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Thread: One of Linux's Greatest Weaknesses

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Post One of Linux's Greatest Weaknesses

    In a Nutshell
    I am basically asking for a specification for storing settings, but with focus on making it cascading.

    My History
    I've been messing around making a few minor scripts for Linux and I constantly see this problem coming up. Changing settings. The settings are all over the place: text files, gconf, program generated binary files, etc. It's so complicated to program a simple thing like changing the wallpaper, because each desktop environment does it in a different way.

    The Idea
    I think we should make a system to manage all the settings in a cascading and multi-dimensional manner. When a program is installed it should store it's settings in the default settings section. A program's default settings can be overwritten in the global settings, which can, in turn, be overwritten by the user's settings.

    Code:
    Default Settings
    	Global Settings
    		John Smith's Settings
    		Bob Smith's Settings
    		...
    Code:
    Default Settings
    	X Settings
    		GNOME Settings
    		KDE Settings
    		...
    	Console Settings

    Also:
    • Admin's should have the ability to 'lock' certain settings so that users cannot change them.
    • People should be able to define custom profiles (e.g. 'Dark Theme', 'Light Theme' - I often switch a lot between the two and hate having to go through all the settings and change them one by one)
      Code:
      Default Settings
      	X Settings
      		GNOME Settings
      			Light Settings
      			Dark Settings 
      		KDE Settings
      		...
      	Console Settings


    Goals
    • Ability to copy/backup your settings
    • More control over your system
    • Settings are easier to manage
    • Settings are all in one place


    Will This Slow Down Over Time Like the Windows' Registry?
    Not at all, the Windows registry is slow because programs install settings and don't remove them when they become outdated. Ubuntu programs are generally a lot more clever and usually leave very little junk behind. Hopefully, with this system, less junk should be left behind than before - since the settings are all in once place rather than being scattered across the computer.

    What do you Think?
    Please, post a comment - if you don't like this idea then post and tell me what's wrong with it. System admins - how useful do you think this would be. Developers - how hard would this be to implement. Also, any ideas on how this can be improved are welcome.


    Don't understand quite what I mean? Take a look at Naggobot's post - you may find his explanation clearer.
    Last edited by Penguin Guy; July 19th, 2010 at 04:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Manaus - AM, Brasil
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    Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat

    Re: One of Linux's Greatest Weaknesses

    I was thinking about RAM, memory and all that stuff... could make system slower...

  3. #3
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    Re: One of Linux's Greatest Weaknesses

    Quote Originally Posted by hthury View Post
    I was thinking about RAM, memory and all that stuff... could make system slower...
    This isn't a program as such, merely a collective database of settings - so it shouldn't take up any more/less RAM than the existing setup does.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail

    Re: One of Linux's Greatest Weaknesses

    1. right click desktop
    2. Change wallpaper

    Am I missing something?
    Quote Originally Posted by Tristam Green View Post
    I can tell you something about a turntable.
    I have two of them.
    And a microphone.
    Where it's at.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Re: One of Linux's Greatest Weaknesses

    Quote Originally Posted by Maheriano View Post
    1. right click desktop
    2. Change wallpaper

    Am I missing something?
    Yes: for a computer program it is much, much harder. The system I am proposing will make it easier for programs and administrators to manage settings.


    For example, if I were to write a program to set the background in Gnome it would look something like this:
    Code:
    import sys, os
    desktoptype = os.environ.get('DESKTOP_SESSION')
    
    if 'gnome' in desktoptype:
    	import gconf
    	client = gconf.client_get_default()
    	client.set_string ( "/desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename" , path )
    else
    	print "Error: Cannot change wallpaper."
    This only supports GNOME, if I wanted to support all desktop managers the script would be much longer. Now let's see an example script using my system:
    Code:
    import sys, os
    sys.set.wallpaper = path
    As you can see, this script is much shorter. This saves programmers time, and the program will work in any desktop environment.
    Last edited by Penguin Guy; March 15th, 2010 at 09:01 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    3

    Re: One of Linux's Greatest Weaknesses

    I see this as one of its strengths. What you are describing is the Windows Registry - a massive hodge-podge of outdated, cryptical junk of long-forgotten purpose that once it does get corrupted, takes everything with it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron

    Re: One of Linux's Greatest Weaknesses

    Your system would be a night mare for installation/upgrade/removal of applications, which is exactly the reason why the Windows registry gets so much rubbish left in it, as upgrades/removals don't clean up properly.

    Nothing in your system makes that any better, and instead of under the current system you get a lot of small files that get left around, taking disk space admitedly, but not actually getting accessed, we now have three files - which are complex and slowly growing with every installation, making application start up slower and slower as the system gets older and subject to more changes.

    I agree that discrete config files area far better idea - if one of my application starts misbehaving and gets into a state that i can't correct easily - I know i can easily delete the config file for that application, without impacting anything else - and a well written application will recover by applying defaults - Try doing that in windows. Even finding the section that you want to edit in the windows registery sometimes requires knowledge of what programmng language the application was written in.
    Tony - Happy to try to help.
    Unless otherwise stated - all code posted by me is untested. Remember to Mark the Thread as Solved.
    Ubuntu user number # 24044 Projects : TimeWarp - on the fly Backups

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Re: One of Linux's Greatest Weaknesses

    @Tony Flurry

    I see your point. But what would you think about having three versions of /etc/default (default, admin, user)?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    home
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    Kubuntu

    Re: One of Linux's Greatest Weaknesses

    this is a good idea, but isnt this already in place with with for example

    • admin settings (installation defaults)
      /usr/share/app
    • default settings (initial setup)
      /etc/default/app
    • settings (overrides)
      /etc/app
    • user settings (per user)
      ~/.app


    ?
    echo "Ka Me Ha Me Ha Me Ha!" | tr [A-Z] [a-z]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    1,532

    Re: One of Linux's Greatest Weaknesses

    The frustration that you're running into with your wallpaper example isn't the fact that configuration files don't cascade and it isn't the fact that there are multiple ways of storing/modifying settings. It's the fact that the various projects don't store settings for the same concept in the same place.

    In your registry-like solution, what's to stop Gnome developers from making a "gnome-wallpaper" key, Xfce developers from making a "xfce-wallpaper" key and KDE developers from making a "kallkaper" key? Then you'd be stuck in the same problem you're in now.

    If this is really a problem, and I'm not convinced that it is, then this kind of thing should be handled with a FreeDesktop.org standard and not a new configuration system.

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