[linux-elitists] Re: Yet another mozilla atrocity

Martin Pool mbp@samba.org
Thu Oct 2 19:39:47 PDT 2003

On  2 Oct 2003, Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com> wrote:

> XML's OK for configuration files, even though if edited in raw form all
> those bloody angle brackets will drive you batty. But where the hell is
> everything?
> My desktop system (a laptop) has Galeon, Abiword, and gnumeric on it,
> which I value on their merits without particularly caring whether or not
> their maintainers consider them "part of GNOME". So, it might be nice to
> be able to find and adjust their configurations, system-wide, inside my
> home directory, or both.

Well, now you know: gconftool is the designated tool for doing that.
You're welcome to do it the other way, but it might not be as easy.
However complaining that something is hard when you've ignored the
easy way is a bit silly.

> OK, how 'bout /etc/abiword/abiword.rc and ~/.abiword.rc? No such
> luck.  /etc/gnumeric/gnumeric.rc and ~/.gnumeric.rc? Fat chance. How
> about using locate?

You may not like XML, but at least it's consistent.  Of the .rc files
from other programs, how many have a consistent format?  How many have
hand-hacked almost-shell syntax with inconsistent quoting?  How many
respond reasonably if you make a mistake when hand-editing?  (Flipping
through ten at random, all have different syntax.)

> What the frell? Why would Gnumeric's settings be stashed under those for
> GConf? Furthermore, what's with the nine levels deep of subdirectories?
> Jeezux. It's just a furshlugginer conf file!

OK, you'd like one big file rather than a directory of smaller files.
Opinions vary on this, though Unix tends towards smaller files.

> Furthermore, where in my home directory am I expected to make a local
> copy of this mess?

Why do you want to do that?

> ~/.gnumeric/ ? Nope, that would be far too logical.
> Turns out there's some contraption called ~/.gnome/Gnumeric, which is
> not an XML file, but rather something like a messy MS-Windows .INI
> file.

That's from GNOME 1.x, by the way.  File formats do unfortunately
change over time.

> But is that where I store my local Gnumeric preferences? I have no
> clue.

What preferences do you want to set that can't be set through the GUI?

> Am I supposed to "cp -a" that entire
> /etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults/apps/gnumeric tree to somewhere in my home
> directory? 

No.  What makes you think you need to?  Just relax.

> GNOME can basically kiss my shiny metal ass. Give me real configuration
> files.

If you want xrdb, I'm sure you know where to get it.

> The song-and-dance about how really nothing's changed because it's
> still text files should not be taken seriously.

GNOME is trying to progress beyond Unix's traditional
guess-edit-restart-repeat in a way that is more friendly to both
experts and novices.  That necessarily requires adding a layer, and
probably requires giving up directly editing configuration files.

It's comparable to the choice of using an interactive spreadsheet,
rather than writing a script that prints out the answers.  (And indeed
Gnumeric uses XML files too.)

If anyone here would like to sketch a design that has the same
usability improvements as gconf, but without the perceived downsides
then go ahead.  If you can't think of a better design then I have less
sympathy for you complaining about it.

Alternatively if you would prefer to stick with edit-restart-repeat
then explain why people writing new GUIs ought to do it that way when
more friendly methods exist.


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