Misinformed Users

A week or so ago I wrote about good users. I suppose it’s only natural that now I feel the need to rant about bad users. Well, not even that bad in this case. Just misinformed. There was a post to xfce4-dev today by one of these misinformed users. My first instinct is to reply to this person to the list, but really, it’s just noise that people don’t need to see unless they want to read it. So I’ll “reply” here. I assume that if you’re here, you want to read it, or have the intelligence and ability to skip over things you don’t want to read without complaining like a baby.

Some background: Xubuntu is an Ubuntu-based project with Xfce as its bundled default desktop environment. As of this writing, it’s in a semi-early development stage, and one of the developers is constantly bugging us about when the current 4.4 development tree of Xfce is/will be stable. The email I’m talking about was written by some random user in support of this effort. Here goes.

Yeah but let’s face is, (x)ubuntu isn’t really exposure you wanna turn down.

Why not? It’s not really our choice. If someone wants to do something with Xfce, good for them. That’s what it’s there for, and one of the many reasons why OSS is great. I dislike the insinuation that we’re somehow doing Xfce a disservice by not bending over backwards in the name of some ill-defined “exposure”.

This could be a turning point for XFCE.

From what to what? A minority desktop environment with a reasonably-sized, loyal following into… a minority desktop environment with a reasonably-sized, loyal following?

(Actually, this kind of user base increase can only increase the “reasonably-sized” figure, while decreasing the “loyal” figure and not doing much for the “minority” status. Yay?)

Xubuntu is almost as good as Ubuntu at the moment. I myself run a hybrid of GNOME services (keyring, vfs, session manager, all that crap) and XFCE (xfwm, xfdesktop, xfce-panel, iconbox). It has all the “it just works” of Ubuntu/GNOME with power-user features, such as a 21st century window manager.

… which is good to hear. Xfce is designed with this modularity in mind.

But I wouldn’t have ever, EVER even thought of trying out XFCE if I hadn’t been able to run “sudo aptitude install xubuntu-desktop”.

That’s a shame, but that’s really not my concern. In fact, I worry when I start getting users who don’t know anything beyond their package manager. In my experience, these users are more likely to become an annoying support burden and time sink.

I continue to wonder why so many people seem to think that exposure, fame, and a large user base is the only reason (or even the main reason) people write OSS. Personally, I work on Xfce because I enjoy it. Having someone nag me about release dates and constantly asking “is this particular version X stable enough for Y” just reduces that enjoyment. I don’t like to be hassled. If people use and like Xfce, that’s great. But I’m content to just work on something that I enjoy. I suppose I will really be in the right place when I learn to do what I like and ignore all the extraneous crap I don’t like (a huge benefit of working on OSS without getting paid for it, IMHO). I guess I’m too much of a drama queen for that at this point, though.

I don’t really mean to pick on this guy specifically. Sometimes a post like this sets me off. And I just woke up and I’m slightly cranky.

Disclaimer: I of course only speak for myself and my own motivations.