[plug] When did 'Linux' start moving away from it's simplicity?

Andrew Cooks acooks at gmail.com
Wed May 9 14:02:03 WST 2012

"When did 'Linux' start moving away from it's simplicity?"

IMO, when it became acceptable for dbus, gconf and similar tools to
hide things in files that you're not supposed to edit in a text
editor. That was the point of no return.

Thing is, how do we know whether something like this, or the Gnome
3/Unity tablet revolution, is just a stupid idea or whether we're just
too stuck in our way to see the progress? If you give the new thing
enough time they'll eventually fix all the obvious flaws, but then it
will be even harder to turn back to simpler times. Likewise, if you
put enough effort into understanding the new thing, you may find that
it's better than the old thing.

This is why so many people focus their frustration on Lennart
Poettering and the disruptive changes he's involved in, but it's
harder to find a single person to blame for the disruptions caused by
KDE 4,  Gnome 3 or Unity.



On Tue, May 8, 2012 at 6:28 PM, Tim White <weirdit at gmail.com> wrote:
> Warning, Rant/post below. I've posted this to my blog, but would really like
> other peoples thoughts on it, given the relative quietness of the list
> please forgive me if you don't care about this. (Send me to /dev/null rather
> than flaming please)
> Solution is contained as well.
> http://tim.purewhite.id.au/2012/05/when-did-linux-start-moving-away-from-its-simplicity/
> Tim
> --
> Today I had the joy of trying to change a users desktop environment from
> Gnome, to Cinnamon, via ssh. At first I thought it would be easy, change the
> default desktop environment in lightdm.conf and restart. Fail. Ok, so where
> is a users desktop environment preference stored? .dmrc, or at least I
> thought so. I even logged in with a brand new user and confirmed that it
> saved the users desktop preference in ~/.dmrc. Except, if I changed .dmrc
> for a user, it just got overwritten with the old contents at their next
> automatic login. (Remember, ssh, so can't use the gui to change what was
> selected in the lightdm login screen).
> Wha?!!? Surely not a dconf/gconf setting somewhere. Search search search.
> Still no luck. Eventually I discover a service called "AccountsService" or
> something along that name. It stores the users ".dmrc" contents in
> /var/lib/AccountsService/users/ with a file for each user, which believe it
> or not, can't be changed by the user! Arg! (And I believe you need to kill
> accountsservice to be able to change the contents of the file and have it
> actually honored, I tried just changing it, but ended up changing it then
> rebooting to get it to work)
> This is stupidity! Have a daemon, that one of it's tasks is to tell the
> "display manager" what the users preferred desktop environment preference
> is, that stores it in a place the user can't change, without talking to the
> daemon! Oh, and write the contents of that file out to .dmrc at login, but
> don't bother reading from that file.
> Doing some more digging, AccountService is for querying and manipulating
> user account information via D-Bus, essentially replacing the useradd,
> usermod and userdel commands. I can't find a "homepage" for it, the homepage
> listed is it's source code repo.
> (http://cgit.freedesktop.org/accountsservice/)  (NB: Some more digging finds
> this http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/AccountsService as the
> homepage)
> I personally don't mind D-Bus, it services its purposes, but here is an
> instance where it looks like someone has gone to the trouble of writing a
> piece of code, to complicate some that use to be a simple stat/open of a
> file, that the user was in total control of.
> For the record, lightdm will work without AccountsService, and I believe
> then it will honor ~/.dmrc
> Also, accountsservice isn't in Debian stable, but is in Debian testing, and
> gdm3 and gnome depend on it. (So in other words Gnome3 depends on it)
> I just don't understand why we need to reinvent the wheel, take something
> that is so simple (and fits in the Unix "philosophies" of everything is a
> file, and that file formats should be simple text based) and turn it into
> something that user no longer has control over, for something that sets
> their preference!
> Read
> http://blog.ngas.ch/archives/2011/12/13/the_destructive_desktop__mdash_linux_in_trouble/index.html
> for some more thoughts on dbus.
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