Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Aug 2008 23:33 UTC, submitted by Charles Wilson
Editorial GoboLinux is a distribution which sports a different file system structure than 'ordinary' Linux distributions. In order to remain compatible with the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard, symbolic links are used to map the GoboLinux tree to standard UNIX directories. A post in the GoboLinux forums suggested that it might be better to turn the concept around: retain the FHS, and then use symbolic links to map the GoboLinux tree on top of it. This sparked some interesting discussion. Read on for more details.
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Solving the wrong problem
by unoengborg on Tue 19th Aug 2008 06:43 UTC
unoengborg
Member since:
2005-07-06

Filsystem hierarchy should not matter to the user, at least not the parts that deals with installed software.
The user should just need to know that he adds new functionality, he shouldn't need to know where the files actually goes.

The software installer or package manager should make shure that executables ends up in the users PATH, FONTPATH,..., and/or in some appropriate place in the program menu.

When a user need to select an executable somewhere in the GUI, he should be able to select it from what's in the PATH, or in the Program menu if it is some kind of GUI based program that need to be selected.

E.g if you make a new starter for your Gnome desktop you should be presented with a list of programs that is in your PATH. To make it backward compatible and expert user friendly it should also still be possible to write a full path, but the OK button should be greyed out until you actually have selected something executable.

When you remove some funktionality the package manager should ask if it also should remove the preferences for the application. Note, I did not say it should ask the user if he want it to also remove configuration files. This is important because there might be configuration, but not necessarily in files, it could reside in a database or in LDAP depending what application it is. In other words application developers should provide hooks for the uninstaller to do the right thing when asked to remove something.

The Desktop user should just need to see the programs in the program menu, the control center where he can configure the functionality of his system, his own data and the data other people share with him. It should also be easy for him to se what part of his data he have decided to share with others.

Users should just see what they need to do their business, and in most cases that is not computer related so in most cases there is no need to introduce computer related things like "Application Folder"

In the rare cases where it is computer related e.g. for a sys admin there should be ways to make exceptions, and to these people it is good if the file hierachy conforms to some kind of standard, so why not continue to use the Linux FHS for them.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Solving the wrong problem
by tupp on Tue 19th Aug 2008 07:11 in reply to "Solving the wrong problem"
tupp Member since:
2006-11-12

Filsystem hierarchy should not matter to the user, at least not the parts that deals with installed software. The user should just need to know that he adds new functionality, he shouldn't need to know where the files actually goes.


Disagree strongly.

The biggest usability blunder in the history of computer GUIs is the intentional hiding of the directories from the user by Apple (and, later, by Microsoft).

The directory structure is an important mapping model of the system, and shielding the user from this mapping has created a generation of helpless, clueless users, who have to call technical support every time they try to download an attachment from Yahoo mail.

In regards to computer usability, it is extremely beneficial for the user to know the basic locations and relative positions of the software and data.

Reply Parent Score: 7

hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

yep, i still love the dos day when every app or driver was contained in its own dir that one could move virtually anywhere as long as one entered the right path into either config.sys or autoexec.bat.

say what you will about its userfriendlyness but it was simple. and the same level of simple is what gobolinux is aiming for imo. that it appears to be user friendly is just a side effect.

note for instance that rather then having init.d and friends in etc (or /System/Settings in gobolinux) there is a BootOptions file (setting stuff like how the ascii-art for the boot process should look like) and a BootScripts dir.

in that dir one find:

BootUp: a list of things to start on all boots.

Console: what to start if the machine is to boot into a command line login.

Graphic: what to start if its a X based login.

Shutdown: generic tasks for dealing with all kinds of correct shutdowns.

Halt: what to do when shutting down.

Reboot: what to do on a reboot.

some daemons are packaged with Task scripts that minic init.d ones, so that they can be started and stopped with StartTask and StopTask. both of those can be used in bootup and shutdown.

Reply Parent Score: 2

unoengborg Member since:
2005-07-06


The directory structure is an important mapping model of the system, and shielding the user from this mapping has created a generation of helpless, clueless users, who have to call technical support every time they try to download an attachment from Yahoo mail.


Yes, I agree with you that you need to know these things in MacOS-X or Windows, and if you don't you are lost. This is the problem. If users didn't need to know these things they wouldn't be lost.

You don't need to know how the phone system is wired to use a phone, even though the phone network and phone sytem is much more complex than even the most complicated computer desktops. So why is it be so impossible to make a usable computer desktop.

Reply Parent Score: 2