Blog posts tagged "freesoftware"

A Dodged Bullet: Function before Philosophy?

September 17th, 2002

So just as I sit down to some serious coding this weekend, my text editor, NEdit, went all weird on me. I don’t know how to draw the proper analogy for non-programmers, when I explained it to my grandmother this morning I suggested it was something like her sewing machine going out as she started a quilt, but as I survey her studio the vast array of scissors, and knives, stencils, mat boards, needles, dyes, and tools without names, I realized this was an insufficient parallel. How to say, “Yes I do something real, but I use just one tool to do it.”?

NEdit didn’t stop working entirely. In fact it took me a little while to figure out what it was doing. Eventually I figured it out. The first document I opened worked fine. However, if I tried to open any other documents (and working in more then one document while programming is a given) then these children windows would act sullen, and unresponsive. I could see the contents, but all mouse or keyboard clicks were ignored.

I was despairing a little, but I took my relatively clueless understanding of the situation to the NEdit mailing lists, and got an amazing deluge of helpful emails. I sent my email before going to bed, and got up 6 hours later with an inbox full of helpful suggestions. The problem is the current version of LessTif (the one Debian packages) is buggy. The solutions are:

  1. Compile against an older version of LessTif
  2. Download the pre-compiled binaries
  3. Compile against OpenMotif which doesn’t have this bug

As I’m not sure how to roll back to an earlier version of a package with apt (shame on me) I’m opted for option 2, and am back in business.

But I’ll leave you with this bit of wisdom from Scott T.

Debain will likely never link against OSF Motif due to their philosophy. So, if you’d rather have a working editor instead of philosophy, try the binary from our website.

I love Debian, but it has its costs.

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