Openness vs. Comfort

Aryeh Friedman aryeh.friedman at
Fri Jun 12 14:13:22 UTC 2020

On Fri, Jun 12, 2020 at 9:37 AM Vincent DEFERT <20.100 at> wrote:

> My impression is that there are 2 sub-groups in the FreeBSD community,
> those wanting FreeBSD to dominate over Windows and Linux, and those
> wanting to keep every semi-colon in its set line and column forever.

I think that grouping is more a by product of why people use FreeBSD in the
first place and there are really several main subgroups (overlapping) there:

1. Computer professionals vs. non-computer professionals (even if high end
power users and/or "computer hobbyists", the second not being a
professional because the food on their table and roof over their head does
not indirectly require using computers per se)

2. Developers vs. end-users (computer professionals who do not write code
used by other people as a part of their job count as end-users)

3. Server vs. desktop (you can of course be both but desktop only applies
to those who use FreeBSD as the primary [or only] desktop OS)

Please none of the above are meant to be a judgement on anyone's technical
ability, just a classification of why you use FreeBSD.

For example I am a professional (Java) webapp developer who uses FreeBSD as
my only desktop machine.   Note being a professional developer does not
make me an enemy of open-source software as long people recognize some open
source models (e.g. GPL) are incompatible with also making a living as a
developer (and not a supplier or tech support or other technical services
that just happens to use open-source stuff).   Where is (this is based
completely on what the people has said not what they do in reality) someone
like Ralf is a non-professional desktop end-user or Valerie is a
professional sysadmin (end-user) who uses FreeBSD solely as a server.

> [ Deliberate exaggeration here, but posts on this mailing-list and on
> the forums seldom fall in the mid-range. ]
> I tend to think that this schism is caused by a lack of common vision.
> And without a vision, you have no criteria to make decisions, so you end
> up battling over and over with little results.

Actually there is a common vision for the base system (ports are
technically not a part of FreeBSD and thus not a part of what would need a
common vision).   Make a rock solid better than average performance kernel
and maintain it with a rock solid set of tools and then to package the
kernel and tools needed to maintain it into one coherent and unified
package.   Any other issues with aspects of the FreeBSD user experience
that are outside of that definition are not FreeBSD's issue.

> With a vision, it would be easy to decide what is important and what is
> not, but there are a couple of obvious things that can be discussed
> already.
> 1. Why mailing lists?
> I assume all of you have perfectly healthy eyes. Great!
> Unfortunately, this is not my case. For me, reading plain text messages
> is a torture. I made an effort in the beginning, but it is not possible
> in the long term.
> However, as healthy as you may be, I've read complaints about the person
> recently posting from his smartphone - and yes, his messages were in
> effect as unreadable as the replies.

You can always enlarge the font like my 50 year old eyes require.   No
matter what communications platform or desktop OS I use I would have to do
the same so where is the issue?

> But what purpose do these mailing lists serve?
> I've read several times they were the right place to meet developers,
> but this is mostly true for freebsd-current@ an freebsd-stable@, not
> this one.

Mailing lists are most easier to archive and search the archives of then a
forum (you can use offline tools to do it but with a forum you are stuck
with whatever the forum software allows).

> So in the end, this mailing list (freebsd-questions@) is just to be used
> when looking for help.
> Which means that at the time you need help, you must face additional
> difficulties, at least legibility and focus.
> So one should only use this list when not in need of high importance help.

This usually comes earlier than later in someone's use of a new system and
thus not putting people off by yelling at them for non-obvious
net-etiquette issues (like top-posting) is a sure way to kill FreeBSD in
the long run (due to not enough new blood).

> I don't know what you do when you have to solve a problem, but the first
> thing most people do is google for it.
> And what do you get when you google something? Links to web pages.
> Which mean that if answers given on this list had some value, they will
> be invisible to most people.

More often than not when I google a FreeBSD issue I get mailing list
archives which are almost always more trustworthy then blogs or forum posts.

> So using a mailing list in 2020 is reserved to things of little or no
> value.
> Important things deserve a forum: they are visible (indexed by search
> engines), legible (web browsers accessibility features) and well
> structured (threads) so you can stay focused on what you're here for.

In 2020 forums suck for any sort of information retrieval that is currently
being discussed.

Aryeh M. Friedman, Lead Developer,

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