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ah yes, true freedom // philosophical geekery - Lograh — LiveJournal

Thursday, 26.Feb.2004

7:47 - ah yes, true freedom // philosophical geekery

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Ah, yes, I love the way Linux will not only let you shoot yourself in the foot, but it'll load/prime the gun and aim it for you!

"badblocks -s -w /dev/hda1" doesn't do any warning or confirmation or any other kind of user intervention. It just goes right ahead and does it.

same with "rm -r /", for that matter.

"wipe -r *" doesn't bother confirming, either (in fact, I accidentally halted the system last night becuase it turned out there was an active swapfile on /dev/hda1 and wipe tried wiping it while it was in use -- oops!).

That's probably the greatest thing I like about (most flavors of) *nix in general. The programmers assume that if you're going to be using this OS, and mucking about at the command-line level, then you know what you're doing and they are not going to second-guess you. If the system is at all capable of doing what you're asking, it'll go ahead and do it (even if it leads to a total system failure and you have to re-install (kernel recompile, anyone?)). None of that "oh, you don't *really* want to do that, so we'll just assume you are an idiot and not let you" bullshit that you get from both Apple and Microsoft (sorry, gang, this is one area OSX is just as bad (if not worse) than Windows).

It's also one reason I'm not sure I *want* Linux to become more mainstream. Sure, it'd be nice for the software industry to once again start moving ahead through innovation and unstifled development, and I do think a mainstream Linux would be a large step towards bringing this about, but I realize that to make Linux mainstream would mean having to remove all that freedom. You can't say that the user-level login would protect people, because they are going to know the admin password on their own box and anytime the system says "sorry, users can't do that" they'll just su themselves a root prompt (and don't even tell me they won't know how to do that, it'll become the first tip in "PC User" magazine or somesuch) and do it anyway. I've worked with enough users to know that they like to feel they have control over the machine physically at their desk, even when they don't need that control and are likely to mess things up if we give them it.
I suppose it's an option, though, that when some few distros of Linux have become mainstream, I'll just move on to Debian or some not-so-mainstream distro. Or perhaps switch to one of the BSD flavors. So I guess it wouldn't be all that bad. It'd just be a bummer, after having followed Linux so long, to see it get watered down so much.

Me? Jaded? no. I work with users every damn day, I still have to answer questions like "my printer's yellow light is blinking and the little screen on it says 'load letter' -- what should I do?" The optimist in me likes to think that eventually people will clue in and start to learn how to handle day-to-day operation of a PC, but I'm not seeing any evidence supporting this.

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:khanfused
Date:8:36 26.Feb.2004 (UTC)

You mean like Lindows?

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>>ou can't say that the user-level login would protect people, because they are going to know the admin password on their own box and anytime the system says "sorry, users can't do that" they'll just su themselves a root prompt

... or then there's the example of Lindows -- the "REEEEL Desktop Linux!!" -- during the install, it asks you for the root password info & full name ... and that's it.

No user account & password unless you look up how to create one. No "well, you COULD surf the web in root, but it's r33ly r333ly tht00pid."

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[User Picture]
From:lograh
Date:8:48 26.Feb.2004 (UTC)

Re: You mean like Lindows?

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yeah, Lindows is full-time root, not good. But then, it's attempting to be as close to Windows as possible, and the default user in WindowsXP is a member of the admin group.
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[User Picture]
From:macklinr
Date:9:21 26.Feb.2004 (UTC)
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People won't clue in until you remove the easy-to-use clue machine (i.e. us techs).

Granted, we're paid better and have more rights than others in the past, but we're still a subserviant people - we serve the non-tech populace as if they were our masters.
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[User Picture]
From:aaangyl
Date:15:15 26.Feb.2004 (UTC)
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Hm. In my experience, my customers tend to ramp up very quickly on technical things. But then, a big part of what I consider my job to involve is bridging that tchnological knowledge gap, be it with explanations, analogies, or what have you, to bring them to the point where they feel empowered to take actions and deal with the consequences of those actions. I also had a tendency to set up my machine to prompt me with an 'are you SURE?' prompt before things like rm -rf actually went through. It was more useful to have my ass covered in case of typo or brain fart than it was to have to confirm the 90% of the time that was indeed exactly what I wanted to do.
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