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Re: Why not create packages?

> Gary Lawrence Murphy wrote:
> > 
> > I don't remember anything about it either.  It is also probably
> > unreasonable to expect the majority of Linux users will want to
> > install all the docs; unless you have a server accessed by many full
> > users (telnet, X &c) the hit-count average per doc is likely to be
> > very, very low.  Most LDP docs are throw-away items, guides to getting
> > something to work which are only needed until the item works, and then
> > are ignored.  Many deal with very esoteric topics of no use to the
> > average user but critical to those who need them.
> > For this reason, man distros do not put LDP docs into the installed
> > software but simply include them on a CD, typically in HTML only. For
> > example, IIRC, RedHat puts only the HOWTOs on disk to appear on a
> > machine as /mnt/cdrom/docs/HOWTO
On Wed, Jul 19, 2000 at 02:38:51PM -0400, David Merrill wrote:
> Not on my RH6.2 box. I have all HOWTOs installed under /usr/doc/HOWTO,
> and I find it extremely valuable to me. I have a bookmark set in my
> browser to /usr/doc, and I can find what I need very quickly that way.
> The default page that displays in Netscape on a newly installed RH box,
> which is largely a RH blurb, includes a link to this directory also.

I sometimes use zgrep to search thru all the HOWTOs in
/usr/share/doc/HOWTO.  It's such a long path that I made the alias
"how" so that I can just type "how" and get there.  I think that
Debian includes all the HOWTOs in their distribution.  They come in
various languages and AFAIK everyone gets all the languages.  So this
is more of a waste of media that giving everyone all the HOWTOs.

Although this wouldn't help much at the present time, what about
having an "obsolete" category of HOWTO that would include HOWTOs that
almost no one would want.  It would be suggested that they not be
included in most distributions.  "Obsolete" HOWTOs would be ones which
less than say 1 in 40,000 people would want to read.  This ratio is
not fixed.  I estimated it as follows:

Assume that people will use up costly harddrive space to store the
HOWTOs but get the HOWTOs via CD.  The cost of disk space is $10/GB.
For a 0.1MB HOWTO this costs $0.001 for storage.  But during the life
of the disk, the space on it (for HOWTOs) may be reused say 5 times so
the cost of storage is only $0.00002.  So the social cost of x persons
getting this HOWTO they don't need is $0.0002x.  Now say the cost of
someone who does need the HOWTO of manually getting it is $8 (mostly
the bother of doing it).  So we equate $0.0002x = $8 to get the
break-even point and find x=40,000 persons.  This is cost-benefit
analysis and as conditions change, x obviously changes.  If getting a
HOWTO is automated so that it's only $1 of bother (on average) then
x=320,000.  However if harddisks come down in price by a factor of 10
then x=4,000.

What if someone urgently needs the howto but Internet access is down
(or not available)?  Then the cost could be far greater than $8.
Another problem is that people would like to have everything in their
distribution package for easy management, but there are probably not
packages for a single HOWTO.  So the $8 of bother should include the
bother of removing/updating (manual management) the HOWTO and include
cases where not having the howto is costly.

                        David Lawyer

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