Allow Me To De-Fanboy A Bit (Linux)

First of all, I love Linux. I discovered it in 1994(ish) right around the time that kernel 1.0 was just about to come out. The fact it was a home brew system, that it was a rebellious band of freedom fighters coming together as a community to create something great, and that anyone could contribute with ease all tickled my heart.

One of the great things about linux is that there is a real feeling that the community actually listens. I have no idea how you’d submit a bug to Microsoft or Apple, I really don’t. I don’t know if I need to be an MVP, an Gold level partner, a ACG (Apple Certified Genius(tm)(r)(c)) (actually I just totally made that up), or what. With Linux distros, desktops and major (and minor) projects there’s generally a way to submit bugs or get support via bug tracking sofware of some sort, and more often than not you get a response. You can even submit suggestions and there is a good chance that it will actually get implemented or fixed (I believe a bug I reported to the Mozilla browser got fixed, go me!).

However there are now three bugs that I’ve reported and recently got updates about that pissed me off a bit.

[Bug 145524] Show emblems from Nautilus

In the main file manager for GNOME there is some inconsistancy with the “emblems” you can apply to folder icons… seems like a simple fix to me, but I’m not a GTK coder. The only real activity this has gotten over the last 4 years is people agreeing with me that it’s a bug, showing examples of it, asking about the status, doing the classic OSAM (Open Source Asshole Move… I totally just made that up too) of “well you write a patch then!”

[Bug 85973] no drop down box for “find” in groups

This is another simple (to me anyway) omission when Pan (my newsreader of choice) got rewritten from the GTK 1.x to GTK 2.x toolkits. Basically the whole thing was re-written and a few minor details were missed. No biggie I guess. Except that in six (6) years this hasn’t been done. It was re-prioritized around 2004, a suggestion made in 2006, and then in 2008 the commenter from 2006 was reproached for the way they did a OSAM.

[Bug 123796] hiding a panel with dual monitor moves panel to other monitor

This was an issue I got probably around the time I first got a dual monitor setup in 2003, 5 years ago, with an easily reproducible issue regarding panels and dual monitor setups. The only activity it’s gotten in 5 years is people reporting that it’s still happening.

These are the sort of things that turn people off to FLOSS and the community, which is sad. If you’re not a coder with a good knowledge of the guts of the system the main ways you can contribute is to write documentation and report bugs, and people asking “how can I help” are constantly told this. But when those contributions are ignored for months and years, well, why bother? To put things in perspective, the last bug was reported on GNOME 2.4, the current version is 2.22, that’s 9 releases (assuming that they did actually go all the way from 2.4, 2.6, 2.8 .. 2.22).

From the developer perspective of course, I’m sure it’s tough dealing with an army of demanding whiners complaining that some incidental bug on some hardware or software set up that you may not have complaining that you’re not fixing at the same time as you have a day job and put out software in your spare time for free, and not doing anything to help you along other than mention that it’s still not fixed…. still not fixed…. still not fixed…..

Course, at least I don’t have to pay Microsoft $99 per incident to be told it’s not a bug, it’s a feature, and it’s my fault anyway. Well, that’s how I imagine it is anyway. A search for “How to report a bug to microsoft” has the top results either dead links (requiring me to login with a live.com / hotmail.com email address), outdated information or articles saying how it’s impossible to submit a bug to Microsoft. Submitting a search for “report a bug” from the front page of Microsoft.com crashes Firefox!!!

I don’t know if it’s better to not be able to report bugs, or report them and have them ignored… 🙂

Update:

Seems people have been going and updating old bugs lately…. the following just got an update:


[Bug 113556] META Refresh does not update back history as expected


This is the oldest bug in the list, one I reported to mozilla in 2001… looks like mozilla is doing a big bug-triage and this bug is being shuffled around.

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