An analysis about a generic desktop application configuration management system

Havoc Pennington hp at
Fri Apr 8 02:28:01 EEST 2005

On Thu, 2005-04-07 at 20:26 +0100, Jamie McCracken wrote:
> This shouldn't be a problem. If you use a database you should have 
> utilities to import/export xml files from Stdin/Stdout. A sysadmin can 
> use these to retrieve all keys for a subtree as an xml text file, edit 
> it and then import it back in. Of course thay can also be called from 
> scripts as well so I dont think having text files as the backend should 
> be mandatory if there's a method to achieve the same effect for admin 
> purposes.

It isn't really the same effect. GConf does have the dump/load thing.

The issue is that UNIX admins already have elaborate hacks for pushing
out text files and changes to same. The dump/load approach doesn't
really work very well with most of these hacks.

There's also just a learning issue, where admins don't want to figure
out a new system. GConf raises the learning bar higher than necessary
due to the confusion with stuffing schemas in the system and general
lack of UI design (for the command line tools and file formats), but
still with readable text files there's a lot less learning.

I agree that we can ask admins to learn stuff if we need to do it for
other admin benefits, or we can even add end user benefits at the
expense of admins, but I don't think transactions are interesting enough
to justify this since they don't really have big benefits for either
desktop user or admin.

Trust me, I have no knee-jerk "databases bad, text files good" reaction;
I'm all for upsetting orthodoxy. But in this case I don't think there's
any point.


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