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Wiley Programmers Work for Peer Respect

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Please don't take this as being overly critical. I think that Mr. Starks viewpoint is shared by many other people and I don't see anything wrong with it. However, I'd like to try and explain why things work the way they do. Hopefully the following will sheds some light in that respect.

In Ken Starks open letter he brings up quite a few salient points. Any OS needs a clean interface that serves it's users well. Linux needs to have an accounting package similar to QuickBooks so that users of QuickBooks will use Linux.

I've read this last one in quite a few places from quite a few random people. Sometimes the program is QuickBooks, sometimes PhotoShop, or sometimes a more esoteric special purpose application.

That didn't really draw my attention. In some ways, exhorting free software hackers to program you a clone of application Y has attained a sort of ritualistic quality to it. Dance around monolith, sprinkle water, rinse, repeat. It's easy to do with little practical effect.

One of the reasons it's not effective is pointed out in the next paragraph. After querying why developers don't work on their spare time to create an interface that's not what they want to use, it's pointed out that two developers do their work for peer acknowledgment. I suppose when I phrase it that way it becomes somewhat more apparent.

What I do find odd is that people expect the developer "community" that works on packages running on Linux to care about them. They expect their wants addressed (by random developers) or they'll stop using Linux. Who this should be addressed to is commercial vendors, not random application developers. Distribution vendors actually do care if you use Linux.

People that develop software in their spare time generally do so to scratch an itch. Maybe they need something to benchmark hardware (like I did). Maybe they just want some recognition of their talent by their peer group (like our two examples).

I think the disconnect may be that people forget the reason behind open source applications being created. It tends to be to satisfy the programmer's (or institution's) need.

Full Story.

Thank you for your candid response

Thank you for your level-headed response and concise explanation. The inferno that is my email inbox is full of responses ranging from angry disagreements to threats of physical abuse. Overwhelmingly though, there are messages of support and agreement. No complaints here...the points I raised in my letter are important enough to me that I will withstand all manner of critisism.

Please let me assure you, I have been in contact with software vendors for three years now, lobbying the Linux Case. I did this long before my appeal to the Development Community. The response to my requests may as well have been copied and pasted from a single source. "At this time, the low user base of Linux does not merit the expense of developing our software to fit those needs." So I turn to you.

In more than one response to my letter, I have been accused of being on a "crusade". I have been told that I am "pissing in the wind" and that until Linux Developers are compensated for their time and efforts, Linux is destined to remain a hobby for geeks and a far-off promise for the computing world. I see some of this validated by your response and some of the link examples you provide. So where does that leave the millions of people who have put their faith and trust in Linux? No...I really want that question answered. Where does that leave the rest of us? As well, where does that leave the brilliant distribution development teams that have provided us such astonishing efforts as PCLinuxOS, Mepis and Kanotix? If we are to fully accept those explanations you provide as to why Linux Developers do not create the software needed to make Linux a viable desktop alternative, then the question becomes rhetorical.

I suppose when it is boiled down to its base ingrediants, the solution is to use Red Hat, Suse, Xandros or any of the other proprietary distributions and hope their development teams can answer our needs. Thats a shame, because people like me would be more than happy to pay for a native Linux application that rivals Quickbooks or Quicken. Yes, Gnucash is a fine effort, but others besides myself consider it to be one of the half-finished apps that litter Linux. Many people find it perfect for their needs as you do, but many small and medium businesses do not.

While I truely appreciate your candid and timely response, I cannot feel anything less than discouraged by it. Basically you have explained to me what most people already knew. Linux users are subject to the whims of its developers and should consider themselves blessed when manna trickles down upon them. If this is indeed true, then the only other thing that needs to be written for Linux is its obituary.

Ken Starks

re: Thank you for your candid response

> Basically you have explained to me what most people already knew. Linux users are subject to the whims of its developers and should consider themselves blessed when manna trickles down upon them.


good comeback helios! take no prisoners. Big Grin

You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

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