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Resurrecting Indy

Resurrecting Indy

At one point I became disheartened and Indy has been frozen for
months.  However it happens I think something like Indy is needed so I
just cannot let it die.

I think Linux is a good thing and that is why I want to share it with
everyone, not only an "elite" of technonerds but everyone.  This
sentence is not mine: it is a paraphrase of what Richard Stallman
told in 1984 when he created Gnu and talked about the urge he had to
share software.  It is because RMS, Linus and their likes were willing
to share with mere mortals like us that we are able to use -for free-
the software jewels created.  That is why I will never be able to
endure those who tell they don't want to share Linux with those people
they call the "unwashed masses" and why I precisely want that: bring
Linux to everyone.

I also think Microsoft is a danger both for the economy and for
freedom and thus it is necessary to break the backbone of its power:
the desktop and the home computer and I think only Linux can do it.

But before resurrecting Indy the question is what Indy can do other
distributions aren't already doing with far more resources.  So we
will look at what is wrong with present distributions.

The problem with commercial distributions is that they have to
generate revenue to survive. Therefore their designers will be
strongly tempted to add features based on their impact on sales
instead of their real usefulness: having a nice installation will get
you positive reviews in magazines, making the distrib robust to user
mistakes will not even be seen by the user and gets low priority.  But
in home computers the sysadmin could be a user with only minutes of
experience: he will make mistakes and he has nobody to get him out of
trouble so making a distribution tolerant to user mistakes is IMHO far
more important that impressing him with the installation.

The second problem with commercial distributions is that most revenue
is coming from the server not the desktop.  It is when a company is
running a mission critical application on Linux that it will look for
support contracts from the distribution creators, on non mission
critical apps it will rely on the web or internal knowledge.  But as
Linus said "if you let go the desktop then the company who controls
the desktop will leverage it and drive you out of the server".
Another problem is that the sever strategy will leave out of Linux
some 95% of computer users.

There are other free distributions but since they have no profit
motive they tend to be "made for developers pleasure" distributions.
Debian people will pride on perfection, Stampede people on speed but
none of those distros is focused on helping people who really need it
and in doing their most for spreading Linux use.  As an example lets
take a look at Debian installation: it still does not auto-detect what
X server has to be installed, it is still installing a generic (and
crippled) kernel thus forcing user to recompile. Solving the problem
is trivial (reading /proc/cpuinfo and /proc/pci provides all the info
needed) and Debian has huge resources however after eight years of
existence their people have still not found time to implement this
feature.  If problem is easy and they have had resources and time then
why it is still unsolved?

A final point is that both commercial and free distribs have the same
common problem: their developers live in another world than the users
and are very different from them, specially those users coming from
Windows.  Most developers are "teached" Linux and thus they build
distributions based on user hostile tools who are unadequate when user
has no teacher to soften the learning curve.  They build distribs who
are frail to user mistakes because they assume that there will be an
experienced sysadmin caring for the box like the one they had at
university.  Finally, they are very often out of touch with reality.
As an example Mandrake (perhaps the most intelligently built distrib
nowadays) includes a tool for browsing network neighborhood who quite
simply does not work in real conditions, Mandrake developers would
have noticed it if they were working in a Windows-based company
instead of in a Linux stronghold.  Real users making a distrib would
not make this kind of blunders.

That is why I think there is a need for a not for profit distribution,
made by people who are strongly militant about spreading Linux and
about helping other users with their problems (perhaps because they
were bitten by  these problems in the past), people who live the same
reality than the users and thus will provide them the right answers.