[Samba] Re: winbind - not ready for prime time?

Bernard Peek bap at shrdlu.co.uk
Mon Feb 18 12:51:46 GMT 2008

Whit Blauvelt wrote:
> Jeremy,
> I think I can see the blind spot at play here: The signal genius of the core
> members of the Samba project is in being able to take a poorly-documented,
> haphazardly-designed interface - Microsoft's - and nonetheless make
> something that works with it. Samba's developers, of all the open-source
> project engineers, have that special sort of keen intuition which renders
> poor documentation almost superfluous. Like most human beings, you can't see
> why what's obvious enough for you shouldn't come as easily to other "normal"
> people.
I'm probably in the target demographic for most companies trying to make
a profit from Linux; I decide whether to recommend Windows or Linux
architectures for my employers' business needs. I'm running a small home
network around Linux/Samba servers so that I can get a feel for when
I'll be able to recommend it for business-critical applications.
Documentation is one of the things that I base my decisions on.

I want software that's sufficiently intuitive that the manuals can be
left gathering dust in a corner somewhere, but I need to see that
documentation because it gives me an assurance that the people writing
the software know enough about it to be able to document precisely what
they expect it to do in any given scenario.

One of the weaknesses of the open-source model is that "release early,
release often" makes maintaining documentation a nightmare. That's a
problem that anyone who wants to sell me Linux software is going to have
to solve. I sympathise with their problem, but without losing sight of
the fact that it's their problem not mine.

> Meanwhile the rest of the open source world, not being so perfectly
> practiced at the arcane art of deciphering opaque APIs, more naturally
> appreciates the importance of clear, complete documentation, and generally
> gets on with producing it.

Some open-source projects have good documentation and some don't. In
voluntary projects it's the people who show up and do the work that
decide what work gets done. (I speak from experience here and wouldn't
have it any other way.)

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Open-source software has
significant strengths, but commercial open-source companies need to
manage its weaknesses every bit as well as its strengths. Just how that
affects development teams like the Samba project is up to those
developers to decide.

bap at shrdlu.com

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