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Re: NetBSD documentation-hackathon from August 10th to August 14th
[Grrrr... forgot to Cc the list <:-( ]
Hi Julian (et al.),
On 7/20/2011 3:53 AM, Julian Fagir wrote:
we live in a time where survival of NetBSD is getting harder and harder.
There have never been such great efforts of the directly-competing OSs (I'm
talking about Linux) trying to make the world self-centric as now.
In face of this threat, time is running short. With gnome, one of the major
desktop environments is about to become Linux-only, Xfce also announced with
the last release they had to drop several features for BSDs. And there
surely will be more applications to go that way.
Without blaming somebody for that (though in the case of gnome, there surely
is one), the BSDs have to come back to their advantages over other OSs to
clarify why development for them IS necessary and not much work.
Of course, I suspect that, with limited resources, these projects
are just looking to see where their work can get the biggest bang
for the buck.
One of the great strengths of *BSDs over other OSs is its good documentation
and its clear design.
But *users* -- the folks who drive the "consumption" -- don't care about
that. As long as they can find *someone* (or some HowTo) that sort-of
answers their questions, they're "satisfied" (though perhaps not
The problem I see with all the non-Linux OS's is they don't have a
so "the most seats, wins (by default)".
Until you (*BSD's) have a way of identifying what you "stand for",
you won't have a way of drawing folks *looking* for that characteristic.
I started out with 0.8 (on a gazillion 5" floppies from "lamp").
It wasn't stable enough for my development needs (it was a tool,
for me, at the time) so I moved to FreeBSD (0.9 at that time).
Then, when FreeBSD started trying to be a Linux-wannabe ("Gee,
we support 87,934,540,231 packages! Use *us* instead!!!" -- despite
the fact that many packages were *broken*), I left FreeBSD (2.2, IIRC)
and came back to a more mature/stable NetBSD.
My needs have since morphed from using NetBSD as a *tool* to
incorporating it into (embedded) products. As such, the license
terms (vs. Linux) are critical to me.
So, I would look at your despair and counter with: what do
your potential *customers* (users) want? And, how can you
facilitate/expedite their needs? Is a "Desktop" a worthwhile
use of limited resources? Why would someone migrate away
from a *mature* desktop just to embrace *yours*, etc.?
I.e., are your (documentation) efforts better spent on user-land
issues vs. developer-related issues? Or, kernel hacking (for folks
like me looking to deploy it in a product)? Or, ...?
Or, is there some other "market segment" that is better addressed
with the time/talent available?
No Linux has such a complete 'guide' as the BSDs have,
such a good description of the VFS, such good and complete manpages.
But the current documentation is becoming outdated, and the holes in it don't
get stuffed fast enough, too.
Despite for the content, the other great mess is the wiki. I know there was
much work spent in it, but currently there is still no clean solution for
user-generated documentation. One could take the possibility to do the
missing work, and finally migrate contents from the old user wiki to the new
The last part of this documentation would be current and good advertising
materials. One or two persons familiar with Scribus or Inkscape could
accomplish shiny new advertisement to lay out on conferences etc.
I can help prepare "professional" documents -- but, using Windows-based
tools (again, I'm not a zealot... I use whatever tools let me get my
job done most capably and efficiently -- OSS is just not there, yet)
While this might complicate maintenance of those documents (how much
"maintenance" is really called for on advertisements??), it shouldn't
stand in the way of facilitating peer reviews (via PS/PDF).
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