[linux-elitists] Re: Yet another mozilla atrocity

Michael Herman michael-lists@thehermans.org
Sat Oct 4 11:36:14 PDT 2003

I have been lurking for a while so please be kind...

On Sat, Oct 04, 2003 at 01:47:58AM -0700, Jason Spence wrote:
>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!"

I can't speak for others, but when I'm tweaking the desktop, it's for one
reason - performance.  I have stuff to get done and since it's usually the
same tasks over and over again (e-mail, create documents, etc), I tweak the
desktop to give me access to those functions as quickly and easily as
possible.  Also, since my hardware is pretty slow, I have no desire for all
the trimmings of KDE or Gnome.  

>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.

Living with the defaults is fine but why do that to yourself?  Every person
has a different work style and one of the beautiful things about *NIX is the
ability to completely customize your environment to fit your style.

>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.

I can't speak to the numbers and I'd be interested to see the information that
backs up your claims as I don't think they are quantifiable.  However,
anecdotaly, friends of mine who are Linux bigots also work on Windows machines
when necessary.

Most people grumble when they have to work in an environment unfamiliar to
them.  I don't think this is so odd.  If I drive someone elses car without
moving the mirrors and the seat, I'm going to grumble as well.  

This is the real world and Windows is a part of it these days.  In my opinion,
professional developers have no desire to be root on a production system
unless part of their job is system administration.  In large environments with
development, QA and production environments, the developers don't need root
access to the production environment.

Going back to my earlier comment about work style, professional developers and
system admins have jobs to do and their desire is to get it done quickly and
with a minimum of effort.  If this means customizing the environment they work
in, then so be it.  

Not to say that there aren't people out there tweaking their environment
because they can but that's their choice.  Sort of like driving a car (yes,
back to the car analogy) with hydraulics, a booming stereo and a huge Antelope
skull on the front - not very practical but it's a neat ride.

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