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[aprssig] Re: Xastir. Please (with spots on) read ALL of this, before replying.

Dave Baxter dave at emv.co.uk
Wed Nov 30 12:03:20 UTC 2005

Hi Curt, and others..

OK on you originally authoring the readme.win32 file, nice job, very detailed, and up to a point (Step 5) it works well..  But, things have obviously changed with the way Xastir is distributed etc...

Your own instructions call out using the ./bootstrap.sh method, so if that calls "heavy development" stuff, why does the script not check for the existence of such stuff, and go get it if it's not present?

You wrote...

> $ ./bootstrap.sh
> Removing autom4te.cache directory
> Running aclocal
> ./bootstrap.sh: line 16: aclocal: command not found Running autoheader

You have no development environment installed.  The bootstrap.sh file is a script that starts up some of the heavy development tools
(autoconf/automake) which then make the "configure" script for you.
If you've already got a configure script there, you don't need to run bootstrap.sh.

What instructions are you currently following, the Lintronics instructions?  README.win32?  If you mix and match between methods you're almost guaranteed failure.

Yes, I was following your Readme.win32 instructions.  All OK up to step 5, then the errors listed.  If you read the post, I had made that clear.

No doubt when you wrote that file, that was the way to do it.  It's obviously different now, so the instructions need modifying.  But why the manual install in any case...

I was writing batch file installs way back in the dark days of Dos and Win3.11, and managing to detect the presence (or not) of needed files, paths, drives, hardware etc with the IF function.  Then branching to run other utilities as needed to either make the paths folders etc, or go and get the missing utilities, asking for disk's etc, or logging on to an administrative server as needed.

One or two of those files extended to the sort of size of your readme.win32, but still worked OK well into the Win98 days, amazingly.  (Finally stopped by the default directory listing format of NT systems)

I had a poke about the Cygwin help, and it would seem that Bash has much the same, if not better functionality in that respect, so why not use it?

I am not a computer novice, though I know less about some things, and more about others.  What I object to, is badly written software, for no reason other than the programmer was a bit lazy and certain assumptions were made, I know, I've made that mistake myself in the past.  In that respect, script files are as much a "program" as any other source.  Sorry, but I also create software professionally, so I think I know a bit about making the stuff in a way that either works, and works well, or stops with a meaningfull explanation to the user, and not totaling their system....

OK, so Xastir and Cygwin are free issue, so what.  It is not free in many parts of the world.  Net time is metered, and there are download quota's, mine is I think just over 2G a month.  I think I may see a bumped up bill after this exercise, so it has probably cost me as much as £10 perhaps, I won't know till the next invoice.  Is anyone from the Xastir development group going to re-imburse me that cost?  I think not...

Also, so the CD may only be $5 or so, what's the shipping cost to the UK, including import duty and VAT?  Would anyone re-imburse a UK customer who found they could not install it?

OK, so much Windows software is sold on a "you opened the box, you pay for it, no refund" deal too, but most of the high street shops hear have to adhere to the "fit for purpose" legislation.  So, you do have a come back if it doesnt work for a fundamental compatability reason, as I have recently experienced with some wireless networking hardwar/software.

Even so, being "Free" is still no excuse for poorly written code, be it the application itself, or install scripts.  If I had paid money for a CD, no doubt I'd still be in difficulty, in that case, said vendor of CD would most definitely be refunding me, and covering all the costs etc.

Xastir may be the best thing in APRS since the pop-up toaster, but if the install method is worse than a sick pig, the whole end user experience is bad.

You quote some 195 fulltime and 200 to 300 other users you noticed monitoring the 'net stream.  OK, so how many downloads of Xastir have there been, and what percentage of those does the above figure you mentioned represent?  A tiny fraction I guess.  OK, so not everyone will have a net connection, but I still bet there are many less "Users" than people who have downloaded it, tried to run it, spat their dummy out, given up & gone back to Ui-View, even with it's "Frozen" status.

You also say in one post that you have the best free mapping in the world in the "US of A"..  Very US-centric again.

Much of the world, the UK in particular, has no "Free" mapping to speak of, due to government copyright restrictions.  The closest is Google Map's and other sites like it, and that is often so out of date in places as to be a joke, though good to play with.  Google Earth in particular is awesome! 

Even if I have the Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 digital maps (I do have by the way) they will only work with the authorised application they were supplied with, Anquet in this respect, or MemoryMap, I have both systems.  The format is not in the public domain, and costs 1000's to buy.  Shame realy, but that's the rear end retentive nature of HMG in the UK.

As to "OS Wars".  Each OS has it's good and bad points.  Yes, I've had bad experiences installing Windows, even DOS, most recently W98SE, that just would not load on the machine that needed it.  It did eventually, but I get paid to do that.  I also had to reload Win2k on my own system, due to a hardware failure (master IDE drive)  There were minor problems, but it went back on and updated itself OK.  I use that at home because I'm a registered user and get free updates.  I also have found it impossible to connect to my office with anything that does not run our office server's authentication protocol that we use, and as the office run's windows, and it's a windows DLL, I need windows, nuff said....

Only a badly written, or old type of Windows app' installer will put out of date (earlier) DLL's etc, in the system folder.  If the install does the right thing, it'll recognise the esxisting one is newer and skip that step, or warn the user and give them a choice, keep the newer (recomended) or overwrite anyway.  It's not rocket science...

Cygwin this time went on to that system without problem, thank you Lintronix, other than my usual finger trouble (the keyboard is not big enough) typing long URL's into the thing, Xwindows works and works well (despite the odd colour scheme) and some of what I learnt years back about it is slowly coming back.

I have used Unix (or a flavour of) in the past, but not installed the OS itself, only the application, a chemical analysis suite for use with a GCMS system, not exactly a lightweight system, and that was done manually too, following pages of instructions.

I also have the Puppy-Linux Live CD, but as I and others have found, it's a very cut down distro.  I also have SuSE 9, as a conventional install, and as a "Live" CD.  Both take forever to get going, and run at a snails pace.

My gripe, and that of others (I have a steady stream now of directly delivered mail from several others on this SIG, with comments such as "Way to go Dave, tell it how it is", thanks for that.) is why is the install of Xastir still stuck in the dark ages?

I (we) have no problem with continuous development, but for Pete's sake, nail the goal posts to the ground for 5 minutes, make a proper install of just the binaries and whatever needed to link to the flavour of Unix/Linux/Cygwin/Windows/Mac or whatever OS the user has.  Give the user the option of loading the sources, to keep to the GPL, but they should not be needed just to do an install.

As to the Xastir SIG.  http://listserv.tamu.edu/cgi/wa?SUBED1=xastir&A=1  I get warnings about content, then eventualy an Error 404.  Is that the right list?


Dave Baxter G0WBX.

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