Dave Mason, one of my predecessors as head of the GNOME Documentation Project, once said something to the effect of, “I don’t want to be a hacker.”
I’m starting the arduous process of building the next GNOME, 2.4, which exists only in ugly bleeding edge, generally unworkable CVS code. I failed with the usually robust and reliable jhbuild scripts, because of some mysterious auto* tools problem. I turned to the less usable but still quite functional vicious build scripts. and had some modest success. As you can see from the picture, the fonts are an unreadable melange of lovely colors (Telsa suggested it was “impressionist”). But despite certain usability shortcomings, it’s rather a victory, since I at least was able to build it at all.
Which brings me to the theme of today’s discourse. In order to be a usable and contribuing member of the community, I need to be building the latest bleeding edge stuff. But in order to do that, I need to spend a significant portion of my available GNOME time on the building part, which leaves less time than I would like for the “contributing member of the community” part.
The problems are not completely intrinsic. The build scripts are intended to greatly simplify this stuff, and when they work smoothly I’m usually ahead of this game. But there’s an inevitable wrestling match to get the very latest stuff working, and the only real way to do the job on an ongoing basis is to bulk up and wrestle it to the ground.
Sigh. I think I’ll go for a bike ride.