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Re: To the Debian Project, IMHO

Havoc Pennington wrote:
> Hi,
> As someone who's written lots of code toward making free Unices easier to
> use, let me just say that I think this supposed conflict between power and
> ease of use is total nonsense.
> Even if a tool is for power users, it can be pleasant for those users to
> learn and use or it can have an atrocious interface from hell. "Atrocious
> interface from hell" does not equate to "powerful," just "annoying."
> For example, look at "info" or "dselect" - regardless of whether you
> personally like them, the many people that _don't_ like them don't like
> them because the keystrokes are really stupid and the general
> "flow" through the programs doesn't make sense. However, this has _zero_
> to do with the power of the tools.
> On a programming level, command-line tools are often written in such a way
> that adding a GUI frontend is difficult and requires changes to the
> command-line stuff. But this is not a fundamental conflict, just poor
> planning when writing the command line tool.
> Co-existence is very possible, and taking a position on one side or the
> other is just pointless.
I absolutely agree, but...

Developer time is limited, especially "free" time.  If there's a choice,
any administration tool needs to be command-line oriented for maximum
flexibility.  And please don't get into the RedHat situation where it's
hard to change a configuration file without messing up the GUI
administration tool.

It would also be sad to leave behind the Unix heritage of simple
utilities that can pipe to each other to do useful things.

Dselect?  Nice in many ways; yes, it's the non-standard keystrokes and
lack of visual feedback ("has my search finished yet?") that are
probably the worst things.  Other than that *I* can't think of a much
nicer way to address package installation in ncurses.

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