[openbeos] Re: news: development mailing list, distro guidelines

  • From: "Jorge G. Mare (a.k.a. Koki)" <koki@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 08:33:58 -0700

Michael Phipps wrote:
Jorge G. Mare (a.k.a. Koki) wrote:

I never said anything like that. I do, however, think that this conversation is hypothetical, at best.

It is not hypothetical. I can point you to a couple of actual such works that would be affected by this discussion:

# JPBE.net Haiku Live CD
This is an initiative to create a Haiku live CD for demo purposes that is more friendly to Japanese users and has a few additional apps to make it more enticing.

# Haiku Operating System - Alpha Release (VMWare appliance)
Happy Easter Edition with Basic Network Support

I know of at least one more initiative to create a demo CD to be handed out at an upcoming conference, and I would not be surprised at all if there were others out there contemplating doing the same in the near future.

So this is not hypothetical; it is quite real.

Wow. Ok. Given some grounding, this makes more sense. Especially with the Japanese issues that you brought up in the other thread.

But those issues make me think, all the more, that we should tread carefully here. A different version of libtextencoding and a different version of unzip (that isn't backward compatible!) seems like something that could cause breakage. Imagine someone like yourself who is bilingual (English/Japanese) but isn't aware of these types of changes. He gets a demo CD only to find out that this piece of junk can't even unzip a file correctly!!! :-/

It is not a piece of junk. It is an attempt by a local community to address some problems that the OS has. If the project were more embracing rather than alienating of this sort of efforts, the results of those attempts could in the end benefit Haiku.

By the nature of where the work would be distributed and being that it is intended for Japanese and would be clearly identified as such (labels, disclaimers, readmes, etc.), the likelihood that somebody get their hands on this without knowledge that it is for Japanese users are close to nil. Your fears that a user may find that something does not work as expected are quite unfounded.

Having said that, my personal take is that given what we are encouraging people to change (and, more importantly, not change), any additions/subtractions are custom distros and should be treated as such. I don't personally think that there is any point in saying, "well, if you only change this or that and only distribute it this way or that, you can keep the name". That is the world's largest support nightmare, IMHO. If someone says "Haiku does X when I do Y", you can no longer be sure what actual software they have. Is it a broken font borking the app_server? Don't know. Invalid formatted icons? Could be. Maybe a broken compile of something (don't laugh - I have seen it happen).

But a demo does not replace official builds or distros. It's just another tool that could have some additional resources/documentation to make it more useful/effective as an introduction to Haiku. It is just something to wet the dev's appetite. If a developer ends up becoming interested, he/she will anyway download the latest builds and work with that. You are just making it more enticing/easier for the developer to get there, not trying to replace the official build.

So you are saying that people will not keep the demo around? That they will either use it as a live CD and/or short term install? I don't believe that will be the case consistently. Surely, in some cases, they will install it and use it, especially if it offers something that they need (native language support is a good example) that isn't in the default distro.

I am not saying that people will not keep it around. What I am say is that it's just a demo, not an installable system, and that as such, it's usefulness is short-lived by definition. Nobody is going to want to keep a demo for daily use, certainly not a Haiku demo at this stage of development.

You have to look at this as just a tool to introduce people (devs) to Haiku so that they can see what it looks and feels like, see some of its capabilities, and hopefully become interested in investigating further.

The official set of software will be whatever the admins decide, and because a few people create demos (which are short-lived anyway) with slightly different content will not change that. Again, it is not about demos replacing anything official. It is just about creating an additional tool in your arsenal that is more efficient to reach out to and engage developers.

If it goes out with the Haiku name and logo, how is anyone outside the community to know that it isn't official?

How about by labeling it as a demo and some sort of disclaimer, like the one that was added to the distro guidelines on the Haiku website?

That sounds to me like it could dilute the brand, in terms of quality of software. Sort of like opening a can of Campbell's soup, adding water chestnuts, resealing it and selling it as Campbell's soup. :D In fact, even more so, because now you buy a can of soup at the store and are disappointed because there is no water chestnuts in your soup!

I know a little bit about brands and branding. But you are applying the branding principles in the wrong place.

When I look at other similar projects, I can see plenty of examples of third party initiatives that end up becoming official. These initiatives may start independently from the project, but somehow they are embraced and eventually absorbed, and as a result the community grows. Somebody wanting to create a demo or introduction CD to help the project is such an initiative.

Not only don't I see this synergistic approach with Haiku, but there is this combination of a (misplaced) excessively overprotective attitude and the presumption that people will do the wrong thing for Haiku w/o giving them a chance to prove otherwise. All this does is preclude people from feeling part of the project (rather than encourage).

The Japanese community, for example, are creating a Live CD with a few apps to make the thing more enticing (like a Japanese text editor), the Japanese input method enabled by default, a nicer Japanese font than the default, and a few patches here and there that they need to address some language related issues. By the existing guidelines, they are forced to do this as a custom distro (because of the changes they need to make).

So, this is:
new app (text editor)
changed preference (input method on)
new font
changes to the base software (unzip and library changes!)

That *is* a distro. If that isn't, what ever would be?

Or, let me ask it this way... Other than stamping the word "demo" on it, what is the difference between the CD that does this and a distro?

Pinguinek and MAX are distros. They have a declared intent of building a product (commercial or otherwise) based upon Haiku with it's own roadmap, application set, development/support team, website, name/identity, etc.

The only thing that a demo to promote Haiku could have in common with the above definition of distro is that it may have software that is not available on the Haiku repo, but that's it. There is no intent to compete with Haiku, no roadmap, no name or identity. In other words, it's just a demo.

This will not help promote Haiku (as the work will have to be branded differently), but it will also not encourage patches to be contributed back upstream to Haiku either. In the bigger picture, what this does is miss an opportunity to create a synergistic relationship between the project and a regional community, that could eventually lead to the creation of an official Japanese version of Haiku.

There is no one who wants to have the support of the Japanese community as much as I do. It was so alive and vibrant in the R5 days - I was always excited to see the latest downloads on BeBits.

Having said that, I can't see how making this demo disk as you describe would be good for everyone. It either promises something we can't apparently deliver (correct Japanese support) AND it breaks existing software (i.e. unzip).

It does not have to be good for everyone. The LiveCD is for the Japanese, not for everyone, so as long as it is good for the Japanese, it fulfills its purpose.

I think that's a shortsighted position that will only discourage community initiatives, and unnecessarily spur the creation of what you call custom builds. This, in the end, will only encourage the creation of more rather than less third party distros, something that I thought Haiku was trying to avoid.

But if we say, well, you can add 1 app and change 2 pieces of the base system, change 1 preference and add 1 font and still call it Haiku, where does that end? Because it has the word "demo" stamped on it?

What's the problem if it serves the purpose of promoting Haiku, which is what demos are for after all?

Anyway, I give up. I will just tell the JPBE.net guys that if they want to have proper support for Japanese, they are on their own, and they will have to create their own distro.



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