Stop. Ask. Compile?

The new version of Gimp is out. 2.8 is very attractive to artists, including a lot of deviantArt artists in my Ubuntu community over there. I got linked to this guide today, explaining in glorious detail how to compile Gimp 2.8 for Ubuntu 12.04.

Please, everyone, stop. Ubuntu and Debian systems are built to install packages, not compiled code directly from Make files. Many advanced users will actually package their own code up to install it on their own systems, there is no need to make install in Ubuntu.

Now I don’t care so much if you want to play with compiling things, learn debian packaging and pbuilder, that’ll compile things too. But guides for users shouldn’t be written like this, more time could have been spent on getting a stable PPA fixed up and directing users to use that.

In closing: Consider users are smart but eager, they’ll accept any helpful looking guide online that proports to do what they want. Even guides that are obviously not meant for normal users or in this case, Ubuntu users.

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7 Responses to “Stop. Ask. Compile?”

  1. Andrew says:

    I actually find the packaging process quite difficult and it varies so much between different application types. I find even creating packages for my own applications that i personally write is cumbersome.

    Don’t get me wrong, i don’t disagree with what you are saying but “more time could have been spent on getting a stable PPA fixed up and directing users to use that.” makes it sound trivial to make a package.

    Although not correct by any means, I _personally_ find it easier to install from source than actually making a debian package myself.

    Andrew

  2. NoName says:

    > Ubuntu and Debian systems are built to install packages,
    > not compiled code directly from Make files.

    So neither is a Unix anymore ?

    The whole point of installing a Unix-alike OS is to have
    a full development toolchain on one’s PC — if one can’t
    rebuild applications when sufficiently annoyed by some
    packager’s insistence on unwanted build options, then
    one is merely a victim of arrogant distribution developers.

    Latest instance: “rebuilt gdb using –with-python” :(

    $ make install is your friend

    make: *** No rule to make target `install’. Stop.

    is much more useful than

    $ make depends

    make: command not found

    Don’t throw up unneccessary barriers to involvement;
    you seem to be peeved that people want to install apps
    on their own terms (no debugging, no internationalization,
    fewer libraries linked in any way) rather than accepting
    passively what “blessed” packagers decide is best for them.

    If you believe that chaos lies that way, please switch now to
    developing for a gated platform — the whole point of Unix
    is to put tools in others’ hands; don’t try to prevent hands
    from getting cut off in the first place: instead help others
    learn how to re-attach them with minimal damage and pain.

  3. sickofthesea says:

    Really? Not since the days of Microsoft have I been told what I can or cannot do with my system. Just because I use Ubuntu doesn’t mean I can’t make an informed decision as to whether I compile code or not. I’d rather spend my time drawing than learning Debian packaging and pbuilder, which I would probably never get my head around, but I can compile and compile I will!

  4. doctormo says:

    @Andrew – I do agree that we need to find ways of making package creation more trivial. Currently its too hard. But installing from source is never the answer to packaging problems.

    @sickofthesea – I’m telling you what to do with your blog, actually. Exercising responsibility in the advice given.

  5. doctormo says:

    @NoName – It’s not unix, that middle part makes no sense to me, barriers to users wrecking their systems with bad advice and over complex instructions which scare users and make us look like complete nerds. Yep. the tools we have are crap, yes, but that’s no excuse from recommending other people should use them.

  6. Andrew says:

    @doctormo “Currently its too hard. But installing from source is never the answer to packaging problems.”

    I agree and said as much in my post.. However, the problem as I see it isn’t a packaging problem. _in this instance_ people wanted to use a new version of GIMP that wasn’t packaged. Someone gave the simplest instructions on how that could be done to their level of knowledge.

    If packaging was easier then it’s likely that this person would have pointed to a PPA/repo or alternately if there was a mechanism for getting newer.

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to discourage people from trying out the very same Free software we try to promote, because there isn’t a good way of installing it . The onus is on _us_ to make the process easier so we can propose something better.

    For my part, in the software i am writing, I provide a git branch which contains the required debian tree, so a mildly technical person can do a git merge origin/debian && dpkg-buildpackage.

    Let me know if there is a better way.

  7. doctormo says:

    Andrew: Auto-sync to a ppa, most projects to nightlys. Although you won’t have access to recipes.