The elementary reason for providing binaries

published Jul 02, 2002, last modified Jun 26, 2013

This article is an addendum to On the importance of providing binaries with your software package. Here, several lines of thought will converge into one final remark. So bear with me.

How many people have a Lamborghini Diablo? The coolest thing about Linux is that it lets you drive your virtual Diablo by testing the latest sources, just by using Gentoo or an alike. Or you can drive your faithful mini by sticking to the stable tree in Debian. Or you can drive an automatic by sitting on a Mandrake install and using the Software Manager.

Fact: most people drive an automatic.

Now, you (developer, not user, not distribution manager, not wannabe) are looking for users of your software. You want people to use it and be happy, and receive letters of support and encouragement, or perhaps contracting jobs out of it. Don't tell me you don't. You're delivering your software as a download. It's self-evident you want that.

Now, non-developers quiet please: except for the good soul who offers to build binaries as a voluntary and therefore unreliable chore, if you don't build them, no one will. Well, perhaps your distribution of choice will bundle your software (mine is, on several distros), but you'll help that cause by providing binaries - at least of stable releases.

Now here's where the ideas come together: most people drive an automatic, right. A great majority of them choose to do so, for whatever reasons. Think of those people as users, who want to drive their cars and get to their jobs or the supermarket. Would you sell radios that have a big red seal saying "For manual cars, with twin turbocharger"?

Fact: to gain the most users, you need to cater to the people driving an automatic.

You see? Is it falling all together now? In software, it's the same. It doesn't matter whether your software package is of superior quality (which is relative), its availability does matter. People will choose a different software package just because it's available, not because it is written in GNU Foo 1.2, exclusively for source hackers with libsigcaffeine. Then you can start receiving support requests and counting the dollar bills, or sizing your ego.

Most of the comments were made by people who don't seem to have a background in software development. Some of them DO know and have rather recognizable software distributed around. For those of you who really are develppers, I'm puzzled as to why you wouldn't understand and side with me instead of battling the arguments I poured in the article. All I'm asking (as an user) is for you to take 30 more minutes and compile, then make it available! Don't force me and thousand others take those 30 extra minutes (or 5 hours, really, you never know). I charge by the hour you know? I'd rather be dancing on a disco and have my customers smiling at me.