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 Forum index » Taking the Puppy out for a walk » Suggestions
Alarming Trends in Linux
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Joined: 01 Nov 2005
Posts: 71
Location: Washington State

PostPosted: Wed 02 Dec 2009, 18:30    Post subject:  Alarming Trends in Linux
Subject description: From my programmers perspective

I have been a self taught programmer since 1966 starting with analog computers. My first digital computers were in housed in three large buildings with dual walk-in CPUs and 1/2 inch ferrite core memory. I have been using Linux since 1995 Debian, Mandrake, SuSe, Puppy, Knoppix, Ubuntu, and many others.

Discovered Puppy and Ubuntu in 2005 and have been using both since. Settled on Ubuntu in 2005 using Breezy, Dapper, Fiesty, and now Hardy 8.04 LTS. Since mid 2009 I have been trying various Puppies: Lighthouse Pup, Browser, TOP, 2.16, 4.0, 4.01, 4.02, 4.1, 4.11, 4.12, 4.2, 4.21, 4.3.0, and now 4.3.1.

I am writing this in Barry's Puppy 4.3.1. To this Puppy, I have added Firefox3.5.4, Wbar, PWidgets, and installed the .sfs files for Devx, OpenOffice3.1.1, Anjuta. Also installed the latest Pwireless which works great. I have wifi access on my laptop via Puppy using the atk5 module.

Recently I have been exploring Knoppix 6.2 DVD using the gnome desktop. This has been very frustrating and made me aware of what I am saying here.

When I first started working with Unix in 1992 and Linux in 1995 I saw that nearly all the system files were readable by everyone. The configuration files were text files in either /etc or in the home directory in Dot files or Dot directories. The user was able to change these files to configure the system to their needs and wishes. Firefox has the URL about:config which allows the knowledgable user to modify how Firefox works.

The trend I am seeing and became crystal clear with Knoppix and is present in Puppy and Ubuntu, is that the configuration files are moving away from being text files to being in databases or binary files and these configuration files are not stored in /etc or in the user's home directory.

The user is being restricted from being able to configure Linux to their desires. This means the programmer decides the user experience and the user's only choice is to accept that experience or reject the software/operating system. This is why I do not use any Microsoft products --- I have no choice except rejection.

For me, Knoppix in gnome, the calendar launched by clicking on the panel clock showed the calendar week starting with Monday and not Sunday like I wanted. Writing a Gtk+2 program in Puppy and running in Puppy the calendar week starts with Sunday. The same exact program in Knoppix 6.2 has the calendar week starting with Monday. Since the setting of the week start of Monday/Sunday has be depreciated in Gtk+2, it is the locale that sets this feature. The documentation I have read does not explain how locale does this magic. But the configuration files are not in /etc or user home directories.

The user interface and window manager are becoming more obtuse and convoluted == hidden from user understanding or modification.

The strength of Linux/Unix is it simplicity, configuration in text files, and understandable directory structure. The trend I would like to see is Puppy, Knoppix, Ubuntu, and other Linux's toward this strength. Toward putting commented configuration files in /etc and/or the user home directory Dot files/directories. This is what makes Linux worlds apart from Microsoft software.

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Bruce B

Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 11488
Location: The Peoples Republic of California

PostPosted: Thu 03 Dec 2009, 04:42    Post subject:  


Knoppix is weird
Ubuntu is weird
Puppy is weird, but we are all on the same weird page.

I think you will find in Puppy that

/etc basically holds system configuration files
/root basically holds the user configuration files


In a 'standard' Linux I think you will find

/etc basically holds system configuration files, but only root can change them

/home/username holds the user configuration files and root or the user can change them


New! Puppy Linux Links Page
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Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 1726

PostPosted: Thu 03 Dec 2009, 09:31    Post subject: hiding information  


I think the complaint is not about the link in /etc/localtime which selects the timezone, but about the way the information used by calendar programs is hidden. The actual data used is stored in a binary format in /usr/share/zoneinfo.


You should be able to find the description of that format in section 5 of the manual, if they follow Unix conventions. Unfortunately, documentation is typically the last thing to get done, and may never be corrected.

In this case, the beginning of week may be determined by program code. Having that code available for inspection is better than closed source, but assumes the reader has unlimited time to find and analyze code.

Traditionally, weeks have begun on Sunday, in the Christian world. Starting on Friday or Saturday also has religious connotations. Apparently, the shift to Monday has been made to avoid this, and to conform to typical business hours. The decision has taken place out of sight, as far as I am concerned.

Other decisions about time are important to the operation of the Internet, but this one doesn't have any relevance I can see. It should be an individual decision. Starting the week on Sunday should remain an available option to maintain continuity with traditional printed calendars.

(You might be amused by some of the other options for calendars in the Unix/Linux world, like the days named in Tom's root/boot floppy. )

The more general subject of standards, flexibility and hiding information would take me far afield. Unix/Linux of all flavors is not a finished product standardized by fiat, it evolves. Your action on this point will help to determine the outcome.
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Joined: 14 Feb 2010
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun 14 Feb 2010, 01:32    Post subject:  

try arch linux you have to build it from almost scratch, with bsd like rc and text config files.
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