Not getting the full package?, should have gone

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Not getting the full package?, should have gone

Postby kord » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:53 pm

to GNU-spec ravers.

To paraphrase recent radio advert for well known vision correcting outfit.

I find it disappointing and expletive-forming when I navigate to /usr/share/doc/asterisk looking for any help or info about program usage for 'asterisk' and, apart from nada, all I find is one file - COPYING.

Never mind any inbuilt help or MAN page.

I'm aware that development and programmer groups in the Open Source community don't sing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to the matter of distribution/usage and "licence".

Even so, is it fair to generalise that, whoever provides the source and installation rpm, deb packages etc, any further distribution/incorporation must include the whole thing?

Essentially, why do some installations leave out rafts of files from /usr/share/doc and others don't?

And it's not as if there's the element of tightness of fit on a CD. Some maintenance type distros could have multiple copies put onto 1 CD, yet, aside from empty /usr/share/doc, even trying 'man asterisk' or 'asterisk --help' results in intermittent success compared to a 'proper' distro.

Quite possibly some programs don't come with any usage help at all but I fail to see why it can be left out when they do.

Which is why the point about the "licence" and copying/distribution etc.

Oh, and dare I mention the wonderful GUI apps, provided on the monster DVD installations, which, when clicking on the Help on the menubar, display a pop-up notice - "unable to connect, check your network cable".

I'd love it if, having bought that big SAMS or O'Reilly tome, you went to the back to check an entry in the Index and found a page with - "check the bookshelf in your local bookstore for relevant Index titles".

What's the opinion on this apparent foot-shooting scenario?
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Re: Not getting the full package?, should have gone

Postby guy » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:04 pm

kord wrote:is it fair to generalise that, whoever provides the source and installation rpm, deb packages etc, any further distribution/incorporation must include the whole thing?

No. Some licenses make no conditions on modification and distribution, others such as the GPL require only that sources be readily obtainable online. None to my knowledge demands distribution of, or even hot linking to, user documentation.

Essentially, why do some installations leave out rafts of files from /usr/share/doc and others don't? ... And it's not as if there's the element of tightness of fit on a CD. ... Quite possibly some programs don't come with any usage help at all but I fail to see why it can be left out when they do.

Ever checked the size of a full Debian distribution?

Oh, and dare I mention the wonderful GUI apps, provided on the monster DVD installations, which, when clicking on the Help on the menubar, display a pop-up notice - "unable to connect, check your network cable".

Haven't had this problem at home for a while. Happens at work when the firewalls get uptight.

I'd love it if, having bought that big SAMS or O'Reilly tome, you went to the back to check an entry in the Index and found a page with - "check the bookshelf in your local bookstore for relevant Index titles".

Check out a few low-budget titles and you will probably find there isn't even an index at all.

What's the opinion on this apparent foot-shooting scenario?

Pick a favourite app and go document it. Much software libre is written by volunteers. There is nobody standing over them saying, "Get out of your comfort zone and write human-readable information." (Though I believe that some distros will not adopt your app otherwise).
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Postby nelz » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:00 pm

man asterisk works here, but it's not in /usr/share/doc. The licence has to be included as part of the distribution terms of the licence. If the the man pages are not installed, either your distro has packaged the documentation separately or you should be filing a bug report against your distro's asterisk package.
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Postby guy » Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:21 pm

Yeah, questioning the obvious, did you actually open a shell and type man asterisk or did you just browse to where you expected to find the file?
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:22 pm

Lots of apps on all OSes, including Linux, BSD, OSX and the other one....what's it called now, it was on the tip of my tongue....
Well, anyway they use online help documentation simply because that way it can easily be corrected or updated, reduces the size of the download, and you only need to download the relevant HTML file instead of the whole thing.

Linux apps usually have man or info files (or even both) as well.

But many open-source programmers simply don't have the time or inclination to write documentation and keep it up to date.

If you think Asterisk is bad, try finding the latest documentation on Hylafax.
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Postby kord » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:04 am

OMG :)

Is there actually a useful program called "asterisk"?

I thought I'd just type out the little symbol name above the 8 instead of using it or typing 'abc' or 'whatever'.

Well, as for Debian, it can be got in various sizes but it's not so much about what's available overall as what comes in the various sizes. In fact the few times I've used it off the 1st dvd I was impressed by the documentation.

This is the thing.

On the one hand there's outright bigoted MS bashing and on the other there's sensible demonstration of how computing use can be functional under Linux and OpenSource. The magazine is one of many positive factors doing sterling work in the latter camp.

If there is the concept of persuading MS users to migrate, part of it is about the useability of the alternatives.

But if those providing the alternatives can't be bothered to help people use their programs, one has to wonder what the mentality or agenda of it all is about.

That's the point of my "foot-shooting". Blab on about how great this or that Linux app is but provide sfa info. Great way to entice new users.

And I don't accept the "up-to-date" online help. The mentality of needing to be online while using a non-network app is to me absurd.
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Postby nelz » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:54 am

kord wrote:But if those providing the alternatives can't be bothered to help people use their programs, one has to wonder what the mentality or agenda of it all is about.


They bothered to write the software in the first place, at no point did the price tag on the software say "full documentation included". Program coders are often the last people you want writing documentation. Commercial companies have professional documentation writers to do just that, in the open source world the documentation is subject to the same factors as the code itself, it is written by those who want to write it, often users who want to improve the program instead of moaning about it on forums.
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Postby guy » Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:48 pm

I would hardly describe VoIP as "non-network".

If you need everything offline by default, then maybe you should stay away from tablets, chromebooks and the cloud.

My point about the /full/ Debian distribution is that the source and documentation for all those apps bulk it out massively. You didn't seem to think that would be the case. Buy the full DVD set and install locally, and you will have it as good as it gets.
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:31 pm

Yes Asterisk is a complete enterprise level VOIP telephone exchange.
And it is free. :)
So is Hylafax, which is an enterprise level fax server.

You make the common assumption that Linux is in some sort of competitive tussle with Microsoft.
It isn't.
They write this stuff, use it, and give it away. That doesn't mean that they have to support the people who want to use it for free.
Maybe you should ask for a refund.

Many mainstream Windows applications these days rely on online help, in fact several expensive data packages that I use only offer online help, as do more and more packages, even fairly simple open source ones.

There is, of course another advantage to this, you get an idea of how many people are actually using it, and how.
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