metashell - User Friendly Shell

Forest Bond forest at
Mon Jan 28 02:30:49 UTC 2008


On Mon, Jan 28, 2008 at 12:33:55AM +0000, Fergal Daly wrote:
> On 27/01/2008, Forest Bond <forest at> wrote:
>> Are you advocating the creation of a program called "open"?
> No, I said "alternatives-based". That is, using the Debian
> alternatives system to provide access to one preferred tool from
> amongst many similar tools.

Okay, I follow you now, although I think alternatives is for managing different
binaries that have the same capabilities, not just the same name...

>> Perhaps I was not clear before.  What you are looking for already exists,
>> and it is called "see" (or, perhaps more appropriately, "edit").  These
>> tools pull data from mailcap.
> You were perfectly clear, however there is definitely some
> miscommunication. In my last mail _I_ mentioned that see reads from
> mailcap and now for some reason you are explaining exactly that to me
> (it was in the part you snipped).

Indeed, I misread.  Apologies.

> So let me rephrase my points
> 1 there are multiple tools which do roughly the same thing - see,
> gnome-open and probably k-something-or-other and no unified location
> for preferences for these tools

Right, now I understand; integration has always been a sore spot for open-source
software.  Competition is a good thing, except when its happening on one machine
(especially when that machine happens to be your desktop). :)

> 2 multiple tools which do roughly the same thing is no problem
> 3 multiple locations for the same preferences is a bad thing and while
> sometimes necessary, should be avoided where possible
> 4 if you don't already know the name of the tool, you are unlikely to
> be able to find it

Agreed up to this point.

> 5 "open" seems to be the obvious name for such a tool. It was the
> first thing I tried, it's what's left when you remove "gnome-" from
> "gnome-open", it's the verb that appears under every File menu I've
> ever seen. It seems quite discoverable. "edit" is also quite
> discoverable however if you're just trying to open something to see
> it, you're unlikely to try "edit"

Well, these are all arbitrary verbs that make sense from one perspective or
another (and I noticed you even used the verb "see" here).  It seems like one is
as good as any other, and that's why I don't think "open" is self-evidently
better than "see", "edit", etc...

> 6 open is currently a symlink to /usr/bin/openvt - the fact that it's
> a symlink and that "man open" talks about "openvt" not "open" makes me
> thing that it's ripe for reclamation.

I always assumed there was some historical reason for this symlink, but it's
difficult to get a useful search result indicating that.

> So I am suggesting that Ubuntu would be improved by reclaiming
> /usr/bin/open from the  console-tools package and replacing it with an
> alternatives-based link to a file opener, on Ubuntu -gnome-open, on
> Kubuntu - k-something etc etc. Ideally they would all have the same
> interface but even without that it would be good.
> It would also be great to have a central mime-type -> action database.
> I think that's part of freedesktop but unless see and edit pay
> attention to it, the problem is not fully solved,

Here's where I definitely agree.  Other systems have this, to some extent.  It
seems like the desktop-specific systems ought to manage mailcap, doesn't it?  Or
is mailcap too outdated to be practically useful on the desktop?

Forest Bond
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: Digital signature
URL: <>

More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list