Dear eComStation Community,
A few months ago I was in a funk over eComStation and started to write up a rant based on my feelings. I spent about two hours writing, reading, deleting, rewriting, tweaking and generally wallowing in muck. I eventually became aware what I was writing was not productive. Parts of what I was writing were pure whining. But other parts of the rant were valid grievances. Finally, at one point while rewriting a paragraph for the umpteenth time, I realized writing for public consumption based on one’s feelings is rarely a good idea. I saved that rant to revisit it at a later date when I was less emotional. I think today is a good day for that.
What was I funking out over? No, it was not about eComStation 2.0 GA not being out. As long as there are usable release candidates, Software Subscription Service, Betazone and hobbes.nmsu.edu I can be content. My funk was over the “community” of eComStation end-users. There are a few dedicated users who pitch in and help other users in forums, traditional USENET news groups (Yes, I know the Noisy Ones on USENET can make one need filters.), news.ecomstation.nl (a.k.a. http://news.ecomstation.com/) and mail lists. I can probably compile a list of these folk on a 5×7 note card and have room left over. If you are an end-user get active and stay active on these resources.
Did you know there are IRC channels on irc.freenode.net just for eComStation? People, our IRC channel #ecomstation is relatively empty. This specific channel, set aside for user to user support, has no one in it (except me and a ‘bot) day after day after day. Compare this to the GNU/Linux community, the FreeBSD community or other “alternative OS” communities. Those other communities have end-users that monitor their IRC channels every day. Sure, GNU/Linux and FreeBSD are “free” software and eComStation is not “free”. Why should that stop our user community from using the IRC network? The #netlabs channel is also on Freenode. There one can have access to several of the developers keeping eComStation up to date. If you had a bad experience on IRC in the past and now avoid it I suggest you rethink that and come idle in the IRC channels on Freenode a while each week.
I forgot to add the eComStation IRC network which may be accessed at irc.ecomstation.com.
Now, if you are inclined to make an argument that eComStation is commercial software and as such only the commercial vendors should provide support, do not make that argument. It will not be productive. Frankly, there are too few of us commercial vendors and we cannot know The Answers to every possible hardware or software problem that arises on eComStation. I personally know how to do what I do, that is build new systems and preload the eComStation latest beta making sure everything works before the system ships, but beyond that I do not have many answers. That is where a community of users steps in.
I see people posting in eComStation mail lists stating they are leaving eComStation behind because of:
- eComStation 2.0 has not gone GA yet.
- Cannot install eComStation 1.2R on newest hardware.
- Application foo is not up to date.
- Have to pay for “free” software on eComStation.
- Probably other reasons I have forgotten or missed.
Regarding #1, get over that, keep your SSS up to date and use the latest beta. Mostly the eComStation 2.0 betas have been good enough for production use in my experience. At least eComStation development calls its betas by the correct name instead of shipping Vista, er I meant 2.0 GA, knowing it is a beta yet calling it a GA.
About #2, see my answer to #1. Use the beta, Luke.
As for #3, that stinks I know. Some ISVs have left eComStation behind because they cannot make a living selling to the eComStation community. If you cannot find an alternative under eComStation and the only reason you use eComStation is for that application then you should move to the platform that has what you need. We will miss you, but understand your need to move along.
Now #4. If you want to take up the mantle of porting “free” software to eComStation for “free” I congratulate you and will do what I can to help you. Granted my help is probably not going to be much as I am not a programmer, but I can test your builds and provide feedback. If you just want to complain that porting “free” software to eComStation has a cost and the people providing that software want recompense for their work you will get no sympathy from me. Hey, are you not the same ones pointing out that eComStation is a commercial venture? If you want “free” stuff, switch to GNU/Linux or one of the “free” BSD variants.
Anyone want to point out items for #5?
The future of eComStation is as much in the hands of the end-users as it is in the development, marketing and sales people. If you, the end-user, want to use eComStation and want to see it succeed then change your thinking about it. Do not just think of eComStation as a traditional commercial venture. Think outside of that box. Yes, eComStation has a cost but it also has a long tradition of users helping users going back to the OS/2 era in the 1990’s. Most of you already are “outside the box” simply because you chose OS/2 and have stuck with it for years. Don’t lose sight of that and be willing to change your perspective about eComStation as reality changes.
Okay, that is my updated “rant”. Comments are welcome as long as they are civil and in the interest of promoting eComStation. Anything else will likely be deleted.
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Edit Sun May 31 15:21:33 CDT 2009: Add sentence about irc.ecomstation.com.