Ben Finney schreef op 16-09-2016 6:19:
If the distinction were inconsequential I would agree. It's not
inconsequential, though, so that's why this is so valuable: it draws
attention to the false and misleading idea that the Debian Project has
“customer” relationship with anyone.
Pardon me for sticking my nose in.
I'd just want to contribute two thoughts:
- on the one hand doing something only for the customer (but not because
you want it yourself) is a detrimental thing to me.
- on the other hand effacing the developer-user relationship by claiming
that all users are developers (and all developers are users, in a sense)
is also detrimental to me.
When people insist on using a form of "client" or "customer" what they
want is for the developer-user relationship to be recognised and not
faded away by saying "there are no users, there are only developers".
The problem with treating every user as a developer is a difference in
skill. Someone who can fix an issue may be one of the few who can do so
within reasonable time and as such it is a matter of efficiency.
If I am some developer with great skill and experience in a certain
package, fixing an issue may take me 5 minutes. Someone else may need to
study for weeks to do the same thing.
When people take up positions or create software they become the
originators of that software and also obtain a certain responsibility if
their goal is for other people to use it as well; ie. if they distribute
Once you put something out into the world, you become in a sense
responsible for it, because you have allowed other people to use it and
now they are dependent on you. Maybe the goal is for them to be
independent, but you have allowed for them to become dependent on your
skill, particularly if the program or product is broken or contains
bugs. That means you would have put something out into the world that
was unfinished and now suffer for it as a consequence.
When people speak in terms of customer or client what they really mean
is that they object to this effacing of responsibility; that the user
who has 5% software development skill is equally as responsible for the
product as the one with 100% skill that actually created it (perhaps).
What people don't want is for everything to be equal. If it's my job to
report bugs, then maybe it is your job to fix it. But we don't all have
the exact same responsibilities and saying that any user can come in and
fix that issue that you have a hard time fixing yourself, just isn't
What people really want is for the people who have made themselves
responsible for something, and they have become a client to that as a
result of that, to also honour that responsibility if they can. And too
often in open source (not necessarily Debian) responsibility is refuted
or ignored or terminated. The "no warranty" clause is of course an
example of that. But by producing software, you fill a space. If you
hadn't filled that space, someone else would have come in and done the
same, but possibly better. By merely filling a space (and having a
project no one can get around) you become responsible for having taken
that space and having created expectations of your ability to
proficiently fill that space; if you weren't planning to do it well,
then why would you have done it in the first place? If you are not
planning to do it well, then maybe it is better if you leave, if that is
the case, and leave it to someone else.
That's just how I feel about it. I am hesitant to make myself
responsible for something I will not be able to manage, because people
become dependent on you the moment you make something available.
Because in open source many projects are unfinished and are released
early, there is an ongoing depedency relationship to those developers
who are releasing that unfinished products, because had the product been
actually finished (and completely) the developer could have said: here
it is, it is complete unto itself, you don't need me anymore. But now,
it is not the case.
Because many software is hard to use (in a sense, and it is) and often
ill-document (often the source itself) people remain needed.
Their goal was to not be needed anymore, but the way they have done it
ensures that they remain needed.
That was not the intent, but it was the result because of the way things
A commercial package is often so complete unto itself (and even e.g.
TrueCrypt was that, if I may say so) that for the largest part of my
life I have been using commercial software and never ever ever ever ever
ever ever needed customer support for it.
I did not need to go to some developer and say "this doesn't work"
because they would already have taken care of it.
That's the merit of introducing a very little bit of commercialism into
open source. Not because of payment or money, but because of the idea of
being responsible for a product you put out there in the world.
At present KDE as shipped by Kubuntu at least suffers from diagonal
streaks in the display for many graphics cards. It makes KDE unusable to
those people. I have a graphics card lying right here that can produce
it. KDE also freezes for me, or used to freeze for me, many times
recently in the recent past. Not merely for the merit of the users, but
also as a developer, or a team that wants to put something out in the
- if some 10% or more of your users cannot use your product, then most
assuredly as a developer who wants to put something good into the world,
you cannot be happy either.
Your goal was to create something usable, you failed, you cannot be
happy about that.
Your goal was for people to use it, they don't, you cannot be happy
Having desktop environments freeze on you is a complete deal-breaker.
It's the difference between using the product, and not using it at all.
You can spend 1000.0000 man hours on something and think you have
created something excellent, but one single bug can ruin it all and
render all of that defunct.
It's like having a billion dollar computer, but no power cable.
What good does the billion dollars do if you can't it on? A horse, a
horse, my kingdom for a horse, is a recognisable statement.
Sorry for the rant here. Just thought I needed to share some thoughts
here. Sorry if it is unwanted.