Thursday, 25 September 2008

Assuming stupidity leads to self-fulfilling prophecies. So don't.

Once upon a time, Gnome was one of the great shining lights of Open Source/Free software. A powerful, modern, slick-looking and attractive complete desktop environment built upon a powerful, themable and evolving graphics toolkit.

And then they introduced their own Human Interface Guidelines (I could do a whole post on why that phrase is a serious worry and evidence that the people involved in writing them just don't get it, and I don't care how good Apple's or Amiga's are). And "spatial file managers". And all of a sudden they started alienating people. At some point, somebody decided that copying one of the single most loathed components of Windows - the Registry - was a good idea, and everyone else agreed, and they alienated even more. In fact, the current configuration regime is a major reason why I use XFCE for my GTK-based desktop goodness, not Gnome.

Over the years, however, these two worries have become a sort of background nuisance (configuration can be handled through other tools, the spatial crap can be turned off) to a far bigger problem: They assume that people are stupid.

They really do.

Now, making things simple is good. Simple, if done properly, also means fast and efficient for both the hardware and the user. But they have gone further, and reached the point where Linux Torvalds himself, creator of Linux and general all-round software development god, can contribute a patch to make certain configuration choices easier and be told "No, we don't want to let people do that in case it confuses them." Linus has since told people to use KDE instead. (At this point, I would like to throw in another vote for the slim goodness of XFCE.)

The thing is: Fast and efficient is good, but incapable is bad. Adding control is not the same thing as simply removing power. In fact, it demonstrates your incompetence at design, not your good choices.

And this right here illustrates why I won't be going back to Gnome, ever:

In the FAQ there is this question: "I can't find the "Open Terminal" menu item on the desktop context menu. Was that functonality removed in Nautilus 2.12? "

And the answer is: "Yes, this was removed from Nautilus, since we consider terminals only suitable for power users."

Well, fuck you. You can't even be bothered to spell-check your own website. (That question was copied and pasted, not copied by hand).

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