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Godwin's Law Invoked in Linus/Gnome Spat 828

lisah writes "The flame wars between Linus Torvalds and the GNOME community continue to burn. Responding to Torvalds' recent claim that GNOME 'seems to be developed by interface Nazis' and that its developers believe their 'users are idiots,' a member of the Linux Foundation's Desktop Architects mailing list suggested that Torvalds use GNOME for a month before making such pronouncements. Torvalds, never one to back down from a challenge, simply turned around and submitted patches to GNOME and then told the list, '...let's see what happens to my patches. I guarantee you that they actually improve the code.' After lobbing that over the fence, Torvalds concluded his comments by saying, '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.'" Linux.com and Slashdot are both owned by OSTG.
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Godwin's Law Invoked in Linus/Gnome Spat

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  • by Reverse Gear ( 891207 ) * on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:26AM (#18048804) Homepage
    I really think that Linus is a cool guy no doubt about that, sending in those patches to the Gnome community sure was the way to prove who is the over-geek here and how to get something done instead of wasting valuable time arguing over something as unimportant as Gnome (pun intented), if Linus is right.

    But Linus does really seem to have a bit of an attitude problem at times. Which is many times good if you are a boss for employees, but the problem just is that is not what Linus is, he is the boss of volenteers, they can quit if they don't like their boss.

    I can't help but get a little worried, had it been anyone else but Linus I wouldn't mind, let people have their strange ways as long as they do not bother me or anyone else to much.

    I am just worried for Linus, I sure hope he does take care of himself and stay mentally fit, that flamewars like the one he appearently had with the Gnome people here does not bring him out of balance somehow.

    If Linus somehow gets sick and overloaded then it will lead to a whole lot of mess with the development of the Linux Kernel which really would not be nice.

    So please Gnome people start behaving, be humble, accept the patches and do not upset Linus, we really need him, even if he isn't always the nicest person around ;)
    • by _vSyncBomb ( 50710 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:29AM (#18048816) Journal
      You fucking etiquette Nazi. How dare you say that Linus isn't the nicest person around?
      • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @05:18PM (#18054310)
        You know, the weird thing is that for many years, we all raved about how down-to-earth and carefree Linus was, and how he didn't get involved in Internet spats because he was a geek too busy working on Linux. In recent years, however, he's taken public stances and hurled a few insults here and there. This Gnome criticism is just stupid. Linus doesn't know EVERYTHING; he should leave the Gnome interface to the people who design the Gnome interface. It's not thinking users are stupid when you don't provide the overwhelming configurability that messy interfaces like KDE provide. It's just recognizing that the majority of people in the world just don't care and want something that is already the best solution, because they don't want to have to configure anything. As a kernel geek, it doesn't surprise me that Linus doesn't get that.
    • Attitude (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:58AM (#18048944)
      There are two parts to attitude.

      First off, nice touchy feely people get nothing done. All good OSS projects depend on focussed, and often heavy handed, leadership. Linus might piss and moan about Gnome, but then a lot of people do about Linus too. Linus is effective because he's not democratic. Try send patches that Linus does not like upstream in the kernel. They will get squashed. Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they should be aware of the cultures they are playing with.

      I run an OSS project too, one that is pretty successful. I don't willy-nilly accept patches that I don't like either. I will often take patches and recode them to be the way that I want them to be.

      Linus is good. Linus contributes a lot, but untimately that does not give him the right to be a fuckwit in someone elses project, any more than it gives anyone else the right to be a fuckwit in his project.

      Roll over and be nice to Linus is a poor way to handle things.

      • Re:Attitude (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @05:11AM (#18049274) Journal
        This attitude has been in the workings for quite a while now. I'm not talking about linus specificly but the entire linus-gnome tidbit dates back to at least 2005 or earlier. And it has more to do with others not being able to get stuff done or having their projects borked. Here is a discusion line that goes from a printing issue with some configurations on the ppd stuff [gnome.org].

        You can see it in there if you follow the list. It revolves around the idea that User are stupid so design for stupidity and stuff availible on other desktops simply not being there because users are stupid. Strangly, the gnome people are trying to convince linus that their way is the best way. Now this printer dialog post was made after the gnome project stopped submissions that would have nebaled it to work from being considered.

        In all, outside the spanish email who thinks someone is stupid because they might not be able to read something writen in spanish, the entire attitude and conversations has been quite tame. Well, as far as i know. And I have been trying to follow this for a while. I used to use gnome and had to switch to KDE when stuff stopped being there. I don't see much of anything changing anytime soon. All that will happen is people will continue to reinforce their positions and beginers will eventualy grow out of gnome.
      • Re:Attitude (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gorshkov ( 932507 ) <AdmiralGorshkov@NOsPaM.gmail.com> on Saturday February 17, 2007 @06:25AM (#18049632)

        Linus is good. Linus contributes a lot, but untimately that does not give him the right to be a fuckwit in someone elses project, any more than it gives anyone else the right to be a fuckwit in his project. Roll over and be nice to Linus is a poor way to handle things.
        Funny. One of the biggest cries you hear when somebody trashes something else in open source is "You don't like it? Fix it and submit a patch, and stop expecting these hard-working volunteers who give up all of their free time to develop something out of the goodness of their heart to babysit you"

        So - let's see what happened here.
        a) Linus bitches about something he doesn't like

        b) Somebody says "Use it for a month and THEN see if you like it (which totally ignores the fact that what he's bitching about shows that he HAS, in fact, used it). Others tell him that if he's not using it, or doing something about it, he has no right to complain.

        c) Linus turns around and does what he's told to - he submits patches to fix what he thinks is broken

        I don't see anything wrong here. I don't see evidence of an ego. What *I* see is somebody with very strong opinions, and grounded with a basis in fact (even if you don't agree with his conclusions - which I don't), doing something about it instead of just whining.

        I wish MORE people had this particular "ego problem" of Linus' - Open Source would be much further along.
        • Re:Attitude (Score:4, Interesting)

          by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @09:48AM (#18050618) Homepage Journal
          It's one thing to bitch about the Windows UI being like an assistant who you suspect is waiting to bury a an icepick in your head. If you use Windows, its probably because you don't have a meaningful choice. But you dont' have that problem on Linux or BSD. Not only do you have a choice of distros, on most major distros you have a choice of desktop environments. If you prefer KDE, why not jsut use it? Why bitch that Gnome is not KDE?

          What Linus is saying is that the Gnome developers are idiots because they have different priorities than he does. And its always possible to improve bits of code in any major system, so the fact that he has submitted some clean patches doesn't prove anything.

          The reason this is a problem is that anything Linus says, even things that are patently stupid, immediately gets attention and credibilty because of his status. He should just use KDE and leave the Gnome people to pursue their own priorities.

          • Re:Attitude (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @11:34AM (#18051386)
            I see your point, but it's not that simple. Like it or not, Gnome is the first thing that many people see on their way to using the software Linus does care about, which is the Linux kernel. It's like the lobby of the Linux hotel. And it's hard to blame Linus for saying "Clean up that fucking lobby, you stoners! I've dedicated my life to the internals of this hotel, they're aswesome, but once people see the filthy lobby, they run away without even noticing the good stuff!"
    • by Fordiman ( 689627 ) <fordiman AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday February 17, 2007 @05:07AM (#18049256) Homepage Journal
      I dunno. I think it's fine for him to act all badass once in a while; it gets people's attention.

      As for the Gnome issue... I rather agree with him that it's underfeatured. Honestly, XFCE is about as robust for grandma needs, at a much lower HD/RAM footprint.
    • Before criticising him too much on this people should actually take a look at gconf - and despair!!!

      I see it as a not paticularly good idea implemented badly - as an exercise for the reader consider how you would go about exporting the gpanel menu setting from one user to another on the same machine. Consider it in detail and look at source code instead of just stating "it's XML - how hard can it be?" - it will suprise and offend you - and you'll see why some very capable gnome developers have not yet fini

  • huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:31AM (#18048826) Homepage
    Responding to Torvalds' recent claim that GNOME 'seems to be developed by interface Nazis' and that its developers believe their 'users are idiots,'

    What exactly is an "interface Nazi"? Is that someone that develops a GUI that encourages concentration?
  • by izprince ( 1065036 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:32AM (#18048828)
    And there is a good reason why distros like Ubuntu default to GNOME and not KDE, in my experience it's a lot easier to break something in KDE, and it's harder for an end user to figure out how to get it to do things like, I don't know, not opening file downloads in a text editor. The other problem is that KDE is slow, REAL slow, I know that GNOME isn't exactly a speed demon, but KDE is suffering from code bloat and so many features being tacked on, and in the end performance takes a hit. I understand that Torvalds is frustrated with GNOME, and he can use KDE all he wants, but why does he have to criticize GNOME so much? The whole reason there are multiple window managers is because none of them do everything right, and so you put many of them out there and let people CHOOSE, he could have jsut as easily criticized KDE for bloat, and Fluxbox for missing features.
    • by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:47AM (#18048906) Homepage Journal
      I am not sure that defaulting to Gnome is a good idea.

      Yes, Gnome is easier to use for the completely naive users.

      However, it makes Linux less appealing for Windows "power users". They are used to configuring things heavily, and doing quite a lot with their PCs - but they are used to doing this in the GUI. This makes KDE an easier transition for them.

      As things stand the completely naive users are unlikely to try Linux anyway, unless they have someone to install and configure stuff for them, so it probably would be better to target the power users.

      Yes, it is about choice, but I do think that KDE is a better default.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by anagama ( 611277 )
        Surely if they are power users, then tick off the check box next to "kde-desktop", press apply, wait a little while, logout, and login to KDE.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by the_womble ( 580291 )
          The problem is that they are Windows power users. How are they supposed to know they should try KDE? They are not familiar with the idea of choosing from multiple desktop environments. They are not likely to realise that they can click on a menu in the login manager and choose KDE.

          So the result is likely to be that they will use the default, and assume that Gnome is "Linux".

          The term "power user" implies a certain level of familiarity, but little actual knowledge - a lot of rote learning ("click here to

    • by gfody ( 514448 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:56AM (#18048930)
      I've noticed that KDE is super slow on (k)ubuntu. It's very snappy on debian, though. What gives?
    • by arodland ( 127775 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @04:14AM (#18049014)
      That don't match up too well with reality. Recent GNOME is bigger, slower, and has more layers of complication than recent KDE. If you want to talk about bloat, how about using a complete deadend technology like CORBA under the hood, or using XML in places where text would do because "you just don't know"? GNOME has been working on "performance enhancement releases" for the past year or so, but KDE has gotten faster with every release since 2002 and KDE4 is expected to cut overhead even more significantly. Have you compared the dependency trees for kubuntu-desktop vs. ubuntu-desktop? The GNOME one is considerably, um, bushier. Installing a GNOME app from zero takes so much downloading, I'm glad it's automated at least. I feel real pity for the person who actually has to compile all that crap.

      Incidentally, spatial file management is one of the worst things ever to come out of the "if it agrees with common sense it can't possibly be right" school of interface design. ;)
    • by eln ( 21727 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @04:20AM (#18049042)
      What drives me crazy is the almost universal assumption that Gnome and KDE are the only desktop environments in Linux. Both of these environments are built around the concept that the user is an idiot, and both attempt to mimic Windows in various ways. I cannot understand how someone with real knowledge of Linux could handle working in either environment without going absolutely bonkers.

      Personally, I prefer my desktop environment to leave as much of the screen usable as possible, without cluttering it up with silly icons and toolbars. I like to be able to fit several xterms on the screen at once so I can monitor them all without alt-tab'ing or some other such nonsense. I used to use TWM, but these days I use Enlightenment because it maintains the functionality I loved with TWM, only it's prettier.

      The fact that modern distributions try to shoehorn everyone into either "Gnome people" or "KDE people" sucks rocks.
  • You know something? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrNonchalant ( 767683 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:35AM (#18048844)
    They all come off as squabbling children. This is FOSS' finest?

    Here are the highlights for those who didn't RTFA:
    Lopez: "Linus, you don't know how to read Spanish, so are you an idiot too?"
    Schaller: "Could maybe be a good way to start a constructive dialog instead of this useless mudslinging?"
    Torvalds: "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.
    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."
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:36AM (#18048852)
    Sorry kneejerkers, but its going to require a much more detailed description of those patches than simply "cleaner and more capable" before we can make a good evaluation of whether Linus's patches should be accepted.

    After all, if someone submitted patches to the linux kernel to grab the local weather report and print it out on boot, that would be adding capability that Linus would never accept in a million years because it is outside of the scope of the kernel. If Linus's patches are similarly outside the scope of the official design goals of Gnome, then any expectation that they would be accepted is just a red herring.
    • Here's the link (Score:5, Insightful)

      by g2devi ( 898503 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @06:03AM (#18049528)
      Here's the link: (it was posted a bit earlier)
      http://lists.linux-foundation.org/pipermail/deskto p_architects/2007-February/thread.html [linux-foundation.org]

      Basically, Linus wants to have fine grained control over what the mouse buttons do.

      Sounds like a simple request, but he doesn't reveal it until *after* he submits a patch and in that same email goes on to rant about how no-one listens to him and how GNOME developers make excuses instead of just doing whatever he wants. In a later email he comments that he sent the patches to a developer's only email address (that he admits may or may not have been able to see his patches) because he doesn't like bugzilla and says that the patches must be accepted or GNOME developers are a bunch of hypocrites even though an API freeze is in effect for about a month ( http://live.gnome.org/TwoPointSeventeen [gnome.org] ).

      Personally, I find it a bit interesting that Linus has repeatedly flamed (or sidelined) people on the Linux kernel mailing list for acting like he is now, not following the kernel submission procedure, assuming that freezes don't count, and assuming that if the core architects of the Linux kernel think that a feature (done in a certain way) is a bad idea then they must be a bunch of hypocrites.

      I personally don't know if the patches are any good or in keeping with GNOME's design or need changes or .... But I do think that Linus needs to chill and let the GNOME core developers run the way they want to and accept or postpone (if there's a freeze) or reject his patches as they deem appropriate. If Linus want to contribute to GNOME (I hope he does), he has to do it by GNOME's rules or fork, or pass it on to someone who *is* willing to play by GNOME's rules (I'd be surprised if there weren't are more than a few developers and distros who would be willing to work as intermediary between Linus and GNOME). That's the way open source works.

      It's not unreasonable to expect this. GNOME core developers don't go on the Linux kernel thread and whine and submit attitude patches to Linus, 'tho if they did, they would (and should) be flamed. Linus has said repeatedly on the kernel mailing lists that submitters must either follow the kernel rules, or fork (e.g. if you don't like the license), or pass on your patches to someone who is willing to do things that kernel developer's way (none of Reiser's patches would have gone if it weren't for this later option).

      Are there problems with the GNOME way of doing things? Sure. Linus brought up a good point about the ease of submitting patches. But all projects have issues. There was a time, not too long ago, when the submission process for the Linux kernel was "send Linus your patches and if he doesn't respond then keep resending them because the patches might have gotten lost". But the issues won't get better if you complain to the wrong people.

      Just my 2 cents worth.
  • by WasterDave ( 20047 ) <(moc.pekdez) (ta) (pevad)> on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:39AM (#18048874)
    Linus, that is.

    The whole point of the open source movement is to allow alternative approaches to flourish and be chosen (or not) on their merits. It's what OSS does to raise quality. The biggest problem KDE and Gnome always had was that they continually trod on each others' toes. So, let them go their separate ways - let KDE be configurable and Gnome be "designed for idiots". See who wins. Either which way the variety is good for OSS itself.

  • Not about look (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrsteveman1 ( 1010381 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:54AM (#18048926)
    This argument has nothing to do with the background or what gnome looks like morons, it has to do with the way it responds to actions, the way it presents options to the user.

    The fact that linus had to take time to submit patches means the gnome developers are doing something incredibly stupid, this isn't a turf war, it means linus is concerned that the kernel he spends shitloads of time on is being trivialized by idiot programmers refusing to accept what the rest of the world wants in the systems they use.

    KDE does the same shit, its annoying. I use linux daily but i have to say this is classic linux bullshit, KDE has too much, gnome has too little and no one wants to talk to each other or solve shit because everyone is in their own little camp.

    Prefixes are gay as well, kstfu, ggbye
    • Re:Not about look (Score:5, Informative)

      by SoapDish ( 971052 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @04:42AM (#18049150)
      Just to back you up on this...

      People should read the thread where all this happened: http://lists.linux-foundation.org/pipermail/deskto p_architects/2007-February/thread.html [linux-foundation.org]

      After someone asked about where the patches were, Linus said the following:

      I sent them to the gnomecc list (the changes to let control center enable
      it were bigger than the changes to the metacity ones, but more
      importantly, control-center actually had a mailing list address in its

      The metacity patches I also sent to maintainers that I tried to google
      for, because there isn't even any submission address in the sources that I
      could find.

      Of course, the gnomecc mailing list is "by members only", so I don't know
      if the patches ever got accepted by the moderator.

      Quite frankly, I think it's interesting how (a) no developer contacts were
      listed and (b) the one that did list it doesn't even accept email from
      outside. ...

      (and maybe give hints
      to them that if you have a README file that says "REPORTING BUGS AND
      SUBMITTING PATCHES", it might be good to actually give an email to send
      things to, instead of saying "Send me mail" with no email address actually
      ever mentioned!)
  • gconf = regedit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @04:02AM (#18048960) Journal
    To all those Gnome fans:

    There are tons of things that can be configured/fixed in Windows just like Gnome.

    With some configuration tool that's only suitable for an elite bunch to use.

    So, I don't see Gnome as an improvement over Windows in terms of usability.
  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @04:16AM (#18049028)
    I read description of the patches, and I don't want a window system with configurable right, middle OR double clicks on a title bar. If Linux ever becomes popular, it would be conceivable for a user to use someone else's machine, or expect instructions in an introductory book to work. He will then end up closing an important spreadsheet while trying to maximize it. Besides, window title bar is not the most critical or complex part of UI. I would rather gnome and kde teams focus on developing killer controls and good UI design tools. I DON'T want my window system's control panel to look like Linus'es make xconfig.
    • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Saturday February 17, 2007 @06:23AM (#18049626) Journal

      If Linux ever becomes popular, it would be conceivable for a user to use someone else's machine, or expect instructions in an introductory book to work.

      Both of these are actually obscenely easy to deal with. If I let other people use my machine, I give them their own account and put them on GNOME. (I run straight Beryl with elements of Fluxbox.) And if you're reading an introductory book, you'll be dealing with defaults anyway.

      Sane defaults, but configurability, is the way to go. And by the way, this is true of more than just Linux. I've tried to use someone else's Mac, and couldn't find the program I wanted easily because his desktop was absolutely fucking PILED with documents, something like 10 deep on top of the "hard drive" icon, making it kind of difficult to get to "Applications". Someone else's Windows, and you find they've got the status bar auto-hiding at the top of the screen. And for that matter, I use the dvorak layout, so...

      I mean, I understand the point of that. That is why, for instance, game consoles are designed the way they are -- you can toss a controller to anyone and have them join the party.

      But configurability can be done in such a way that it doesn't hurt usability. And, in fact, it has to be done that way, because if you nix configurability, you kill usability.

  • I use Fluxbox why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by notanatheist ( 581086 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @04:42AM (#18049146) Homepage
    Because I want full configurability.
    Because I don't want the bloat involved with Gnome and KDE backgroud utilities running
    Because I don't want my machine to act or behave like M$ Windows or OS X
    Because I want pure freakin' speed!!!
    Because eye-candy isn't that damned important. I get by fine with 3Ddesktop and translucent aterms.
    If I really want eye-candy I'll run Enlightenment
    As I've been telling people thinking about Vista, do you want a fast computer so your OS can look pretty or so you can get more done? Application performance comes first and foremost so I want the lightest, fastest desktop available short of running Rat or screen.
  • by jschmerge ( 228731 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @05:20AM (#18049306)

    There is a reason why i rip everything gnome & kde related out of a linux distro after an install... the UI is too much like windows.

    I still use fvwm1 (with all of its quirks/bugs) because it gets rid of some of the *basic* usability issues that gnome and kde fail to resolve.

    To list a couple:

    • Why, on an empty desktop, should someone need to click a button to bring up a menu of the most useful things that they can do with the computer?
    • Why is the close button for windows next to the minimize and maximize buttons? I can't tell you the number of times I clicked on the wrong button and said 'damnit'
    • why do i need to suck the entire gnome (applies to kde/qt too) environment into a project in order to either render html _or_ print
    • Why are both the gnome and kde developers more interested in adding features to their 'desktop environment' than fixing the basic problems that are causing them to work around X windows?' HINT: read Keith Packards blog

    I think my point is that the gnome and kde projects are not so much about innovating as keeping up with microsoft... We need to create a community devoted to the idea of seeing what Redmond does and saying 'hey, thats interesting, but I can do that better'

    This is what the kernel community does constantly... Linus is the gatekeeper, and he is right to critisize... When was the last time you totally changed the internal architecter of a subsystem of your project because you were wrong? For Linus it was the 2.4 MM (mid release cycle) /p?

  • Awesome!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Error27 ( 100234 ) <error27@gmai l . c om> on Saturday February 17, 2007 @05:36AM (#18049382) Homepage Journal
    I've cursed and cursed that the friggin right click doesn't lower the window.

    I've literally been complaining about this crap for over 5 years.
    http://justlinux.com/forum/showthread.php?t=40743 [justlinux.com]

    BTW. I could have sworn that that a month after last time when we had this flame war one of the gnome guys created a patch to make it configurable. At the time, I wasn't using Gnome regularly so I didn't save it and now I can't find it anymore.

    Here's what I want.
    1) The top of the window should be next to an edge so I can click on it easily.
    2) Right click should lower it. Currently middle click works but I really think the right click is less awkward.

    I've got maybe 50-70 windows open at a time and I need to be able to cycle through them as fast as possible. I need to have Fitz law working for me.

    3) The gnome terminal needs to stop sucking. I've got a frigging 3Ghz computer with 1G of RAM and a top of the line graphics card. Why does gnome terminal slow my whole box down when it's just scrolling ascii? Also why does it take a second for me to highlight text in gnome terminal? When I don't disable the feature where you can double click to select a word that takes up to five seconds...

    Sorry I guess the terminal thing wasn't really related. I got on a rant and couldn't stop. But seriously, fix the blasted right click to lower stuff at least. Even if it takes a command line utility to customize it that's fine.
  • by Eric MB Lard MD ( 700964 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @06:36AM (#18049690)
    Looking at the patches Linus has provided they mostly relate to the window manager metacity.

    I am 100% with Linus on this one. A few years back Gnome was using the sawfish window manager. Not only could this be configured to your hearts content, you could even write your own extensions for it. With sawfish windows could do some real magic.

    Gnome saw sawfish and its configurability and decided it was bad -- and to some extent it was, there were a plethora of options. The right solution to this is to find a good set of default options and provide a configuration tool that presents just the options that people are most likely to configure + an advanced configuration dialogue for those that want to play with the more interesting options.

    Gnome threw the baby out with the bath water when they went to metacity.

    For a while I stopped using Gnome and used ratpoison as my window manager. Ratpoison shows the power of being able to do all your window manipulation from the keyboard (this is quite important for me, I have a neuromuscular disorder and so avoiding the mouse can make me much more productive -- metacity does not give me that option).

    More recently I kept hearing about 3-D window managers and decided to give beryl a try. Now beryl comes with a plethora of options and has reasonably good support for keyboard navigation. Fingers crossed some gnome based linux distributions will go for beryl as their window manager.

    Going from ratpoison to beryl is maybe going from the sublime to the ridiculous, but what the two have in common is configurability.

    Linus is right, one size fits all sucks.

    • by Ur@eus ( 148802 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @01:27PM (#18052376) Homepage
      It is not correct to say that Sawfish got replaced by Metacity due to it being deciding its configurability was bad, far from it. Sure there
      where people who felt Sawfish went a bit overboard in that regard, but that was not the reason it got
      ditched as the default GNOME window manager. The reason for that was simply that after Eazel went backrupt and Sawfish maintainer John Harper
      had to find a new job, he ended up at Apple. And thus he couldn't maintain Sawfish anymore. The really special thing about Sawfish was that it
      was written in its own Lisp dialect so as part of Sawfish you got both an extra lisp interpreter and GTK+ bindings for it.
      All of these three went unmaintained as John went away and nobody where interested in taking over. Thus the GNOME developers had to look elsewhere
      for a maintained window manager, it was decided that one should aim for one written in C like the rest of the desktop libraries to lessen the chance
      of future maintenance prolems. To answer this call Havoc Pennington stepped up with Metacity and it was quickly adopted by a lot of GNOME developers and
      users and subsequently chosen as the standard. Havoc was very strict about what he let into Metacity, due to a policy that requests for config options was usually a result of broken behaviour in the window manager and thus feeling the behaviour should be fixed instead of a config option added to work around the problem.
      This was in line with the policy that do govern GNOME, in the sense that there is a consensus to not allow 'random' patches
      add config options to the GUI without a very good reason. For instance one shouldn't add config options as a way to work around bugs or
      missing features in lower parts of the stack, instead one should try to fix them. In the case of Metacity this was applied in a much sterner/hardcore
      fashion that for most other modules, but due to Havoc's high profile I think the policy he kept for metacity colored how people outside the project perceived
      the project as a whole.

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham