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Re: Future Direction of GNU Hurd?

From: Paul Boddie
Subject: Re: Future Direction of GNU Hurd?
Date: Sun, 13 Sep 2020 23:08:57 +0200

On Sunday, 13 September 2020 21:22:41 CEST Richard Braun wrote:
> On Sun, Sep 13, 2020 at 03:01:44PM +0200, Paul Boddie wrote:
> >
> > So to dismiss such concerns as things that do not apply is actually rather
> > offensive to people who did burn out working on Free Software.
> I'm not dismissing their experience, but you seem to consider them the rule
> rather than the exception.

We actually have no real idea how common it is, but it does have an 
unfortunate habit of happening in quite a few projects, sometimes very 
quietly, sometimes very publicly. Where it is happening publicly, I would say 
that it has shown itself to be a significant challenge to the governance and 
functioning of those projects.

> You're questioning *our* decency as project contributors/maintainers as if
> *we* were responsible for the fact that other people would burn out from
> *their* own issues.

I'm not questioning your decency, although it almost seems like you want me to 
just for the mock outrage opportunity. Nothing happens entirely in isolation, 
which means that people experiencing personal adversity may have done so in 
part due to their efforts working on Free Software.

As I noted, there is a pervasive "audition culture" around Free Software which 
merely tells people to work harder, produce patches that are "just right", 
often with terse and discouraging responses, and so on. None of this is likely 
to improve the well-being of anyone sliding towards burn-out for whatever 
reason. It would seem to me like an abdication of responsibility to then claim 
that the outcome was all that person's fault, but then what do I know?

In properly regulated workplaces, the employer wouldn't be so readily able to 
just claim that "the guy just worked here: we had nothing to do with his 
problems", so I don't really see participation in a Free Software project, 
especially a demanding one, to be any different from an ethical perspective.


> > Nobody seriously claims that a "mere website" will "save" anything.
> > However, quite a few people would seriously claim that a "mere website"
> > and the associated assets of a project would certainly improve a
> > project's viability.
> Obviously, I exaggerated the idea to turn in into a parody.

Because that is obviously the most constructive way of discussing such issues, 
is it?

> Again, I'm not against completely reworking the website and adding assets.
> As usual, I want the right stuff. So not a "modern" looking website with
> content that changes as you scroll down just because it seems like a "cool"
> idea. That's not going to work.

So, I guess people wasted their time explaining that they weren't just looking 
for a "modern"/"cool" Web site.


I am sure that people can get a good enough impression from just reading 
through that thread and seeing how constructive each of the participants were 
in their replies. You know, I have actually been in the position of the person 
who started that thread, albeit in a different project that you will have 
heard of, and my experience in that situation was that some people were 
constructive and others less so to the point of being dismissive and entitled.

Normally, when someone offers to contribute their time and effort in an area 
that is poorly served in a project, one might expect the response to be 
gratitude, especially if the person concerned offers to be sensitive and to 
work with others and especially when it effectively costs the project nothing. 
But when the response starts off being dismissive, which in my experience 
amounted to "I don't see the point" (when various others did), and ends up 
being entitled, which in my experience amounted to "I never liked the way we 
did that: maybe show me something I will like" then one knows that one has the 
measure of the project in terms of how worthwhile it is to continue engaging 
with it.

(And for me, this was a project that I did get patches into, so it was not 
simply a matter of me not being able to play with someone else's Web site. To 
this day, the project in question still leaves the same impression of neglect 
with those assets.)

> > Sorry again, but I didn't assert or even imply anything about people being
> > "too dumb" or "drama queens", although one can certainly find drama in the
> > mailing list archives. My only suspicion was that people decided that
> > various L4 kernels weren't suitable and then may not have reviewed their
> > assumptions when newer kernels emerged. Instead they went off and started
> > new microkernel projects, which the other Richard feared would be a bad
> > idea. Well, I guess he was right about something else.
> That's the impression me and others got when reading your message.

And others? They can speak for themselves.


> As I wrote earlier, "dead" to me means that it stagnates. In the case of
> Hurd on L4, there is simply no activity at all. Projects are not people,
> they don't necessarily stay dead. I assumed that was obvious.

"Dead" typically has the connotation of finality. By using the term and by 
stating that any such activity lies in the past - I surely do not need to 
quote you here - you communicated an intolerance for any further consideration 
or discussion of such an endeavour. And projects are not people, obviously, 
but they are also more than just code.


> Obviously, if someone else can do that with an L4 kernel, or anything
> else, I'd be delighted, and that's why I'm still following this list.

So why did you seek to close down discussion? Do not claim that you only meant 
to reference a singular Hurd-on-L4 implementation by such a remark. As far as 
I know, this list has always been about the entire spectrum of approaches to 
use L4-family microkernels as the basis of a Hurd-like system, even if some 
people may have liked the idea of an "easy" port from one technology to the 

> So yes, the only thing left for me to do is point the finger at the guy
> who spreads soft FUD to newcomers.

I only described the situation as I saw it, leading you to identify yourself 
as a participant in that situation. Feel free to shoot the messenger: it just 
makes the silence afterwards more awkward.


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