Fwd: 'open' instead of 'xdg-open' for usability?

Robert Qualls robert at robertqualls.com
Mon Dec 16 09:00:36 PST 2013

Simon McVittie wrote:
> And then what? How does this group impose their world view on the
> other 99.99% of the world?

Standards aren't about coercion. It's more like "if enough people
agree on this thing or some modification of it we've proposed, then
it's the case now." Of course, if enough groups didn't agree, the idea
would just fall apart, and it wouldn't be wise for the supporters to
start adhering to the changes, since it would just create an even
bigger mess.

> We can never fix that for open(1), because it's too late.

I'm looking through code on github to get a feel for how common of an
alias it is, and it doesn't seem to show up very much. What I mostly
see are either OSX users or people who have aliased open to either
gnome-open or xdg-open. The fact that people are leaving it aliased in
their dotfiles at least indicates that they aren't running into
problems with anything common. I'm not saying we should be like
Microsoft and start changing things willy-nilly, but...I mean, this is
about removing a (seemingly, at least) uncommon, inappropriate alias,
not a regime change in Pakistan.

I'll see if I can get the alias dropped.

On Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 10:02 AM, Simon McVittie
<simon.mcvittie at collabora.co.uk> wrote:
> On 16/12/13 15:21, Robert Qualls wrote:
>> The fact that one-word command names are such a limited resource
>> means that they shouldn't be used by obscure programs.
> openvt is probably older than some of the people on this mailing list
> (its git history starts in 2007, but the man page is dated July 1996),
> and at the time it was written, it was probably no more obscure than
> anything else in the Unix toolbox. Unless you have a time machine,
> it's far, far, far too late to object to its former name.
> Whether you like it or not, there is no central authority that names
> software, and no way to prevent people from naming their software
> badly (unless we empower governments to do so, or something, but I
> don't think anyone really wants that). The closest thing we have is
> that distributions (most visibly Debian, but I'm sure "app stores"
> also do this a lot) sometimes refuse to include a piece of software in
> their distribution because its name is too generic, or because it
> collides with something they already have. See the extensive mailing
> list threads regarding Node.js in Debian for an example that happened
> in public.
>> I think we need to have a group of people sit down and hammer out
>> something before we get too far into the future. Like, there should
>> be some kind of POSIX Command Standard or something that keeps
>> track of reserved keywords that do obvious things.
> And then what? How does this group impose their world view on the
> other 99.99% of the world?
> POSIX is not a forced standard
> <http://utcc.utoronto.ca/~cks/space/blog/tech/TwoSortsOfStandards> and
> cannot unilaterally impose requirements on Unix distributors.
> freedesktop.org is even less like a forced standard than POSIX: it can
> document things that the major desktop environments agree on, but has
> no way to coerce any of them.
> François Revol wrote:
>> Btw, debian already has something do deal with this issue
>> (although not exactly meant for this one but rather competing
>> programs for the same purpose):
>> https://wiki.debian.org/DebianAlternatives
> Alternatives are specifically *not* for this purpose: they are for the
> situation where running "generic-name --options args" (for at least
> some subset of the possible options/arguments) does the same thing
> whether generic-name points to one implementation or another.
> For instance, if openvt didn't have the "open" alias, and the generic
> name "open" was managed by alternatives, it'd be OK if xdg-open and
> gvfs-open were registered as implementations of "open"; you could type
> "open http://blahblahblah" (interactively, or in a script) and have
> more or less the same thing happen.
> It would not be OK for an "open" alternative to have openvt and xdg-open
> as implementations - if you have a script which runs "open", either it
> wants to open a new virtual console, or it wants to open a file. Either
> way, getting the other meaning is not acceptable.
> We can never fix that for open(1), because it's too late. Authors of
> new software can avoid it by namespacing generic names, which is why
> we have things like gnome-disks and kde4-menu; or by using non-generic
> "brand names", which is why we have Evince, Firefox and Amarok instead
> of "document viewer", "web browser" and "audio player".
>     S
> _______________________________________________
> xdg mailing list
> xdg at lists.freedesktop.org
> http://lists.freedesktop.org/mailman/listinfo/xdg

More information about the xdg mailing list