The Exherbo brouhaha

Don’t fault yourself as clueless just because you haven’t heard about Exherbo yet. The distro-to-be seems to have gotten some attention for making it clear that your help is not needed, thank you very much.

There are plenty of opinions on the viability and attractiveness of a not-yet-published distro manned by a staff that is outright uninterested in drawing users, and most of them can be summarized here and here. (I only point to those threads because I’m most familiar with those forums, and most of those users.)

But I feel the need to be honest. About six or eight months ago I was seriously considering doing the same thing with a rearranged version of Ubuntu, mostly for my own edification, but also because I got tired of pruning and tweaking the default system to my liking. The obvious solution was to cook up something of my own invention with the packages and tweaks I like, preset and preinstalled. That way I could save time on testing and probing, since the majority of the performance settings I like would be in place already.

To make a boring story short, I never did it. Things got rearranged, much like they always do in life, and that back-burner project got shelved, then tossed out. About the same time I got Crux to behave the way I liked it, I realized a customized version of Ubuntu wasn’t appealing any longer. No loss, in hindsight.

But what really dissuaded me from doing it was knowing full well that if I did cook up something personalized, I’d have to mention it obliquely, and mentioning it would oblige me to share it, and sharing it would make me somehow beholden to support it, and that would lead to any number of complications, enlargements, arrangements and transmogrifications. I could foresee the thing snowballing beyond what I really wanted to deal with, and it became less appealing for that reason.

I could see only two ways around that problem: First, skip it. That was ultimately what I decided on.

The other was to release it or offer it without any promise of support, without any desire to troubleshoot or take suggestions or notes of improvement, bug tracking, error trapping, wishlists, compatibility problems, usability issues, suggested package lists, translations, instructions or manuals. In other words, say, “Here’s a link. Download it if you want it. I offer no support, and I don’t want to hear suggestions or problems or complaints or offers to improve it. Don’t bother me. The end.”

Sound familiar?

I guess where I’m going with this little soliloquy is toward an acknowledgment that Exherbo’s initial nonchalance and seemingly aloof attitude (my favorite part is, “we have nothing to offer you, and you have nothing to offer us”) makes sense to me. Yes, it’s very un-ubuntu, and it doesn’t do much to attract users or developers. But to be honest, I was of the same mindset not but six months ago, and rather than take the time to follow that path, I decided to abandon it. I’m almost disappointed in myself now because it was a learning opportunity and I turned it down.

I believe the expression is, “It’s water under the bridge.” It’s in the past now. I take a middle-of-the-road stance on the Exherbo issue because I trust they know what they want, they know what they don’t want, and I can, in part, empathize. Aside from that, they have nothing to offer me, and I have nothing to offer them. :D

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3 Responses to “The Exherbo brouhaha”


  1. 1 Anders Ossowicki 2008/05/27 at 11:41 PM

    Hey!

    Thanks for a sane blagpost about Exherbo – those are pretty rare :-)

    You are somewhat correct when you state that we don’t want to support it — but only somewhat.
    More specifically, once Exherbo reach a state where it’s actually possible to offer a certain degree of support, we will definitely do that. The same goes for listening to suggestions, critique and improvements from other people. But at the moment we’re still laying down the foundation for our house so discussions about the colour of the walls would be fruitless since we might just as well end up with a greenhouse.
    The time where we have something to offer people and where (some) people have something to offer us will definitely come… later.

    Once again, thank you for thinking before you write.

  2. 2 Onyros 2008/05/28 at 6:54 AM

    That’s a big issue for me as well, so I understand where you’re coming from with this.

    I’ve released a couple of alpha versions of an Arch Live CD I was working on, have had other versions pretty much all set up, but always kept them to myself because I didn’t want/didn’t have time to bother with troubleshooting the users’ problems, exotic hardware issues and other things of the like.

    Plus, the WM I chose (Awesome) would be somewhat tricky to adopt and I could almost sense the kind of feedback I would have from the less informed crowd eager to try something new without bothering too much to document themselves first.

    Yep, not very Ubuntu-human as well.

    Even so, I’ve laid it out as promise to you and a few other people once and I intend to keep that promise. I’ll eventually release it, and probably garner help from a few interested people (hint, hint) to work from there on.

    There are a few terrific options out there right now, so finding a good niche to “explore” isn’t easy. An Awesome + Arch Live CD fits somewhere, as there aren’t many of those around, though. So I think it’ll be a good bet, especially if people understand or bother to understand what it’s all about. I’ve had feedback and suggestions relating to those two alpha versions that totally missed the point: I wasn’t trying to create an all-encompassing LiveCD with a set features belonging to Ubuntu’s realm not to a specific config of a distro in LiveCD shape.

  3. 3 Jonathan Dehan 2008/05/28 at 11:35 PM

    Great post, thoughtful and on target.
    Subscribed.


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