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Date: Mon, 21 May 2012 16:17:08 -0400
From: Rich Felker <>
Subject: Re: Vision for new platform

On Mon, May 21, 2012 at 10:05:52PM +0200, aep wrote:
> Rich,
> I started a similar approach in 2011, called HereticLinux, and
> An attempt to write linux userspace and ui from
> scratch, after being pissed from all the FDO junk for too many
> years.
> Then i learned during my current work that more then half of the
> linux ecosystem is driven by less then a dozen megacorps, and that

Yes, I'm quite aware. For the core "ecosystem", I'd say it's closer to
75% than just half.

> any vision different then theirs is just not relevant.

Well it's not relevant by itself. You have to work to make it
relevant. And that's hard work. I think having a phone running a
kick-ass system that's always smooth and responsive even on low-end
hardware would be pretty relevant to a lot of people. Becoming
relevant gives you influence. The influence to call others out when
they do stupid things, and the influence to get others to adopt, build
upon, and contribute back to your systems.

> In between, there's a whole lot of nothing. Random bits of code on
> random git repos by random people not cooperating due
> to the lack of any common ground other then "well the shit sucked,
> so i just removed networkmanager and wrote what i need in 20 lines
> <favorite language>"

I'm not looking to make yet another script that auto-joins a wireless
network based on your written-by-hand list of known networks. The goal
would be something that requires the minimal possible degree of
interaction, and does so without "dbus hell".

> FDO is the way it is, it's a pile of shit, but it's the only
> organization that managed to combine a zillion lines of code to some
> sort of consistent thing.

The zillion lines of code sounds like the heart of the problem. I bet
at most 1% of them do anything useful, and the rest is layer upon
layer of wrappers.

> Even if the thing is utter crap and only targets a specific audience
> (not me), it's as consistent as you can get.
> So instead of trying to rebuild every single piece they fucked up
> (my original over-the-line experience was when archlinux put dbus to
> the default base install for basic system services), i nowadays go
> with the crowd of "random code on random git repos". I wrote the
> 100-billionth network thing, the 400-zillionth initsystem, etc, etc.
> Nothing you could ever reuse due to the lack of an actually
> consistent design. Just like 99% of the junk on github.

As bad as it sounds, this is at least a step forward. Instead of
putting thousands of person-years into producing a piece of trash, you
only put 30 minutes into it. And then you don't feel any attachment to
it that would keep you from throwing it out when you realize how much
it sucks.

> At a different project, we started to approach the problem the other
> way round and are building isolation chambers for each piece of
> software (e.g. bluez) so it's shitty design doesn't affect the
> system too much.

This is definitely a step forward as well, but I wonder if it wouldn't
make more sense to just strip out all but the useful parts, or replace
it entirely.

> The bridges between the components are well engineered from senior
> system designers, rather then from some teenager who thinks xmlrpc
> is the next cool thing to put in a cpu scheduler.

Also definitely a step forward.

> However, this is a commercial activity, and i don't see any FOSS
> project for that to appear out of the blue any time soon. If it
> would, it'd certainly help. But working on the 101-billionth network
> manager just isn't very interesting.

Agreed. I would say, aside from a few particularly cool things that
were algorithmically novel, working on the Nth whatever in libc was
not that interesting either. What is interesting, however, is having
the complete thing together that works and doesn't suck. My feeling
about stuff like network managers is about the same. In itself it's
not interesting, but if 2 years from now we have the kick-ass mobile
device platform, THAT's interesting.

> I will always prefer my 500 line hack over someone elses 500 line
> hack. Creating new, modern building blocks that reduce my 500 lines
> to 10, because someone did all the hard work for me, now that would
> be really cool.

:) :) :)

> On the note of your (technically correct) set of standards: Instead
> of enforcing a specific view which eventually turns into a defunct
> religion because the views are outdated, i prefer making generic
> mission statements and handpick smart people.

I tend to agree with this sentiment too. They were more meant as
starting guidelines than religion.


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