Subject: Re: Forget it (dev_t)--do it yourself.
To: Todd Vierling <tv@NetBSD.ORG>
From: Ted Lemon <>
List: tech-kern
Date: 01/16/1998 11:24:55
I'm sorry to have seen you put through the wringer like this, Todd.
You have been trying to accomplish a good thing, and we all appreciate
that.  But you've also been treating public criticism with entirely
the wrong attitude.  NetBSD is as good as it is largely because we
allow public criticism, and don't shoot people down for being
impolite.  "It works" has never been good enough for us.

One of the most important things in being a NetBSD hacker is
experience.  You have been flamed by some of the most experienced
NetBSD hackers out there - people who have been hacking NetBSD since
the days of the Berkeley Net2 release, and some of whom have been
hacking free software since the seventies.  They're not necessarily
smarter than you - hell, for all I know they could be dumber.  But
they have a *lot* of experience.  When they say something is
dangerous, you should listen.

Another important part of being a NetBSD hacker is losing gracefully.
You are not here to make your mark on the NetBSD code.  I've been
hacking on NetBSD for close to five years now.  Go see for yourself
how many times my name appears in the NetBSD sources.  The point of
hacking on NetBSD is to make the code base better, not to get your
way.  If a lot of experienced people are arguing with you about how to
do it, let go of your ego and see if you can understand why.  And if,
upon understanding, it turns out that your idea wasn't so great, don't
pick up your toys and go home - suck it up and implement The Right
Solution, even though it's not yours.

Unfortunately, the people who have been arguing with you about this
haven't made it easy for you.  I've been in similar situations - I've
spent a bunch of time working on getting a piece of code to work, only
to get a three-page, flaming critique from Charles that essentially
means (assuming I follow it) that I'm going to have to rewrite a good
part of the code.  The last time this happened, I considered quitting.
Instead, I sat down and read each of Charles' points and tried, as
objectively as I could, to prove to myself that he was wrong.  About
70% of the time, I couldn't - after trying, I realized that I had
missed something significant.

I can't say whether or not Charles is Right in this case - I tuned the
discussion out about three days ago and only recently tuned back in.
But I can say that you have not given one of his objections sufficient
consideration - in your messages, you dismiss the concern that some
NetBSD people will not follow directions, and will be screwed as a
consequence.   If NetBSD people followed directions, they would be
running Win95.   I think this is a legitimate concern that you needed
to address.

Hacking on NetBSD exposes you to more public criticism than you will
ever experience working in the "real world."  If you want to be part
of this team, you have to deal with that.  Nobody will think ill of
you if you don't - you won't be the first person to throw your hands
up in disgust.  But I think you have something of value to contribute
if you can learn to deal with life in the viper pit.  I personally
hope that you'll continue to work with us.