Message: previous - next
Month: March 2011

Bugs, bugs, bugs

From: Darrell Anderson <humanreadable@...>
Date: Fri, 4 Mar 2011 10:20:12 -0800 (PST)
When are bugs going to receive attention?

I don't eat my own dog food. Despite some enhancements, I continue using KDE 3.5.10 rather than Trinity 3.5.12.

I expended a lot of energy last autumn packaging Trinity 3.5.12 for Slackware 12.2. My personal schedule prevented further packaging efforts, but now that I again have some time, I am not motivated to package for recent releases. Why? There are many usability bugs that render Trinity frustrating. Many of which do not exist in KDE 3.5.10.

I filed bug reports for all of the problems after discussing them in this list. Not a single bug I filed in the bugzilla has been touched. I don't know C++ and that frustrates me because I can't fix the problems.

Some of the bugs in Trinity are carry overs from KDE3 and have existed a long time. Consider the bug of using kdeconfig as root user. Every time root uses kdeconfig, the applet creates a .kde folder in the system root directory. I have to add special lines to my rc.local to check and delete that directory.

Could I use Trinity despite all the usability bugs I reported? I could but I won't. For example, the kdesu bugs I reported leave me quite frustrated. I use kdesu many times each day and that tool works as expected in KDE 3.5.10.

A primary reason cited by many people for liking KDE3 is the desktop is highly configurable yet simple. No cruft like KDE4. People do not have to run a sqlite database in the background just to check email. People running KDE3 are not interested in a social or semantic desktop. Reading reviews and comments indicate overwhelmingly that many users detest Nepomuk, Strigi, and Akonadi. KDE3 is far more configurable than Xfce or LXDE without the cruft of KDE4. KDE3 can be run on more older hardware than KDE4 can ever hope. In other words, KDE3 is already a good desktop. Hence the dismay by many with the utter abandonment by the developers.

Trinity brought hope to such users. Many users of Trinity and KDE 3.5.10 do not want additional bling. They want a highly configurable yet stable desktop. In other words, the immediate focus should be bug quashing.

I appreciate the effort to move to a more modern build environment with cmake and interoperability with QT4. Those are good long-term goals and should continue, but I suspect those efforts have little to nothing to do with the immediacy of swatting bugs. Usability bugs are solved at the code level and not the build level.

If the reason for not quashing bugs is a lack of C++ coders, then Trinity is doomed right now.

My Slackware 12.2 system remains usable. Yet as time moves forward I cannot install or update certain packages because of the typical but awful lack of backwards compatibility found in free/libre software. Therefore I am facing the unpleasant decision of updating to a more recent release of Slackware. That means moving to a different desktop environment. I don't relish that decision, which is why I supported Trinity.

With the lack of bug quashing my enthusiasm for Trinity has diminished. Time for the rubber to meet the road. I am studying KDE4 and preparing for a possible migration. I would rather support Trinity but I have to face reality. So do all end-users who might prefer Trinity.

Packages must be readily available for end users. Other than Debian/(K)Ubuntu and Slackware 12.2, no other systems are listed as being supported. Such a short list supports the idea that Trinity is a niche product.

With the release of KDE 4.5.x series, and now 4.6, some people have written that KDE4 is ready for serious usage and has surpassed KDE3 in quality. Doesn't matter whether the proclamations are true or tainted --- the typical end-user believes the statements. Regrettably, such proclamations relegate Trinity to the status of niche product and the majority of users are not going to follow. Therefore any hopes of wide scale Trinity usage is fighting windmills. The only hope for Trinity is to provide a superb product for those who choose Trinity. Long-scale survival efforts such as with cmake and QT4 support are noble efforts but does nothing to push Trinity now. End-users don't care how packages are built. They only want to download and install packages. End users have to ask themselves a basic question: is Trinity a viable choice for desktop environments?

Being stable and bug-free goes a long way toward spawning interest in Trinity. As KDE4 increases in popularity and pushes Trinity further into niche product status, people will use Trinity because they do not want the massive cruft of KDE4 or the limited flexibility of Xfce and LXDE. Yet if Trinity is buggy then willingness to use Trinity disintegrates. That is now my unfortunate position.

I'm willing to support this project and have proven as much in the past. Many of the build issues that were fixed to allow building on a non-Kubuntu system were a result of my testing last summer. For many weeks last summer I think Tim and I were the only ones actively working with Trinity. I single-handedly created packages for Slackware 12.2. I can continue adding value in that respect, but I can't fix bugs without a healthy understanding of C++ and the overall desktop environment. Obtaining that level of knowledge and expertise requires many months of study.

I likely have stirred a hornet's nest with these comments. Yet so many bugs remaining untouched is a troubling sign. I am willing to try to package Trinity for the next Slackware release, but not until many bugs are quashed.

The Ubuntu people had a project called 100 Paper Cuts. I plea for the Trinity 101 Paper Cuts Project.