Re: [linux-audio-user] Opening up the discussion -> why it is hard in the beginning

From: Leonard \ <paniq@email-addr-hidden>
Date: Sun Jul 24 2005 - 16:38:18 EEST

Per aspera ad astra, jono.

The phenomena you have with Linux audio software are not restricted to audio
software. You have usually a longer time of getting to know the system, but
once you're in it, its fairly easy to keep things running.

I work as a developer for a software company, and from my experience I can
tell that stability is the least thing they care for. It needs to be
marketable, it needs to have new features, technical bugs can be fixed later,
or not at all, if they are not that serious. But wording, graphics, message
boxes, novice stuff, all this should be tuned up to the max so that many
people are being tricked into buying the product.

As a commercial software developer, you are the marketing departments tool.

I have been using audio software under Windows for a long time. It's symptoms
match the way of development described above: the software is easy to install
and learn, but it crashes often and wastes huge amounts of CPU.

Additionally, commercial competition creates an uncomfortable working
environment for musicians, because things do not work together as tightly as
they could. Any interface you get doesn't match the next one, because those
companies do not communicate. There is no common underlying system wide
library for a modular audio environment. You have to buy it indirectly
through one of Steinbergs products. I don't think I have to go on and on
about the disadvantages of the above mentioned development paradigm.

As an open source developer, you are more or less your own boss. Therefore,
what matters most to you is that the program is stable and efficient. That it
has been designed to be interoperable. That it fits well into its
environment. That a lot of things can be configured. Spare time developers do
not have much time. And I guess they enjoy having the control. There is no
marketing. A heavenly place.

The result is, that installation and learning can become a bit rough, as with
open source, you are usually entering the dark caves of infinite development.
Most things look barebone, but they work very well from a developers

GNU is heaven if you are a programmer or know something about the insides of
development. There is lots of debug information. There is usually good
documentation about the insides of a program. There are tons of API's. There
is a bugtracker that responds to you. The popular GNU programs are a lot more
stable than what I'm used to, once they run.

And there is of course a good reason not to make programs in development too
easy to access: a point of view that I like to call "pragmatic elitism".

As it gets easier for untrained novices to enter the realms of an open source
program, the quality of participation descends. Bug reports become unhelpful.
Feature trackers become clogged with senseless ideas. Mailing lists burst
with incompetence. It doesn't have to be like this, but from my experience I
can tell that if you create software for simple minded people, you get simple
minded feedback. As a developer, you feel a lot of frustration if this
happens. It might stall or harm development tremendously.

Think of GNU software as a kind of cockaigne, where the entrance is blocked by
a big riddle. Once you have solved the riddle (and I am sure that you will
make a lot of friends this way, because you _must_ participiate in the
community in order to learn about something), you can enter the land of

I hope that helps answering your questions.

-- leonard "paniq" ritter
Received on Sun Jul 24 20:15:04 2005

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