Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog


The Debian system is certainly written with the technical user in mind, though I think the foundation they provide doesn't preclude an easier system. I don't really want to debate the particulars of what it accomplishes, as it's an aside to this article, but it should be noted that it is extremely robust. And while it isn't necessarily easy for a novice user (novice with respect to system administration), it is actually superior to Windows in many respects that relate to usability. Most importantly: you can't mess it up. You can't remove a dependency without removing the packages that depend on it, so you won't leave things in a broken state. A lot of the less meaningful installation options are left out. The configuration is centrally located, and typically configured with reasonable defaults. Security updates are easily acquired and can be safely applied. Updates are always provided in the proper order. Major operating system upgrades can be performed safely. And the software will never spy on you.

Windows software can be easy to install, but is very hard to trust. I think the proper compromise -- even for the most novice user! -- is a trustworthy computer. Ultimately I don't think it's a necessary compromise -- robust system administration isn't exclusive with easy system administration -- but even if it was, I think Debian makes the right compromise.

But anyway, now I've done what I said I wouldn't -- go into debate about the particulars. The general idea was that Debian has done something truly novel, something that truly advances the state of the art, and soemthing that proprietary software hasn't and can't match. It's not the destination, but it's a solid step in the right direction, and something that we can build on. And the kind of success we can try to replicate.
Comment on GNOME and the Managed Runtime
by Ian Bicking