?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Whiners - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

Whiners [Jul. 21st, 2004|10:35 pm]
Arvind Narayanan
Finally, one of the (vocal minority of) whining lusers who complain about GNOME in every message board and mailing list in existence has decided to get off his ass and do something about it. The result is "project GoneME", which hopes to eventually fork GNOME. Currently all that there is is a patch that reverses the button order, which the author calls "fixing" the button order.

While the decision to do something other than whining is a laudable one, I don't think much will come of this project because the author displays the same ignorance that characterizes all the other complainers. For instance, he thinks there's little difference between gconf and the windows registry, even though gnome devs have repeatedly explained why that's not the case in a manner even a 12 year old can understand. He also makes the moronic assertion that gconf XML files are "unreadable". They are in fact more readable than old-school plain text config files because they are in a standard format and because each key reports its type. The author doesn't seem to have an open-minded attitude towards programming either. "I for my own never ever used Python and I don't plan to learn or use Python in the future". I think the author believes in writing everything in C for speed. I wonder for how many more years such opinions will continue to persist?

Update: Since I posted this entry he has posted some more ideas on the site.

"Actually I do like GNOME because of the fact that it is written in C (and therefore fits in the UNIX world)".

That confirms what I surmised earlier. But I'm ROTFLMAO at the "fits the UNIX world" comment. Writing everything in C was the UNIX philosophy back in the 80s when the rest of the world was still stuck with assembly. For quite a long time now the UNIX philosophy has been to not write everything in C. The UNIX way is in fact to choose the most high level language that makes sense for the given task. See what ESR's The Art of Unix Programming has to say on the subject of programming languages.

While I agree with elephantum and eightpixelshigh that this project will die, I think that won't happen very soon. My prognosis is as follows:

Everything is going to be hunky dory as long as it is a set of patches to GNOME. They'll revert the button order and remove spatial nautilus and generally undo whatever usability improvements have happened over the last two years. There are quite a few people who will greatly applaud these changes, who think of themselves as "advanced UNIX users" and whom I call "desktop masochists". They want their desktop to be a way to show off their geekiness, and nothing more. They live under the illusion that it makes them "more efficient". (I know a couple such guys in my lab. I will be recommending gomeME to them ;-)

The problem for GoneME will start when they actually decide to fork GNOME. Due to their doing everything in C and in general avoiding any technology invented within the last decade because it is "bloat", GNOME will pull far ahead of them the moment they no longer inherit GNOME code changes. But that'd be the least of their worries. They'll be big on "listening to their users", and everyone will want to do things in a different way, so they'll implement everything and "let the user choose" with "preferences", resulting in actual bloat. Classic free software usability problem. A third problem is developers. While the author says he's received a huge response, I'm betting most of that is "d00d! j00 r0ck!! Spat Naut is teh skuc!!!" rather than actual programmers. The people who complain the loudest are usually the most lacking in coding skills/motivation.

So those are the reasons I think this project will enjoy a brief spurt of popularity and then wither away, history repeating itself. Comments?


LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: elephantum
2004-07-21 11:33 am (UTC)
I agree with you
This people just want geeky 1.4 gnome back, that's what I see. I think that project will be dead in a while
(Reply) (Thread)
From: eightpixelshigh
2004-07-21 02:08 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I think it's dead in the water as it is now.

-With the coming of Storage, Spatial nautilus is the future and it's actually a smart move to start it now.
-Removing nautilus views is just boneheaded. They're not great now, but they will get better and much more useful.
-GConf is NOT like the registry, I wish people would get that. Plus, he doesn't like the dirs/files layout? Dang, he needs to redo linux altogether. ~_^
-He says he wants to strip things down to make it easy, like removing BonoboUI and GnomeUI, but he is against labeling programs by function, despite task orientation being good from a usability point of view. So, who really is he targeting? And why should we lose a level of choice by stripping out libraries and even Python?
-KHTML? Why should he start porting it when GNOME is already working with the Moz team to integrate their (probably better) engine?

It seems like ever since 2.6 came out there's been a lot of GNOME hate out there and I really don't get it. Are they so upset about the Spatial or something?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-07-26 09:42 am (UTC)

Ghosts of OS pasts.

That will be the biggest clue ever. I doubt it's the old-school hackers, for whom GUI's were something to look down on. I suspect that most are Windows expatriates. A "power user" on their platform(1). With the old GNOME, and KDE promising them the freedom Microsoft never allowed them. Now with the changes, they feel that someone's going to take their newfound freedom away, and replace it with ghosts past i.e. GConf==registry, Spatial==Win95, etc.


(1) Sidenote: This shouldn't be surprising. Whom is the first to move to a new platform? Newbies, or those comfortable with computers?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: elephantum
2004-07-22 01:12 am (UTC)
totally agree. but you seem to be too optimistic about number of developers and their motivation.

ifaik the only thing that would be done is buttonorder and some changes in gconf to make nautilus unspatial.

but that are only words, let's see... who wanna popcorn? )
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: elephantum
2004-07-22 01:13 am (UTC)
damnit s/ifaik/imho/ (I'm too sleepy in mornings)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: eightpixelshigh
2004-07-22 09:34 pm (UTC)
I agree that the "project" will draw some attention, but I really do think it's a lame duck already. The difference between lame duck and dead dead being that having snagged a spot on OSNews and Slashdot the guy's already gotten what he wanted (a nice fat troll) and he's not into much else. Oh, he might claim he's working on Uber-nome 2.6-Alpha-Fork-Xtreme-Deluxe, but I don't think there'll be any actual product. Maybe a couple more crap patches, but that's it.

Like I said before, I think it's just more 2.6 spacial sucks you changed mah windows backlash.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: arvindn
2004-07-23 01:20 am (UTC)
I'm wondering if this galaxy guy is the "GNOME armageddon" spammer. Several comments in OSNews mentioned that he has spammed both osnews and slashdot so I thought there's a chance it might be the same guy.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: eightpixelshigh
2004-07-23 06:49 am (UTC)
That's what I'm hearing, and I've read his posts before on both. In fact, when he started this project he announced it by spamming Slashdot discussions with a link and descriptions. He's just a really big troll, methinks.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-07-23 11:30 am (UTC)
His flames on the membership committee - http://mail.gnome.org/archives/membership-committee/2004-July/msg00001.html.
The committee is still processing his request - http://mail.gnome.org/archives/membership-committee/2004-July/date.html
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: eightpixelshigh
2004-07-23 01:00 pm (UTC)
"Open Source is a good thing, Free Software is also a good thing, GNOME as Desktop could be a good thing as well but the communities differ to much the rudeness, intollerance and suckyness can only be found on GNOME, no other community that I participate has such issues."

Well as soon as they process his request that should solve 75% of the problem right there...~_^
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: arvindn
2004-07-23 07:54 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. LOL
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: artisrozentals
2004-07-25 09:45 am (UTC)
Not only will there be preference bloat, but it will be needed, because I can't imagine this guy setting sensible defaults.
(Reply) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: arvindn
2004-07-25 07:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Strange part is...

Miguel != GNOME. If you think he rules over GNOME like a monarch and makes decisions for everyone you're wrong. In fact he just sticks to mono stuff and each project leader minds their own business. If you spend any time on the gnome mailing lists you'll be amazed how the gnome hackers manage to be so polite even to the random flamers attacking them all the time.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: chumducky
2004-07-26 04:19 am (UTC)

Shoes, ships, and sealing wax... and broad brushes

Like it or not Miguel offers himself as the public face of Gnome. If we're to count those mailing lists as evidence: his character suffuses through the related development community, including those project leaders who mind their own business and the hackers who follow them. They are all in sum a pleasant, easy-going, and affable tyranny.

In my experience as a project leader of commercial, not FOSS products, people do not become passionate (flame) if they feel their opinions are being respected and included in a design. That the Gnome hackers remain polite against passionate opposition and then do what they want anyhow, is very easy-going, but also tyrannical, for a tyrant listens to no-one. Opinions that differed from the hackers' were not respected on the list; their progenitors were patted on the head and their opinions were ignored. No wonder they come back enflambé!

Ultimately, the result of that tyranny is a product that very few common people like and for which a fork was almost immediately cut. That fork is a problem going forward: forks are not desirable. The way to obit the fork of GoneME is not to combat it, denigrate, disresepect it, discount it, or accuse it's developers of being "whiners", but to learn from it respectfully and as soon as possible: fold the lessons learned back into Gnome. Such action would show a reversal of the gods-among-men attitude I observed in Miguel and read in those mailing lists and read here, from you.

However, to be frank and joe, that's not my battle. At work, I'll stick with Athena and CDE until our Solaris admins regress to an earlier Gnome. At home, I'll stick with the earlier Gnome, though I may try GoneME if it advances with due speed and remains open and inclusive. I probably will not go to KDE, at home or work, for I simply don't like it. As a user of the Gnome end product, I await to see whether those polite hackers of Gnome will fold back the GoneME patches. I will be both surprised and verily grateful if they do, however, I am not holding my breath. Personal experience with slimey sticks and sitting bulls has taught me to expect otherwise.

Qvacks.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-07-26 09:54 am (UTC)

Re: Shoes, ships, and sealing wax... and broad brushes

"In my experience as a project leader of commercial, not FOSS products, people do not become passionate (flame) if they feel their opinions are being respected and included in a design. That the Gnome hackers remain polite against passionate opposition and then do what they want anyhow, is very easy-going, but also tyrannical, for a tyrant listens to no-one. Opinions that differed from the hackers' were not respected on the list; their progenitors were patted on the head and their opinions were ignored. No wonder they come back enflambé!"

The fact that GNOME CVS will have the button for switching spatial on and off, shoots a big hole in your "theory". It's easy to play the "victim" when you're not the one who is tasked with the work. I suggest you read this ( http://arstechnica.com/etc/linux/collins-interview-1.html) before you use the "I'm a victim." card again.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: chumducky
2004-07-26 04:08 pm (UTC)

In case you return...

I'm sorry, but inflamatory words like "victim" earn you no points with me. They are truthfully outside the scope of my comment. Were I to follow them, I would be subjecting myself to a misleading change of subject. We're not discussing me, but the Gnome development community and attitudes they foster.

I said in not so few words, I'm going to take a wait and see and hope approach to Gnome vs GoneME and from this base I will proceed. My main questions were: Will the Gnome developers learn to be inclusive or will they doggedly allow a fork to exist? Are they an easy-going tyranny or a flexible group of active and inclusive listeners?

Your link points to the wrong article, so I may only address your snippet about the contents of the CVS. You say the CVS version has a button to turn off spatial? And you believe the presence shoots a hole in my theory. Well, unsurprisingly, I agree the presence now is a healthy sign. I take the revelation as a confirmation of my assertions! The fact remains that button could have been in 2.6, not in a succeeding CVS; if the developers had listened to those who protested early, rather than being an easy-going tyranny: patting the protestors on the head and then sweeping them aside.

Adding a belated feature does not excuse their earlier behavior. Late responses count for naught, as even a tyrant may change his mind when faced with a revolt. A revolt should not be required. A flexible group of active and inclusive listeners would have planned for the button at the first sign of trouble, rather than kludging it in later. I must opine, there's no hole shot in my assertions of group dynamic by the noted late adding of a feature; especially if that feature was brought about by the intimations of user revolt.

To shoot a hole in my assertions about the observable group dynamic you would have to show examples, plural, of a stranger entering the list, making a suggestion contrary to previously decided plans, and the plans being reworked as a result. Until you can show several examples of such behavior; my observation of the group dynamic stands whole and unaffected.

You haven't shown such and thus I am not concerned.

Qvacks.

Aside: What does Linus call himself? A "benevolent dictator"? No-one would argue with his observation. Why then would you argue with the self-similar styling of an "easy-going tyranny"?

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-07-27 12:15 am (UTC)

In case you return...Naturally.

"I'm sorry, but inflamatory words like "victim" earn you no points with me. "

Don't flatter yourself. Besides your words are no better.

"Your link points to the wrong article"

It pointed to the right article to the making of my point.

"A revolt should not be required."

Exaggeration, and flattery. You're outdoing yourself.

"You haven't shown such and thus I am not concerned."

I doubted anything would. You came in with preconceptions, and you leave with the same.

BTW In case you've forgotten GNOME is a community-driven effort. Just like the rest of FOSS. But then according to you, those "tyrants" aren't going to listen to Novell either.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: chumducky
2004-07-27 03:54 am (UTC)

Colour me disappointed

I don't see the relationship between the fact you presented, the spatial elimination button code filed in the Gnome CVS, and the article you cited, which was an interview with a high developer from Mozilla.org. In re: we're not discussing Mozilla.org and their developer culture, but rather the easy-going tyranny of Gnome's developer culture. Since, we cannot compare unlike groups; I can only imagine what inference I was meant to draw, in light that the linked article was the correct one.

Perhaps you meant to demonstrate that projects can cooperate for mutual best interest? I wouldn't deny that assertion! However, the bearing on how one powerful group (Gnome) treats another powerful group (Mozilla.org) says nothing about how Gnome respects the occasioned user's or occasioned developers input, which, after all, was the topic at hand.

The Mozilla team does seem to be seriously interested in their occasioned user's input. Likewise, Novell as a commercial enterprise has always been serious about listening to customer input. That both of these groups now have an influence on the Gnome project gives me hope for a change to the Gnome developers' attitudes from an affable tyranny to a team of active and inclusive listeners. Time will tell the tale of whether the Gnome community absorbs the lessons that can be taught by teams that were, or are, customer-centric.

Such a lesson would boil down to a single question: Can a tyranny, even an affable one, learn not to be tyrannical? Perhaps they can. However, I give no quarter to any project simply because they are a "community driven effort"; especially if that community is based on exclusion rather than inclusion. A company is also a community in the strictest sense. The best companies are those who listen to their customers and do not indulge in navel contemplation or self-aggrandizement to the exclusion of customer opinion. Likewise, the best projects are those who listen to their users, who consider themselves to be in service not to themselves, but to the user and accept the user as a co-equal partner in development.

Or perhaps you meant to appeal to the content of the second page, in which the developer admits that Mozilla.org made mistakes? Again, we're not talking about Mozilla.org, but Gnome and their developer culture. Though I laud Mozilla.org for confessing that there were mistakes made, even trivial ones; I cannot confess that this has anything to do with Gnome. I have never read a public admission from any Gnome lead saying essentially the same. Such a self-indictment and confession would be gratifying though only if such admission lead to a change in the group dynamic of Gnome's developement teams.

Now, finally, I admit I came to this argument with conceptions, because conceptions are a necessary component for Socratic argument. One must build upon a foundation of what one believes in any argument. Good counterevidence can shake these conceived foundations and a badly founded conception can give way to a new conception in the strength of good, on point, evidence. This is the way of all debate and argument: conceptions are necessary. One despises them only when one wishes to not argue.

I'm always prepared to have new evidence alter my perception, and I even posted what evidences I would consider relevant as a direct assault upon the foundation of my conception. If you merely provide those asked for evidences; I will cheerfully admit I am incorrect. Don't provide them though, or instead attack me personally as you have done five times now, and we'll remain at an impasse: you with your preconceptions and I with mine. I would be disappointed by such an impasse, but I would accept it.

Perhaps, that mountain is not one you wish to climb, and I do not mean to be sardonic when I say that you can choose not to reply. I only ask for this indulgence; if you do choose to reply: answer my evidences. Attack the message, not the messenger. Please, let's not devolve this into a debate on tangents - time and space are precious commodities and I would prefer to waste neither, especially since I don't properly own this space.

Qvacks.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: chumducky
2004-07-26 04:27 pm (UTC)

I should also add...

I expect that with Novell taking a greater interest in the development of Gnome through Ximian, that more listening will be done earlier and not at the last minute. My experiences with Novell in the past 20 years lead me to believe they are very customer responsive.

So, yes, I'm willing to give any group the benefit of the doubt, especially when I see flexibility early and before everything rises to a head. One thing I hope never happens to the Gnome developers community is that they become so insular that they become as XFree did, and even after a fork doggedly pursue their own path. Time will tell.

Qvacks.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)