[rant] How do I do that?

So, I was sitting in a hotel room earlier looking at their (simple) instructions for folks to configure their windows laptops. The instructions say exactly what menu options to select, where to find them, etc. Those menu items are always in the same place, with the same names, and have the same functionality across all updates.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how Linux is increasingly defining inter-operability based on the random decisions of engineers hacking on projects, and not on industry standards. Engineers who run the latest and greatest software at all times are absolutely the last people who should ever get to make such decisions because they will never notice when someone with a three-year-old distro runs into trouble. Conversely, the groaning starts the moment something is more than ten minutes old. In the real world (a place where people don’t run rawhide, and might be on F-12 by now…maybe – trust me, I talk to computer people who use Linux but aren’t hard core Linux kernel/distro hackers every day), people don’t upgrade every day, don’t run the latest software, and compatible standards matter.

Not only should we not re-invent the wheel as often as does happen (for no gain other than to make it impossible to have a simple “Linux way” to do something – sure your whizz-bang solution boots faster and looks prettier but I never asked you for it and what I had was probably good enough), but we should actually use industry bodies to produce standards, or at least make a bigger effort to standardize. I want, in the future to walk into a hotel room and see “this is how you do this in Linux” instructions, not instructions for Fedora, Ubuntu, blah blah. Because in the latter case nobody is going to care enough to do it and Linux will continue to be a mere afterthought.

Two steps to fix this problem:

  • 1). Every project should have architects who set direction and whose opinion counts as gospel on decisions that will impact user experience. They can veto the silly wheel re-invention exercises. People who don’t like that can go hack on Linux From Scratch in their basement.
  • 2). Every project should work with independent industry bodies to standardize the moment some new feature comes along. So that there is one “Linux way” to do it, and not ten different but similar ways to do the same thing.

That’s my two cents (sense) on a Friday. If those things happened, users would be the better for it. You may now arrogantly tell me how wrong I am and how much better the world would be if none of that happened.


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