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Offline AviJ

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Package Source Discussion
« on: June 27, 2014, 01:34:36 pm »
PCNetSpec, I am new to this forum (though not a Linux newbie by any means), and I want to tread lightly and respectfully. Please understand that I mean no offense in what I am about to say.

In my view, one of the great pluses of Open Source (and of the GNU/Linux in particular) is that there is no central corporate authority dictating what is the "correct" and "incorrect" way of doing things. The beauty of Linux, in my view, is that it frees users and developers from that mindset and allows them to attempt to do things their own way. That is not to say that there should not be "best practices" and "tried and true" solutions, or that proven, accepted development and implementation standards should be scrapped in favor of maverick freedoms -- that would be a recipe for chaos.

Undoubtedly, repositories exist for a reason and they are a good thing. But users also install packages from outside repositories all the time. Some download packages from the manufacturer's website, as I have done with skype. Others compile their own from source, others modify the source, others force an old release or block an upgrade to avoid a bug. All of these are legitimate choices in an open source environment (though they would not be in, for example, the Microsoft world.) The choice to download a version from outside a repository is a conscious one. Like any choice, it comes with risks and benefits. I'm therefore not sure it's constructive to label someone else's solution as "the [in the singular] CORRECT way," thus implying that everyone else's suggestions are "INCORRECT." In my view, this misses the point of open source. The true question, I believe, should be: What are the risks and benefits?

Skype is not the only package I have installed from the developer's website; I also use openoffice (a .deb downloaded straight from Apache's website) rather than libre, because of multiple issues with libre that have yet to be fixed. Openoffice is not included in PeppermintOS by default, nor in the default repositories.

You state that my "incorrect" choice is risky, but you don't say what those risks are. I'm happy to learn. From what I have seen specifically to skype 4.3 and openoffice, and specifically to my own system, my out-of-repository installations of these packages work better than the repository alternatives (skype 4.2 and libre). I realize that by definition, if I download software from outside the repository, it will not be updated from within the repository -- but in both cases, it will be updated by the manufacturer. Both Apache and Microsoft have built automatic update mechanisms into their packages. So what is the risk?

Once again, I mean no disrespect in my comments, and I apologize if I am speaking out of turn.

Offline AviJ

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Re: Package Source Discussion
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2014, 01:50:24 pm »
According to Microsoft (see my link above), Skype 4.3 has the following new features not included in 4.2:

  • An updated UI
  • Our new cloud-based Group Chat experience
  • More reliable file transfer support when using multiple devices at once
  • Greater accessibility by blind and visually impaired users
  • PulseAudio 3.0 and 4.0 support
  • Lot of bug fixes

Offline kendall

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Re: Package Source Discussion
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2014, 02:03:53 pm »
Because this is intended as a discussion rather than asking a support question, I moved it to the correct board.
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Offline PCNetSpec

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Re: Package Source Discussion
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2014, 03:47:35 pm »
Seriously .. as a seasoned Linux user you can't see that wasn't aimed at you .. and you want to argue semantics  :-\
« Last Edit: June 27, 2014, 03:51:16 pm by PCNetSpec, Reason: 19th and least likely to offend edit »
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Offline AviJ

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Re: Package Source Discussion
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2014, 04:27:31 pm »
Thanks for moving the discussion, Kendall. As mentioned earlier, I'm new to the forum and did not realize I was going off topic. Thanks for your patience and indulgence.

PCNetSpec, I say again that it was not my intention to offend or be argumentative, and I apologize if I came off that way. I don't think the question of whether a particularly methodology should be described as "correct" or "incorrect" is a meaningless semantic argument at all, and I think it's particularly important when presenting information to beginners.

The mainstream, closed-source, corporate world of software (and hardware) is based on the premise that there is a "right" (company-approved) way of doing things and that every other way -- whether it works or not, whether it provides a better solution or not -- is "incorrect." If you want features, you need to pay for them, and they're only available in one color and flavor. If you develop a solution that provides a better solution without the pay, the company will void your warranty or block the installation. And in that world, "hack" is a dirty word.

In the Linux world, where "hack" can be a badge of honor, beginners arriving from the Windows world are well-trained in this corporate mindset, and they tend to view any original solution as a forbidden and evil transgression. In my view, when a user posts a solution in a Linux forum and says that it has worked for him, it's perfectly fine for someone else to comment on the risks inherent in that solution, but I don't think it's productive to tell a beginner that there is one "CORRECT" way to do things. I think this can encourage the one-right-way mentality that the beginner has already brought with him from the Windows world.

I wouldn't have had a problem if you had said "Installing the .deb of Skype 4.3 from the MS site will give you the benefit of better features and fewer bugs. The risks are that APT won't automatically update the software (although Microsoft will) and there is a small chance that the non-repository release could create system conflicts by replacing libraries and other packages that are compatible with your system with versions that aren't." I think new users should be encouraged to experiment responsibly, not to fear experimentation.

Once again, this is just my own opinion, I am not trying to start an argument, and I certainly mean no disrespect.

Incidentally, shouldn't my posting regarding the new features in Skype 4.3 go back in the Software forum? It's in response to a question about Skype.


Offline kendall

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Re: Package Source Discussion
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2014, 05:49:58 pm »
Thanks for moving the discussion, Kendall. As mentioned earlier, I'm new to the forum and did not realize I was going off topic. Thanks for your patience and indulgence.
The "Support" boards are for specific support questions, not for general discussion. If a support question veers a little off topic and a discussion ensues, then fine, but if something is posed as a discussion from the get go, then it needs to be posted in the "General" boards.

PCNetSpec, I say again that it was not my intention to offend or be argumentative, and I apologize if I came off that way.
From a psychological and sociological standpoint, one of the most effective ways to offend one or more people is to start by saying that it's not your intention to do so. In some cultures and communities this is obviously more apparent than others and regardless of the intended outcome, it's something to keep in mind.

I don't think the question of whether a particularly methodology should be described as "correct" or "incorrect" is a meaningless semantic argument at all, and I think it's particularly important when presenting information to beginners.
One thing that we try and do with support inquiries is to try and provide the most consistent information possible. Regarding the methods we recommend users go about doing things, we try to keep consistency of information as one of the foremost factors. In the seemingly endless struggle to distill information into the most clear and concise, there is inevitably the polarization of grey areas to one side or the other. Presenting information with the binary classification of either "Right" or "Wrong" (or some other binary metric: yes/no, true/false, correct/incorrect, fat/skinny, old-and-busted/new-hotness, etc) is logically the most simple that one can simplify a decision making process into. Part of what we do here is try to eliminate confusion for users who may not have the knowledge or experience to understand the viability of an alternative solution so when we can distill the process to correct/incorrect or recommended/not-recommended or something else, we try to do so.

The mainstream, closed-source, corporate world of software (and hardware) is based on the premise that there is a "right" (company-approved) way of doing things and that every other way -- whether it works or not, whether it provides a better solution or not -- is "incorrect." If you want features, you need to pay for them, and they're only available in one color and flavor. If you develop a solution that provides a better solution without the pay, the company will void your warranty or block the installation. And in that world, "hack" is a dirty word.

In the Linux world, where "hack" can be a badge of honor, beginners arriving from the Windows world are well-trained in this corporate mindset, and they tend to view any original solution as a forbidden and evil transgression. In my view, when a user posts a solution in a Linux forum and says that it has worked for him, it's perfectly fine for someone else to comment on the risks inherent in that solution, but I don't think it's productive to tell a beginner that there is one "CORRECT" way to do things. I think this can encourage the one-right-way mentality that the beginner has already brought with him from the Windows world.
This is a very altruistic mindset that has a few disadvantages when trying to run a support forum. Let me try to explain: We're not trying to change the way a user looks at the larger software world when we give an answer to how to install an application. Rather we're trying to explain how to install the application in the clearest and simplest manner possible that is consistent with the rest of our information. We're aware that a lot of people that use Peppermint are coming from a Windows background and often it's simpler for all parties for us to just offer a "correct" solution that solves the problem rather than try to explain the open source mentality associated with there being multiple solutions for people to explore. In my experience, the majority of users couldn't care less about the philosophy behind the software so long as they can accomplish what they want with it. Additionally, offering multiple solutions with a discussion of the pros and cons within a support thread is inefficient and potentially confusing for a lot of people, especially someone who just wanted a simple answer. Discussion about preferred methods is a good thing and something that needs to happen on a regular basis, but not at the expense of added confusion within the answers to a support question.

I think new users should be encouraged to experiment responsibly, not to fear experimentation.
Again, this comes down to what we're actually trying to accomplish on a "Support" board versus discussion that should be happening elsewhere. Clear, efficient, and consistent communication is what we go for in that area. Additionally I can't say that I agree with the statement that new users should be encouraged to experiment responsibly because that assumes certain things about the user and kind of imposes a certain thought process. Rather I think users should be encouraged to educate themselves about the software that they use and be offered assistance and encouragement if/when they decide for themselves that they want to become more experimental with it.

Incidentally, shouldn't my posting regarding the new features in Skype 4.3 go back in the Software forum? It's in response to a question about Skype.
If it were a specific support question or a response to one then yes, but this discussion really isn't about Skype so much as it is about the philosophies governing how Peppermint's support forums are managed. Support questions and answers go in the support boards, discussions about philosophies go here.

[EDIT]: I misspelled something.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2014, 05:53:00 pm by kendall »
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