Older blog entries for mbp (starting at number 176)

8 Jan 2002 (updated 8 Jan 2002 at 14:17 UTC) »

Thought for today: "If you never used software written by dickheads, your disk would be pretty empty."

nymia: Theories on why Linux is not yet optimally easy to use:

  • Linux's primary audience is people at least a little technically sophisticated.If you don't know what an operating system is, you won't care to install a new one. If you've struggled through using the shell so far, then hiding it completely is not a priority.

    Of course it's good to bring in new users, but attending to the current customers is important.

  • "GUIs for everything" take a while to write.

  • It's not sufficient to "use simple words to explain things." Things must actually *be* simple, which is much harder.

    Designing simple models for complicated systems is hard: look at the immense amount of academic and commercial research that has gone into replacing the filesystem, and still both m$ and linux use more or less the traditional unix model.

  • Lots of people work on free software because it makes them feel elite. Lots of altruistic activities have at least a little ego wrapped up in them, and that's not all bad.

It's easier said than done, but we are making progress. GNOME barely crashes at all now, whereas only a few years ago it was unusable. Remember to enjoy yourself.

Personally I reckon the model of closed-box appliances is probably better for many people and many purposes than any kind of desktop. Hey, look at Tivo -- simple to use, no CLI, and Linux based.

There are heaps of good things to read in this area. A few that spring to mind:


I got an HP Linux workstation the other day. It's by far the easiest installation experience I've had: plug in the power cord, type in a root password and hostname and a couple of other details, and it's up. Fast and almost silent.

On the other hand there is no apparent way to add non-root users without using the command prompt. So we're not there yet.

31 Dec 2001 (updated 31 Dec 2001 at 15:42 UTC) »

I swallowed the NDR spec over Christmas, and I have some ideas on how Samba's implementation can be both faster and simpler. Once you realize what they're trying to acheive, it all starts to make sense. (I'm sure lkcl is going to deservedly say "I told you so." :-) So I got funny looks in the restaurant this evening by excitedly explaining it to Tim.

I was going to ride my motorbike up to Sydney for New Year's, but there are big bushfires near the highway so it didn't seem wise. Instead we went into cosmopolitan Canberra (!) and went on the old merry-go-round. With no fireworks (for fire safety reasons) midnight was a bit anticlimactic: people didn't know when they were supposed to go crazy.

Bill Bryson says Canberra is a hole, and in a way he's correct. It's certainly much like a town rather than a city. But as J.R.R. Tolkein points out, some holes can be nice.

Reading: "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" (good), "The Great Arc" (good light history, slightly amateur style), Pratchett's "The Truth" (undemanding, funny), Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" (good).

"The Lexus and the Olive Tree" is interesting, but I think it suffers from this "journalistic" style of heavily using short vivid anecdotes. Anecdotes are fine, and I'm all in favour of vivid writing, but they don't actually make a very strong argument -- they tend to make me think "right, but you could just be making that up, or at the very least it could be unrepresentative." It seems to show a low opinion of your audience to assume they can't concentrate unless all the content is personalized into a Dick-and-Jane story.

That slight annoyance aside it's highly worth reading. (A good counterbalance to No Logo.) "Open source" is not in the index; I'm not sure if he mentions it. I would be interested to hear his opinion. On the whole I would expect him to be sympathetic to the idea of chaordic distributed semi-commercial development. Microsoft's model is very close to the planned economies he rails against.

If you haven't seen JoelOnSoftware yet you might like to look.

2002 is coming! Are you? -- Linux.conf.au

Thread: tk, thankyou, I have read "Dancing with the Gods" before. Personally I like Carrier's writing better, but I think they agree more than they disagree.

I wrote a patch to do IMAP-over-SSH in Sylpheed, and I'm looking at NDR encoding in Samba and ethereal.

Come on, die young!

HP xmas party yesterday. Tired.

Buying an apartment in Canberra next year.

Read some stuff by Richard Carrier.

Free software work on rsync and samba's ndr and spoolss.

Remember that "free software" is an imperative, not a noun phrase.

Sad songs remind me of friends.

8 Dec 2001 (updated 8 Dec 2001 at 16:16 UTC) »

Don't you hate it when people keep telling you their dreams?

Mum and I are at the beach, somewhere in Marin. She's lounging in a deckchair, wearing sunglasses, very glam. A plane swoops low over the city. Something falls from its belly. I stare, uncomprehending, until the penny drops. I pull Mum down and try to shield her body with mine. "Is this another one of your silly nuclear war nightmares?" she asks, irritated. The fire sweeps towards us across the water and burns the clothes off my back.

I wake up, terrified, and go to work. It turns out that the headquarters of Red Hat and Caldera have been destroyed by atomic bombs. My coworkers and I discuss it, bewildered: What was the point of that? Who will be next? Above our office, the bomber engines grow louder.

I wake up, terrified, and go to school. Russell Crowe tries to seduce me, but I'm more interested in his lasagne.

Set up Do xygen for Samba last week.

The National Bank apparently has rewritten their net banking system so that it no longer requires a Windows client. How enlightened.

Screwed around on the weekend rather than studying as much as I wanted to.

We won at netball last night for the first time, by something like 20:17. Great!

Should get my first HP pay sometime soon. That'd be nice. The product we work on is the HP 4200 Print Server Appliance.

Had some fun hacking on the Samba test suite and build process today. "make installcheck" kind of vaguely slightly works.

We're using Gabber inside HP. It's really cool. GNOME is looking genuinely useful.

Got somewhat toasted by jra for suggesting BitKeeper.

12 Nov 2001 (updated 12 Nov 2001 at 10:51 UTC) »
{paperclip} It looks like you're trying to call a marginal seat. Would you like help? [yes] [no]

I've been looking at BitKeeper. It's very cool. The improvement from CVS is comparable to going from RCS to CVS. I've seen a couple of small bugs, but they're mostly easy to work around. It's also nice to see an (approximately) open source company doing well.

It's been so cold and grey the last couple of days. It's hard to believe it's late spring not late autumn.

HP's good so far. Still no computer or telephone, but nevermind. :-) I have a laptop and tim has a phone.

I'm an uncle.

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