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SubjectRe: Aunt Tillie builds a kernel (was Re: ISA hardware discovery -- the elegant solution)
On Monday 14 January 2002 01:54 pm, Eric S. Raymond wrote:
> Charles Cazabon <>:
> > Yes, and yes. Aunt Tillie is running Linux because someone installed a
> > distribution for her.
> You don't know that. Maybe she installed it herself.
> > She is never going to need anything out of her kernel that her
> > vendor-shipped update kernels do not provide.
> *You can't know that.*
> And your belief that you *can* know it is a key part of the elitist
> developer psychology and implicit assumptions that keeps Linux mostly
> inaccessible to the Aunt Tillies of the world.

No need to get defensive, Eric.

If make autoprobe is to become useful to an aunt tillie, it's something the
distribution is going to have to provide a wrapper for, which strikes me as
unlikely in the short term. (QA issues: there's 8 zillion oddball hardware
combos out there, and autodetect is guaranteed to either miss something or
configure something wrong on at least some of them. It'll need rather a lot
of shakedown. More than a year in mainstream.)

As for aunt tillie moving from red hat's kernel to linus's most recent
kernel, is that advisable? Vendors provide outside patches long before linus
does (yes, Linus is more conservative than the distributions are). And
sometimes you get brown paper bag releases (2.4.11-dontuse). Even the
non-brown-paper-bag ones tend to have hardware combinations that won't build
due to easily patchable compilation errors, which aunt tillie ain't up to.

A vendor that provides faster updates than Red Hat (like Kevin's Red Hat Uber
Distribution) is a market opportunity. But a tool is not the same thing as a
service. It just makes providing the service easier.

Make autoconfigure expands the pool of people who can build kernels, but it's
not going to saturate the populace to the point where everybody immediately
SHOULD. Not even close. Over time, the pool will grow. But aiming for Aunt
Tillie in the short term is probably overreaching.

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