Now for something completely different

Saturday, February 17, 2007
On this depressing day, which many of us would no doubt prefer to spend pinning pictures of Pelosi and Reid to our dartboards, I offer a bit of entertainment from the open source world. This is why I think Linus is the main reason for the success of Linux.

I've sent out patches. The code is actually _cleaner_ after my patches, and the end result is more capable. We'll see what happens.

THAT is constructive.

What I find unconstructive is how the GNOME people always make *excuses*. It took me a few hours to actually do the patches. It wasn't that hard. So why didn't I do it years ago?

I'll tell you why: because GNOME apologists don't say "please send us patches". No. They basically make it clear that they aren't even *interested* in fixing things, because their dear old Mum isn't interested in the feature.

Do you think that's "constructive"?

So let's see what happens to my patches. I guarantee you that they actually improve the code (not just add a feature). I also guarantee that they actually make things *more* logical rather than less (with my patches, double-clicking on the title bar isn't a special event: it's configurable along with right- and middle-clicking, and with the exact same syntax for all).

But why, oh, why, have GNOME people not just said "please fix it then"?

Instead, I _still_ (now after I sent out the patch) hear more of your kvetching about how you actually do everything right, and it's somehow *my* fault that I find things limiting.

Here's a damn big clue: the reason I find GNOME limiting is BECAUSE IT IS.

Now the question is, will people take the patches, or will they keep their heads up their arses and claim that configurability is bad, even when it makes things more logical, and code more readable.

It's not one of his more colorful rants, but it delivers some of the flavor. I've often wondered if having a communist journalist as a father didn't innoculate Linus with an aversion to politics and a preference for tangible results.

h/t: OS News


MeaninglessHotAir said...

I also found this interchange amusing.

But maybe a little background on what Gnome is and why it is important might be useful?

By the way, what is your opinion on the issue of Gnome and its user interface? I've long felt that one thing holding Linux back is that neither Gnome nor KDE seems capable of providing competitive user interfaces, despite years of effort.

chuck said...

I think that GNOME is useable now and has been for several years, but at heart choosing between GNOME and KDE is a bit like choosing Basic back in the early days of MSDOS: it was there, C and Fortran weren't. Fedora is a GNOME distro, SUSE is (was) a KDE distro. I actually preferred KDE to GNOME, but because I use Fedora these days I use GNOME.

I thought KDE caught up with Windows for general use back around version 3.1, although screen fonts remained problematic, and it was then that I started using Linux full time instead of as an occasional hobby. The missing piece of the puzzle right now is X windows, and folks have been working hard on that since XFree86 was forked. I think Windows and the Mac still have better looking desktops in general. There is something to be said for having graphics designers, artists, and useability experts working on the desktop because it takes talent and training to do right, just as writing code does. Some of the Linux companies are now investing in that sort of thing and it is starting to show.

The main drawback of Linux as a system for the public at large is that you can't buy common software for it at Staples or Walmart: games, educational stuff, photo albums, mostly they don't run on Linux. The Mac used to be the same, it is why I eventually left the Apple fold.

I do wish there was a consensus on Linux/Unix desktops, though. Apps like Matlab look just awful because, as far as I can tell, they are stuck with the old Motif widget set. And don't get me started on EMACS, even a true believer like myself switched to gvim just for its better support of GTK and its nicer appearance. Good looks and nice fonts count for a lot.

lurker said...

We spent the last two years porting our software from Dec Alpha Tru64 Unix to Redhat Linux for our customer. I prefer Gnome or Kde over xterm in spite of their shortcomings in some ways.