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Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] "GNU Radio is crap" and GSoc

From: mleech
Subject: Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] "GNU Radio is crap" and GSoc
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2012 11:26:29 -0500
User-agent: Roundcube Webmail/0.5.1

Tom makes the point that Gnu Radio isn't "shiny".  Indeed, it isn't.

Some people arrive at Gnu Radio expecting that it is an "end application", and walk away badly disappointed. They have in their mind a firm notion of what constitutes a "radio", and fully expect that Gnu Radio *is* that "radio", except that it has GUI widgets instead physical controls.  For this class of "customer" for Gnu Radio, I blame the early ham-radio SDR market, and the suppliers thereto.  They packaged their SDR hardware with fully-built applications, and in some cases, didn't expose the underlying API in any meaningful sense, so people come to Gnu Radio expecting it to simply be an Open Source version of an existing SDR application in the amateur-radio/scanner space.

The problem is that the field of "radio" is incredibly diverse, so much so that from my perspective I can't imagine a single class of application that would be "the one that everyone is looking for".   Sure, there has been an emphasis on SDR in academic environments for use in commercial networking/telecoms applications, but really, that's rather the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential applications for SDR (and by implication, Gnu Radio).

Clark Pope observed that building end-user applications is a *lot of work*.  I completely agree.  End-user applications have to be polished, reliable, easy-to-use, and fully documented. Even something as relatively simple as SIDSuite, which is up on CGRAN, requires a *lot* of work to make it "friendly" to an "appliance" user.  I just can't see our core developer team spending their time in that part of the space.  But if their job is done correctly, the applications will (and have!) emerge.

Much application development for Gnu Radio is going on in the background, on private projects that will never be published.  So it's easy for people to get the impression that Gnu Radio has no apps.  That's just plain not true.

On Tue, 14 Feb 2012 06:21:18 -0800, Rafael Diniz wrote:

I really think that projects like the ones in CGRAN have great value.

The key point in my option is to implement some widely used standards
_using_ the gnuradio framework.
As examples I'd say TV broadcast standards like DVB, ISDB-Tb, radio
standards like DAB, DRM, ..., this will greatly improve Gnuradio adoption
and use, by universities, hobbists and companies.

I don't think money is the only issue involved, but of course it would help.
An university involvement approach like the VT one is also very interesting.

Best regards,
Rafael Diniz

Without a monetization strategy I don't see how the gnu radio project gets much past its current state. The problem is the functionality of a prototyper or student is implemented in about 20% of the effort for a full application. The documentation, testing, deployment, and maintenance of a real application needs a lot more work and that work is not educational or enjoyable. So without something like an app store where developers can get reimbursed for that other 80% the applications will stay stuck at the cool demo stage.
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