[linux-elitists] Re: Yet another mozilla atrocity

Jason Spence jspence@lightconsulting.com
Sat Oct 4 01:47:58 PDT 2003

On Sat, Oct 04, 2003 at 12:38:05AM +1000, Jeff Waugh wrote: 
> <quote who="Jonathan Corbet">
> > I used to defend work on "friendly desktops" because, as we all know,
> > there's a Linux system hiding underneath and those of us who don't want to
> > deal with all that crap can just route around it. It's getting
> > increasingly hard to route around, though.
> What do you define as "all that crap", though?

I've noticed that most people in the open community with at least an
intermediate level of skill define this as "any function, behavior, or
look-and-feel that appears on another's desktop".  I frequently see
others have this bizarre urge that I don't understand to tweak the
desktop until it's completely different from everyone else's desktop
and unusable by anyone but the person who set it up.  It's the
INTERCAL philosophy of interface design gone stark raving mad: "The
interface designed to be freedesktop-compatible but as fundamentally
unlike any existing desktop as possible.  Backgrounds that look like
line noise.  Fonts that will make you gasp, make you laugh, and
possibly make you hurl.  Window borders? We don't need no steenking
window borders!"

Personally, I just figure out how to live with the defaults.  Once in
a great while I encounter a system that actually has defaults which
make certain tasks impossible (*cough* brokentermcaps *cough*), and
then I try to automate the process of setting the relevant
configuration options to more productive settings; usually this
process is already done by the user community for me, since they've
come to the same conclusion that Something Is Wrong.  Encountering
such automation in forums, FAQs, or at user groups is usually a hint
that I'm on the right track with disagreeing with the system
implementer's chosen defaults.

But usually the defaults are fine, and I can't do what I want at first
because the documentation is poorly done, missing, or I can't navigate
it well enough to find what I'm looking for the first time around.
Usually when I get the urge to start changing default settings as a
matter of policy on systems I use, I first ask myself, "perhaps the
system implementer actually thought of this and I should see if
there's a way to do what I want without screwing with the system
configuration?"  I would say that nine times out of ten it turns out
I can :)

> 'Traditional' *nix users may or may not enjoy that approach, but they aren't
> a primary audience for a project like GNOME (and rightly so, from both
> perspectives).

One other thing I've noticed about "'traditional' *nix people" is that
they seem to be very inflexible in what they are willing to learn.
They usually want THEIR version of
tcsh/emacs/netscape/CDE/teco/whatever with THEIR custom patches and
THEIR color scheme and THEIR window focus behavior and blah blah blah
etc.  And they would rather give up entire contracts (or even
full-time jobs!) rather than their preferred environment.  Witness the
number of Linux and BSD people out there who absolutely refuse to
learn Windows, OS X, VMS, Solaris, or even a different programming
language than their favorite one.  What kind of message does that give
to potential converts to the Free way of doing things when they see
these people spending 20 hours setting up a system the way they like
it from scratch, flaming anything that doesn't look like twm the
entire time?  My belief is that those sorts of people have been in the
habit of having root on all their systems for too long and should
learn to be more flexible, but that's just me.

 - Jason                            Currently at: Somewhere on the Internet ()

Mark's Dental-Chair Discovery:
	Dentists are incapable of asking questions that require a
simple yes or no answer.

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