[linux-elitists] Re: Yet another mozilla atrocity

Jeff Waugh jdub@perkypants.org
Fri Oct 3 16:34:31 PDT 2003

<quote who="Karsten M. Self">

> Read that until you get it.  I see strong echos of this practice within
> GNOME especially -- it's a reason I find it very, very hard to trust
> Miguel, it's why I don't generally like design decisions GNOME makes.

(Miguel, who has essentially nothing to do with the GNOME Project anymore.)

> For the most part, where I like GNOME apps it's *despite* rather than on
> account of many of the GNOME tight-integration features.

What is all this stuff about tight integration? GConf does one thing, and
does it well. May as well use it, particularly if you want a consistent
interface (both from a developer POV and an administrator's POV). Little
text files in users home directories are not group/host/all enforceable,

> Two applications which spring to mind are w3m and WindowMaker.  While
> neither may be mainstream or particularly Joe-sixpack oriented, both
> have the following advantages:
>   - They use plain-text, human editable configuration files.

You too can write a new backend for GConf that provides this!

>   - They have very intuitive, easy to use, configuration utilities.
>     WMaker's is, in fact, GUI (WPrefs).  In the _specific_ case of a
>     window manager, I find this acceptable.  For w3m, the 'o' key brings
>     you to a menu-driven config screen, covering a wide range of useful
>     options.  Noting Joey Hess's comment that preferences should be
>     searchable, I'll note that standard vi search ("/expression", n, ?,
>     etc.) works.  

Why would you have so many options and preferences that you have no choice
but to provide search facilities for them? (Yes, we're talking about a
different world to vim, mutt and friends.) The KDE control center provides
this, mostly because it is stuffed to the gills with pointless, masturbatory

>   - In both cases, copying a file (~/.w3m/config) or directory tree
>     (~/GNUstep/) transfers all the appropriate settings between systems.
>     Preferences portability has always been a hallmark of 'Nix systems,
>     and the loss of this under the current GNOME scheme is a very
>     serious step backward.

You can do exactly the same thing with GNOME. In fact, you can copy almost
(bugs exist) your entire user configuration information across by copying a
single directory.

> What I am *requesting* and *strongly recommending* is that configuration
> files follow conventions of location (so you can find the damned things),
> and be both comprehensible and modifiable by a reasonably technical user.

While I would suggest that they are already (you can modify them if you need
to, but they're not designed specifically for that very rare use case), you
can write a .ini-format or a Karsten's-Elitist-Configuration-Files backend
for GConf. It may even perform and handle locking/access better (unlikely,
this is a hard problem) - you never know.

Most of what you're gabbing on about is irrelevant, however. These projects
don't exist to make *you* happy, with all of your anal retentive long-term
*nix user ideas of How Stuff Should Work (I have many of these too). We form
a very vocal 1% of computer users, so it's not like we're an interesting
group to optimise for. But hey, I'm sure your backend will rock.

- Jeff

linux.conf.au 2004: Adelaide, Australia         http://lca2004.linux.org.au/
  "Ever since GNOME development began, I have urged people to aim to make
   it as good as the Macintosh.  To try to be like Windows is to try for
                      second-best." - Richard Stallman

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