[linux-elitists] Fallout of LWE - Things we need to follow up on

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Sun Feb 3 14:08:49 PST 2002


on Sat, Feb 02, 2002 at 10:07 PM -0500, Ruben Safir (ruben@mrbrklyn.com) wrote:
> >From NYLXS
> http://www.nylxs.com
> 
> On 2002.02.02 21:47:19 -0500 Ruben Safir wrote:
> 
> Hello guys
> 
> We made some contacts at the Expo which will help us extend some of
> the goals of our with NYLXS.  Cheif among these contacts was one I
> made through the good graces of Don Marti with Sun Micro Systems and
> their Open Office software initiative.
> 
> One of the things preventing Desktop adoption of Linux and free
> software is the inadequacy of, not only office suites, but other
> necesary desktop applications.  In the case of Open Office, which is
> an open version of Star Office, the software is probibly very usable,
> however this is not enough.  And Sun is working hard to get
> documentation of the suite to be bundled with the products.   But even
> this is not adequate, and I'm not convinced that Sun can usher this
> produce through to the market without some help.  What's really needed
> is for the product to be distributed with a few hundred working
> examples for macro and programming templates which address real
> business application problems. 
> 
> This is my first call to Sun us at NYLXS to form a partnership in
> filling out open office, so that it is every bit as usable as
> Microsoft Office.  And THEN we need to start training classes to train
> users on the system, as we currently do for Perl, and web services.
> 
> In a word, this might be our first step in our Desktop initiative.

Some thoughts of my own on this.

I've followed StarOffice, that bloated stuck pig of an office suite, and
OpenOffice for much of the past three years.  I'm currently fomenting an
underhanded campaign to get SO/OO introduced for the legacy MS Windows
users at my employer as an alternative to MS Office.   For better or
worse, SO/OO are the best we've got (though AbiWord/Gnumeric and KOffice
are ever-stronger contenders, and the former are my pick if I _need_
office-suite functionality).

As my vim abbreviation expansion indicates, I'm still less than pleased.
The problem is that the design of SO/OO has some strong, and largely
negative consequences for its use as a free software product.  I've
revised my thinking slightly following a presentation some months back
at SVLUG, but will reiterate the following points, first made to Brian
Behlendorf well over a year ago.  I don't have a direct contact at Sun
but welcome forwarding of these thoughts.


First:  software size and complexity are both impact free software
viability in a strongly negative manner.  SO/OO are substantial
downloads even on a high-speed link.  For my (still not uncommon) 56K
home link, it's a good (or bad) 8-10 hours to download a binary
executable version of the product.  The development environment is even
larger, at about 650 MiB, last I checked.  Full CDROM ISO downloads are
pretty much an all-day prospect for a _high speed_ link, particularly on
a contended access point (as anyone who's tried to nab a recent RH
udpate knows).

Moreover, the size of the development environment means that many
prospective developers simply can't support development work -- their
systems lack the umph and space necessary to download, build, or test
the software.  

And, the complexity of an all-in-one program means that identifying and
addressing issues becomes a huge head-wrapping exercise -- it's tough to
wrap your head around a complex problem.  SO/OO are a complex problem.

Modularization of software addresses *all* of these issues.  Even if the
total package size is the same, modularization means that only those
portion(s) of interest (or changed) need be downloaded, installed,
built, and/or tested to facilitate use or development of the system.

The possible change in this viewpoint comes from the apparent approach
of SO/OO toward demand-loaded libraries.  This is modularizing out the
back-door.  There is still a single binary, but more functionality is
offloaded into different libraries.  Done properly, this *might* lead to
some of the results that are being aimed at (see the GNU/Linux kernel
for example), but I have my doubts as to how well this will work in
application space.


Second:  The testing/devel branch needs to clearly indicate _what the
fuck works_.  I've blown multiple downloads of OO only to find that the
particular build doesn't work.  The support docs for each build *don't*
make this clear.  If you're just going to kick out builds, that's fine,
but if they *don't work*, then say so.  You're shitting in public in
this game, and if it stinks, everyone knows it.


Third:  the feedback channels are piss-poor.  My most recent experience
was that the bugtracking system didn't work, and none of the standard
addresses, postmaster, webmaster, or support @openoffice.org responded.
For kicks, they're on this email.  Posting a query to the _Star_Office
support newsgroup prompted a response from a Sun employee that OO issues
were off-topic.  Sorry, but this is shitting on your community, and is
bad juju.


> The goals of NYLXS's Desktop initiative is to bring training and
> enhancements to the free software desktop for the purpose of replacing
> MS desktops in real world home, education, and business environments.
> This will boot strap many Free Software consultants and users into
> paying jobs in the coming economic expanssion, and free educational
> insititutions to use a free platform in reaching their educational
> goals.
> 
> We need to reach Sun and meet with them and see how we can get this
> all to work.  And we likely need another sub-committee to do this.

I agree with these goals.  Sun's got to remedy its rectal-cranial
inversion if it wants a realistic shot at challenging MSFT on the
desktop applications market.


> There will be a follow up to this on another activity in the near
> future relating to LWE connections..
> 
> 
> Ruben
> -- 
> __________________________
> 
> Brooklyn Linux Solutions
> __________________________
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> 
> 
> ____________________________
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> Fair Use -
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> -- 
> __________________________
> 
> Brooklyn Linux Solutions
> __________________________
> http://www.mrbrklyn.com - Consulting
> http://www.brooklynonline.com - For the love of Brooklyn
> http://www.nylxs.com - Leadership Development in Free Software
> http://www.nyfairuse.org - The foundation of Democracy
> http://www2.mrbrklyn.com/resources - Unpublished Archive or stories and articles from around the net
> http://www2.mrbrklyn.com/mp3/hooked.mp3 - Spring is coming....
> http://www2.mrbrklyn.com/downtown.html - See the New Downtown Brooklyn....
> 
> 1-718-382-5752
> 
> 
> 
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-- 
Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
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