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Programming Linux

Ask Slashdot: Attracting Developers To Abandonware? 321

Posted by Soulskill
from the use-bacon dept.
phlawed writes "I've been a Linux user since the previous millennium. I came from OS/2, which I really liked. I quickly felt at home with icewm, using a suitably tweaked config to give me something resembling Presentation Manager. I may have commented on that before. Today, I find myself in a position where my preferred 'environment' is eroding. The only force keeping icewm rolling these days is the distribution package maintainers. I can't code in any meaningful way, nor do I aspire to. I could easily pay for a supported version of icewm, but I can't personally pay someone enough to keep it alive. I'd love it if someone took a personal interest in the code, to ensure that it remains up to date, or to make it run on Wayland or whatever. I want someone to own the code, be proud of it. Is there a general solution for this situation? How do I go about drumming up interest for an old project?"
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Ask Slashdot: Attracting Developers To Abandonware?

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  • Workplace Shell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @07:27PM (#44852425)

    I'm an OS/2 refugee.

    There are parts of KDE that seem much closer to WPS than the other environments. For example, right clicking in Dolphin and "Create New" to make a new blank object is similar to Workplace Shell's templates.

    The only parts of icewm that are similar to WPS is the coloring and button layout.

    None of the environments on Linux, Windows, or OSX are like the WPS "object oriented user interface." To understand what this is like you have to actually have used OS/2. Everyone else has no idea.


  • Re:There is a way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @07:29PM (#44852433)

    Yes, I'm sure a few dollars a week is going to attract a coder to a project be isn't otherwise interested in.

    The submitter needs to just face reality - if there were enough people interested in keeping icewm going, it would already be happening.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 14, 2013 @07:46PM (#44852521)

    What's keeping this layout from being re-implemented on any other window manager?

    I. Do. Not. Get. It. Either.

    Here's his linked comment:

    I. Do. Not. Get. It.
    It is beyond me why people want to emulate the clutter they have on their physical desk, on their computer.
    One does not need a "Desktop Environment".

    What I want is a window manager that allows me to set the only sane focus policy (focus follows mouse, click to raise), maintains the user experience and config-file compatibility from release to release and otherwise stays out of the way. Not having to choose between 42 different plugins/extensions/addons and whatnot is also a good thing.

    A couple of years ago (*cough*) when IBM killed OS/2, I made the transition to Linux. I soon landed on icewm as my preferred window manager, as it had a "OS/2 Warp" theme. I believe I at one time played with a Presentation Manager-like desktop, but I soon realized it was more hassle than benefit.
    icewm has a fully configurable "context-menu" on the entire desktop background (right-click mouse for *your* selection of files, programs, folders, etc), ditto menu for windows (left click), configurable hotkeys (I hit F12 for a terminal), a toolbar with the regular stuff, workspaces and so on.

    And for any newbie out there: not running gnome or kde or whatever does not prevent you from launching gnome or kde programs.

    Now, please tell me again about the added benefits of having a zillion garish icons on your desktop background?
    Or, by the way... don't bother,...

    Seriously, let me paraphrase the parent:

    What the fuck is keeping the elements of this layout that you like from being re-implemented on any other window manager?

    Have you even tried? Hint: You don't need to know how to write code to customize a window manager...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 14, 2013 @07:49PM (#44852535)

    "Hey guys, I really love your software... I'd be totally unwilling to pay for it, but I'd really love it if you did all of this work for me, thanks." The problem with the Linux software ecosystem is that it does not run on gratitude alone, as much as some of the users would love to think that it does.

    In truth, Linux is largely subsidized by various commercial corporation. If it had remained a hobbyist effort it would be far far behind where it is today.

  • by Windwraith (932426) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @07:55PM (#44852559)

    No, it's the same as running BSD :P

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @08:06PM (#44852619)

    It's called marketing. RubyOnRails wasn't the first web framework and it certainly wasn't the best. In fact, it was pretty shitty. But it was the first that had a professionally designed website [] that advertised its benefits and a screencast that explained and demonstraded them. The pratically invented screencasts. Weeks later slashdot was filled with Rails fanatics.

    The first version of the Zope Webapp Server came out roughly a decade before rails and still was notabliy superiour to any other WebFW, Rails included, in all aspects. Yet nobody cared. Why? That's why []. Bland website? Nothing flashy? Can't find what I'm looking for? Backend UI without good looking buttons? Won't adhere to the loudmouths and hippsters and won't get attention, won't get critical mass, will lose eventually. It's that simple, even in the FOSS world nowadays (Rails actually sought to that, btw.)

    If you really want to bring ICEwm (back) into the limelight, join the team, update their 12 year old website, bundle a new version with good looking modern themes and your tweaked setup, give it a new version number and do a little rattling on related online forums. Once everything is in place, tested, up and running that is. If you've done your job well, userbase will rise again and IceWM 2.0 will the the Hip WM of 2014. Fluxbox, a Blackbox fork, gained hippness status some years back the exact same way. Neat website, one or two nice little extras, screenshots, a well kempt miniblog and everybody went "Oh, look, new and shiny."

    That's just about all there is to it. But don't you dare think good marketing isn't work and isn't worth giving as much thought as your projects software architecture. It's more work and - most of the time - even more important than that for the success of a project. Even in FOSS.

    Good luck.

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @08:12PM (#44852649)

    I use icewm pretty regularly on some machines. It hasn't changed in years, and I like it that way.

    Is there actually anything that needs doing?

  • by Fishchip (1203964) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @08:43PM (#44852767)
    Why did you even consider this? What did you expect from a consumer-grade cellular phone? Honestly?
  • by robbak (775424) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @08:49PM (#44852791) Homepage

    You make this point yourself. If the developer of a closed source package gets bored of it, or it is not profitable (which itself is a high bar for a most producers!), or both, they will drop it. Anyone who came to rely on it is completely stuck, as they cannot fix the most trivial or sexy bugs. They have to live with it until advancing technology and other changes make the program fail completely, and they will have to retrain.

    If it is open source, then at least you can recompile and/or port to a new OS. You have the option of paying someone to fix a problem. You have none of those options if the closed-source producer of a package arbitrarily decides to drop it.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @09:08PM (#44852889)

    Linux is not GNU/Linux any more than Windows is "GNU/Windows" after you install Cygwin.

    That is an intellectually dishonest comparison. The more accurate comparison is "MS/Windows to GNU/Linux" - basically all of the userland on Windows depends on MS code. Similarly pretty much all of Linux userland depends on GNU code - gcc and glibc have practically 100% coverage for Linux userland's dependency on GNU software without having to get into the nitty-gritty details of exactly what other GNU software is in a typical distribution.

    I'm not particularly in favor of GNU/Linux as a term but I'm not particularly against it either. Right now, in this post, what I am against is bogus arguments either way.

  • by dtdmrr (1136777) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @11:57PM (#44853683)
    Still think the N900 is the most useful phone I've used/seen.
  • by PurpleAlien (797797) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @10:00AM (#44855667) Homepage
    Which is why I still have an N900 new in the box to replace my current N900 should it die.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.