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Re: Fedora and RedHat's autism toward personal users

On Sun, 2003-10-12 at 17:10, Paul Gear wrote:
> Sean Middleditch wrote:
> > ...
> > and 5) over-engineering in the distro to accomodate all these
> > alternatives.  Debian had several sick sub-systems for handling 3
> > versions of the 'more' command, alnog with the obscene number of
> > versions of apps for web browsing, mail, help, compilers, awks, seds,
> > tars, etc.  This is because those alternatives weren't addons or
> > replacements, but in fact parts of the OS itself; i.e., the OS wasn't
> > built for, say, Mozilla for browsing, or any of the other browsers as an
> > optional add-on, but instead was built for *any* browser at all.  The
> > configuration, package management, and existance of sub-systems like the
> > 'alternatives' section just shows how much work went into dealing with a
> > sub-optimal situation.
> A web browser is quite a bit different from a web server, or
> tar/awk/more/etc.

Not when it comes to the packaging.

> You need to support a wide variety of browsers, because it is an
> personal decision (i get really annoyed when i have to switch from
> Galeon to anything), and you need to support multiple browsers per
> system, since multiple people might different ones (at once on large
> systems).

You are confusing "support" or "integration" with "availability." 
Fedora doesn't need to ship 8 web browsers.  If a user doesn't like the
one picked for them, they can install the other web browsers from an
Extras archive or from the browser's website.

Nothing should stop you from installing, say, Opera - there's just no
need for the whole system to be designed to support one of 20 browsers.

(Also, RH/Fedora solves the browser problem to a large degree with the
'htmlview' utility - it does the same thing as teh Debian alternatives
system, except its per user, like you want, plus its not a sick hack
integrated into the low-level system.)

> But you can only run one web server or mail server at once (at least on
> the standard ports), and it makes sense to limit the number of this type
> of packages.

The use case isn't any different really.  Normal people only need one
web server, and they usually pick Apache.  Likewise, normal people only
need one web browser.  I don't claim to know which is the most popular,
but there's no real reason to ship more than one (save those that are
"part" of the DE, like Epiphany and GNOME 2.4 or Konquerer and KDE) - if
you need a different browser, it can be installed on your own, and you
would be capable of making it work as you need.

Really, the only big differences are that the system can be "optimized"
for one browser, and the base ISO set can be made smaller (versus the 3
CDs for RH9).

Debian's way makes a mess of everything - the user, at install time, is
bombarded with a choice of web browsers.  If you install any browser,
even if you just want it as an add-on (say, for web development testing)
it becomes the system default until you manually correct the
alternatives system.  Users can't select their favorite browser easily,
but instead have to rely on per-app/desktop configuration and BROWSER
environment variables.

Sean Middleditch <elanthis awesomeplay com>
AwesomePlay Productions, Inc.

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