[LAD] Releasing source code is not enough, I think...

Gene Heskett gheskett at wdtv.com
Tue Jan 21 17:09:11 UTC 2014

On Tuesday 21 January 2014 11:50:12 Filipe Coelho did opine:

> On 01/21/2014 04:40 PM, Philipp ـberbacher wrote:
> > On Tue, 21 Jan 2014 05:55:04 +0000
> > 
> > Filipe Coelho <falktx at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> Hi there everyone, specially developers.
> >> 
> >> I think we should stop assuming releasing source code is enough.
> >> [GNU/] Linux is getting more user friendly, and most users are not
> >> able to compile software,
> >> plus some distributions make it specially hard (debian, ubuntu,
> >> fedora, opensuse) by having the libs installed but not the headers.
> >> 
> >> Releasing software on windows or mac, even open-source, *always*
> >> comes in a binary,
> >> and most users come from there.
> > 
> > Hi Filipe,
> > 
> > I do think that releasing source code is enough.
> > What is more important than binaries is to have a sane and properly
> > configured build system. By that I mean standard tools like Makefiles,
> > waf, scons, CMake or whatever is used nowadays with a sane standard
> > configuration and the necessary switches to account for the
> > differences between the distributions.
> > 
> > I mean this in contrast to half-arsed and ad-hoc solutions. Just
> > yesterday I spent the whole evening unsuccessfully trying to build a
> > piece of software that uses a half-working CMake configuration
> > combined with binary blobs of dependencies and a bunch of
> > distro-specific shell scripts. The more I tried to fix it, the worse
> > it got.
> > 
> > Or take LuaAV, a piece of software I've tried to build twice during
> > the last few years, unsuccessfully. They have a ubuntu-specific shell
> > script to install the dependencies and a custom lua script to build.
> > 
> > Stuff like that sucks, it sucks who just want to give it a shot, it
> > sucks for packagers, and it sucks for people who want to contribute. A
> > binary package would only help the first group, and that is assuming
> > it works without problems on any system.
> This point is exactly why I think binaries are needed.

IMO, no.  Binaries ALWAYS turn out to have been built on some system 
needing some obscure library that isn't available on the system you are 
running.  So, wanting to try it, one wastes several hours downloading and 
trying to build the missing dependencies until one finally realizes that on 
the distro you are using, its never going to happen.  So please, give us a 
tarball of the source, with enough tools to build it from scratch so it 
does have a snowballs chance in hell of actually running on our system.

If it won't build on a 4 year old ubuntu LTS using nothing but the build-
essentials tools, the chances of its building anyplace but on your home 
machine aren't too measurable.  Give us a source only tarball that builds 
there, and you will have around half the bases covered.

OTOH, pcLOS is a dead stable system, but that is ONLY if all you want to do 
is web browse and email.  Adding anything else is a very masochistic, and 
often fruitless effort because the only libraries supplied are those that 
Texstar himself uses. 

> > I don't think that 'magic binaries' that are easy to build and work
> > everywhere are possible. If you are right and there are fewer
> > technically inclined users and developers, we should conserve their
> > time instead of wasting it on building distro specific packages.
> There are no such thing as "magic binaries", nor have I stated I have
> them.
> But I think *trying* to provide binaries is better than none at all.

Cheers, Gene
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