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Re: Is LSMB really suitable for the public?

David Tangye wrote:
> I am concerned that there have been a lot of problems with LSMB lately
> that have required quite a degree of software expertise to fix. In fact
> it is becoming apparent to me that those with little software expertise
> are struggling to get the app up and running, whether a fresh install or
> migration from SL. After all the goodwill and effort being made here, I
> find this as disappointing as I am sure many others do. While I spent 20
> years in IT, and therefore can understand the fixes etc, and can hack
> sql if needed:

Please keep in mind that LedgerSMB is a fork of an existing system, with
its own attendant issues. The developers are correctly prioritizing
important concerns for existing users (security, data integrity, etc).

> 1. I do not want to do this. I want the install to do everything right,
> the first time.

There are goals to create easy default configuration installs, in the form
of LiveCD, Virtual Machine images, Windows Installers, etc. These
conveniences are not available yet.

> 2. 95% of computer users will not have a clue what the heck you are
> talking about and will not have a hope of installing/migrating.
> Furthermore most do not have the time nor inclination to become
> software-proficient just to get LSMB up. SQL, postgres mumbojumbo,
> hotfixes, cpan, svn, hack this tex here, that perl there ... and on and
> on and on. Forget it, they will stay with Windows and Quickbooks, MYOB
> etc etc.

LedgerSMB is multi-user web application which relies on an properly
installed DBMS (postgresql), webserver (usually apache), and a perl
runtime with several dependency packages.

First time users who are unfamiliar with these infrastructure components
may need to learn a few skills, or be patient for the convenient turnkey
setup options to arrive.

I don't think there is anything on the website or in the documentation
inviting nontechnical users to install LedgerSMB today without knowledge
of the basic installation of the underlying software.

LedgerSMB must of course attend to the data security and integrity needs
of the existing and SL-migrating userbase. Attracting new non-technical
users doing their own setup is a longer-term reward for improving our
documentation and installation story.

> Without prattling on about this any further, can I just ask/suggest that
> the developers:
>  1. Stop doing functionality extensions/improvements
>  2. Get the basics right.
>  3. Set up and adhere to a better more comprehensive system test
> strategy, and stop releasing any further stuff in future until it is
> properly tested.

The imperatives are somewhat rude, and frankly uninformed. To date,
LedgerSMB releases have been almost entirely oriented at getting the basic
functions of the system right.

I'm sure the core developers welcome new community members who are willing
to roll up their sleeves, which is what is required to install and
administer most multi-user web database applications.
> I have held off migration from SL, because this trend of broken releases
> is concerning me, and I am seeing no evidence of any attempt to control
> releases properly. In fact I am seeing too much hackering here. This is
> not the way to convince many people to jump into the software, because
> there appears to be too much risk that it will keep breaking in future
> releases, and I never back horses that keep breaking down.

I'm (somewhat) sorry you feel that way. There is a good opportunity today
to migrate from certain versions of SL to the current release of the
community-driven LedgerSMB project. There will be other migration options
in the the future, and you can certainly check back then.

> It seems that the developers here suffer the same problem I have seen in
> many software efforts: techos lost in their own world, unable to
> understand that their end user is NOT as cluey as them in software
> matters. Half the time you might as well be speaking Martian.

Polite and helpful Martians. Good to have when on Mars.

> If the purpose of this project is to build and accounting or ERP system
> for I.T. folks, say so. Actually I raised the point months ago about
> defining your target market/user base, and no-one really had much to say
> about that. I therefore surmise that the target market is not clearly
> defined, or else is implicitly 'us developers on behalf of our specific
> customers, whom we set up anyway'.

Use of LedgerSMB is not directed at IT folks, but you may want to be nice
to a knowledgeable IT person to get the present SL-to-LedgerSMB migration
up and running more directly. Or hire one. Or wait until it's easy enough
for your expectations.