Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-factory (602 mails)

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Re: [opensuse-factory] Re: [PLEASE SPEAK UP] Disabling legacy file systems by default?
On Wed, Feb 06, 2019 at 05:46:18PM +0100, Liam Proven wrote:
On 2/5/19 10:29 PM, Michal Kubecek wrote:
From your e-mails, both here and in the recent discussion about bogus
Phoronix benchmarks, it seems that you believe the goal of openSUSE is
(or at least should be) attracting as many users as possible which
mostly means adapting the distribution to meet the expectations of
people who don't want to think, learn or work. I don't agree with such
goal because it would mean way too many sacrifices which would make the
distribution less attractive for me.

That is nearly as inaccurate a representation of what I am saying as
Stefan's.

I am not saying that at all.

What I am saying is this:

* The Linux market is very competitive. Different distros have different
strengths and weaknesses. It is fatally short-sighted to ignore what
other distros and other companies are doing, for any reason, whether the
reason is "Not Invented Here" syndrome, or because $DISTRO is not seen
as a real competitor, or because of tradition.

If a company wants to survive, it has to attract new customers.
Capitalism mandates growth.

I'm afraid we don't agree on the premises so there is little sense for
me to comment on the conclusions.

First, SLE is in the "Linux market", openSUSE is not. So the rules of
market or capitalism do not apply to it directly.

Second, even for SUSE/SLE (or any other of our products), attracting as
many customers as possible is not necessarily the right goal. We could
possibly get a lot of customers by combination of low price, very long
support contract lengths, very short response times etc. We would quite
likely lose some sane customers who would be reasonable enough to
realize that under these conditions we would be out of business very
soon. And they would be right. Even for a commercial company, it's not
just about attracting the customers. We need to attract them in a way
which will leave us with reasonable profit after subtracting the costs.
And we have a lot of people whose job is to weigh carefully how to do
that.

Ubuntu decided on a fairly simple play. Pick a free distro with, at the
time, the best packaging tool -- i.e. Debian, circa 2002-2003 or so --
and put a really nice easy desktop on it, with a complete set of
integrated apps, and an easy installation program, and give it away for
nothing. This was so the sponsor could give something back to the FOSS
community that made him a billionaire (or near enough).

This has made Ubuntu the #1 end-user desktop distro.

Many people argue with this and it's very hard to prove, but in terms of
mindshare, press coverage, etc., I think it's obviously the case.

Now, a decade and a half later, that means that there are hundreds of
thousands of Linux folk who learned on Ubuntu first and know it best,
and because of that, Ubuntu is what they choose to deploy on their
servers and in their VMs and clouds.

According to https://www.zdnet.com/article/inside-ubuntus-financials/
there is 14 times more Ubuntu instances than RHEL in AWS. And yet, when
you look at the financial results, Canonical is not exactly thriving -
and even less so compared to Red Hat. Sure, Red Hat is not only RHEL but
I'm pretty sure even the part of Red Hat's profit coming from RHEL would
be way bigger than Canonical's $2M in 2017 or $6M in 2018, not to
mention the continuous seven years of loss before that. No company could
afford doing business the way Canonical used to until ~2 years ago
without also having a "generous uncle". So please don't use Ubuntu as an
example of how to do things if you want to talk about "market" and
"capitalism" at the same time. It doesn't have anything in common.

And the same as what I wrote above above having to take the costs into
account actually holds for openSUSE. We have limited resources and we
have to weigh carefully what we use them for. Focusing on the kind of
users you want to attract (unwiling to think about problems, unwilling
to learn things, unwilling to invest their time and energy) means
getting a lot of users who will need a lot of help even with the basic
tasks. That means that skilled users will either spend a lot of time
helping them or (more likely) will simply stop helping. Or even worse,
when they see that we rather compromise their security just to make life
of the lazy ones easier, that we make the distribution less usable just
to rank better in bogus Phoronix "benchmarks", they may leave completely.

Am I imagining things? I don't think so. Which distribution is the most
popular? Ubuntu. Did you notice that when you google for a solution of
some nontrivial problem, almost always one of the first results least to
launchpad.net - but that while there is usually a lot of comments, it's
quite rare to find anything useful in them?

OpenSUSE is certainly not one of the largest distributions, measured by
number of users. But I dare to say that we might have achieved an
interesting ratio of skilled users and users willing to contribute,
whether it's bugfixing, packaging or testing and meaningful reporting.
There is a long running joke that the reason why openSUSE has no
community is that whenever someone becomes really active in openSUSE
community, he sooner or later ends up as a SUSE employee. Sure, it's
just a joke but as with many others, there is some deep truth hidden in
it. Do we want to risk these users just to attract a lot of passive ones
or even pure consuments of resources? I don't.

To thrive, Linux distros have to attract users from other Linux distros.

I believe this narrow focus on attracting new users or customers is one
of the big problems of our society. My term for the problem is "society
ADHD". It's the narrow minded focus on attracting new users/customers
leading to completely ignoring those one already has and their need and
preferences. This leads to focus on these new users - and even more so
potential users - being able to use the device, program or distribution
without learning anything and without reading boring manuals. What do
distribution "reviews" look like?

The "reviewer" goes through the installation, makes a few screenshots,
boots, takes few more screenshots, logs into KDE/Gnome, starts few well
known applications and takes some more screenshots. The more responsible
ones keep it running for few hours and maybe even try to simulate some
real life activity. What does such "review" tell you about how well is
the distribution serve an everyday user after few monts when he learned
about its quirks and cool features? Nothing - exactly as those
undercooked Phoronix benchmarks, exactly as superficial and meaningless.

In early 90's (!) I read an article where the author came with a fitting
name for this approach to device design and software user interface:
"unuser friendly". The idea is that instead of being "user friendly",
i.e. friendly to people who actually _use_ them, design is tailored to
being friendly to people who know nothing (and don't want to learn
anything) about them, i.e people not using them... "unusers" ("nonusers"
would sound better but that would spoil the word play with "unuser
friendly" vs. "user unfriendly"). The real problem is that it almost
always comes at the expense to being less friendly (or even unfriendly)
to actual users. And he came with that in ~1991; I wonder what would he
say about today's consumer electronics and software (he died in 2001).

If I'm going to use a device (TV, photo camera, phone, car) for ten
years, I'm certainly willing to sacrifice few hours to learn to use it
efficiently but I would be frustrated to have a frequently used function
hidden somewhere in menu just because that way it's easier to find for
someone who knows nothing about the device (and with no option to make
it more efficient to me). It's the same with openSUSE: if we want to
make it attractive to "unusers", it's hardly possible without making it
less attractive to actual users.

On one hand, you keep talking about people who learn on some
distribution and then use the same (or its bigger brother) when they
become admins. On the other, you propose changes which directly target
at users unwilling to learn _anything_. Even if I forget that in big
companies it's rarely admins who make such decisions, I fail to see how
are the people who are completely unwilling to learn anything about the
system are going to become admins.

Michal Kubecek
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