Openness vs. Comfort

Evilham contact at
Fri Jun 12 17:17:11 UTC 2020

On dv., juny 12 2020, Vincent DEFERT 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 rarely reply to these threads because they just aren't 
interesting to me, but I perceive your message to be well-meaning 
and thought out; so this is an exception.
Note that, indeed, this means that I don't fall in the 
categorisation you describe, but also it is true that there are 
some vocal people who could sometimes match those.

Just in case you are curious: I subscribe to freebsd-questions@ 
because sometimes there are questions that I've had myself, and 
sometimes someone answers them; sometimes someone asks something, 
and I happen to have come across the answer before, so I save them 
some time; or sometimes I read something and it proves useful to 
"future me" after some time.
The occasional flamewars are just a human by-product.

> 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.

Mailing lists are accessible if you use the right tools. As an 
example, Debian's previous Project Leader was blind and you could 
hardly tell by his engagement (which also happens mostly Mailing 
Alternative ways to have this kind of interaction would likely go 
in 2020 through some web interface that decides how things are 
supposed to look like and more often than not do not take into 
account accessibility or do a subpar job at it; on a mailing list: 
your mail client decides the visuals.
Managing email efficiently is something achievable, having 100+ 
platforms to check... isn't.
So, there are some cases in which mailing lists are just the right 
That being said: there are also support forums :-) if that fits 
your workflow better, give it a go! However investing time in a 
decent mail client pays off very quickly, specially if your vision 
is somehow limited.

> 2. Linuxophobia / Linuxallergia
> If I were fully satisfied with Linux, I wouldn't be there.
> However, there are also good things in the Linux world that 
> could
> inspire development decisions for FreeBSD.

I think most people relate to this. Linux has good things, so does 
FreeBSD, and OpenBSD, and NetBSD, ...
However on any big enough group of people, you'll find those who 
feel like showing that "X is good" means showing that "Y is bad"; 
and those who feel like saying that "X is bad at A" means that "X 
is bad".
In this case you shouldn't make the mistake of extrapolating what 
some people say.

> A ports collection with a huge dependency mess and unreliable 
> package
> repositories that remove your applications when a build has 
> failed.
> This could be admissible in the 90s, but not in 2020.
> When you report these issues, you're told "jail everything" or 
> "use
> poudriere".
> Those who do so set strong barriers around FreeBSD.

There are some valid concerns there, and AFAIK most are being 
worked on.
Someone else already mentioned why ports on FreeBSD are different 
than, say installing from a deb repository, and that's sometimes 
for better and sometimes for worse.
It's just different and can probably be improved, but comparing 
these things 1-1 is not fair or constructive, because they work 
fundamentally different.

Also, just as a note, it is significantly easier to use poudriere 
(I use it locally for, e.g. drm-kmod on my laptop) than it is to 
manage custom software in other systems.
I've been prey of thinking "woah that must be hard" and then 
setting it up and realising "huh, it's actually simple and cute".

> The evolution of the IT landscape over the last decade shows a 
> dramatic
> loss of appetite in more and more people for reinventing the 
> wheel over
> and over.

I would argue the opposite :-D. But that's just my experience; 
yours may differ, and that's fine.
Generalising is tricky terrain.

> 3. Comfort and Openness
> FreeBSD has a great base system and a great text mode installer, 
> but
> what's the point in installing it if managing applications is a 
> mess and
> asking for help a curse?

This shouldn't be the case, and if it is in your use-case, the 
best way to keep that from happening is to document the issues and 
raise awareness.
I expect e.g. CURRENT to be rough around the edges when it comes 
to the ports tree, but it's not unbearable; and the quarterly 
branch for RELEASE / STABLE shouldn't have these issues, the 
latest branch can have some of those issues, but that's why it's 

> Being open (or opening up) doesn't mean giving up on what 
> matters to you.
> It just means you know quite well what matters to you and you 
> feel safe
> considering what surrounds you, and use whatever out there you 
> deem
> appropriate to take good and continued care of what matters to 
> you.

FWIW: I've found the FreeBSD community in general to be extremely 
open and welcoming if you are just open to understanding how "it" 
(both the community and the OS) works.

> 4. And so what?
> Nothing.
> My sole purpose was to provide you with an insight of how 
> FreeBSD and
> its community could be perceived by an outsider in 2020.
> I'm pretty sure it is of interest to some of you, it's the only 
> reason I
> wrote this mail.
> But in the end, interested or not, what you do or don't do with 
> this
> piece of information is yours, not mine.

Someone already mentioned, but: you may want to take a look at 
Linux communities with a slightly more critical looking glass if 
you aren't already.
Just as you may be noticing some not-so-wonderful behaviours 
around here, you may be overlooking similar behaviours "over 
Conversely, there are wonderful people around everywhere, and our 
biases may make us not notice that.

> PS: These topics are not FreeBSD-specific, they apply to all BSD 
> OS, the
> situation of the others is just much more degraded.

They apply to every big enough group of humans, sadly :-).
The nice thing though is that all of these Operating Systems cover 
different needs, and while for some people one OS may fit all 
their needs, for others, it is using each OS where they are 
specially strong that works out.

I hope this email wasn't your way of saying "so long and thanks 
for all the fish", good things happen with constructive critique.


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