[linux-elitists] Re: Yet another mozilla atrocity

Jeremy Hankins nowan@nowan.org
Wed Oct 15 06:57:53 PDT 2003

Jeff Waugh <jdub@perkypants.org> writes:

> Why make something a 'preference' when you can do it right the first
> time?

Because you can't do it right the first time.  Because Murphy's law,
chaos, and the Real World(tm) are all sitting on the opposing team.

If we had a philosopher king, I'd be all for total dictatorship.  But
we don't, so we embrace chaos (i.e., complexity) and manage it.

You can do that by making the domain small, thus allowing choice &
parallel development (compare to state vs. federal law in the US).  Or
you can do it by providing sufficient checks & freedoms to balance
central control, thus allowing a dynamic and flexible response to
local problems by those actually faced with the problems.  Usually
some combination of both is the best route.

The problem with gnome (and I'm being intentionally abstract here) is
that in point of fact it's neither one nor the other of the above.
Those who choose to use it aren't given enough freedom to take it in
their own direction.  Those (like myself) who try to avoid it are
forced to either forgo using a lot of the available software which has
nothing intrinsically to do with gnome, or put up with it anyway.

This is as opposed to Linux (the kernel) which handles this problem
well in several ways.  First, the problem domain is relatively small.
The kernel stays out of user space and minimizes what happens in
kernel space.  There are also many different kernels and patchsets
available and actively maintained.  What's more, even when the Linus
is at his authoritarian best, the kernel is extremely configurable.
And as an example of what not to do, there's Microsoft, which is both
monolithic and authoritarian.

Note: if you disagree with me, I see four ways you can argue your point:

a) Claim that gnome *does* have a small domain.

b) Claim that gnome does *not* determine with any specificity what
users' experience with gnome software will be.

c) Claim that Murphy's Law, et all, don't hold.

d) Suggest some other way of managing chaos/complexity, and argue that
this is what the gnome project does.

Since arguing (a) is very unlikely given the size of the codebase
(including all apps that depend on gnome libs), and (b) seems directly
contrary to the project's design goals, you're left with (c) and (d).
Good luck. ;)

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333  9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03

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