[Mageia-discuss] Mageia's strategy

Frank Griffin ftg at roadrunner.com
Mon Sep 27 01:01:59 CEST 2010

P. Christeas wrote:
> Let me rant in a rather non-polite tone:
> why does *every* Linux distro have to be for Windows users?? Why does every 
> product need to be targeted at stupid people? (obvious answer: there is lots 
> of them)
I think you have to separate "looking like Windows" from "implementing
as does Microsoft".  One of the things MS does very well is user
interface design.  What they *don't* do so well is implementation:
everything is done through the GUI, and MS oversimplifies by making
choices silently for the user without giving the user the option to

We're not exactly innocent in this respect either.  MDV tools are
excellent, but they need the closure of a full transparent CLI as well
as a GUI.  Experts and administrators need to be able to provide
configuration through batch scripts.  This is not the case in many
areas.  I do a large number of fresh installs intended to create a new
system configured as an existing system was, and it's really annoying to
boot for the first time and then have to invoke several GUIs to do
things like printer configuration, wireless configuration, and font

In many areas, we have lost track of the simple fact that a Graphical
User Interface should be just that - an *interface* to a modular and
independent non-graphical module which provides "business logic".  It
should never be the only way to access the business logic.  Hopefully,
free of Mandriva's corporate restrictions, we can achieve that now.

Another issue is choice.  System tools have to provide a range of choice
suitable for both experts and newbies.  While it is acceptable to choose
defaults that will work for newbies out of the box, it is not acceptable
to limit choices for everyone to those defaults.  We've done this on
more than one occasion, the most memorable one being to radically change
and lock down the application menu system and refuse to consider any
configuration options that would deviate from this.

Finally, there is transparency.  MDV tools have in many cases extended
the standard Linux way of doing things in imaginative and useful ways. 
What they don't do is document those ways so that admins and users used
to standard Linux  ways can manually intervene or provide tool
extensions without extensive code reading.  Also, there are many
portions of the toolset, e.g. disk partitioning, network sharing,
setting up VPNs, etc., which involve extremely intrusive and possibly
destructive operations.  All such tools need to have an option, not
necessarily the default, to display to the user a detailed list of
changes that the tool proposes to make, and prompt for approval. 

The problem here is that advanced users and admins get understandably
scared when a tool proposes to do something that involves modifying
multiple critical configuration files or system resources without
providing the details of the changes so that they can be denied if
unwanted, or undone later if so desired.

An even better approach would be to have each configuration tool produce
a program-readable file describing actions it takes, much as RPMs
provide, so that the tool, or some general tool running on another
bootable system with access to the root partition of the affected system
could undo the changes.

I understand why these things were never done in the past. 
Management/marketing (and perhaps even some devs) wanted the
windows-like newbie simplification, and didn't have the resources or the
desire to provide the closure of these features.  I hope that we can
move past this.

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