Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 23rd Aug 2008 15:37 UTC
Editorial Earlier this week, we ran a story on GoboLinux, and the distribution's effort to replace the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard with a more pleasant, human-readable, and logical design. A lot of people liked the idea of modernising/replacing the FHS, but just as many people were against doing so. Valid arguments were presented both ways, but in this article, I would like to focus on a common sentiment that came forward in that discussion: normal users shouldn't see the FHS, and advanced users are smart enough to figure out how the FHS works.
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Relation and Abstraction
by jack_perry on Sat 23rd Aug 2008 22:22 UTC
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I'm sure this isn't my idea, but perhaps it's time to dump the directory tree altogether and replace it with a relational database. Files can be associated with various tags that denote not their "location" but their purpose. Files that have multiple purposes can be given several tags. If you want to find a file, you don't have to remember which directory it's in, only which tags are associated with it. Hasn't someone already done this successfully, or studied it?

That said, I don't entirely agree with this statement you made:

Developers have stacked layer upon layer upon layer just to make it possible for ordinary people to use these complex beasts we call operating systems. Funnily enough, by providing all these layers, developers actually flat-out admit operating systems are anything but designed for users. If they were actually designed for users from the ground up, they wouldn't need all those layers.

As long as you're talking about the file system layout, I can agree with you. As a general remark about operating systems, however, I disagree strongly. The general layers sitting upon layers--say, KDE sitting on QT and X, or Gnome sitting on gtk sitting on X--is a matter of abstraction and/or code reuse. Developers are taking something that is inherently complicated and messy and distilling it into something simple and accessible. The same can be said for many, many of the layers involved in an OS. That's very different from the layout of a typical *nix file system, which essentially looks like the long accretion of various practices that grew up in the absence of standards, or for historical reasons that, as others have pointed out, no longer apply.

I don't think you meant that, but it seemed as if you were making a general comment about OS design in general.

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