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Why does Unix amd Linux have to be so deliberately hard?

© July 2013 Tony Lawrence

A long time ago someone offered up a SCO Unix binary that a lot of SCO users really wanted. He posted an ftp link in a newsgroup and that part was great.

What wasn't great was that he posted it bzipped.

So what? Well, at the time, SCO Unix didn't have bzip, so anyone desiring that binary had to go find a bzip binary (or source if they wanted to suffer the pain of SCO Unix compiling).

I mentioned that in a polite way and got back this:

oh wahhh :)

I have no patience for people who think the guy doing the real work is obligated to also practically install and configure it on their machine for them too.

That most definitely was Not The Point.

As someone providing a service to someone else, no one is OBLIGATED to do anything,and the operating phrase is "you don't look a gift horse in the mouth".

However: obviously people have REASONS for sharing whatever it is they shared. Sometimes those reasons are completely altruistic, but more commonly there is some self-directed motivation that is at least part of it: they perhaps hope to gain some degree of award, financial, fame, whatever.

In the case of sharing binaries like this, the altruistic motives might include easing the pain of *ix for those new to it, and other motives might include being seen as a person who can do such things, which might bring income later, recognition from peers now, etc.

Given that anyone sharing must have at least one or more of those motives, why on earth would you want to screw it up by making it difficult?

Again- why make it difficult? If their motives were to ease the pain of Unix, they sure haven't helped that at all. If they wanted recognition, well, they probably got that, but they also probably got annoyance along with it, and annoyance tends to cancel out the recognition, doesn't it?

IMHO, this has been one of the many problems that have kept Unix and Linux pushed down: this geek mentality that often demands a test of courage in exchange for anything it gives freely.

I wish I could say that things have improved in recent years. The Linux operating system certainly is much easier to obtain and install than ever before, but there's still more than enough lack of consideration for anyone not a pure geek. Too many freely offered goodies have obscure dependencies, lack decent documentation and so on.

Shrug. I would guess that is not going to change, is it?

See this 25 year old post and how relevant so much of it is!

Got something to add? Send me email.

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He who hasn't hacked assembly language as a youth has no heart. He who does as an adult has no brain. (John Moore)

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