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From "William A. Rowe, Jr." <>
Subject Re: Virtual hosts and bind
Date Thu, 29 Nov 2001 02:55:42 GMT
From: "Rich Bowen" <>
Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2001 8:23 PM

> I have been enduring an extended tirade from a disgruntled user
> regarding the vhosts documentation. 

:(  Rich, you really don't have to put up with such users... feel free to
invoke the "I'm just one unpaid voulenteer..." and close with the suggestion
that they look to a commercially supported product [which this fellow seems
to expect] or one of the many good reference works out there [certainly,
your own :-]

> So, while I completely disagree with the points that he is making, I
> wonder how many other folks feel this way. Are people really having this
> much trouble finding the information that they want in the docs? 

Sure, we could have a _tome_ the size of the PHP docs, if we had that many
people willing to write that level of detail, and the management tools to
support it.  Notice that PHP and mod_ssl both have easier-to-follow docs
formats, but they back those with the composition tools for larger docs.

OTOH, we need to have sufficient voulenteers to not only author, but maintain
on an ongoing basis.  This is obviously an area where the commercial authors
(you included :) and vendors can and should write the 'handholding' walkthroughs,
backed by the technical support, that this sort of user expects.

> He talked at length about the way that the open source world, and in
> particular linux (with which he drew some sort of analogy to Apache)
> seem to think that users derive "a sort of sexual pleasure from solving
> riddles", meaning, I took it, that the documentation leaves you to
> figure out most things on your own. 

Sure, such things are works-in-progress, there is rarely the 'code complete'
metric, and everything, including documentation, is voulenteer [even if your
employeer has 'voulenteered' you to such a project.]  And yes, such docs tend
to cover the 'what can you do', while tutorials (many, spread across many good
resources) will tell you 'what you aught to do' and 'how to, step by step'.

> He also, as far as I can tell, was
> of the opinion that ApacheToday, ApacheWeek, and a variety of different
> books, in particular Apache: The Definitive Guide, comprised part of the
> documentation, and he somehow expected me to be able to do something
> about them. And he made repeated comments about how when he first tried
> to set up Apache, in 1997, the documentation was no help to him at all.

And he's still using it.  I'm torn between the desire to laugh and strangle
the guy... he obviously isn't hurting, having had four years to switch
products if it were 'all that bad'.  In any case, it sounds like this fellow
aught to get a life, or contribute something (sounds like the gimme-gimme 
type of me, me, me individual.)

> Anyways, I thought that I would share these thoughts. I'm not entirely
> sure why, since I think that he's way off-base, and, personally, I think
> that the documentation has made significant improvements over the last
> year or two. But, as Bill mentioned earlier, if people have the
> perception that something is wrong, then something probably needs to get
> addressed. I'm just not sure what that is. Thoughts, anyone?

Pretty simple.  That 'snake oil' cert, our index.html and other non-intuitive
aspect of the server should be kept trivial to understand and harmless to the
unexpecting client.  Sort of like we've killed BindAddress+Port, and simply 
have the Listen+ServerName directives now.  Two directives to understand, 
rather than four.  We've loaded lots of disclaimers in the "It Worked" page
backed by a preFAQ.  That's all progress.

But as far as babysitting, if he wants a personal babysitter, he needs to
pay for one.  That could be a $50 (unsupported but thorough) volume from Amazon,
or a $1000 product backed by documentation _plus_ support.  If he wants to go
it alone, he's approaching this just as we all did, from the first download of
the software.

I sure have no tears for this person. 


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