It's time to jettison CCSM

Marc Deslauriers marc.deslauriers at
Fri Jan 27 03:57:31 UTC 2012

On Fri, 2012-01-27 at 01:40 +0000, Oli Warner wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 1:04 AM, Marc Deslauriers
> <marc.deslauriers at> wrote:
> >> Of course, the correct way to solve this issue is far more complicated
> >> than just removing a package from the archive, it require solving
> >> bugs, bringing new code in Unity while avoiding unwanted side effects
> >> on compiz and basically requires more manpower.
> >
> > If someone would step up and fix CCSM so a novice user can't mess up
> > their desktop with two mouse clicks, we wouldn't be having this
> > discussion.
> By that logic we should probably remove:
> rm
> mv
> sudo
> nano
> ...
> They're all installed by default. CCSM isn't and you can do a lot more
> damage with any of those than CCSM alone.

Straw man argument. If a large quantity of novice users were breaking
their desktops with those tools, we would be looking at preventing that,
or trying to determine _why_ it is happening. This is about CCSM, and
the fact that a large number of people are having irrecoverable problems
with it.

> CCSM is very obviously a power tool. Power tools very obviously allow
> you to screw things up. It's how we deal with those breakages that
> defines how usable Ubuntu is.

This is the problem. CCSM is a power tool in sheep's clothing. It's the
tool forums and web sites tell novice users to use to customize their
desktop, and it doesn't _look_ like something that can prevent your
session from working with two mouse clicks.

Removing it from the archive so better tools like MyUnity and Ubuntu
Tweak get used instead is one idea. Maybe slapping a big fat warning
dialog on it could be another.

> But stepping back we have two options. a) yours and b) mine.
> a) We hide all the tools. Make nothing except silly icon sizes
> editable. Remove all the other session types.  Stop the user writing
> to the filesystem. I'm getting progressively sillier but that's how I
> see this suggestion. The place of a maintainer of an operating
> system is not to tell users what they *can* do, it's to facilitate
> what *they* want to do.

You're seeing it wrong.

> b) We fix things so that even if the user (or CCSM) breaks things,
> they can get back to sanity.

Yes, we should be doing this also. But fixing the popular tools that are
used by novice users so they don't break everything in the first place
is a good first step.

> The major problem is that it only takes a gnat's fart for Unity to
> fall over and not get back up. Make it more robust:
>  - When you log in under a Unity session, check to see that compiz has
> sane settings (that include Unity) and if they don't, fix them
> silently.

This is part of the problem. What exactly are sane settings? Do we
revert half the stuff that people have attempted to customize with CCSM?
If so, why not just remove those settings?

>  - You're 10 seconds into the session, is compiz even running? If the
> settings get so borked up that compiz can't start, detect this, purge
> dodgy settings and try loading compiz again.

Well, having compiz crash is one thing, and that's easy to detect. But
having a novice user wonder why he can't resize windows anymore, or why
alt-tab isn't working is harder to fix.

> CCSM's problems:
>  - Remove the checkbox next to the Unity plugin. People are clicking
> it by accident, so rather than nuke the tool, just make it more
> user-proof.

Yes, that's one of them. There are a whole slew of other checkboxes
there that also break various desktop functionality.

>  - If CCSM is killing compiz the new compiz-monitoring logic should
> swoop in and clean up after it.

Again, that's just if it's failing.


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