gconf brain death (was Re: [linux-elitists] Yet another mozilla atrocity)

Tim Potter tpot@samba.org
Tue Sep 30 18:10:05 PDT 2003

On Tue, Sep 30, 2003 at 11:51:21PM +0100, Karsten M. Self wrote:

> In this specific case, the solution was to use gconf-editor.  A
> reimplementation of the MS Windows Registry for GNU/Linux, with the
> concommitant problems of undocumented settings, cryptic keys, 
> inability to readily comment features or settings, and use of a single,
> specialized application to access the configuration settings.

I have to disagree here.  The gconf system is so much better than the
Windows registry.  The problems of cryptic and undocumented settings
are mitigated by the fact that each user (application, applet etc)
registers a schema with gconf which describes the disposition of
each possible entry.  There's a owner field as well as short and
long description.  A quick browse shows that a lot of these descriptions
aren't set but hey at least you can attach metadata to keys.  The
Windows registry has neither a schema or a system of documenting keys.

Another big differents is that gconf (at the moment) is only used for
storing program settings.  The Windows registry is chock full of
mysterious keys that can change operating system behaviour and override 
settings in the GUI tools.  My gconf only has things like the
settings for the battery status applet, or the last window position
of rhythmbox.

> It's specifically the lack of generic tools to access the Registry, the
> inability to comment it (or comment out keys while trying settings or
> dealing with a contingency), the masking of functionality through
> intentionally obfuscated keys and values, and the fragility of the
> system as a whole to any file damage, which are the primary complaints
> against the Registry.  Best I can tell, gconf is largely bug-for-bug
> compatible on all points, though I admit my aquaintance with it is
> quite casual.

Maybe no-one can be bothered to write alternative tools?  There is
certainly enough information in MSDN for anyone to write their own
registry editor.  Perhaps REGEDIT and REGEDT32 work just well enough
to discourage this.

Saying gconf is bug-for-bug compatible doesn't do it justice.  The
UI is so much nicer (better use of widgets, documentation, bookmarks)
than the Windows registry editors.


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