Moving open files

Dotan Cohen dotancohen at
Tue Jul 8 19:37:49 UTC 2008

2008/7/8 Kim Goldenberg <kgoldenberg at>:
> People seem to forget that having a computer is just like having a staff of
> people to do you bidding for you. Thirty years ago you would have a real,
> live secretary or office manager doing the same things you now have your
> computer do. Sometimes they would protect you from such things as happened
> to the file, other times, not.

No matter how much you insist upon the secretary analogy the fact is
that the user sees himself as the only entity in the office.

> The programs on the computer are doing this for him, and he told them,
> albeit unknowingly, contradictory instructions: Open the file in this folder
> (Desktop?), and make these changes; while you are doing that, move the file
> to another folder. Then save the file and then delete all the extraneous
> files in Desktop. The problem came in that the program making the changes
> (OOo) and the program moving and deleting the files (Nautilus?) are not
> designed to communicate this information with each other, and the "office
> manager" didn't help with that.

Could one not remove a file from a binder, decide that it is going
into a different binder, edit it, and then place in the new binder?
That is what happened.

> He could have saved the file to its new location or done a better check
> before he deleted the extraneous files, but did neither, because he assumed
> the computer would do it without him telling it to.

He assumed that him moving the file would do just that. Move the file.
Why shouldn't it, even if the file is currently being worked on?

> Linux doesn't hold your
> hand that way; Windows does, and has many problems with that (the
> aforementioned reboot requirements that Linux doesn't have).

Great, so because Windows has a flawed implementation we should just
ignore the problem?

How about a system where the FS sees that an open file is being moved,
and writes all changes to the old file location in the new file

> To me it's still no different than not telling the secretary that you moved
> the files.

Because you understand what goes on behind the scenes. Someone who did
his 4 years in law and not CS has no idea what goes on behind the

> The user has to take more responsibility with Linux, and
> understand the repercussions of what is done.

Please point me to TFM where is says that the user cannot move files
that are open. You show me that, and I'll shut up. I'm looking for
Ubuntu documentation that the user could be reasonably expected to
read before using Ubuntu.

> I've been in the same boat
> many times (seems like every time I update OS versions I end up deleting
> files I didn't mean to).

This user did not do any system maintenance, just working on his files.

> There are pros and cons of each approach, and for every person like your
> user, there are others who complain bitterly that they can't do just what he
> actually did (without the lost files, of course).


> I don't mean that what happened to your user wasn't a shame or a problem,
> but as more than one person has said, the three things to remember are
> Backup, Backup and Backup. Some people just shouldn't have the right to use
> Delete, just Move to Trash.

Backup every minute? That's silly. Are you suggesting that he run his
whole /home/user in CVS?

Dotan Cohen

A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?

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