Thoughts on

Nick Mathewson nickm at
Wed Feb 2 17:02:02 UTC 2011

On Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 9:04 AM, Lucky Green <shamrock at> wrote:
> On 2011-01-25 01:09, Erinn Clark wrote:
>> I think supporting multiple versions back is a laudable goal, and one we should
>> consider, but right now it's not feasible (for me, anyway, as the primary
>> packager with the current infrastructure). The following is my initial sketch
>> of the package support policy, which is an accurate snapshot of what's
>> currently out there (specifically for Tor and Vidalia):
> Erinn,
> My feedback is that the Tor Project really, really will want a written
> and published policy of how far back an OS is supposed to be supported.
> Otherwise, you will get to have this discussion every time a new OS
> version is released.
> Industry standard for consumer software that goes into the far corners
> of the world is "current and previous major version", which has
> different meanings depending on OS.

Hi, Lucky!  I generally agree with you, but I do want to point out a
point that makes me balk at applying your experience without more

It seems to me that the "industry standard for computer consumer
software" is chosen to serve the goals of the software industry: that
is, to sell software to people who can pay for it.  As a means to that
end, commercial software enterprises sometimes additionally support
marginal userbases (those who can't pay, those who can't pay much) in
order to increase the install base of their software and provide
positive network effects for their paying customers.

We're in a slightly different position: we're achieving our mission to
the extent that lots of users -- whether they can pay or not! -- can
use our software.  Also, we want volunteers with free (to them)
bandwidth to be able to run our server software on the hardware and
software they have lying around.

I suspect that, when all is said and done, the set of operating
systems that it makes sense to support in the commercial software
industry will work out to be almost the same as the ones Tor want to
support -- but the reasoning is a little different, since industry
needs to optimize profit-per-developer-hour, and we're trying to
optimize social-benefit-per-developer-hour.


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