Future of the Python Linux Distribution

Glyph Lefkowitz glyph at twistedmatrix.com
Mon May 8 03:01:56 CEST 2000


Michael Hudson <mwh21 at cam.ac.uk> writes:

> Glyph Lefkowitz <glyph at twistedmatrix.com> writes:

> > We need more rabid, unabashed evangelists. :-)
> Why?

That was at least partially sarcasm.  However, if we want popularity,
we need more evangelicals who will go out and "spread the word" for
those problem domains where python *is* effective (which is a whole
lot of them).  The equivalent of a marketing department.

Python's slow growth is IMHO a good thing, though.  The community
absorbs and integrates people at a good rate; if comp.lang.python were
overrun with the sort of trash that keeps comp.lang.lisp filling up my
spool, it would be a *very* sad day for me.  And I like lisp the
language almost as much as python the language.

> Lisp needs to *shed* some syntax?  What are you smoking?  Lisp has no
> discernable syntax (and that's arguably one of it's better features).

It needs to gain some, then ... but the reason I said "shed" is that
the lack of syntax *rules* means more syntax *typing*.  I appreciate
the benefits of prefix notation, but compare:

(let ((a (+ 3 5))
      (b (+ 6 9)))
         (+ a b))
to

a=3+5
b=6+9
return a+b

There are more rules from the computer's perspective going into the
second production than the first; but from the user's perspective, the
second is easider to understand immediately, even if you're an
experienced programmer.  Even if you toss in some 'int's and some
';'s.

> Have you read "Lisp: Good News, Bad News, How to Win Big" by Richard
> P. Gabriel?  It's well worth a read:

Speaking of "trash" and "comp.lang.lisp", I prefer the link on jwz's
site ;-).  I've read it several times, though, and it never ceases to
amaze me that the Lisp community has bemoaned it so loudly without
understanding it, and ignored it so flagrantly while being
consistently trampled by the same forces it describes.

> IMHO, Lisp has not entered the mainstream because people are too
> close-minded to realise that something can be both different from what
> they are used to and yet a good thing.

While lisp is theoretically a good idea, there's never really been a
decent free implementation.  UNIX started out as free; Windows is
close enough to free that it doesn't matter... but Lisp is extremely
runtime-vendor-centric.  It is *hard* to deploy.

I know that Lisp would be good for me.  I don't use it because I don't
have time to design and/or implement my own language, and none of the
LISPs out there are really cost-effective for me.

C may not be *better* than lisp, speaking absolutely.  As long as
we're speaking absolutely, though, a ferarri is vastly superior to a
ford station wagon.  Still, more people will buy station wagons, for
reasons that are relatively well understood.

Luckly python gives me a decent imitation of the ferarri for free,
complete with complimentary CB radio and fuzzy dice for the rear-view
mirror ;-)

> Not that modern lisp is perfect, but it's flaws aren't
> insurmountable given, say, one tenth of the money that's gone into
> Java.

Brooks's law applies here, I think.  If one tenth the money that went
in to java could do one tenth of the damage to Lisp that it has done
to Java, would you really want that to happen? =)

>   it's not that perl programmers are idiots, it's that the language
>   rewards idiotic behavior in a  way that no other language or tool 
>   has ever done                        -- Erik Naggum, comp.lang.lisp

All other jibes aside, I LOVE that quote, and I crack up every time I
read it ;-).

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