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Date: Mon, 21 May 2012 21:54:57 -0400
From: Rich Felker <>
Subject: Re: Vision for new platform

On Tue, May 22, 2012 at 02:53:19AM +0200, aep wrote:
> >>They're perfectly happy with the UI's that canonical provides
> >>for them.
> >Are you sure?
> No, i'm talking from subjective experience here.
> However, from a user point of view, nettops are a non issue. The
> hardware will eventually be decent enough to drive ubuntu unity or
> whatever they call their nettop ui now.

I'm not so convinced. Even if the hardware makes it smooth, having a
*good* system on a battery-powered machine could easily double the
battery life. Keep in mind that these broken DE's do things like loop
calling usleep(1000000); to update clock displays or make sure the
network is still connected... A well-designed system for battery
powered devices would have the cpu completely sleeping for minutes or
hours at a time until an external event caused an interrupt.

> The problem you might want to address, is that the diversity has a
> sharp cut when it comes to middleware. You either use the holy
> Ubuntu desktop, or you're left behind with some half baked crap.
> Well, i like sharp cuts because the positions are clear and there's
> no political talk like "well but we do kinda support your
> non-canonical-approved-desktop through these fugly undocumented xml
> hacks, so what are you complaining about?". Okay, so you're not
> supporting my setup, that's ok, i'll go build my own middleware. So
> here we are, all building our own hacks around the junk they throw
> at us. Might just as well rebuild the whole thing.


> >Aside from some interface considerations (mainly screen size and
> >touch
> >vs mouse/trackpad) I think a lot of the basic system component
> >requirements are the same for "desktop" and "mobile" platforms,
> Err, no, not really. The "Linux desktop" is a basically a copy of MS
> Window. Everything else is some basement kids dream that they
> matter.

I'd say it's a bit more complicated than that. A lot of more recent
stuff has been all about mimicing OSX eyecandy and design... I think
it's just a game of incorporating whatever's popular/fashionable, and
there's been a lot of mimicing between all sides over the past 20

> Embedded platforms on the hand are engineered on unique experience.
> They'll eventually revert to mimic whatever mobile OS will dominate,
> but right now each of them has unique abilities.

This is a very healthy situation to be in with regards to evolution of
good interfaces.

> They're very very different in requirements. Try to run  Windows 7
> on 128MB  RAM with a 800Mhz MIPS core. Well, they got it working,
> it's called WP7, except ... The UI is different, the MW is
> different, even the kernel is different.

I bet most Windows users would LOVE to have that on their PCs..
Lightning fast boot, and all their ram free for bloated web apps or
gaming or whatever they do.

Basically, this is where I started 6 years ago with what led to musl:
the idea that 90% of what's happening on a typical Linux system is
crap that's not needed to get the desired results (in particular,
compare musl's UTF-8 support to glibc's locale hell and
gconv-module-based UTF-8 support), but that we still want to get
results (rather than just having a crippled system that only runs
15-year-old software and only speaks ASCII).

> there. Then look at when a lesson was learned with the N9. No more
> gnome. No gconfd, no networkmanager, no dpkg, no weird ass X11,
> middleware entirely rebuilt. Woop all of the sudden i can actually
> use this thing to write an sms without getting a heart attack.
> On the other hand, on the desktop, people enjoy these things (I
> don't know why. I really hate all of this crap getting in my way. I
> just want to open a terminal in the least painful way).

I'm not sure what all your "this crap" entails, but I'm doubtful of
the claim that all or even most desktop users enjoy it. I suspect most
_tolerate_ it because they want/need things like interactive
configuration, joining networks, notification of network/battery/etc.
status, familar volume controls and window switching, immediate access
to usb sticks they plug in, etc.

> >anything in between. Especially the stuff handled by "dbus hell" in
> >the FDO regime now (network config, removable media, bluetooth, ...).
> Well yes. Independant of me not using a DE, i still want to be able
> to configure network in a less hacky way then writing a script that
> does ifconfig. This is what things like wicd attempt to address, but
> fail, since they're just that.. hacks around ifconfig. Here's
> something you can really get me committed with. Something that does
> NOT intend to be a an MS Windows copy, but still give me something
> more then the tools from 1960 i have to use right now. Something
> like an actual system with an actual design.

Exactly. Right now wicd is the only alternative to GNOME (connman is
up and coming, but has no frontend yet, and still seems to suffer from
dbus hell), and it's a bunch of ugly hacks. Basically, it was designed
in a rad-tool language as a mock-up for a network config applet, and
never got finished...

Then, NM on the other hand just sucks. There's no way to configure
preference/priority, so if I'm in range of both a slow public wifi
hotspot with ugly login procedures that I occasionally use and my
workplace wifi or the good wifi at a coffee shop I'm at, half the time
I'll end up auto-connected to the crap one.

Some things I'd want to put in a good system:

- Automatic classification of access point quality (login crap vs
  direct, speed, etc.) with manual override for particular networks if

- Attempt to automatically bypass click-thru ToS/disclaimer junk on
  public access points, and avoid presenting the broken network with
  redirects to applications before login. (I believe this can be done
  by manipulating per-uid routing with iptables.)

- Uninterrupted service across suspend/resume if the access point is
  still present, but quick search for a new one if it's not.

> >for each type of system. (And if the system stuff is not needlessly
> >coupled with this sort of app level stuff, you can mix and match them
> >with no problem.)
> Very high goals again. Unsure how this statement differs from the
> goals of HAL. Also i wonder how you are capable of using any of
> these UI's that assume you have an IQ of zero, but to each their
> own.

I'm not sure what the goals of HAL were except to make everybody's
life hell. But it's completely the opposite approach: the idea is that
everything just works by virtue of not touching (and not being able to
touch) things it has no business touching...


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