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SubjectRe: Penelope builds a kernel
On Mon, 14 Jan 2002, Eric S. Raymond wrote:

> Scenario #3: Penelope goes where the geeks are surfing.
> The girl geek Melvin noticed over at the computer lab is named
> Penelope. She's studying proteomics, and runs Linux on the laptop she
> just bought because Linux supports the best software she can afford
> for modeling protein folding.
> Penelope is what the trade rags call a "power user". She's pretty
> bright, and likes computers, but she's got more important things to
> think about than the details of how to configure a kernel. Like
> getting a better handle on the effect of van der Waals forces on alpha
> sheets, or the latest paper on ribosomal electron transport, or why
> she can't seem to meet men who don't bore the crap out of her even in
> a fair-sized college town.
> She's just heard about a PCMCIA card that has a MEMS array of chemical
> sensors on it. The thing could replace the bulky, balky
> gel-chromatography setup she's using now, and make it unnecessary for
> her to fight other students for bench time. There's even a Linux
> driver for the card (and user-space utilities to talk to it) on one of
> the bio sites she uses -- way too specialized an item for her distro
> to carry, and anyway she doesn't want to wait for the next release.
> Penelope needs to build a kernel to support her exotic driver, but she
> hasn't got more than the vaguest idea how to go about it. The
> instructions with the driver source patch tell her to apply it at the
> top level of a current Linux source tree and then just say "build the
> kernel" before getting off into technicalia about the user-space
> tools.
> She could ask that guy who's been eyeing her over at the computer lab
> for help; Penelope knows what a penguin T-shirt means, and he's not
> too bad-looking, if a bit on the skinny side. On the other hand, she
> knows that guys like that tend to take over the whole process when
> they're trying to be helpful; they can't help displaying their prowess
> and doing more than you asked for, it's biologically wired in. And
> she's learned that letting someone else take over maintaining your
> equipment properly in a way you don't understand is a good way to have
> it flake out on you just short of a deadline.
> On the third hand, she really *doesn't* want to spend her think time
> absorbing a bunch of irrelevant hardware details just to get the one
> driver she needs up and running. What she needs is some fast,
> hassle-free technological empowerment, not Yet Another Learning
> Experience. (And a boyfriend would be nice too, while she's wishing.)
> If Penelope learns from the README file that all *she* has to do is
> type "configure; make" to build a kernel that supports her hardware,
> she can apply that MEMS card patch and build with confidence that the
> effort is unlikely to turn into an infinite time sink.
> Autoconfigure saves the day again. That guy in the penguin T-shirt
> might even be impressed...

With todays lack of hooking methods you do want to give up even this one ?!
Damn you ... :-)

- Davide

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