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SubjectRe: Aunt Tillie builds a kernel (was Re: ISA hardware discovery -- the elegant solution)
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.

If she installed Linux herself, today, then she's not Aunt Tillie. She's "my
Aunt Tillie who's something of a computer hobbyist, and not afraid to install
a Unix-like OS on her PC alongside (or instead of) Windows". That's a _whole_
different ballgame -- and if she can do that, then she's fully capable of
reading a little bit and answering some yes/no questions to compile a kernel.

> > 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.*

Sure I can -- the same way I know that Ma & Pa Kettle are never going to use
their computer for more than email, web surfing, and playing Solitaire.

> 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, my beliefs are based on twenty years of observing people using computers
and technoogy. I have yet to see a single person who is simultaneously (i)
technical enough to need something from their kernel that their distribution
vendor doesn't provide, and (ii) not technical enough to be able to compile it
themselves with today's tools.

I think your auto-configurator will be something of a white elephant --
equivalent to a better guide for setting the clock in your VCR. Those people
who can't figure out how to set their VCR clock from the current instructions
are the same people who don't care whether it flashes "12:00" or not.

Charles Cazabon <>
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