Ubuntu-devel-discuss Digest, Vol 31, Issue 11

Mike Jones eternalorb at gmail.com
Tue Jun 2 19:14:59 UTC 2009

> Message: 8
> Date: Tue, 2 Jun 2009 10:58:16 -0600
> From: Neal McBurnett <neal at bcn.boulder.co.us>
> Subject: Re: Ubuntu Desktop Unit Consistency (LP: #369525)
> To: ubuntu-devel-discuss at lists.ubuntu.com
> Message-ID: <20090602165816.GV7472 at feynman>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> This discussion is devolving into apples vs oranges, so here is a shot
> at helping us focus again.
> Note the subject line talks about the "Desktop", not the command-line
> stuff where POSIX got its start.
> The original post on this topic was talking about Gnome and glib:
>  https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/glib2.0/+bug/369525
> I doubt that POSIX has anything to say about glib, but perhaps I'm
> missing something.  There I think using standard SI units properly is
> probably the best approach for desktop users in Gnome.
> I think we've already seen that many interesting command line apps
> (which POSIX does address) have a --si option which I'm guessing
> allows folks to stay POSIX-compliant or get something that meets the
> SI standard, so that's cool.
> We've also discussed the fix (already fixed in intrepid) for ifconfig.
>  https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/net-tools/+bug/240073
> and I don't know but I somehow doubt that there is a POSIX issue
> there, though I guess that some folks might parse the output and get
> confused.  But it seems like the right direction to go.
> I think it will help in this discussion to be very specific about
> which tool or application we're talking about.  I think POSIX is
> important, as is clarity and consistency about use of unit prefixes,
> as is consistency with upstream and other distros.  And as we've seen,
> those can conflict.  So I expect it to be an ongoing conversation as
> we look at each package.  If we can use standard SI and/or IEC units
> without violating POSIX, I think we should.
> There was also a discussion all this last September on the devel list:
>  Ubuntu Policy: prefixes for multiples of units
>  https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2008-September/026567.html
> and I recall a discussion at UDS-Jaunty
>  https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UDSJaunty
> about it but the link on that page to the schedule is gone
>  http://summit.ubuntu.com/uds-jaunty/
> and I don't see any mention of it in the reports.  Scott - can you
> shed some more light on that?
> In general the best way to have an effect is to comment in the bug
> reports, or in the blueprint, both of which help to preserve important
> context.
> See also the Gnome bug discussions:
> storage units standard
>  http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=309850
> g_format_size_for_display() should use correct IEC units
>  http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=554172
> Neal McBurnett                 http://neal.mcburnett.org/

Reading through the link Neal posted

It concerns me that there is a difference between size of RAM reported, and
size of disk-space.
I've been using the Kibi, Mebi, Gibi etc naming conventions for several
years, and have been aggravated by the difference in sizes reported on hard
disk packaging, versus what my computer tells me for some time.

I say that I always double check the numbers I'm giving my system, to
confirm whether the computer is expecting powers of two or powers of ten,
and it worries me that I can't simply look at the prefix (kibi, mebi, gibi,
etc, versus kilo, mega, giga etc) to know which numbering system to use.

I think I understand Ubuntu's concerns with confusing their user, but as
other's have mentioned, its not possible for people to become familiar with
the prefixes if no one uses them. I personally am more worried about
incorrectly using the kilo, mega, giga prefix when we know that there are
standards that state that their use is not correct when refering to powers
of two, than I am worried about confusing a few users.

As a thought on the ability of people to intuitively understand powers of
two math. I'm not sure that I understand your concern. I've corrected my
mother a few times on her use of mega in place of mebi, and such, and have
recently noticed that she is not using mebi when refering to bytes, and mega
when refering to metric units of measure. I think that many people will see
the reason for the different naming conventions if they have the differences
between powers of ten and powers of two related to computing sizes explained
to them.

If the confusion is a major issue, could we do some of this explaiation as
part of a slide-show presentation during system installation? Sort of a "did
you know?" type of thing. I've seen that type of idea posted many times on
brainstorm, but unfortounately I can't find the references to them right

--Michael Jones
Junior Software Engineering Student
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
CTO of JAM Customs LLC
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