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Users: why you should read my blog

I’ve been noticing a drop in feedback since I started writing about the tinderbox and the work going on there. I can, from some points of view at least, understand it, since it really does not say much that is useful for end users to know. Indeed it’s often technicalities, or ebuild guidelines, or QA information, all stuff that the average user of any kind of software likely don’t care about.

So why should Gentoo users read my blog? Why should developers for what matters? Well I’m not sure I can properly answer these question, after all even I don’t know why I do it so how can I explain, to someone else, why what I do is important?

Well, I don’t know why I do what I do, but I know what I do. Okay this is a very intricate phrase, but the bottom line is that I know that the topics I write about are important and should really be properly considered. When I speak about the problems I face with the tinderbox, I speak about problems with real ebuilds, with ebuilds that, one way or another, got into the tree. By talking about the problems with them, I’m trying to explain what the new ebuilds should look like not to rot too easily.

Especially with the widespread usage of sunrise, and the lowered bar for ebuilds to be picked up from there, powerusers wanting to write their own ebuilds should try to learn from the mistakes of the developers that came before: live ebuilds for static revisions, gems for Ruby packages, and stuff like that are all things that should be avoided like the plague by the new ebuilds. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to happen.

There are new ebuilds added with bundled libs, abused blockers, broken autotools, and so on so forth. While I know that some of what I wrote about should just be added to the official documentation, I’m afraid I don’t have the time. My blog, that I used to use as a reference documentation, starts to be too big, too chunky, too complex to maintain for that use; that I know, and that’s why I started working on my autotools guide (and I’m tempted to transpose For A Parallel World as an Appendix of that guide). But integrating the QA notes into the official documentation, that’s a task I cannot embark in right now.

So please, even though I know my titles don’t look tremendously appealing in general, try to give them a read, I’ll try my best to make them more exciting… maybe somebody can suggest me an ebuild to review or some package that needs --as-needed or parallel make fixes to write a case study about.

Comments 20
  1. HiI am not a gentoo user but an arch-user, ex-slacker etc.However I do read your blog regularly, each post thoroughly, since that gives a great insight about how linux works. There is always something new that I learn, especially when I don’t have time to do any of it, despite being interested.I can understand some of the frustration in last few posts. Everybody has sore spots in work-life.But please keep blogging. There are people like me who don’t speak regularly but read this blog with great interest. Your posts are always informative and are a great reference for future.(although lot of those post is worth of a wiki material 🙂 )And I enjoy that understanding a lot. Thank you for all the work on gentoo, that trickles everywhere else down the line.Regards Shridhar

  2. IMHO, many of your posts might be great but they are so lengthy that are sometimes tiring. If you want better feedback you probably have to write a small excerpt in the beginning of your posts describing the rest of the post. People who see huge posts are sometimes too bored to read them even if they suspect they contain something interesting.You also write many technical guidelines but provide very few examples (in general). Users, unlike developers, like/love examples and hate reading tons of documentation. Even gentoo users who are used to reading tons of documentation prefer “to the point guides” rather than huge “technical analysis” papers.You wonder why people keep doing the same mistakes that you have written and explained thoroughly in the past. Try and write shorter and to the point posts. Or try and give a “short answer” in the beginning of your post and a technical analysis after it. That will suit both users and developers. Talking to users like they are developers is totally ineffective.Try to remember how great was the gentoo wiki, it had just the proper amount of information with many examples. That’s why it was considered as a great resource by all distros. Too much or too less detail is bad. Balance them 🙂

  3. You’re blog is one of the most fascinating and informative pieces of media I consume all day, and I think I’ve learned quite a bit from it.IMHO, all developers and packagers (not just for Gentoo) should read and understand the material you write about. For example, when you talk about parallel compiling, the issue affects the original authors, the packagers, and ultimately the users. When you fix a bug in Gentoo, the fix goes not just to Gentoo, but everywhere, and in that way, the fix educates many different people.Your work, while it may seem to some to be incredibly technical and perhaps boring, is some of the most important work going on in the Free software ecosystem right now. You reduce crashers, reduce security vulnerabilities, improve stability, improve maintainability, and even improve performance, across all distributions. That’s downright impressive.

  4. I’m in line with the second poster above: while I start reading your blog posts regularly, I typically give up after the first section or so … it’s just too much text to consume.I’d rather see the posts written more to the point.Plus, if you complain about all the bad practices of ebuild writing, why don’t you try and get that bad practices rolled into the official ebuild guide?

  5. well.. maybe I just don’t get it.You know that your posts’ contents is not oriented for the end-users. So, it’s rational that only the tech and develop people read it from the fist to the last char with pleasure. But, it’s rational too that that kind of reader may be too busy to read AND comment. :)Well, at least you got a non-develop comment now. =DIf makes you feel better, I startet to read your blog hoping the texts would help me to understand better gentoo and related stuff, pushing me beyond the end-user line..

  6. I find your posts and your work much more valuable than any others syndicated through Planet Gentoo.Yours are full of information, interesting information which people reading – including myself – can apply to future understanding and practical computer use.Whereas other posts are about specific packages, mash-ups of the latest buzz-words and ramblings without any real meaning.In my opinion, you are the essential cog in the Gentoo development wheel. You deserve much thanks for caring about what’s under the hood and not just hooking statistics by means of superficial eye-candy and seductive language (“user-experience” to amass users).

  7. Please do not conclude from missing feedback that your blogs are unread: Especially your technical remarks are usually rather complete, so there just is not so much to comment.

  8. I’m reading every blog entry from you that appears on planet gentoo. But since I don’t disagree with you I never gave feedback recently. So here it is in short form:Keep on tinderboxing. I’m a huge fan of testing stuff that might break and I think QA is one of the most important points in software development. Please do what you do and write about it.PS: Maybe some nice graphics or statistics would be cool for the marketing people to keep their interest, too 😉

  9. Diego, you’re awesome! Reading your blogs let us see the insides, how stuff works, where a lot of work should get done etc. Don’t get this wrong, I like your transparency about what you’re actually doing.I hope your ‘energy’ and motivation stays at a high level.I think you deserve an award for at least ‘man of the tinderbox’ among a few others. (bug report record :))

  10. The absence of comments should not be taken for an absence of readers. I certainly read each and every single article from the planet (in fact you are the only author that I read regardless of the header). You certainly do a great job here ;).(e grazie mille per tutto! pena che non ho già la mia vecchia soundblasterlive, sarebbe tua se no!)

  11. I skim a lot of what you write, and read entirely some posts. I like to gleam tips and interesting bits. But as much as I would love to setup a similar system, I just don’t have enough powerful hardware and space to play tinderbox master. Must be geek heaven when it runs full steam. 🙂

  12. I skim a lot of what you write, and read entirely some posts. I like to gleam tips and interesting bits. But as much as I would love to setup a similar system, I just don’t have enough powerful hardware and space to play tinderbox master. Must be geek heaven when it runs full steam. 🙂

  13. Your blog is read. I’m sure you have the logs to prove it. The information is valuable and interesting. It’s not as accessible as I’d like, and does require editing before it can be considered documentation, but it’s a great resource.

  14. I can only agree with others commenting here, your posts are not to comment but to read. The only comment I can figure out is: write more…

  15. i agree with others who commented before me.your posts are interesting, but i lack technical knowledge to write any sensible/useful comment to them.

  16. I know that feedback is a bad measurement from which to deduce the amount of readers of a blog; on the other hand I’m surprised that I’m rarely asked for an explanation on what I wrote or at least on the argument.I’d be glad to hear from time to time “I couldn’t understand this or that, could you explain that deeper?”. Because I know that sometimes there are things that I leave for obvious but I didn’t go too far to explain them.Knowing that for at least a part of the readers my posts are too long and complex is, well, a bit sad because it tells me I’m doing the thing in the wrong way, but still useful to know I’ll see for the next few posts to try a different approach.

  17. it’s ok with long posts, as long as they are clear an easy to understand.and it appears it is this way right now. so, no problems here.

  18. I, too, regularly read your posts for the deeper understanding they regularly bring me.Although I didn’t like you removing xmms a couple of years back, which I incidentally still use, I must admit your effort – both in getting things done AND properly explaining it – is GREATLY appreciated.

  19. Simirarly to few other responses I suggest to put different problems to separate blog posts. These posts should have titles that are more specific to the poblem you are writing about. The titles of current tinderbox related posts are just too generic and do not attract readers.

  20. I’m sure that when in conversation with developers years ago they likely thought I was crazy when I told them to improve …you need to turn up the feedback. To my my mind tinderbox and QA are what should be done with the feedback.Direct result just as others have pointed out is a more stable less buggy securer system.After 15 years of running various linux software and M$ systems I will say I will always prefer Gentoo.That said I am disappointed at what a profile installs and the default configuration of such a Gentoo system.For a first time linux user something that works out of the box and updates with good policies and the non tech home user could install and learn from I would urge you to use Ubuntu. You provide some hope that this will not always be so.

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