Use of the CLI in Ubuntu (Was: ubuntu-desktop & brltty)

john gmatht at
Tue Apr 18 02:31:07 BST 2006

Please reply on sounder at, I think this is starting to
get off-topic for devel.

On Mon, Apr 17, 2006 at 07:25:01PM -0400, Peter Whittaker wrote:
> On Mon, 2006-17-04 at 15:42 +0200, Matthias Klose wrote:
> >
> > edit /etc/default/hplip to disable hplip.
> I didn't see a :->, so I assume this wasn't tongue in cheek...
> ...which confuses me, 'cause I just don't get it. I mean, as happy and
> comfortable as I am with a CLI, CLI is not for everyone. And editing
> config files is a CLI alternative, pure and simply (don't matter if you
> use a fancy newfangled GUI editor, editing config files is CLO).
> Since Ubuntu in general aims to be "for human beings" and since Dapper
> specifically aims to "just work", editing config files to fix errors or
> limitations in the distro IS JUST PLAIN WRONG!

I don't think is it a reasonable use of resources to insist that users
can fine-tune every aspect of their OS, from the GUI or otherwise.

Take MacOS for example, prior to OS X it was *terribly* optimised.
Applications couldn't even allocate dynamic amounts of memory, e.g. if
an application wanted 100MB of memory, it had to allocate this *before*
it started to run. However Mac OS was considered the epitome of "for
human beings" OSes.

It seems that it is best to take the conservative position. Might the
user want to use a HP printer? Don't know? Then include the HP printer
drivers. From the point of view of a "for human beings" OS, it is better
to waste 1MB of memory than force a user to read a "Why your HP printer
doesn't work by default on Ubuntu, and obscure instructions on how to get
it to work".

> Yes, I know what writing in caps means, I just couldn't keep it in any
> longer, I just couldn't find a way to make a joke of it or say it any
> other way.
> "AARGGH" also comes to mind. 

To my mind "ARRGGH" should be reserved for Ubuntu eats my files or stops
me doing my work (and can only be fixed via the CLI), not you have to use
the CLI to fine tune the internals of your OS.

> If it is a problem then it should be fixed. Not left to users to try and
> resolve by mucking about blindly with config files they don't even want
> to know exist. 

> Do the right thing. If there are two "right things", ship a really easy
> way to toggle the behavior. If there are three right things and you
> cannot design a clean way to choose between them, decide between
> shipping the best right thing and shipping nothing. Generally, I tend to
> prefer the latter.

This is known as developer gold plating. It is always possible to
improve a product, so if you wait until the product is the best possible
it will never ship.

> Users who like choosing between and setting complex options install
> Gentoo.

Which is an argument *against* cluttering the Ubuntu GUI with unnecessary
options. If power users want to fiddle with things they can use the CLI,
regular users don't care.

John C. McCabe-Dansted
Masters Student

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