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Re: website: say what Guix is at the very top

From: Ricardo Wurmus
Subject: Re: website: say what Guix is at the very top
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:04:12 +0100
User-agent: mu4e 1.0-alpha3; emacs 25.3.1

Hi Tobias,

> I don't know who wrote the current intro, but I think it's pretty good.
> Have you got negative feedback from curious visitors?

Unfortunately, I have.  The most common feedback is an expression of
confusion about the difference between GuixSD and Guix.

But to be fair: this email was not triggered by negative feedback, but
by my own failure to find a succint explanation of Guix on the home
page.  I had hoped to find a concise intro that I could send someone to
explain what this Guix thing is all about but none of the sentences on
the home page really did the job well enough.

I ended up opening the Introduction section of the manual and edited it
to reduce the number of words.

> It's not just a list of features. The current intro is:
>   - Liberating. The Guix System Distribution (GuixSD) is an advanced
>     distribution of the GNU operating system developed by the GNU
>     Project—which respects the freedom of computer users.
>   - Dependable. It comes with the GNU Guix package manager, which in
>     addition to standard package management features, supports
>     transactional upgrades and roll-backs, unprivileged package
>     management, per-user profiles, and more.
>   - Hackable. It provides Guile Scheme APIs, including high-level
>     embedded domain-specific languages (EDSLs) to define packages and
>     whole-system configurations.
> I like the way it mixes description, features, and values without
> getting lost in marketing-speak. It also breaks up the text into small
> chunks, which is apparently mandatory on the 'Net.

Yes, I’m not saying it’s poorly written.  I agree with all of the
positive things you wrote about the intro.

What I don’t like is that it comes across as a list of features (single
word after bullet) with further explanation of those features — but
that’s not what it is.  It’s not even a list of features for the same

>> We should add a very short paragraph above that list to say what Guix
>> and GuixSD are.
>>> What do you think?
> Hm, what do you suggest?

I suggest moving the GuixSD parts to a sub-page first.  What’s left on
the front-page would only be about Guix, the package manager.  This
means that the current first paragraph would disappear and would have to
be replaced.

The current second paragraph “Dependable…” could be split up such that
we can elaborate a little more about the novel features of Guix.  Right
now it doesn’t real all *that* novel to me:

- “standard package management features”

- “transactional upgrades and roll-backs”: yum did that too, but in
  quite a different way than Guix.

- “unprivileged package management”: this deserves to be higher up

- “per-user profiles, and more”: ah, now it gets interesting, but the
  list is already too long, so we end immediately with “and more”.  Hmm.

I suggest to not even mention “standard package management features”.

Let’s look at the Conda intro.  There are many things I don’t like about
it, but there are some things we can learn from it:

The first paragraph states:

    Conda is [a] package management system and environment management
    system that runs on Windows, macOS and Linux. Conda quickly
    installs, runs and updates packages and their dependencies. Conda
    easily creates, saves, loads and switches between environments on
    your local computer. […]

It then drifts off and talks about Python all the time, but these first
sentences clearly tell me what it does: package and environment
management, installing packages and dependencies,
creating/loading/switching between environments.

Guix does all this but with reproducibility at its core, yet our
introduction neither mentions reproducibility nor does it say anything
about environments.


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