1. 6

    For the curious, 10/8 used to be public, but I wrote about how it became private.

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      dedoimedo publishes a lot of these, uh, quality reviews. Every time it’s the same story:

      • After a lot of bikeshedding and pretentious bickering discussion of potential UX improvements and anecdotes studies, $software has put out a new release…

      • …and we now bring you a lot of bikeshedding and pretentious bickering discussion on how they totally ruined their UX this time, based on these anecdotes UX studies.

      IMO, the former is why there’s such a huge overlap between the “people who have fond memories about installing Slackware from floppies” and “people who now use macOS” groups. The latter is why the border between flamebait and tech journalism is so blurry these days…

      1.  

        I’m not sure why you are so angry, I found it to be an excellent review.

        1. 5

          I’m not angry, but I do think both the subject matter – the “UX” “improvements” that Gnome 40 supposedly brought – and the review are equally immaterial, and representative of the same pretentiousness that’s been plaguing UI design and HMI for some time now. I think it’s counter-productive to tiptoe around it.

          Just two examples:

          The article mentions “overall theme consistency” as a problem, but then goes on to claim that Gnome 40 is “more polished, more consistent”. What does that even mean? What exactly is “more polished” and what exactly is “more consistent” than in 3.38, and how are the two terms different, for that matter? Can something become more polished, but less consistent? More consistent, but less polished?

          Then there’s the whole Gnome Tweaks debate. The article complains that you need a separate app to do configure some things. Wanna bet that, if all those things were included in the Gnome Settings, the same article would complain that a desktop supposedly aimed at novice users has a “very cluttered” settings system?

          Or the whole “window differentiation” thing – the review claims that there’s “a lack of differentiation between foreground and background windows active/inactive status”, right under a screenshot that clearly shows an inactive background window that’s so un-saturated that most people over 30 (including yours truly) can barely read it. It’s obviously up to the reviewer to like it or not, but “I don’t like it” isn’t an “issue”, it’s just a rant.

          Meanwhile, Windows 10 and macOS, both of which tick every “unpolished” and “inconsistent” box there is, run circles around any FOSS offering, suggesting that neither of these things matter much (assuming they mean anything at all – which, based on the Mac community’s rants, I’m very inclined to believe they don’t and are just weasel words and snake oil). I’m not angry, but I am a little bitter over the fact that we had (mostly) functional free software desktops 10 years ago, but they’ve been improved to the point of uselessness (and dragged GTK, an annoying but functional cross-platform toolkit, down the drain, too).

          1.  

            Really makes you wonder if Linux on the Desktop would’ve seen more widespread adoption if it had instead leaned hard into aesthetics and eschewed 90s/00’s UI/UX dogma.

            1.  

              The Linux desktop did indeed. Remember E16? Compiz?

              1.  

                Honestly, on technical merits alone, I think it could have eaten Windows 8’s lunch. KDE 3.5 and Gnome 2.24 were not the apex of usability, but nobody scratched their heads when looking at them the way they did with Windows 8’s tiles.

        1.  

          A thankfully former colleague of mine loved to tell me about his days exploiting vulnerable PBXs, as well as travelling to India to manually splice cables through premium lines (or something of the sort).

          1.  

            Funny you mention! I asked my buddy who does work in the SIP MSP world, and he said he deals with noticeably different kind of scams - usually it’s dialing to African numbers instead. (Perhaps it’s different once they do have access, and what’s in the article is their probing behaviour.)

            As for India: IIRC, there is regulation that VoIP providers can’t offer PSTN access. I’ve heard of having to have two office phones as a result.

          1. 3

            I have… opinions about the community college program I attended, but I will say one of the positives was the focus and reminding of using technology to accomplish goals beyond the sake of technology, and the focus on working/communicating as a team to accomplish those goals.

            1. 2

              To be honest, I never got into SBCs; I don’t like dealing with naked boards (around a cat, no less) nor do I like messing with their limitations. You might have better luck with say, an SFF business desktop. They’re reliable, predictable machines, faster than any SBC out there, and can be had cheap on the used market. I use one for a server and it’s more than enough power.

              1. 8

                I sometimes feel like the only person here who hates email for anything other than longer-form communication with one or two other humans. No, I don’t want to comment on pull requests over email, there’s a lovely web interface for that that shows me syntax-highlighted diffs and lets me dig further into a diff easily. No, I don’t want to manage task tickets over email, there’s also a lovely web interface for that and it shows me a visual representation of what’s happening. No, I don’t want to receive an email when something needs my attention, that’s what Slack (or whatever) is for. No, I don’t want to have large discussions over email, I want to see the conversation thread visually and not have to worry about accidentally including a mess of nonsense in my reply (I absolutely would not read Lobsters if it was an email list). And it’s not like I’m a youngster who has never used email, I started using email in the mid-90s. I just don’t understand why everyone loves it so much.

                1. 4

                  No, I don’t want to have large discussions over email, I want to see the conversation thread visually and not have to worry about accidentally including a mess of nonsense in my reply (I absolutely would not read Lobsters if it was an email list).

                  Don’t forget forget the top vs. bottom posting or plain text “debates”, which everyone in the real world ignores because they use graphical email clients. A lot of email enthusiasts feel detached from the reality of how people actually use tools when they get into it.

                  1. 2

                    Because it is familiar, reliable, and it doesn’t change out from under me every time some web designer chasing the fad of the week gets a wild hair. Web based mail user agents change that picture a bit, because the user ends up being at the mercy of web designers, but I don’t use those.

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                    I recommend everyone switch to Firefox. Google is only going to get creepier. I finally made the switch to Firefox recently and couldn’t be much happier. I only wish Firefox had a SSB (site-specific browser) feature like Chrome does, as I still have “apps” based on Chrome.

                    1. 7

                      Yep that or Brave are great options. My only gripe with Firefox is how slow the Google suite is (forced to use it because of work). Perhaps it’s just my experience but Google Meet / Sheets / etc. are noticeably worse on Firefox.

                      I doubt this is a fault with Firefox, though.

                      1. 9

                        You should probably read lobste.rs’s experience with Brave before recommending it: https://github.com/lobsters/lobsters/issues/761, https://github.com/lobsters/lobsters-ansible/issues/45

                        I wouldn’t be comfortable using Brave. I would prefer Firefox, or, if absolutely necessary, something like Ungoogled Cromium.

                        1. 2

                          I’m not super psyched about Brave.

                          I turned to Epichrome to make SSBs now that I’m not using Chrome and I’m not sure if I’m happy using it because it depends on Brave.

                          1.  

                            If you’re on a Mac, I was always very happy with Fluid to make SSBs.

                          2. 1

                            Thanks for sharing… didn’t know about either of these; I’ll pass it along to people I know as well, that’s a little scummy…

                        2. 4

                          Or the Chromium-based Brave which has better privacy by default than Firefox, and you get to use all the Chrome extensions. It has a built-in adblocker, and supports (unlike Chrome/ Firefox) peer-to-peer encrypted sync of passwords, bookmarks, etc. without involving server-side storage.

                          1. 18

                            So Brave themselves can monetise their users? They haven’t been transparent in the past. Firefox has all of Chrome’s features and a lower memory footprint.

                            1. 11

                              Hell, this actually affected Lobsters too.

                              1. 6

                                Wow, I had a low opinion of them, but that’s much worse than I thought. Spoofing other browsers’ user agents explicitly to avoid detection? Scraping the names and photos of site creators to make it look like you’re paying the site creators directly, and pocketing the money? Modifying the content of the website to add affiliate codes to URLs?

                                So Brave is literally just a hugely widespread scam then.

                          2. 2

                            I use Chromium for work stuff, which is all Google suite based, and Firefox for everything else. On the Mac, I use Safari in place of Firefox, but same idea.

                            1. 2

                              I use Chromium for work stuff, which is all Google suite based

                              Out of curiosity, why? Most of my work docs are in Google Docs / Sheets, and they seem to work nicely in Firefox.

                              1. 3

                                I do the same, more for compartmentalization reasons than anything else. Stuff works fine in Firefox, but it’s nice to keep them separate in a really clear visual way.

                                I started doing it before Firefox added containerized tabs though and just kept it out of habit. But I can’t ditch chromium entirely yet because Firefox won’t play audio without pulse.

                                1. 1

                                  Compartmentalization. I block as many Google things in the browser, because life is too short. I also use Chromium-based SSBs for sites that I do not trust but still visit (Facebook, mostly).

                                2. 1

                                  Do you use something like 1Password to manage passwords across browsers? What about bookmarks, etc.?

                                    1. 2

                                      Yep to 1Password; and for bookmarks, I … don’t really keep them? I save stuff to Pinboard that’s interesting, and I keep bookmarks in my Google account for work.

                                  1. 2

                                    +1. Other reasons to switch that popped-up recently: uBlock works best on Firefox (https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/uBlock-Origin-works-best-on-Firefox), Google removed the ClearURLs add on from its store (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26564638).

                                  1. 9

                                    Something they miss in the article and I don’t see in the comments here either is just how much a move like this limits the app’s audience size.

                                    I have a feeling most crustaceans would be SHOCKED at how many “end users” would peel off and walk away when confronted with instructions to add a web app to their mobile device’s home page in favor of just downloading a native app from the app store.

                                    1. 5

                                      Why not make a “Web Store” that helps with aggregation and discoverability of web apps that will link to the website. It will give more credibility to the web app and not some unwanted pop up that screams “Download me”.

                                      1. 2

                                        Since we’ve broached the topic of iOS feature requests, why not make a “unlocked bootloader” that helps with aggregation and discoverability of apps (and daemons) since there is no longer the concept of an “app store”. It will give more credibility to 3rd party developers and not some unwanted censor that screams “it’s for your security and privacy!!!one!11”

                                        1. 5

                                          Ah, yes, because getting rid of a centralized, built-in way to discover new apps which (generally) are known to be more or less safe is a great idea for the average, often-times tech-adverse consumer.

                                          I can think of no way in which this could cause a negative impact for app discoverability, make it more difficult for users to install applications, or increase the risk of downloading and running malicious code (which, before you say it: no, the average user is not going to know how to check to see if something is malicious).

                                          This sounds like a fantastic idea.

                                          1. 1

                                            I’d agree, but the stores would need to do a better job of curation. As of now, there’s still a lot of grift and outright scams on the iOS app store - let alone the Android or Windows one. It undermines the message.

                                            1. 1

                                              Very true. The stores are all quite bad at curation, but I’d wager even a half-assed curation is better than none at all.

                                              1. 1

                                                You took my comment the wrong way. That’s not what I meant.

                                    1. 1

                                      Wow, this speaks to me. I am often frustrated as a soon-to-graduate undergraduate student, looking for a way to contribute to the language/software community and at the same time get enough (not lots, just enough) to live a comfortable life. Having some working experience with internships seemed to help me more in getting into big tech’s resume review rounds rather than a non-profit community. As somewhat a language enthusiast (I’m looking into getting a Master’s on this subject), I sometimes check out Rust and Zig repositories looking for things I can help out with. I have not been able to so far. This has been keeping me thinking a lot about my future since third year…

                                      1. 2

                                        You might feel you have some obligation to contribute to open source, but you really don’t. You should take stock of your time, consider what’s most important, and see if contributing to open source fits in there. No-one will fault you for not contributing if you prioritize family or putting food on the table.

                                        1. 4

                                          And even if you didn’t, you can’t really force yourself to contribute, if you’re like me. You contribute because you have an itch to scratch, but it a problem you run into every day, something missing you want, or you’re paid to scratch other people’s issues. There’s no contribution without a need.

                                      1. 4

                                        * Removed CU-SeeMe support from libalias(3).

                                        Damn, that’s a throwback. I’ve been meaning to write something on the history of videoconferencing…

                                        1. 2

                                          Right? I recall trying it circa 1992 at the Mac-based art lab I was working in while in grad school. That it worked at all seemed amazing.

                                        1. 3
                                           * Several drivers have been ported to the PowerPC64 architecture.
                                          

                                          I’m not gonna fall into the trap of saying “PowerPC? Who uses that anymore?”

                                          So let me ask the actually relevant question - what are people using PowerPC for these days?

                                          1. 6

                                            There are many POWER systems in TOP500, including two in TOP10.

                                            On a smaller scale, the aerospace industry uses it heavily as an embedded platform. So is the automotive industry.

                                            1. 3

                                              Wow. I didn’t know TOP500 existed. Thanks for that! I wonder if any of these IBM POWER systems are running FreeBSD :)

                                              Something tells me not so much and that they’re all still running AIX.

                                              1. 4

                                                They are all running Linux[1]. There hasn’t been any non-Linux system in TOP500 for many years (decades?) turns out that AIX was last present in 2017.

                                                Btw, the systems running AIX, Linux, and IBM i are all different even though they use the same CPUs. You can’t mix and match operating systems.

                                                [1] https://www.top500.org/statistics/list/

                                                1. 1

                                                  Holy cow and RedHat flavors DOMINATE the mix!

                                                  I guess that shouldn’t surprise me, but it does.

                                                  1. 3

                                                    That’s a little misleading, on many clusters the thing you log in to has RHEL/SuSE/CentOS/Scientific Linux but all of the compute nodes are busybox appliances so that’s really the “most prevalent” distro by orders of magnitude.

                                                    1. 2

                                                      rpm-based stuff always was kinda enterprise-y, while deb stuff was for “the little guy”. Not saying about quality, just how I saw it most of the time.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        I know a few Highly Opinionated Debian sysadmins who might beg to differ but I get where you’re coming from here :)

                                                        1. 1

                                                          Yeah i don’t lean either way, it’s just how i perceived people generally think about it.

                                                      2. 1

                                                        I’m not sure about other areas of HPC, but scientific HPC has been dominated by RHEL variants for a long time, partly influenced by Fermi Linux. Even if you didn’t specifically run a distro like Scientific Linux, a lot of the ecosystem assumed you were on something similar to RHEL or CentOS, and it was extra work to get things configured if you weren’t.

                                                        It’s shifting a bit now with machine learning stacks, which are more likely to treat Ubuntu as the default assumption.

                                                      3. 1

                                                        Btw, the systems running AIX, Linux, and IBM i are all different even though they use the same CPUs. You can’t mix and match operating systems.

                                                        Yes, you can. I’ve had systems running all three on the built-in hypervisor. What you can’t do is run the IBM OSes on non-IBM hardware like a Talos II.

                                                  2. 2

                                                    Uh, did you completely miss all the hype around Raptor Talos/Blackbird workstations?

                                                    There are also Power Mac G5s still in use, the latest models of which are even PCIe based, but it’s still 2005 hardware. And there’s an AmigaOne thing powered by an NXP chip. There’s a crowdfunding project slowly collecting money to build a laptop with these NXP chips.

                                                    Also the PlayStation 3 was powerpc64 but it’s the worst option due to the comically small amount of RAM lol

                                                    1. 2

                                                      Sorry I don’t know what Talos Blackbird is.

                                                      1. 1

                                                        POWER9 workstation boards focused on openness and obtainable by regular people (though still quite expensive). Many many blog posts about them have hit lobsters and other news aggregators…

                                                  1. 3

                                                    Spreadsheets are really underrated by “real programmers” - Excel is the most popular functional programming environment in the world. I’m glad someone’s taking a look at improvements to the model.

                                                    1. 7

                                                      I belive that this article will interest more people: https://www.fsf.org/news/statement-of-fsf-board-on-election-of-richard-stallman

                                                      The thing with a statement like this is that I’m afraid it won’t change anyone. I see it as a reafirmatiom of RMS honesty, others won’t. I wish the conversations around these topic would become more “civilised” (for lack of a better word), so that some concensus can be reached.

                                                      That being said, I wonder what influence the open letter and the support letter had on all of this. It seems the letter of support has currently twice as many signatures as the one criticising RMS, which is supprising. Then again, I was also amused to be reminded of how small the actual community of people who actually care about these things (pro or contra) are.

                                                      1. 36

                                                        It seems the letter of support has currently twice as many signatures as the one criticising RMS, which is surprising.

                                                        As a signer of the original letter, the signatures in the original letter matter a lot more than the counterletter.

                                                        The counterletter was drafted in 4chan /g/ (I saw the thread where people were drafting it) and heavily promoted in the Eastern Bloc at first. It was posted in several Russian-speaking link aggregation sites as well as 4chan itself. Sure, it has more numbers… by a bunch of people who are not writing the free software we are using. In the original letter I see people who wrote the software I’m using, people I have collaborated in bugs with, people I have met at Debconf and Pycon. I see organisations that make free software. In the counterletter I see some personalities like esr and a lot of angry Russians who are upset that someone is telling them that women are having a bad time in free software.

                                                        A few of the signers of the counterletter managed to get some troll signatures, in Russian and 4chan references, into the original letter. They were trying to prove that this meant that there were no safeguards in the original letter and were arguing that by forcing github usernames, their signatures were more valid. Whenever I discovered these troll signatures using my limited Russian, I pointed them out and they were removed. So there were some quality checks.

                                                        Number of signatories doesn’t mean anything. The original letter even stopped accepting signatures while the counterletter kept accepting them. It’s quite easy to get a lot of people in favour of any cause if you frame that cause as being some version of “free speech”, regardless of the speech being said and regardless of all of the people RMS has alienated from free software, especially women.

                                                        1. 16

                                                          heavily promoted in the Eastern Bloc at first

                                                          I am very troubled by this. Why are opinions of free software developers in the Eastern Bloc (or Asia, for that matter) any less valid? Blend2D (a random example) is a great free software, isn’t it? Speaking as an Asian. Thanks.

                                                          1. 5

                                                            I’ve explained this elsewhere, but judging from comments they have made in Habr and presumably 4chan, their motivations are linked to anti-women, anti-LGBT initiatives common in Russia and other Slavic countries. They tend to frame kindness initiatives that do not directly benefit men as some sort of Western degeneracy. This is why their opinions on why Stallman should be head of the FSF matter less.

                                                            Also, Stallman just hasn’t toured Russia that much; most of them have probably never had to deal with him much or work with him. They don’t know him like we do.

                                                          2. 9

                                                            The way I see it, both the people around the open letter and the support letter can be divided into two respective groups. The open letter have those honestly concerned about the negative influence of Stallman on the perception of the FSF/Free Software in general, just like there are those who are honestly concerned about the integrity of the FSF/Free Software when it comes to preserving user freedoms. The second groups are respectively those who are interested in undermining Free Software and those invested in Culture-War issues issues regarding Free Speech, as you mention. The interesting thing is that both “sincere” sides will probably overestimate and focus on the latter groups. An issue structured like this will naturally lead to a cultural deadlock.

                                                            What I wonder is why you think that the open letter is in itself more legitimate than the support letter, because you recognize more developers you know. To some degree it should be expected that people you agree with will more likely be on the same side of the issue. Ultimately it would seem to me that considering that Free Software and user freedom isn’t something that should just interest developers, but users too, even if they don’t have great reputations or have met friends at conferences.

                                                            Either way, because of the deadlock and the arguing about “numbers vs. legitimateness”, I don’t think that these two sides will agree on anything. It is but another trench in this virtual conflict. All I can do is wonder if this influenced the FSF in any meaningful way.

                                                            1. 25

                                                              The original letter are people writing free software. I don’t know what the counterletter people are doing, but they’re not, for the most part, working on GNU, Debian, openSUSE, gcc, nor are they FSF members or employees or hardly anything of the sort.

                                                              This matters.

                                                              Btw: I don’t think anyone is interested in undermining free software. This is a conspiracy theory promoted by the counterletter authors and supporters, that somehow if we don’t want Stallman it must mean that we want to be serfs to FAMANG.

                                                              I support free software. I don’t have to support Stallman to do so.

                                                              1. 14

                                                                Setting aside that there are Free Software contributors that sign the support letter,

                                                                • Andrea Corallo (GCC developer, Emacs developer)
                                                                • Eli Zaretskii (GNU Emacs maintainer)
                                                                • Leah Rowe (Libreboot Project Leader)

                                                                to name a few I recognize, next to members of the same projects you mention – I repeat my question: Why does it matter?

                                                                1. 9

                                                                  Yes, there are some. If we go by “voting members” of the free software world, so to speak, there are way more in the original letter than the counterletter.

                                                                  No orgs have signed the counterletter either.

                                                                  1. 7

                                                                    Again, why does this matter?

                                                                    1. 25

                                                                      Demonstrably it didn’t. Neither letter mattered. The FSF did whatever it wanted.

                                                                      But for me it mattered. It showed that there is a clear consensus of people I want to work with. We agree on who we no longer want to be in charge or be a philosophical beacon for us.

                                                                      1. 11

                                                                        I think the open letter mattered a lot by starting the discussion and making it clear that a lot of people have a problem that he rejoined the board.

                                                                        The support letter shows that a lot of his followers have no problem about any of his opinions or thoughts as long as he did a lot of great work.

                                                                        1. 5

                                                                          Demonstrably it didn’t. Neither letter mattered. The FSF did whatever it wanted.

                                                                          That is what I was wondering. Did the surprising outcome of the support letter help the FSF make their decision? The reason I use the word “surprising” is that in most cases, the “right” and “wrong” sides of these discussions are quickly established, the insinuation of a majority is made on various social media platforms and the change is pushed through (such as with Stallman in 2019 or with the Linux Kernel before). I actually expected the support letter to have far less traction, whether because the position is less popular of because it is more risky to voice support for that side. The previous chapter of the controversy had the “Joint Statement” to state opposition to Stallman. The other side didn’t have anything of that sort.

                                                                          Ultimately this is all speculate and doesn’t amount to anything, but it is an interesting shift (or problematic tendency, depending on your interpretations).

                                                                          1. 16

                                                                            it is more risky to voice support for that side

                                                                            There is no greater risk to signing the counterletter. This is another conspiracy theory pushed by the counterletter, that there is a great cabal of worldwide cancellists who will harm you if you publicly support Stallman. That you need to have great bravery to sign the counterletter.

                                                                            I have no hard numbers, but I believe in actuality the signers of the original letter have received more abusive emails. I got a lot when I signed the GNU joint statement asking for RMS to be removed from leadership in 2019. I’m actually really afraid about having signed the original letter. I am afraid someone will get very angry and try to track me down to my home or something like that. Well, I am not sure how likely this could be, but there’s a lot more undirected anger in the counterletter than the original letter, aimed at a vague and nebulous “cancel culture”. The original letter’s anger is more focussed on a single individual who has been holding back free software for decades.

                                                                            1. 14

                                                                              Not a conspiracy theory at all. I may not be hired for choosing to sign the pro-RMS letter:

                                                                              https://twitter.com/jhulten/status/1376360925809106951

                                                                              A tool to “block” signers of the pro-RMS letter: https://github.com/travisbrown/octocrabby

                                                                              There’s even a browser extension to highlight signers, anywhere we show up.

                                                                              But sure, go on. “Cancel culture” doesn’t exist!

                                                                              1. 12

                                                                                You’re afraid of not being hired by… some dude. I’m afraid of someone showing up in my home and trying to harm me. How many angry and threatening emails have you gotten? I got about about five in 2019.

                                                                                I’m also a little afraid of not being hired by some people for having signed the letter; similar compilations exist for those who signed the original letter.

                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                  Yes, cancel culture does exist.

                                                                                  However most tech companies are not bigoted enough to respect these “cancel” lists, and I’ve never seen sufficient evidence to the contrary. As to the ones who are, you would not want to work with them anyway.

                                                                                  Also, I predict that the future will be less woke.

                                                                                  1. 9

                                                                                    “Cancel culture” always existed, in the sense that there were entities with the power to arbitrarily take away your reputation, your livelihood, even your basic rights. Historically those entities have been major institutions such as governments and large corporations, and they have done so as a reaction against increasing liberalism.

                                                                                    Unsurprisingly, most of the people who now loathe and decry and bemoan “cancel culture” come down on the conservative/reactionary side and are primarily reacting to the democratization (or threat thereof) of the ability to inflict consequences based on someone’s speech, actions, associations, etc. which has been brought about by technology. When I was young, you needed a major media organization (or two or three) behind you to really “cancel” someone effectively. Now you just need a Twitter account and for what you say to catch on with enough other people. To people who were used to being the only ones wielding this power, it likely feels terrifying and so they want to treat it as a new thing. But it is simply the thing they always did, now made available to many others via technology’s ability to amplify voices, improve coordination, etc.

                                                                                    As to your last point, it’s worth noting that while the traditional predictor of someone’s politics (on a generic liberal <-> conservative spectrum) has been their age, it appears that is now changing and the most reliable predictors are becoming things like education level (higher education -> overwhelming more liberal tendency) and race/ethnicity (“white”/European-descended -> overwhelming more conservative tendency). So you might want to recalibrate the confidence of your prediction, especially based on a claim that measures within a young and still-developing generational cohort many of whom have not yet attended university.

                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                      The preference of one or more organizations to avoid associating with people who publicly support someone with a behavioral track record like Stallman’s is not bigoted.

                                                                                      To describe it as such feels dishonest, and ignores the fact that people have legitimate concerns over how likely it is for someone who explicitly supports Stallman’s viewpoints to work in the kinds of inclusive and diverse environments that modern companies and communities seek to cultivate.


                                                                                      As for your prediction, I don’t think it’s very likely that the future will be less “woke”; the tweet you reference appears to be from a group that’s quite politically conservative if you go by the recent content on their timeline, so there’s quite a bit of potential for bias there.

                                                                                      In my experience, the tech communities that seem to be growing the most rapidly seem to focus heavily on the mind of inclusivity that I associate with “woke culture” (e.g, JavaScript and Rust).

                                                                                      By comparison, communities that try to stay “apolitical” (in their own words, not mine) seem to attract more abrasive and disruptive contributors who do nothing to help their relevance.

                                                                                      1. 10

                                                                                        Painting over 6000 people as being automatically opposed in some form to inclusivity, just because they stand against the witch hunt of RMS, and then seeking to “cancel” them is the very definition of bigotry (”intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself”). It is also disingenuous to suggest that any organizations doing the cancellation is doing it only as a “preference”, as if there is no political / mob pressure behind the scenes.

                                                                                        As for your allusion to a group being (according to you) politically conservative, that only seems to be a discrediting tactic used so as to avoid having to address the central point (the statistics quoted in the tweet).

                                                                                        1. 9

                                                                                          It is not a witch hunt. He’s not a witch. He’s a guy who has demonstrably harmed free software in many ways. He was a terrible boss at the FSF (for example, refused to give raises because his logic is that wages would then increase without bound, bankrupting the FSF), he has creeped out many women, he has yelled and lost his temper at the very people who are trying to support his cause, he has defended zoophilia, pedophilia, and necrophilia, his main activism is ineffective language nitpicking and advocating technological abnegation.

                                                                                          Not wanting him in charge is not the same as wanting him burned at the stake.

                                                                                          And please don’t make me come up with links for all of these things. It’s really tiring to have to be an archivist for all of these things. Look them up yourself and if you can’t find them, then I’ll try to help.

                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                    I thought about what happens if I would sign the open letter a bit and since a few days I get spam about GNU and Linux related topics which are oddly or very close related to RMS. One mail even had the fake sender address of Adolf H. (Yes, the one you think)

                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                      Daniel Pocock has been spamming people on both lists lately. The guy is a figure.

                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                        FWIW I have been receiving the same messages.

                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                          Oh? Are people mass-emailing the counterletter signers with angry notes? What have you gotten?

                                                                                          I seem to be flying under the radar this time, but I attracted a lot of anger in 2019.

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            The RMS open letter, not the support one AFAIK.

                                                                                  3. 4

                                                                                    It took me a good night’s sleep to realize that you’re still evading my question. So I’ll rephrase it one more: Why should it matter? Why do the voices of software users who see Stallman as someone who defends their Freedoms matter less than those of (some) developers.

                                                                                    1. 12

                                                                                      Oh, that’s what you were asking:

                                                                                      They matter less because they haven’t actually directly dealt with him. They haven’t worked on software he has tried to have a voice in, they haven’t seen him at conferences, they haven’t had him directly yell at them.

                                                                                      They don’t know him. So their opinions of him are less well-founded.

                                                                              2. 7

                                                                                More names here:

                                                                                https://www.debian.org/vote/2021/vote_002

                                                                                I count 20 people seconding one of “Support Stallman’s reinstatement, as in rms-support-letter.github.io” and “Denounce the witch-hunt against RMS and the FSF” proposals,

                                                                                1. Adrian Bunk [bunk@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                2. Norbert Preining [preining@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                3. Jonas Smedegaard [js@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                4. Ying-Chun Liu [paulliu@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                5. Barak A. Pearlmutter [bap@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                6. Adam Borowski [kilobyte@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                7. Micha Lenk [micha@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                8. Michael Biebl [biebl@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                9. Bart Martens [bartm@debian.org] [mail] [confirm]
                                                                                10. Jonas Smedegaard [js@debian.org] [mail] [confirm] [confirm] [confirm]
                                                                                11. Pierre-Elliott Bécue [peb@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                12. Daniel Lenharo [lenharo@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                13. Milan Kupcevic [milan@debian.org] [mail] [confirm]
                                                                                14. Michael Biebl [biebl@debian.org] [mail] [confirm]
                                                                                15. Axel Beckert [abe@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                16. Gilles Filippini [pini@debian.org] [mail] [confirm]
                                                                                17. Filippo Rusconi [lopippo@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                18. Shengjing Zhu [zhsj@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                19. Matteo F. Vescovi [mfv@debian.org] [mail] [confirm]
                                                                                20. Mathias Behrle [mbehrle@debian.org] [mail]
                                                                                1. 12

                                                                                  These aren’t votes yet. These are seconds, for various of the proposals, both for and against and various shades in between. This is how Debian does resolutions. The votes will be finalised by Saturday.

                                                                                  1. 8

                                                                                    both for and against and various shades in between.

                                                                                    The 20 Debian folks I included however were all for (not against) supporting Stallman. I only included it (and this is only from Debian) because you wrote “the counterletter people are [….] not, for the most part, working on GNU, Debian, openSUSE, gcc,”.

                                                                                    1. 11

                                                                                      That’s not entirely how that works; they’ve seconded the resolutions to appear on the ballot, not voted for them specifically. Seconding it just means they think it should appear as an option, not that they agree with it.

                                                                        2. 8

                                                                          It seems the letter of support has currently twice as many signatures as the one criticising RMS, which is supprising.

                                                                          RMS has a very religious almost cult following. So no surprise there. Also the RMS open letter GitHub repo stopped accepting signatures on April 1st. The support one still accepts signatures to this date.

                                                                          I did a very quick look at the signers of the RMS support letter, looked at a very small amount of accounts closer and there where a couple of things that stood out and seemed fishy:

                                                                          • lots of Russian sounding names
                                                                          • some of them where newly created (for example 31. March), had their first PR against the repository or had very little activity the last year

                                                                          This could be coincidence or people created their account because of this letter but it could also mean that people created new account or used other means to inflate the numbers.

                                                                          1. 21

                                                                            lots of Russian sounding names

                                                                            As someone of Slavic descent, I would be very interested in what you mean to imply by this point.

                                                                            1. 15

                                                                              Russia has a well-documented state-sponsored homophobia. The recent Russian bill to ban gay marriage, even foreign-made gay marriage, had over 70% support in the polls. These attitudes trickle down and they’re popular with the general Russophone population, not just with the governments. A widespread belief in Slavic countries is that gay acceptance is some Western-induced degeneracy that didn’t really exist in Soviet times, along with some kind of desire to go back to the good ol’ days when LGBT people didn’t “exist”.

                                                                              Thus, a letter that is perceived to defend someone (RMS) who has been attacked by the LGBT community will be popular in Russia and surrounding countries. The discourse in 4chan framed the counterletter as being explicitly drafted to give trans people a kick in the head. They consistently used transphobic slurs to refer to me and other signatories of the original letter.

                                                                              1. 15

                                                                                This is such a wild take. Heck, you could’ve said something like “they’re Russian bots” and that would be somewhat acceptable. You didn’t stop to consider that they could’ve had other motivations (so many better ones!) for having signed it? This is a very bad generalization of the Russian populace, akin to calling all Americans gun-touting redneck hillbillies.

                                                                                The real reason for most of the Russian signatures was the letter being shared on some Russian link-aggregator site(s).

                                                                                1. 7

                                                                                  No, they’re not bots, they’re real. And talking to them in the github issues of the counterletter, they are very angry about women and minorities being promoted. This seems to be a strong implicit reason for their alignment with the defense of Stallman. They want to defend their freedom of speech to be awful to women and minorities because being nice is censorship.

                                                                                  Of course I generalised, because we have voting numbers. At least 70% of the Russian population is homophobic.

                                                                                  1. 5

                                                                                    At least 70% of the Russian population is homophobic.

                                                                                    I’d really like to see what are your sources for this claim.

                                                                                    1. 14

                                                                                      I gave you the source: the voting numbers of the Russian bill passed yesterday to ban gay marriage. It had widespread support. These are not deeply-hidden facts that are difficult to find.

                                                                                      But here, there’s plenty more sources:

                                                                                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Russia#Public_opinion_2

                                                                                      If anything, I was giving Russians the benefit of the doubt with 70% It seems closer to 80%.

                                                                                2. 6

                                                                                  Flagged as troll for being racist against Russians.

                                                                                  1. 8

                                                                                    Russian homophobia is well-documented and is a very harmful problem that is killing people in Russia. Recognising problems in Russian society is uncomfortable, but I don’t think it’s racist.

                                                                                    1. 6

                                                                                      Here’s how I understand your reasoning:

                                                                                      • Russian government is homophobic and polls show that many russian citizens also are (that is true)
                                                                                      • Many people who supported the counter-letter are from Russia (also true)
                                                                                      • Therefore they support RMS because they are homophobic.

                                                                                      You can tell me to go find it myself. But, it’s you making claims. When I’m making a claim, I’m ready to bear the burden of proof, or I say that it’s just my opinion that may be too far-fetched or entirely untrue. You present your statements as facts but are unwilling to present any proofs, and I don’t think it makes you look more trustworthy, even if your statements are true.

                                                                                      1. 5

                                                                                        The last claim comes as an inference and from statements I have seen in 4chan and Habr, in English and Russian. 4chan quite openly frames support for the counterletter as a homophobic and transphobic cause. It’s more subtle in the Habr comments, but it does happen there too.

                                                                                        It’s more difficult to find it in Habr because my Russian is rudimentary but if you’d like, I can do that too, in case your own Russian isn’t good enough.

                                                                                3. 2

                                                                                  Just something I have noticed. I don’t know if FSF normally reaches those countries and if it is suspicious or not.

                                                                                4. 4

                                                                                  lots of Russian sounding names

                                                                                  From what I heard, the support letter was shared around Russian HN-likes, which explains that aspect.

                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                    Do you know if those sites tried to push people to sign the letter?

                                                                                    1. 9

                                                                                      Yes, it was posted to Habr:

                                                                                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habr

                                                                                      I can’t find the original post, but they coordinated attacks on the original letter from Habr, for example:

                                                                                      https://habr.com/en/post/549276/

                                                                                      1. 9

                                                                                        Are you implying that anti-RMS people “sign open letters”, while pro-RMS people “coordinate attacks” when they do exactly the same thing? ;)

                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                          These are the same sort of people who are trying to directly harm Molly de Blanc, getting her arrested or swatted. I won’t link to that attack, but there is a lot of anger and implied violence against the original letter. This thing posted to Habr is the same sort of angry violence, trying to get legal authorities involved.

                                                                                          It’s not exactly the same thing, it’s not both sides. I am not calling for Stallman to be arrested or harmed. I just don’t want him leading the FSF or GNU.

                                                                                          1. 7

                                                                                            You are accusing people of coordinating an attack and giving a link to something that clearly isn’t that (not a thread where an attack coordination took place). Then you say you won’t give a real link. Why should I believe you?

                                                                                            The post you linked to doesn’t call for violence towards anyone, either. Also, “calls for violence” and “calls for authorities to get involved” are kinda mutually exclusive things.

                                                                                            1. 7

                                                                                              It’s not hard to find the Molly de Blanc attack page. Look for it yourself.

                                                                                              Also, “calls for violence” and “calls for authorities to get involved” are kinda mutually exclusive things.

                                                                                              Not in the US. Swatting has gotten people killed. Swatters hope people will get killed. This is an unfortunate by-product of militarisation of the US police force: calling cops on someone can be a death sentence.

                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                All respect due, that post isn’t calling for swatting. It’s calling for the removal of the issue from GitHub!

                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                  I’m talking about the attack site on Molly de Blanc that I don’t want to link.

                                                                                                  But incorrectly citing laws on Github is a similar sort of aggression, driven by similar rage. You’re right it won’t lead to a swatting but I have seen the same group endorse both kinds of actions.

                                                                                          2. 3

                                                                                            I mean, they are literally trying to coordinate to have the original letter removed. That’s different to signing an open letter, isn’t it?

                                                                                            1. 6

                                                                                              It’s a copy of the deleted issue that someone posted there after the fact, and it received a whole three comments (all general remarks about the situation, no specific action proposals). Since that post clearly is not about coordinating an attack, I assumed JordiGH is referring to something else—most likely the rms-support-letter itself.

                                                                                          3. 1

                                                                                            The issue reads like some spam I get daily 😀

                                                                                      2. 4

                                                                                        Who cares where they’re from? What matters is whether they’re just random names, or if they’re actively involved in the business of the FSF (and, therefore, are more likely to know what they’re talking about).

                                                                                      3. 2

                                                                                        It seems the letter of support has currently twice as many signatures as the one criticising RMS, which is supprising.

                                                                                        I don’t know. It seems to me that pretty much nobody knows who RMS is, and a significant portion of those who do don’t care about him. So it makes sense that the ones who bother to do something about it are the ones who support him.

                                                                                      1. 28

                                                                                        There’s an implied assumption in distros that old versions are stable and good. Unfortunately all packages are forced to conform to that, and it causes pain for packages that don’t fit this assumption.

                                                                                        Not every project can afford to maintain multiple old release branches and make it possible to backport fixes.

                                                                                        It’s super annoying for authors when users complain about bugs that have already been fixed years ago, and there’s no solution other than to tell users to stop using their distro.

                                                                                        1. 16

                                                                                          I wonder how much of this is the distro model being designed around being…. actually physical distributions. Debian in 1998 was for many an entire set of CDs, and all the little packages in it were assumed to be part of the operating system you were just slicing like a ham. It was both a freezing of the world in that state of time, and pretending it was all one big mass.

                                                                                          Likewise, how much did internet distribution change the assumptions that made the distros in the first place? Are they still valid ones? I’m thinking a lot about this and what my answer would be.

                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                            I don’t think stable release cycles are tied to the physical distributions. It is assumed that users of a stable distro with a release cycle of 2 years just expect things to be stable for 2 years. If they need 5 years, they find a distribution with a 5 year release cycle. Distributions are often seen as responsible of distribution old software, but for most software, users just expect stability. People not interested in stability can use Arch or Debian Unstable.

                                                                                            The main problem is that for some piece of software, some users may want a more recent one. Debian answers this with backports (by Debian), Ubuntu with PPA (by random people). For desktop-type applications, there are distribution-agnostic methods, like Flatpak.

                                                                                            Releasing more often would be a pain as Debian (for example) would need to maintain several distributions in parallel. Currently, the maximum is two (during one year). With a release cycle of 6 months, this would mean 4 distributions simultaneously (old stable, stable, n-1 and n), like Ubuntu. We just don’t have the manpower for that (and no real demands either).

                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                              Related to this, the package versions in a stable distro are known to work together. In the OpenTTD case this probably isn’t as big of a deal, but software packages in general are known to have problems when future versions of libraries are released. When you use, e.g. Debian stable, you’re assured that everything that worked yesterday will continue to work today.

                                                                                            2. 1

                                                                                              I don’t think so. I expect things on my LTS release to stay stable for some years and I know that they won’t be the latest and greatest. And games with multiplayer & co may just be unsuited for this. But they aren’t as relevant for stability as my file manager, login or displaymanager..

                                                                                            3. 5

                                                                                              This might be slightly off topic and might sound a bit like being a “fanboyism”, but I don’t mean it that way, because I hope that others will pick it up, so it isn’t a somewhat unique feature anymore.

                                                                                              The BSDs for historical reasons split base and ports/packages. But it kind of developed into a feature and great care is taken in all of them on what goes in and out of the base system. The base is of course supposed to be stable.

                                                                                              But then there is the ports which are not just “everything in there is rolling release”, but more fine grained. For projects where it makes sense there is different versions, for example different PostgreSQL versions. So one can freely choose.

                                                                                              But it goes further. OpenBSD and FreeBSD also have flavors so you also get to pick and choose for (just because it’s famous) Python.

                                                                                              And if you are self compiling you get to choose different variations, let’s say you wanna build an old Postgres, with LibreSSL, but with a new (supported) PostGIS, you can do so.

                                                                                              And on top of that for FreeBSD and NetBSD you get to choose if you want have the stable quarterly branches of the ports trees or the latest one, with the latest versions, which (I think largely cause they are usually not modified) very stable and fit for server usage. All because you have that stable base still

                                                                                              I think if I wouldn’t have used it for so long in very different production environments it would sound kind of messy to me, but it’s not like one somehow has to constantly make a decision. It works out very nice and one doesn’t usually stumble across issues (certainly less frequently than in Debian, where I think the main issue stems from packages being modified (heavily patched), split, etc.).

                                                                                              It would be great to see something similar being undertaken in the Linux world. There have been quite a lot of situations where I only went with FreeBSD because of the above.

                                                                                              There is no technical reason for this not existing, so it very much surprises me that it doesn’t exist. There have been people using pkgsrc on Linux, but it’s not so much the point to bring that into Linux, as it is to bring those concepts to Linux. I think bringing in pkgsrc can be hard, because a lot naturally is optimized for its main platforms and the pkgsrc distros at large simply were tiny one person shows that never reached enough mass.

                                                                                              So I am wondering if I’m the only one who’d sometimes really liked something like this existing. I think something like Gentoo (or pretty much anything else really) could still be used as a base for such an approach. Does such a project exist?

                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                I think it’s a bit more complicated WRT BSDs, because FreeBSD is unifying ports/packages UX wise but keeping the same release policy/separation. They also have the luxury of developing a stable base, whereas Linux components are disparate and and separately developed. I think it’s a good thing (and a proven strategy) in the case of say, FreeBSD, where they keep binary compatibility going, because it provides a stable base to build off of. Windows and macOS go further and just put more components you’d need to rely on like the GUI or audio as part of a stable, ABI compatible base.

                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                  As a long time Debian user and developer, I’d love us to move to a base/ports-like model, and have a leaner Base than what “main” is today.

                                                                                                2. 3

                                                                                                  This is a fairly serious educational problem I agree. Issues in a distro version should never be reported to upstream, but to the distro.

                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                    As an end user, what do I get out of reporting it to the distro and not the upstream if something breaks that doesn’t seem like a downstream issue? The triage can be useful, but not enough I’d think to report there first.

                                                                                                    Commercially, I do know what it’s like - I support a PHP distribution, but I think it has more merit than for say, the typical Linux distribution, because the proprietary platform we support it on isn’t well known by most PHP developers, there are necessary distribution differences, additional patches to make it work, etc. that means they get support from us - they usually pay for it though.

                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                      You get the benefit of reporting against the version you actually run, and maybe getting the version you actually run fixed. Repoting to upstream in the best case causes the fix to go into a version you are not using for possibly a long time or ever, and worst/common case just annoys upstream.

                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                        True, but how likely would I be able to get a fix in that case? If a bug is fixed in 0.9.3 and Debian ships 0.9.1, they don’t usually backport fixes like that unless it’s security, because it would break the entire point of stable.

                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                          I suppose it depends if the maintainer agrees it is a bug. The point of stable is to work and not break, so if already broken a fix shouldn’t “break the point” but of course this will vary by maintainer

                                                                                                    2. 1

                                                                                                      It’s not an educational problem, IMO. That’s just shunting the problem to the user. It’s a UI problem; if there were some sort of standard bug-reporting platform that auto-included relevant info like distros, I don’t see why upstream devs couldn’t set an automatic rule like “bugs with Debian stable are automatically forwarded to the Debian packagers and the user is automatically sent a reply saying “hey your distro is old as eff and we recommend using something newer”.

                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                        I mean, there is a standard bug reporting UI for debian (reportbug), can be run from either shell or as GUI. But I agree it needs to be more prominently featured in default desktop installs.

                                                                                                    3. 1

                                                                                                      and there’s no solution other than to tell users to stop using their distro.

                                                                                                      Or distribute the game/software as a static binary and tell users to update manually/bundle an auto updater.

                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                        Static binaries help until you need NSS (for auth/NS), or more realistically for a game, to get to libGL.

                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                      I wonder if splitting repositories into multiple categories would help. Core utilities should have been more thoroughly tested, and the older software is the more it has been “tested”. But of course this doesn’t apply to all software. The backports system tries to help here, but something like a game obviously doesn’t have to be tested to the same degree as bash. Then there are also examples where software just breaks due to external changes, such as with web browsers or youtube-dl. Then again, the biggest problem with having different lanes would probably be dependency management.

                                                                                                      1. 7

                                                                                                        youtube-dl is a great actual example of a case where stability is an anti-feature. I like my games stable, but for ytdl to work at all you often need close to latest version.

                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                          To be fair, youtube-dl could be engineered in such a way that extractors aren’t hard-coded but their logic is downloaded from somewhere (some central network or a P2P swarm).

                                                                                                          1. 9

                                                                                                            I think that might be controversial, and would certainly be controversial with distros.

                                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                                              That seems to be arguing that any program that needs to be frequently updated needs to build in its own update mechanism. That then raises two questions:

                                                                                                              • What is the distro’s packaging mechanism for, if people are expected to build their own on top and use the distro only for the bootstrapping phase?
                                                                                                              • Why not factor out that per-application update mechanism into something generic?

                                                                                                              I find it quite depressing how much effort seems to be being spent in the open source world working around RedHat / Debian’s packaging policies. As a long-time FreeBSD user, I have never experienced the problems these things are trying to solve.

                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                I’m not saying that youtube-dl should be responsible for it’s own updates (even though it does have this functionality implemented), just that it might have been more convenient to have some kind of a DSL for describing how to extract videos, that can be distributed independently from the program itself.

                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                          writef("%02xh", b[addr + 1]);

                                                                                                          Please don’t use hex for displaying assembled instructions. It is almost invariably Wrong (on x86, at least). Every disassembler I know of makes this mistake.

                                                                                                          Prefer octal.

                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                            Why octal over hex? It’s eight-bit bytes, after all. (My assembly experiences are on RISCs where the places where args go aren’t nicely aligned for readability anyways usually, so…

                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                              RISCs where the places where args go aren’t nicely aligned for readability anyways usually

                                                                                                              Hence ‘on x86, at least’. (Though it also applies to other archs, like cray.) Because on x86 things are nicely aligned like that. E.G. on z80 in octal, anything with first digit 2 is alu; the second digit determines which alu operation to perform, and the third digit indicates the operand (all alu ops affect the accumulator). Everything starting with 1 is a move, with the second and third digits as the operands. Etc.

                                                                                                            2. 1

                                                                                                              It really depends upon the architecture. Hex is preferable for the 6502, 6809 and VAX. Octal is preferable for the x86 and the 68k. Although I would still like to see addresses for all these in hex, as all these are byte addressable machines.

                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                              but Valve has already done most of the work with the presence of the Steam Runtime to make single Linux binaries run pretty much on any distro.

                                                                                                              Nope. Only on distros using glibc. Not on any distro.

                                                                                                              1. 11

                                                                                                                Only a few distros don’t ship glibc, and their users are probably sadly used to lots of things being broken…

                                                                                                                1. 7

                                                                                                                  … and they typically offer a glibc install for those that want/need it.

                                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                                    There’s also gcompat too. I always thought the Steam Runtime included its own libc, so it’d be completely standalone… (edit: except i realize libGL exists. oops!)

                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                Excellent read. This happened with the early open source OS’s, where someone assumed the work was done right when it wasn’t. It took/takes a lot to actually get it right, doesn’t take anything to just assume it’s right.

                                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                                  With your biggest Seymour Skinner voice, “Are my drivers incorrect? No, it is the hardware manufacturers who are wrong.”

                                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                                    Having written drivers back then, I can safely say it was both.

                                                                                                                    cue crystal clear flashbacks to when I figured out how to fast reset an rtl8139c

                                                                                                                1. 8

                                                                                                                  Yes, you can write it. Now try debugging it. I’ve written generic data structures in C like this and the debugging experience is awful. If something goes wrong, you’re stepping through functions that are declared inside macros and most debuggers really suck at that.

                                                                                                                  Oh, and this isn’t actually the best way of doing it. It’s much better to use a macro for your type and function names and put each of your data structures in a separate header. You can then #define the type that you want (and any other generic parameters) and #include the header at the top of your source file. You then have all of the types available in your compilation unit and the debugger is walking into real functions when you try to do them.

                                                                                                                  After you’ve done this, you should step back and realise that you’ve implemented a subset of C++ templates with even worse syntax. At that point you should ask yourself whether that’s really what you wanted. If you really want to write C++ code in C, why not just use C? You then get a standard library that’s full of features that make this easy. Even in a free-standing environment, things like <atomic> and <type_traits> are very useful and the C++ atomics are far better designed than the C versions (which are a half-arsed port from C++11 to C11 that completely missed the point in a few places).

                                                                                                                  I recently wrote some code using C++ templates that would be almost impossible to make both readable and portable in C. The goal is to pull the system call number and arguments out of a signal frame, call a function that emulates the syscall, and then insert the result into the response. The code for pulling out the system call arguments is per platform and is very simple. There’s then a template function that extracts the arguments into a tuple with the correct type and a that, in turn, is called from a generic lambda that gets the types from the declaration of the function that emulates the syscall and invokes it. This is fairly trivial in a language with a built-in generic system and some pattern matching on types. Doing the equivalent in C would be horrendously painful. It would probably be easy in Rust too. Oh, and if you’re worried about binary size, this whole thing compiles down to about a dozen x86 instructions - the compiler extracts arguments in blocks for functions that use the same number of arguments and then switches on the syscall number to invoke the handler function. If I were doing the same thing in hand-written assembly, I probably wouldn’t generate better code.

                                                                                                                  C++ is generally available on any 32-bit platform with a C compiler, these days the only excuse for choosing C is that you have a weird 16-bit target with no C compiler.

                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                    If you’re targeting a compiler with pre-C++11, or worse…. pre-C++98, I could see just wanting to use C instead. Early C++ is rough.

                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                      That’s true. C++11 made the language tolerable, C++17 made it nice. Clang and GCC both support C++17 though, so unless your target is something sufficiently exotic that it isn’t supported by those, you’re probably in luck.