> makes the configuration process more involved. This works against people who
> have to use these operating systems to get anything done.
I think it's not about being sure. It's there for you to use the way you
like. There is only 1 FreeBSD. If you want to build a server, FreeBSD does
it. If you want a Desktop, it does it too. You just need to have an open
mind. Surely, I did not ever hear anyone say FreeBSD should be used as a
Desktop OS though. It's meant to be a server. There is PC-BSD project which
is working to create a Desktop environment of FreeBSD. If you guys want a
Desktop, you need to head in that direction.
> In his view, a crucial metric here is the ability to estimate time required
> for any task. It may be a wide window, but it should not be
> as wide as "anywhere from 30 minutes to 96 hours." In his experience,
> FreeBSD varies widely on this front because in the name of keeping options
> open, standardization of interface and process has been deprecated.
That whole paragraph is some irrelevant assertion. The time taken by an OS
to process some work does not depend on the name of the OS. It depends on
the hardware, applications being used and the underlying processing. Would
he care to tell us exactly how Linux (whichever it is) does this estimation?
Based on what?
> (2) Geek culture.
> Geek culture is the oldest clique on the internet. Their goal is to make
> friends with no one who is not like them. As a result, they
> specialize in the arcane, disorganized and ambiguous. This forces people to
> go through the same hoops they went through. This makes them happy, and
> drives away people who need to use operating systems to achieve real-world
> results. They reduce a community to hobbyists only.
I haven't experienced this in the FreeBSD community, as long as a new user
asks questions smartly. Most people, not just the geeks, and including you,
wouldn't want to spend time with a crystal ball trying to figure out what
someone wants to do if they do not ask their questions in a way that is
clear and forthright.
> (3) Horrible documentation.
> This is my specialty and has been since the early 1980s. The FreeBSD
> documentation is wordy, disorganized, inconsistent and highly selective in
> what it mentions. It is not the product of professionals but it also not the
> product of volunteers with a focus on
> communication. It seems pro-forma, as in, "it's in the documentation, so
> don't bother me." The web site compounds this error by pointing us in
> multiple directions instead of to a singular resource. It is bad enough that
> man pages are separate from your main documentation tree, but now you have
> doubled or trebled the workload required of you without any benefit to the
> end user.
Well, everytime I want to do something on FreeBSD, I always find the
documentation. If it is not sufficient, the source code is there, and the
developers are there. I just need to raise the issue with the developers.
This has never failed me. The documentation is done by volunteers and is
open for everyone who finds a mistake to correct it and send patches. Isn't
that what Open Source is all about? I have never tried to compare FreeBSD
and MS Windows documentation at any time. The distinction between those
behind the two is quite clear.
> (4) Elitism.
> To a developer, looking at some inconsistent or buggy interface and
> thinking, "If they can't do this, they don't belong using FreeBSD anyway" is
> too easy of a thought. Yet it looks to me like this happens quite a bit, and
> "this is for the elite" has become the default orientation.
Could you please qualify that allegation by examples? You can include the
URLs where this is exhibited.
> This is problematic in that there are people out there who are every bit as
> smart as you, or smarter, but are not specialized
> in computers. They want to use computers to achieve results; you may want
> to play around with your computer as an activity, but that is not so for
Which OS is this you have in mind where they spoonfeed users? If you are
still talking about Linux, then you've gotten me very confused. However, let
us maintain some sobriety and mention those cases where you encountered
Elitist developers. The onus is on you to prove the allegations, remember??
> (5) Hostile community.
> For the last several weeks, I have been observing the FreeBSD community.
> Two things stand out: many legitimate questions go ignored, and for others,
> response is hostile resulting in either incorrect answers, haughty snubs,
> and in many cases, a refusal to admit when the problem is FreeBSD and not
> the user. In particular, the community is oblivious to interfaces and chunks
> of code that have illogical or inconsistent interfaces, are buggy, or whose
> function does not correspond to what is documented (even in the manpages).
> (6) Selective fixes.
> I am guilty of this too, sometimes, but when you hope to build an operating
> system, it is a poor idea. Programmers work on what they want to work on.
True. It's Open Source. No one is under obligation to work on something that
is in your mind, and not their mind. Unless you are paying someone to do
something, why would you expect them to read your mind and do things the way
you think? Why do you think they should spend their time (without pay) to
make people happy? I appreciate the developers who have consistently
invested their time in making sure FreeBSD has the features it has. I think
you too should.
> This leaves much of the unexciting stuff in a literal non-working state,
> and the entire community oblivious to it or uncaring. As Ron detailed, huge
> parts of FreeBSD are like buried land mines just waiting to detonate. They
> are details that can invoke that
> 30 minute to 96 hour time period instantly, usually right before you need
> to get something done.
Did Ron put you down to some practical sessions where he proved this to you,
or you simply listened to him the way I see people listen to preachers???
> (7) Disorganized website.
> The part of the FreeBSD project that should set the tone for the community,
> the FreeBSD website, reflects every one of these
> criticisms. It is inconsistent and often disorganized; there is no clear
> path; resources are duplicated and squirreled away instead of
> organized and made into a process for others to follow. It is arcane,
> nuanced and cryptic for the purpose of keeping the community elitist,
> hobbyist and hostile to outsiders.
Please show me how organized the "Linux website" looks. In this scenario,
you've only ranted. Without being specific to which part of the website is
disorganized, I'll tell you that there is no standard universal template for
websites. There is the main website and there is the Wiki. Please see the
Wiki as an opportunity for you to take your time and organize what you see
> In addition, huge portions of it break on a regular basis and seem to go
> unnoticed. The attitude of "that's for beginners, so we don't need it"
> persists even there. With the graphic design of the website I have no
> problem, but the arrangement of resources on it reflects a lack of presence
> of mind, or paying attention to the user experience.
> Now you are pissing me off, surely. Who ever said that the FreeBSD
community was into website development business? You do not need websites as
a user. You need the HOWTOs, to get you going. Nothing about website layout.
Nothing about style. Just HOWTO do abc....
> All of this adds up to a quality operating system in theory that does not
> translate into quality in reality.
Then just use Windows, please. You pay for it and you can ask the Redmond
team to do your bidding. When you don't pay for something, you have no moral
rights to demand anything.
> You alienate users and place the burden upon them to sort through your
> mess, then sneer at them.
Now I see why you posted this in the first place. Initially, I thought it
was a critique but not I see unfounded, unsupported criticism.
Let me remind you that it is a world of choices. If you feel alienated, you
are as free as you came, to just turn round ans walk away. However, if you
believe in what you want, you will get it. In life no one ever achieves
anything without any hurdles. All humans are different. That is the kind of
diversity you find in any community and you surely don't expect them to
dance to any single universal tune like programmed robots! Some are good
some are hostile some are silent some sneer...... It's everywhere, even in
your favorite Linux world.
> You alienate business, professional and artistic users with your insistence
> on hobbyism. These people have full lives; 48 hour sessions of trying to
> configure audio drivers, network cards or drive arrays are not in their
Hahaaaa... 48 hours of your time should be worth more than Windows 7
Ultimate or Windows Server (whichever version) that can do the same things
you wanted. Perhaps you will find it easier with Windows? I must ask if you
tried it with Windows - since there are free evaluations you could download
and test. You should not waste time with FreeBSD in such a case.
> Even when you get big parts of the operating system correct, it's the
> thousand little details that have been forgotten, ignored or snootily
> written off that add up to many hours of frustration for the end user.
> This is not necessary frustration, and they get nothing out of it. It seems
> to exist because of the emotional and social attitudes of the FreeBSD team.
> Sadly, Ron is right. FreeBSD is not right for us, or any others who care
> about using an operating system as a means to an end. FreeBSD is a hobby and
> you have to use it because you like using it for the purpose of using it,
> and anything else will be incidental.
> That is the condition of FreeBSD now. If these criticisms were taken
> seriously, I believe the situation could change, and I hope it does.
Just use MS Windows as it perhaps does everything for you. Better still,
just use Linux if it does what you want. There is no need to cry out of this
when you don't pay a dime!
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