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SubjectRe: Aunt Tillie builds a kernel (was Re: ISA hardware discovery -- the elegant solution)
On Mon, Jan 14, 2002 at 12:52:28PM -0500, Eric S. Raymond wrote:
> She complains of occasional lockups, and that she gets skips when
> playing her Guy Lombardo MP3s. Melvin says, over the phone: "Yup,
> that version had some VM problems. And you need the low-latency stuff
> that went in three releases ago.

... and the 200 patches that the vendor added that she's become
so used to just being there...

> Just click on the 'kernel update' icon on your desktop."

*sigh*, and the package updater to get a new kernel for $distro
is insufficient because ?
distro kernel update has the following advantages.
- Comes complete with the 200 patches already applied.
- Is _tested_ by $distrovendor.
- If it screws up, and Aunt Tillie shelled out for support
(which of course, she did being the 'needing support' type)
$distrovendor will help. Ringing support and saying "Melvin
told me to install a new kernel, and now my box doesn't boot"
may not be a supportable scenario for all vendors.

> So why doesn't she use Red Hat or Mandrake's RPM update? Maybe she's
> running something else.

Red Hat & Mandrake are not the only distros with online update,
in fact, it's probably considered a must-have feature for most
distros these days.

> (You ain't going to tell me Aunt Tillie is ready
> for Debian apt-get, either.)

Wait a minute. Not ready for 'apt-get', but ready to build & run a
kernel made up of a collection of random patches on Melvin's say-so ?

> Maybe she wants a kernel that's compiled
> for her AMD Athlon K6 rather than a 386.

Various distro vendors update facilities give you this option.

> OK, so she doesn't know what processor she has

Some even autodetect.

> We have the technology to do all of this now;

Indeed. It's called YaST, Red Carpet, Mandrake Update, apt-get,
apt-rpm, and a plethora of other such tools.

> It takes a different way of thinking than most hackers are used to.

Yup. One where reinventing the wheel seems appropriate.

> We're proud of our mad programming skillz and our ability to wrestle
> with arcana. That pride isn't a bad thing -- except when it gets in
> the way of designing systems that Aunt Tillie can use.

The systems are designed, and the punchline is, that they work,
and they're being used out there today.

Dave.

--
| Dave Jones. http://www.codemonkey.org.uk
| SuSE Labs
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