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Re: GUI Configuration tool for main Debian window managers

On 05/01/15 18:17, john Lutz wrote:
> I was wondering how one would one go about building
> a GUI tool to cover every imaginable setting via a GUI
> interface for the majority of standard live and other installed
> Debian distribtion?

I'd provide a terminal emulator, a documentation browser, a decent text
editor and some development tools, and a window manager to put them in.
We already have several implementations of this :-)

If you're imagining something analogous to Windows' Control Panel or
GNOME's System Settings, but for everything you could possibly configure
in a "normal" Debian install: sorry, I don't think that's useful or
feasible. There is a limit to the number of settings you can put into a
GUI before it becomes impossible to find the one you wanted, and even a
"normal" Debian install is going to be way over that limit.

To have a GUI that is not overwhelming, you'd have to apply some sort of
filtering - "which settings are most useful?" - and that still doesn't
handle things whose configuration is a Turing-complete programming
language rather than a finite set of options (e.g. bash, vim, emacs), or
things that are partially or entirely configured at compile-time or by
patching, or things where the behaviour you want to configure is not
actually configurable yet but making it configurable would be a simple
matter of programming.

At some point you have to draw a line and say "beyond here, settings
aren't configurable at runtime" or "this is only configurable via some
sort of semi-hidden expert interface" (Windows registry, GNOME dconf,
shell commands, Quake console, etc.) or even "this isn't configurable
except by patching the source code".

Different projects put those lines in different places, according to
their designers' opinions, and the relative weight they place on being
highly configurable vs. simplifying the UI - for instance GNOME tends to
offer fewer configurable options than KDE, and Mac OS tends to offer
fewer configurable options than Windows - but even the most
config-option-heavy projects have to draw a line somewhere.


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