Ubuntu server GUI

John Klockenkemper john.t.klockenkemper at gmail.com
Mon Jun 30 17:08:28 UTC 2008

>From the viewpoint of an employee of a company that deals with a huge group
of servers running many different applications, a gui application for
administering individual servers would ruin productivity like Soren
described. Scripting and using cron are bread and butter activites of any
*nix sysadmin. While a gui would make it easier for new sysadmins, I think
that it would do more harm than good when it comes to them understanding
what is actually happening to their server. Most gui's of this type that I
have dealt with were of lesser quality and did not give me the configuration
options that the cli would allow.

We implement a two tier approach to administration at my workplace. We have
an active web-based monitoring service called hyperic ,(www.hyperic.com),
that allows for both active alerting and a degree of remote administration.
The rest of the administration and application installation/configuration is
done by company engineers. All of the work the engineers do is done on the

The cli allows precise control. The cli allows for almost instant
gratification. The cli forces you to learn more about the system you are
working with because under the right permissions, your actions dictate the
function and availiabity of the machine.

I think that a gui would be a great tool for new syadmins to use say for
instance in a home or small buisness enviroment, but in a large server
enviroment something much more powerful, straightforward, and efficient
would have to be designed. It would have to allow for scripting, multiple
logins, and many other features that are present in large-scale monitoring
and administration applications.

On Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 7:37 AM, Soren Hansen <soren at ubuntu.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Jun 28, 2008 at 12:02:13PM -0500, Luke L wrote:
> > You're one of "those"... Listen, Linux is powerful and can do anything
> > you want it to do in terms of software (Except play Supreme Commander)
> > from the command line. We are all aware. But GUIs really can and do
> > help productivity with increasingly complicated tasks.
> I think you're abusing the term "productivity" a bit here. In most
> cases, GUI's make things simple. "Simple" in this context mostly means
> "discoverable". Even if you have to click through half a dozen wizards
> and dialogs and stuff, most people find this simpler (more discoverable)
> than the CLI equivalent.  However, clicking through a stack of dialogs,
> ticking check boxes, etc. might be simple, but it's not easy[1].
> Remember that the vast majority of the stuff you do on a computer,
> you're going to do lots and lots of times, and it's only the first time
> you're doing it without any prior knowledge. CLI's might be complex and
> difficult to begin with, but grow simpler and easier the more you use
> them. GUI's, on the other hand, don't become much easier than they are
> to begin with, but at that point, discoverability is not key anymore.
> You still have to go through the same dialogs, tick the same boxes and
> all that. That's hardly productive.
> The first time you find out that you want your computer to run a few
> commands something every 10 minutes, you need to:
>  * Discover cron (to know the mechanism for doing things periodically)
>  * Learn the syntax of a crontab entry (to be able to add your own
>   stuff)
>  * Learn to use a text editor (to actually add your crontab entry)
>  * Learn to write a shell script (to actually get your commands
>   executed)
>  * Learn about the filesystem (so that you can put the shell script in
>   the right place (not necessarily master the FHS, but at least figure
>   out that /tmp is not the right place nor is ~/Desktop).
>  * Learn about file permissions (to set the execute bit on the shell
>   script)
> This is daunting the first time. The second time, you might be able to
> make do with your notes from the first time. The third time, you just do
> it, because you understand the process.
> I'm not implying that discoverability isn't important (it certainly is),
> but it certainly doesn't imply productivity.
> [1]: Think of it this way: Most people will find it *simple* to run 20
> km (you just get up and start putting one foot in front of the other
> until you're done) but few will find it *easy*.
> --
> Soren Hansen               |
> Virtualisation specialist  | Ubuntu Server Team
> Canonical Ltd.             | http://www.ubuntu.com/
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