Python evolution: Unease

Paul Rubin http
Thu Jan 6 02:19:39 EST 2005

bokr at (Bengt Richter) writes:
> What do you think of automated secure importing/installing from a
> remote server?  You know, you try to import something and it imports
> a stub that was included as a battery-place-holder and that has
> basic help info and will give you reasonable options in directing
> the installation of the full thing (or subset you are interested in).

You mean for Python modules, in ordinary operation?  I'd hate that.
For things like apt-get, used for installing nonstandard programs or
getting security updates, I guess it's about as good as one can hope
for.  The user has to activate it explicitly though.  I definitely
don't want my computer opening internet connections unless I
specifically ask it to.  Doing otherwise is almost spyware.

This may sound a little extreme but my distribution philosophy is I'd
like to get closer to an environment where users normally never
install any software of any type, ever.  Microsoft cornered the OS
market cornered by acheiving something pretty close to this: they
deliver Windows with no installation needed.  When people buy new
computers, Windows is already on the hard drive, so the user just
turns the computer on and Windows is there.

Fedora Core (what I'm running now) isn't shipped that way by any
computer makers that I know of, but it makes up for it by having lots
of applications included.  So I buy a new computer, put in the
bootable Fedora DVD-ROM, and sit back for half an hour while a
one-time installation runs.  That's about as close as I can get to
just turning on the new computer and having Fedora already there.

> I don't see why every gee whiz thing has to be on your hard disk
> from the first.  And for those that want a big grabbag, the stubs
> ought to be designed to to be runnable from a configured script, so
> you can turn it loose and see what's up IRL.

If I have a 400 gig hard drive, I don't see why I need 99.99% of it
empty instead of 99.0% after I do my OS install.  I don't want to
hassle over downloading stuff for hours or days at a time, or about
what components depend on other components, if the distro can just
include it.  I just tried to install a Python program that uses
wxPython, except that meant I had to download both wxPython and
wxWidgets, and the installations failed because of some version
mismatch between the current wxWidgets distro and the version of GTK
included with FC3.  I spent an hour or so messing with it and then
said screw it and gave up on the GUI part of that program.  I'm more
technical than most users (I'm a programmer) yet this installation
stuff is too much hassle even for me.  So I'd really rather that all
that stuff be pre-configured.

If a system has N downloadable components that are supposedly
independent, there are 2**N combinations of them that anyone might
have installed.  In reality the indepdence is never that complete, so
something can easily go wrong if you pick a combination that hasn't
been tested and debugged by someone, and there's no way to test more
than a few of the possibilities.  So I'd rather that all N components
already be included with the OS so that the combination will have been
tested by the distro maintainers before the end user has to deal with
it.  Hard drives and distro media (DVD) are big enough now that it's
quite reasonable for distros to include just about everything that
most users could want.

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