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

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at canonical.com
Tue Dec 17 03:06:47 PST 2013

Hash: SHA1

Robert Qualls wrote on 16/12/13 15:21:
> ...
> It might not seem like a big deal. When I was drawn to the shiny
> lie of Ubuntu back in 2007, I mostly stayed away from the terminal 
> because I thought it was hard and complicated. And I wasn't far
> off. I still have to google how to use tar to this day. The problem
> is that people really need to know how to use this stuff. Every
> single Linux installation I performed for friends or family or
> myself eventually broke and required some command-line savvy. In
> the end, they all went back to Windows and resumed the virus buffet
> (and so did I, until giving Arch Linux a solid try). I absolutely
> refuse to believe that a person could use any contemporary,
> open-source OS without needing the terminal eventually.

That doesn't mean people need the terminal eventually for any
contemporary OS at all. It's merely an indictment of the competence of
current open-source OS vendors.

Anyway, that's not really relevant to whether xdg-open should be renamed.

> If the terminal makes sense and commands mostly use intelligent
> defaults, then it can be a more inclusive experience that isn't
> reserved for "hackers." People might be more inclined to appreciate
> open-source OSes as platforms running ecosystems of lego-like
> components instead of rigid user experiences that they are 
> accustomed to purchasing from corporations.

Or more likely, they'll continue what they're currently doing,
switching to even more rigid systems running on tablets -- because not
only are the contemporary open-source systems more difficult than they
prefer, even Windows and OS X are too.

But that the people left using PCs will be those who are more familiar
with a terminal still doesn't mean xdg-open shouldn't be renamed.

> ...
> I mean, I'm not proposing the idea of screwing with up anything
> that depends on openvt through open, like, right this second, but I
> do think that this is a real, pervasive problem that needs to be
> thought about on a wide scale with the intent of making changes
> eventually.
> ...

I wouldn't be so hasty in giving up on renaming. Ubuntu has already
been through something similar in 2006, when we changed /bin/sh from
Bash to Dash. <https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DashAsBinSh> A bunch of shell
scripts broke, and people had to fix them. We survived.

Renaming/aliasing xdg-open to open, you wouldn't have a righteous
Posix standard to stand on. But on the other hand, I'd guess many,
many fewer scripts would be affected. I suggest lobbying a niche OS to
try it and see what happens. If it works, the more popular OSes can

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