It's time to jettison CCSM

Sean McNamara smcnam at
Fri Jan 27 10:12:57 UTC 2012

On Thu, Jan 26, 2012 at 11:28 AM, Jorge O. Castro <jorge at> wrote:
> With tools like MyUnity now in universe, and didrocks putting basic
> configuration in the control panel I'd like to propose the removal of
> compizconfig-settingsmanager.
> I don't mean "stop telling people to use it" or "add a warning", I
> mean total removal from the archive until the tool is either better
> tested or doesn't break people's configuration. Here are some of the
> problems with the tool.
> - It's possible to accidentally uncheck the Unity plugin, breaking the
> user's desktop.
> - It has a load of checkboxes for plugins that we don't support,
> allowing infinite combinations of untested options, which result in
> either a broken desktop or a misconfigured one.
> - People report these bugs, and instead of fixing real bugs we have to
> deal with corner case bugs for things we never plan on supporting.
> - Since it's settings are separate from Unity a "unity --reset"
> doesn't fix it, you have to blow away .compiz or some other dotfile
> directories to get a desktop back.
> - Alex Chiang has documented some of the issues he's run into here:
> - I'm sure at UDS you've seen didrocks show you one of the ways it
> breaks even when using parts of it that shouldn't break.
> MyUnity is a better user-facing tool anyway for those that want to
> play, it would be a shame to have the ccsm tool ship in an LTS. If
> anyone cares about it they can plop it in a PPA.

As someone else already mentioned, I'm in favor of adding dpkg rules
that prevent installation of CCSM alongside Unity. Why prevent people
using Xfce, LXDE, Mate, etc. from using CCSM, when it's far less buggy
when it's not interacting in destructive ways with Unity?

Removing it from the archive does not seem like the Ubuntu way at all.
Rather, I can practically guarantee you that there will be a huge
rallying cry in the power user community that removing it was unfair
and poorly thought-out, and that this outcry will spread to regular
users who don't understand the situation in the first place.

If you want to work on MyUnity or whatever to get it up to feature
parity with CCSM, please do so. But Ubuntu has jumped the gun on the
issue of "what we have is bad but featureful, so we're going to
replace it with something that's good but feature-deprived" on more
than one occasion, and *every single time* the distribution loses
users and suffers publicity setbacks. Especially for an LTS, I just
can't get my mind around how this makes any sense at all, particularly
for distros like Xubuntu and Lubuntu where compiz can spruce up an
otherwise spartan desktop. OTOH, if you just make it so that apt and
dpkg won't permit installing CCSM when Unity is installed, you're
completely solving your original problem, which is to prevent users
from installing CCSM and breaking Unity, while allowing the tool to be
useful for other desktops. Of course, *someone* is going to try
downloading the deb and running dpkg --force, but by the time they've
gotten to that step, they're essentially accepting any risk of system
breakage that may result. You can't protect users from themselves on
an open source platform; it is simply not possible, not advisable, and
far more likely to cause a backlash in the attempt than to lead to a
more stable distribution.

Honestly, I think "Ubuntu is broken" is by far the lesser evil
compared to "Ubuntu is ignoring the needs of their users" (this latter
one WILL come up on very popular websites if CCSM is removed from the


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