Critiquing distros, in the present perfect tense

I used to agree that there wasn’t a need for repeated efforts to repackage the same style system into a new form. It made little sense to expend the effort repackaging and rereleasing a “distribution,” if the same “style” already existed elsewhere. Why repackage Ubuntu in a GTK1.2 form, just as an example? DSL already has the GTK1.2 market cornered, for the most part.

But over time I realized that the converse of that is actually true — the best reason to try something is because it has been done already.

Let’s say I am a big fan of DSL (which I was for a long time) but I have a few personal preferences that DSL doesn’t particularly endorse, for their own reasons. Should I derive my own version, or join the DSL crew and lobby for changes that I prefer?

In most cases, people would consider the second alternative a bit rude. Jumping into a project and then clamoring for a redirection is kind of like getting on a bus and preaching to the other passengers that the bus should stop in front of your house. Nobody on the bus before you had any interest in stopping at your house, and it might be that you’re the only one interested in going there. In fact, you probably are the only one. Unless you’re Elvis.

So really, the first reason to do it again is because you want to do it your way. What’s the second, and better reason?

Experience. Learning. Education. Experimentation. Adventure. A sense of accomplishment. Fulfillment of a goal. And so forth.

And if someone already has a project in the wild, and you like the looks of it, why not aspire to that goal, and try to do the same thing as well? It doesn’t mean your rendition is identical, but emulation (in the strict literal sense) is an important part of the learning process.

So try not to knock down the people whose ideas “have been done” already. Don’t tell them to redirect their efforts into someone else’s project, because it might be that their vision is different, or their goal isn’t just to make the bus stop at their house.

Maybe they just want to learn how to drive the bus.

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