[squeak-dev] Re: A 1 million bucks question :)

Ken Causey ken at kencausey.com
Tue Dec 15 04:19:49 UTC 2009

> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: [squeak-dev] Re: A 1 million bucks question :)
> From: Andreas Raab <andreas.raab at gmx.de>
> Date: Mon, December 14, 2009 9:43 pm
> To: The general-purpose Squeak developers list
> <squeak-dev at lists.squeakfoundation.org>
> Ken Causey wrote:
> > Part of the problem is that the potential user-base of any particular
> > repository is probably not that large.  I myself have been a Debian user
> > for a decade or more and while I used the available repository a couple
> > of times, inevitably for one reason or another I always built my own VMs
> > and used a wide range of images and as such the repository was of little
> > use to me.  While I'm sure there are some users, certainly it would be
> > useful to newcomers, the reality is that the more hardcore users find it
> > more limiting than useful.
> I think that's well-understood. The target audience is probably not 
> hard-core users but rather those where you're with a friend running 
> Linux and want to say "just type apt-get squeak" or somesuch. But like I 
> was saying, I know little of these matters so I'm not certain how 
> valuable that would be. What do others think?
> Cheers,
>    - Andreas

As I see it the problem here is that once you are capable of setting up
and maintaining such a repository it has little value for you or many of
your colleagues.  For a while the coolness factor and the opportunity to
say to a new user 'just add edit /etc/apt/apt.conf and add a line "blah
de blah", then run apt-get update ; apt-get install blah' is sufficient
return to maintain interest.  But this wears off quickly and it begins
to seem like nothing more than a chore.  The issue is how to transfer
the value the actual user sees in it to the maintainer.

I imagine that in a greater ecosystem like the Debian official
repositories you develop relationships with other package maintainers
and get kudos from your packaging efforts, and that this provides a
return that keeps the feedback loop running.

But such a feedback loop for this particular task doesn't really exist
within our community.  As I've said repeatedly now, few 'core' users
would value it greatly.

Also, we are not alone in this.  I've seen much the same thing occur in
other language communities where someone gets interested in a language
implementation, is a fan of a distribution and missed having said
implementation readily installable in the distribution or at least a
more up to date version readily installable.  He takes it on himself to
get as close to that goal as immediately possible.  This person
continues for a while but almost inevitably either drifts out of the
implementation community and so loses interest in maintaining it,
changes distributions and so doesn't want to maintain it, or again finds
little use for the work themselves and the new friends they are
gathering within the implementation community similarly have little use
for it, and so they get insufficient perceptible return for the effort
and let it go by the wayside.

I think it is possible for some individual to appear and have a
sustainable interest in such tasks.  It does happen.  But I see no way
to make it happen.


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