[development] Re: Drupal 4.5 unsupported

Peter Kowalke peter2005 at kowalke.info
Sun May 28 08:20:45 UTC 2006

I mostly lurk at this point, but this thread is so chilling that I must add
my two cents even though it looks like the group is pretty well decided on
wiping away 4.5.

While Liza is being a little caustic in telling people that they should
stick to being programmers while she's the non-techie expert, she does have
a very strong point regarding software availability vs. support. Here's why:


Functionally removing Drupal 4.5 is not just saying "we don't support this,
and we highly recommend that you upgrade to 4.7 because 4.5 is a security
risk." Removing 4.5 is saying "you WON'T use 4.5 because we don't think that
is a good idea." Functionally we're deciding what's best for people, not
recommending and giving them the choice. That's like the state telling you
how to have sex vs. giving recommendations and ultimately leaving it up to
you. If the 4.5 user gets an STD, that's mostly his problem. The compromised
site might reflect poorly on Drupal just a tad, just like someone with STDs
affects his society. But, is the loss of freedom worth that little net gain
for the community? For an open source community, I find it strange that
we're effectively dictating what can and cannot be done.


CVS access still is access, but functionally it kills 4.5 for a lot of
people because it adds a much higher technical barrier than existed when
they initially installed their installation. Putting 4.5 in an archive
section effectively warns people against using an old version, but a
non-techie who can't easily upgrade still gets access. This less technically
inclined or otherwise busy person might not be able to use CVS, however, so
we're barring them from 4.5. By removing forum posts, etc., we're cutting
4.5 people off at the knees even more. Far from stopping support, we're
actively erasing what already exists. This is as if all major web sites
dealing with Win XP are erased when Vista comes out. And yes, other people
might have pages about Drupal 4.5 on the web--but as THE place to go for
Drupal needs, almost all support for 4.5 is on the Drupal sites that will be


MS Word 97 is on a CD and is self-contained, so a user can happily stick
with the software for decades assuming he doesn't want the latest features.
Drupal doesn't work that way, though, because a good portion of the possible
functionality and promise comes from the related modules, themes and code
snippets. When I choose 4.5 initially, I know there is certain functionality
I can have. And, maybe I don't install it all at once, but I know it exists.
By removing 4.5, we're effectively reducing the software to what the user
currently has in use--unless of course they decide to download all the
modules, all the themes, etc, as well as the docs, the night before it
disappears from the Drupal site. Almost nobody will do that, so we're
undercutting what the software used to do. 4.5 now is LESS than it was
before, which is much different than merely stopping tech support and
community development. This isn't a perfect analogy, but removing 4.5 from
all but CVS is like stopping Google Maps, not upgrading MS Streets & Trips
Planner. Drupal functionally requires community.


Hobbyists can get away with cutting edge or even bleeding edge, software
that sometimes doesn't work quite right, but businesses don't have that
tolerance because the stakes are higher. Businesses started using open
source largely when paid support options developed and very stable software
versions emerged because they just couldn't gamble with the unstable,
absolute latest and greatest. I'm still installing new 4.6 installations for
my clients because many modules I need are not yet ported to 4.7. It is
scary enough from a business perspective that Drupal is not backwards
compatible. Being all but forced to upgrade every other release seriously
undercuts Drupal's commercial viability. If Drupal primarily is a hobbyist
community that doesn't care about my business needs, why would my business
rely on Drupal? Technical elegance only goes so far if the point isn't
software for its own sake. Apple Computers changes technical architecture
relatively often, but users still can use OS 9 if they're stubborn (and
there IS a decent upgrade path usually). By removing 4.5, We're saying
businesses that use OS 9 are in deep trouble, more than just "you're on your
own, bub."


An archive won't dramatically use server resources if few people use it, and
if it does get high use then that's a really strong signal that an archive
is especially necessary. What is the really good argument for totally
cutting the old community off at the knees?

I am pretty busy, and I don't even use 4.5, but I'd be willing to help with
an archive section if for some reason creating it takes more work than it
seems. The Drupal community really is shooting itself in the foot if it
effectively forces people to use the latest and greatest tech, which I think
this policy does.

Thanks for reading my 4am concerns. I'd much rather be sleeping, but this is
too important.


Peter Kowalke
Port Chester, NY

"Plausible fellow, but unsound."
    -Herbert Bayard Swope, former editor of the New York World

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