DConf: some observations

Philip Van Hoof spamfrommailing at freax.org
Thu Apr 14 01:39:11 EEST 2005

On Wed, 2005-04-13 at 21:57 +0200, Simon Edwards wrote:

> I've been following this discussion this week and just wanted to make a couple 
> of points that no one seems to have missed.

IMHO you are making a few very good points here. I wonder if you would
like to put effort and time in investigating and making such a use-case?

> 1) The discussion so far has been *very* technological and implementation 
> driven while the real world problem(s) that need to be solved have barely 
> been  outlined or discussed. I'm not talking about things like "must support 
> transactions" or "run as a daemon". I'm talking about mundane real world 
> scenarios / Use cases such as:
> "Administrator Alan runs a classroom of computers, setup with Kiosk etc. Alan 
> wants to disable printing in the web browser for all of the computers in the 
> classroom."
> or the most common case (95%)
> "User X sets option XYZ in KApp. KApp should remember the state of XYZ next 
> time it it run."
> Without a clear idea of the problems that need to be solved you might sitll be 
> able to make a configuration system, but its usefullness in the real world 
> will have less to do with engineering and more to do with dumb luck. The 
> needs of the applications built on top of DConf (or whatever), and their 
> problems, are the most important things to think about first.
> Later, with a clear idea of what needs to be possible you can work out the 
> technical details. (This seems obvious to me, I don't know why everyone is so 
> keen to spark emacs up at this early stage.)
> 2) Speaking as someone who actually is working on GUI system configuration 
> tools, and not a wishywashy 'framework', I can safely say that the many 
> configuration formats are definiately *not* the reason why configuration on 
> Linux is difficult. Writing a wrapper/library for handling a particular 
> format is the super easy part of developing a config tool. Really people, 
> it's a CompSci 201 homework assignment.
> The killer is semantics. What the hell *do* you put in the config to get what 
> you want? What are the different options and settings? What are the 
> acceptable values? What do these different settings mean? How does this 
> setting interact with the others? Answering these questions and then devising 
> a useful GUI/application on top is where the real work is. Reading/writing 
> file formats is less than 10% of the work.
> I'm not saying that an API/protocol/thing like DConf wouldn't be useful. I'm 
> just saying that it is a relatively small part of the bigger 'configuration' 
> problem.
> Better standards and documentation about what can go in many of the 
> configuration files on a system would be more useful.
> thanks you for your time,
Philip Van Hoof, Software Developer @ Cronos
home: me at pvanhoof dot be
gnome: pvanhoof at gnome dot org
work: philip dot vanhoof at cronos dot be
junk: philip dot vanhoof at gmail dot com

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