No Time To Play

Tools for the sake of tools

by on Oct.08, 2015, under Off-topic

Dear software developers, I like package managers and version control too, but this is getting ridiculous. An increasing amount of software is only published online as a git repo, so I must have git installed and know the first thing about using it even though my regular VCS is Bazaar. I also need npm installed even though I don’t use node.js, because plenty of Javascript libraries don’t seem to be available any other way anymore (you can’t just download them from GitHub and expect them to work). Python stuff, too, is starting to become pip-exclusive. Good thing I don’t code in Perl and Ruby; I would also be required to use cpan and gem on top of everything else.

All too often, what I want is a small library to help with a specific task, but instead you’re offering me giant frameworks caught in a mesh of dependencies, that would dwarf my application and make it extremely difficult to distribute. I want to write apps for anyone to just download and run, but instead you’re forcing me to think about ecosystems. I need to use my computer, and you’re talking about leveraging the synergy of the cloud. I ask for a hammer, you offer a hydraulic press factory.

Get a grip on reality, because you’re basically floating away like hot air balloons by this point. And talk to ordinary people for a change, because in your enthusiasm for technology you have forgotten it has to meet real needs, or else we’re just going to look elsewhere.

Yes, I’m a software developer myself, and I love my work. But all too often as of late I’m tempted to throw it all away and take up farming instead.

Wake up, while you still have something to wake up to.



6 Comments for this entry

  • Kantuck Nadie Nata-akon

    Brilliant! Excellent! When I was quite young, I would love to spend days installing software on linux. What fun!

    Now 10, 20 years later. I want a system that just WORKS, is secure, fast, cheap, and doesn’t require a Cray 2 to run. Windows doesn’t provide that, which is why I use linux exclusively.

    But why is it that we’re still stuck in the 15th century for installing software? I recently ran into a problem with the GIMP. It’s got a bug in it, but the only way I can get a fix, is by major surgery, because there isn’t a repository for it? Why can’t there just be a way to download the source code for the latest version and have something install it /safely./ I don’t want to do the same thing I did with Pidgin a few years ago trying to install it from source. (I spent nearly 2 weeks and gave up.)

    Windows, for all it’s hell, has one significance advantage, and that is program installation. It may not be safe, but by god, it /works/. I’m sure linux can do the same if they just get away from the idea of repositories. Or find someway of solving this problem for good.

    • Felix

      What we need is a return to simplicity. Package managers were a great idea at the time, but now it’s all layers upon layers of dependencies, specific versions of specific libraries with custom patches, all caught in an intricate web that keeps software trapped into a walled garden — so ironic for something born of free and open source software. When you can’t install a recent Sigil on Slackware because the former requires Qt 5, which can’t be built there because it’s too modern… yeah, we have a problem. You could always use a more modern distro… but those tend to be heavyweight and discourage expert users from building their own software from source. It’s either kiddie stuff or else hardcore neckbeard-wearing hacker stuff, with nothing in-between, and I don’t even see a middle path anymore. Are we going to end up distributing apps as virtual machine images?

      • Michael Murphy

        Modern distributions aren’t heavy weight. I’m not sure where you are getting that assumption from because the weight of an operating system is determined almost entirely by the desktop environment that you are running.

        I’m also completely baffled as to why you think that modern distributions discourage expert users from building their own software from source. Are you not using Arch Linux, and if so, how did you miss it? I can quickly write an application and have it in the AUR on the same day.

        Want to rebuild an official package? yaourt -Sb gimp and done. Want to add a custom patch to your package? No problem, just grab the PKGBUILD, add your patch and enter makepkg. Want to install a git release? yaourt -S gimp-git

        • Felix

          It’s not an assumption that modern Linux distros are heavyweight. It’s an observation based on the fact that I always use 7-year-old computers. That a modern Windows wouldn’t even run at all on a machine that old just goes to show how terrible modern software is. Not everyone is a middle-upper-class American, or for that matter a computer enthusiast willing to shell out money for the latest and greatest hardware two times a year.

          As for Arch Linux, I did, in fact, try it out, twice, and both times I failed to get the package manager working at all. And to be honest, after the horror stories I heard from people who did get it to run only to have an update destroy their MySQL setup, or other such “surprises”, I’m happy the damned thing never worked for me.

    • Michael Murphy

      Sounds more like the Linux distribution you are using sucks rather than a problem with package managers on Linux (which there isn’t). I’m not sure what you are doing, nor do I know what platform you are on, but you are doing it badly wrong.

      • Felix

        What I’m doing is using the friendliest distros I can find in the most straightforward manner possible, because all I want is a computer that just works and lets me do what I need to do with no fuss. I am avoiding Ubuntu and anything based on it, because it’s just too heavy. I’m also avoiding Debian because the most trivial little package you want to install can pull down half their enormous repos as a dependency. (Also their packages are always ancient and poorly integrated.) If it’s wrong to want BASIC RELIABILITY, which is the core tenet of engineering in EVERY FIELD EXCEPT COMPUTING, then IT is fundamentally broken and needs to be reinvented.

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