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Re: Competition

Hi Magnus,

On 8/24/2011 12:25 PM, Magnus Eriksson wrote:
On Wed, 24 Aug 2011, Jimmy Johansson wrote:

Nobody ever told me it was a competition.

What is the prize and isn't Apple competing too?

And in the thread that was just posted on -users, on whether NetBSD runs
on platform X, the answer was "it's just a question of time and effort".
Developer time and effort.

Sadly, that's *always* the case.  MS has the advantage in that most
vendors *want* to be able to let MS write their drivers, etc. for
them -- or, have their own staff to do so since it is in their
FINANCIAL INTERESTS to produce supported hardware.  :-/

Until you are a big enough player (in the OS market), folks aren't
going to devote *their* resources to this task.

So why does this community seem to think that
it's somehow a bad thing trying to increase the pool of users and
potential developers? Every time the issue comes up, people just say
"ugh, don't like the hype" and go back to coding on their Macs.

I think you (we) have to decide what you (we) want in terms of users.
Sure, more users *can* be better.  But, what do they bring to the
table -- besides their chair (seat)?

[of course, that can drag *other* players into the camp that might
not otherwise be interested]

Just yesterday, I mentioned the fact that I was running NetBSD in a
chat, _on a system that itself runs NetBSD_, and was met with what I
must assume have been a blank stare on the other end; and "...but why?".
That's one guy who won't be trying out our favorite OS, no matter its
technical merits.

Choosing your main OS isn't for most people a matter of dispassionately
counting a platform's merits and drawbacks using some checklist, it is
often a matter of minimizing mental effort by just going with what
people around you are using, and being nudged by the occasional "hey,
this stuff is really cool".

So lets talk to people about the stuff that is cool once in a while.

But "cool" means different things to different people.

It seems that many (esp younger?) folks like not having to *pay*
for software.  That's their first criterion.  You get the feeling
they wouldn't spend $10 on software that ended world hunger -- yet
would gladly download 10 ringtones at 99c each  :-/

Secondly, they like to *play* with their computer.  They don't mind
spending a week/weekend setting up MythTV just so they can sit back
and marvel -- at something they could *purchase* "hassle free" with
their cable contract -- at how "cool" it is to be able to watch TV
on their PC.

Yet, a week (or month) later, MythTV is forgotten and they've moved
on to some other "neat" toy/capability.  (perhaps because they have
discovered the toy isn't as convenient as they had hoped... or, not
as useful as they imagined).

To these folks "cool" is synonymous with "toy".  And, we all know
how quickly children outgrow toys... :>

To other folks, "cool" is:  "uptime of 520 days.  Jeez, that's *cool*!"

I point this out because you spend your (limited) efforts where it
will give you the most return for the type of users you want to

Other potential developers (esp those who want to *market* to
your user base) might be attracted for different reasons!

E.g., I use very few of the multitude of packages available.  I
don't care if GIMP runs well or if the latest version is
supported on NetBSD -- I'll drag out Photoshop and be done
with my work before the package installs itself and all its
dependencies.  Likewise, OO is more investment than I would
care to make -- FrameMaker handles my DTP needs quite well.

OTOH, every hour put into tweeking and improving the kernel
itself rewards me directly.  Folks don't care if I was able to
prepare my images (Gimp), documents (OO), etc. on the system;
what they want is a system that *runs*... *my* code.

(and why not send some suggestions to -advocacy, it needs some traffic
other than spam)

On a more serious note, as far as I know the NetBSD developers are more
focused on delivering a good, well designed and solid operating system
rather than competing with linux.

Just like every other developer community out there.. So why aren't you
and I running AROS, Haiku or Plan9? Anything in particular that is wrong
with their architecture?

I suspect not; at least for me the answer to the "but why" question
above is as simple as that NetBSD was available on the platform I was
using at the time, met the general idea of what I wanted ("free, unix"),
and I knew about it. Clean design only mattered once I had multiple
options that all seemed roughly similar; in my case I switched to, and
back from, Debian.

OTOH, there *is* some value to what ELSE runs on those platforms.
I.e., if all you end up with is an OS,  you might *admire* it but
not be able to *do* anything with it!

I have used all of NetBSD, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD.
All of those projects have merit and I don't see any of them going
away soon.

They'll all be around for a long time. The issue for me isn't so much
whether NetBSD will magically disappear or stop working in a year or
two, but the general experience (what hardware hoops do I have to jump
through to make it run?) and long-term sustainability (what happens when
the currently active generation of developers lose interest?).

While I don't think any will "go away", there is always a real risk
that enough people (developers) will "move on" or "move away" if
they get frustrated with the progress (or quality) that is manifesting
in their OS-of-choice.  After all, the skills being applied *are*
relatively portable.  It's not like an automobile mechanic deciding
he wants to work on aircraft, suddenly!

Note that many FOSS projects *have* "died" -- prematurely (i.e., in
some less than completed state).

I don't want to come off completely negative, there are several positive
signs - GSoC projects means new developers get involved, the emips port
looks really cool (and unique!), MP work on Xen, etc, etc. But we need
some advocacy, and the attitudes towards that are IMHO weird.

Again, I think it depends on what audience/user base you want to target
and what you want *from* them (since you are investing something to
support that group).  You have to consider the costs and their
potential benefits.


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