[rant] Desktop application complexity (part 2)

There were some useful comments on my previous post, but I think they missed my point: there’s too much complexity here. It’s true that entirely self-contained applications are a relic of yesteryear and that having things work well together is useful, but it’s the mechanics that drive me nuts…some questions I have to ask every time I interact with desktop apps and related infrastructure these days:

  • Is it gconf, dconf, gsettings, kconfig, or some random other thing today? Is it worth figuring out before it’s something else?
  • Has it recently been entirely re-written to be the one true solution, obsoleting everything that went ten minutes before? And will it be re-invented ten minutes from now?
  • Is there a web page I can go to to get a non core GNOME/whatever developer summary of what’s going on? (no, there isn’t).
  • etc.

Heck, last time I tried building GNOME I followed the jhbuild instructions, only to be told that I was doing it wrong and should use something else now GNOME Shell is the flavor of the month. I have nothing against forward progress, but I have a lot against random new things popping up that suddenly replace stuff and aren’t well understood outside of a small group of core developers. The Linux kernel developers take great steps to ensure this is not the case and I would love to see the same happen elsewhere.

Hope that clarifies my frustrations. It’s not so much that gnome-settings-daemon can’t handle NFS mounts properly, it’s that it might not even be worth looking into it because I fear it’ll be replaced by something entirely new, “super awesome” (but not well understood or widely documented) solution in about ten minutes from now.


5 Responses to “[rant] Desktop application complexity (part 2)”

  1. Corey Burger says:

    Damn kids! Git off ma lawn! :)

  2. Matěj Cepl says:

    You rant about changes every ten minutes? Let me compare it with the kernel (which I suppose you would claim to be much better in this department than Gnome). So, gconf’s first commit is http://git.gnome.org/browse/gconf/commit/?id=7c6fe0a88f4024261bdde8a6d2f888fbc3ac6b92 … that’s from July 1999. Hmm, what was the kernel in July 1999?

  3. My name is Barney says:

    You’re right.

  4. Anon says:

    You’ve just articulated CADT ( http://www.jwz.org/doc/cadt.html ). I have friend who have been driven to Macs because of this – the burn out catches up with you in the end.

    My own thinking is that this is just a symptom of open source – without the massive resources to maintain the old way of doing things with shims, the only way progress can be made is with these endless rewrites.

  5. jcm says:

    Yes, CADT is exactly right.

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