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Re: setup.exe needs package name selection filter

On Fri, 20 Jun 2008, Christopher Faylor wrote:

> On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 12:49:21PM -0400, Larry Hall (Cygwin) wrote:
> > Mark J. Reed wrote:
> Actually, it already exists:
> .
> But I don't know how often setup.exe developers check it.

Maybe a mail to this list could be triggered by it?  Then you'd get
stuff in the mail archive where developers traditionally expect it, but
you'd also have something more searchable.  [Sorry, that's a suggestion
with no supplied implementation, but I've never looked at bugzilla code.]
> I don't know what adding a bugzilla entry with an RFE for search inside
> of setup.exe is going to accomplish given that no one is a programmer
> and, if they are a programmer, they don't implicitly understand the
> setup code base however.

If that's in response to my comments, I believe you have inflated
them: it is not that *nobody* is a programmer, it is that *many* of
the users are not.  But, yes, this is a weaker form of help than
getting dedicated programmers.

> Should we be spending a lot of time educating people about this so that
> they can give ever-more-informed suggestions without ever stepping up to
> help?

Clearly not a lot of time, and yes there are diminishing returns.
> The thing that never seems to be understood in these merry-go-round
> discussions is that very few of us are insightful geniuses who have
> innovative new ideas for improving setup.exe.  The suggestions are
> by-and-large obvious.  In general, the developers have all of these
> ideas and more, if for no other reason, than they've been here longer
> and have been thinking about the problem at some depth.

True, there are a severe lack of geniuses. But there are people who,
because they are not programmers, have spent their time gaining
expertise in design and in human factors, who could make useful
suggestions.  Closing the discussion off to only developers excludes
them.  Also, this feels a little bit like the argument apocryphally
made at the end of the 19th century, that soon the patent office
would have to close "because everything has been invented". ;-)
Lateral thinking developed partly because sometimes being outside
the problem gives you a perspective that those inside it don't have.

> So, why isn't setup.exe better?  It in't because we stubbornly don't
> like to make changes.  It is because no one has the time or inclination
> to put man months of effort into introducing new functionality.
> In projects which have a healthy number of developers, getting people to
> do work is an issue of finding someone with an itch to scratch.  In

Principally, yes, but that isn't the whole story, see below.
> Predictions of doom because suggestions aren't warmly received and vowed
> to be acted upon miss several points.  The project doesn't succeed
> because Anissa-Random-User decides to grace us with a suggestion.  It
> succeeds because people find it useful.

They won't find it at all if her one unique suggestion is excluded
by the process.  The real problem here, is how to keep the good suggestions
while throwing out the rubbish.  It's not easy to solve.  Other
GNU projects find Bugzilla useful, and I think that would be a step
in a useful direction. [It may well only be "hill climbing", so we
reach a local, rather than a global, optimum.]
> A project really flourishes when there are enough developers to keep the
> project running.  Cygwin has that just barely.  No amount of indignation

Yes.  So let's turn the problem around.  A new programmer turns up,
with no particular thing they want to fix.  They just want to give
something back to Cygwin.  This does happen, people get blocks of
time they don't expect occasionally.  How will they find a list of
problems worth tackling, against which they can match their skill
set?  Were I in this position, I'd rather not have to trawl the mail
archives.  That's the only mechanism suggested at

Would you agree that if what is wanted is more development effort,
then it should be made as easy as possible for developers to get

Would you accept patches to the contrib page that suggested the use
of the existing bugzilla as a resource?  If so, then I'd like to 
add a table of contents and re-order things a bit as well.

> is going to change that or convince a small team of busy developers to
> do your bidding.
> cgf

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