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Bug 698544 – Background configuration is missing in terminal profile editor (gnome.org)
344 points by Signez 815 days ago | 302 comments



I think this bug report is an excellent example of how not to interact with your users.

1. Remove a long-existing feature without telling anyone, hidden in a minor update

2. A user reports it in a friendly and informative manner. Persch [dev] closes with a single word "No". That alone should make any user furious.

3. A discussion ensues with someone finally (and understandably) concluding that this was done intentionally. To which Mueller [dev] responds: "Please don't. Please give https://live.gnome.org/CodeOfConduct a read. And please consider that this bugzilla is not meant to be a discussion forum but rather a place where actual bugs are kept."

Holy crap, so we are to conclude that it was not done intentionally but it should not be fixed either and that nobody is supposed to complain because the developers' code of conduct states that they always mean well by definition.

4. Another user sheds light on the backstory by pretty much proving this was done on purpose (contradicting Mueller). To which a third developer responds indignantly that the "official" workaround for this issue is sufficient and that the user should head over to the corresponding wiki page and improve the workaround description. He then closes again with a statement about how all devs are well-meaning (just for the added cognitive dissonance I suppose).

What takes the cake: from reading their description, the suggested "workaround" seems to make the whole window transparent, including the terminal text.

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Also, the original title of this thread was about a thousand times more informative.

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In case anyone is curious, the title was "" Gnome 3.7 removes terminal transparency; closing bug with simply "No." ""

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Yes. This title changing business is infuriating.

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I agree. Changing titles decreases the quality of the submission since they are almost always uninformative and mundane compared to the originally submitted titles. And this thread is case in point.

Edit: I'm tempted to write a bot that will catch title changes and post the original title as a comment in the thread automatically.

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I tried something like that once. HNers were not fans of novilty accounts, even a useful one that added content like yours would.

Though, I'd be in favor of you trying and seeing the result. My test was limited and short lived so it may not be indicative of the full community.

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The bot which automatically posted links to previous submissions of the same URL was also received pretty poorly despite often being useful, so I wouldn't have high hopes.

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You'll probably be shadow-banned; there's another dirty little HN secret. The moderation here is pretty horrifyingly bad.

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I keep coming back to this idea (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5653878) of creating an API that stores the original titles and then just unleashing a GreaseMonkey scripts that compensates for editors that forget <h1> != story.

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It's probably a social experiment.

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It makes sense to keep the titles of the original articles. Otherwise you would be open for complete rewording of the title, and passing of comments by poster. Let the content linked to speak for itself.

As for how this happens, I don't know? Is this a from moderators import title_checking ... But then Arc is more functional so maybe it is done in code?

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I recently found out that the guidelines explicitly say, "[barring exceptions] please use the original title". (http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html)

I'm still sympathetic to the title-change complaints, and I think HN is leaving a source of creativity on the table to the community's detriment. But the guidelines are theirs to setup and enforce.

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I assume that one of the motivations for this guideline is to prevent submitters from editorializing their submissions by altering the original titles (e.g. "Idiotic developers close perfectly reasonable bug report").

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Yeah, I always thought the guidelines said, "Don't editorialize."

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Gnome has always been this way. It's kind of sad, but if it was that way in 2006 and 2008 and 2010 it's hardly surprising that it's still that way in 2013. :/

In general, Gnome tends to make decisions internally and then refuse to communicate what's behind said decisions to the broader community.

That said, I don't think I agree with the people who seem to think of transparent terminals as massively important feature, though I do find them nice.

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> I don't think I agree with the people who seem to think of transparent terminals as massively important feature, though I do find them nice.

I don't like transparent terminals myself but the bottom line is that Linux users spend a lot of time in their terminal. Terminals are the #1 productivity tools for Linux. You just can't remove features from such tools willy nilly without consulting with your users.

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On the other hand, http://www.gnome.org/ describes itself as:

"GNOME 3: Ease, comfort and control

GNOME 3 is an easy and elegant way to use your computer. It is designed to put you in control and bring freedom to everybody."

From that, I don't think they aim to support the group of users that "spend a lot of time in their terminal". They might even look forward to the day they manage to ship a system without a terminal.

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If that's their stated goal, then they should just come out with it and let all of the users that spend a good majority of their time in terminals migrate to something else. I have a sneaking suspicion that GNOME usage would take a nosedive if they were to do this.

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Honestly I don't think that would happen even if they plainly stated it. At this point the writing has been on the wall for years and yet the "power users" who would care about this still haven't switched. Whether it's Stockholm syndrome, or self-blaming, or "oh, that wouldn't happen to me" I don't know, but it's getting increasing harder to blame the GNOME devs... they've made their opinion very clear and they're the ones driving the ship.

If you're a passenger and you think you see icebergs you need to abandon ship, not whine with the Captain about where to steer.

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> If you're a passenger and you think you see icebergs > you need to abandon ship, not whine with the Captain > about where to steer.

Really? Not even in the case you think the captain failed to notice the iceberg, and a simple heads up would save not only yours but all the other passengers' lives?

Nothing ot do with Gnome, I suppose, but this was a really bad analogy.

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Perhaps I shouldn't have used "iceberg" as that implies some upcoming inevitable disaster, which I don't think is true of this situation. The GNOME devs could certainly end up very successful.

I happen to disagree with the course, but it's their right as developers to choose a different direction. At some point as a user you have to come to grips with the fact that their vision and yours have diverged. There are undoubtedly many other users who prefer this different direction and they can't all be right.

Find the boat going the direction you want to go and climb aboard and help out.

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Linus wrote a few months ago that he'd switched to Xfce. Does he count as a power user?

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Linus is pragmatic though. He'll switch when it's necessary. E.g. BitKeeper => git, KDE3.5 => GNOME, etc

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BitKeeper -> git was a painful necessity when BitKeeper started to want money. It's switching to BitKeeper was pragmatism over hardcore open-source principles, a 'lesser evil'.

I have to learn more about KDE -> Gnome, since I remember it was the other way around :)

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Yes indeed, before Linus used GNOME he used KDE.

He switched from KDE 3.5 to GNOME 2 series when we were dicking around with KDE 4.

Then GNOME started their own process of dicking around and Linus tried KDE 4 (including rotating all the Plasma widgets ;).

Not sure if he stuck there or ended up on XFCE though.

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Really? In when Linus did his talk about git for Google Tech Talks, he explained that the reason they parted ways because many of the linux developers were taking issue to working in a non-libre environment, I seem to recall...

hmmm

here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XpnKHJAok8

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BitKeeper was non-libre for a long time, but they dropped the free-to-the-community version[1] which forced the move. Linus drew criticism for a long time over the usage of a non-libre version control system for the Linux kernel.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitkeeper#Pricing_change

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If no one has ever read the backstory behind this it's actually a good tale.

There was more to the issue than BK simply deciding to drop the free version. The short story behind that one of the Samba authors helped force Free Software along in more ways than one!

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I went and tried to find some information. Definitely worth a read! Thanks. Actually. I'm gonna post it as a story.

http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-well-written-accounts-of-...

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He's been complaining about GNOME for a long time. I guess either they got bad enough Xfce looked better, or he figured out how to get Xfce to do what he needed. https://plus.google.com/+LinusTorvalds/posts/WTLyn7dqYoR https://plus.google.com/+LinusTorvalds/posts/UkoAaLDpF4i And the first comment on https://plus.google.com/115250422803614415116/posts/KygiWsQc...

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The terminal is a power-user feature. Unfortunately, there's too much fragile nonsense undergirding Linux to be able to do away with the CLI in the default install right now.

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There is a profoundly large number of people that prefer the CLI in every way shape or form for 99% of their computing needs.

They are the most absurdly productive and effective computer users I know and the most highly competent.

They can deal with thing abstractly and don't need to spatially visualize every type of manipulation on the screen.

The CLI allows you to create tiny on the fly programs, slicing and dicing small tools to do really useful things.

There is absolutely no way to do it quite as fast if you have to artistically draw the connections with a pointing device in a GUI.

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I think you are severely underestimating the number of people considering the CLI to be a feature.

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Are you disagreeing with this:

  | The terminal is a power-user feature
I don't see any comment on the number of power users out there. Most of the people on this forum would probably be considered power users.

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I think you have to look at the actual market: Linux is primarily used by people who are power users; I'd go so far as to say that the vast majority of people using Linux are power users, and that the reason they switched to Linux in the first place was specifically because they were power users, and Linux catered to them better.

Now, the best software projects on Linux, ones that had previously been creating software that power users liked, and which became important at all because of the power users that switched over to using it, have apparently decided that power users are a minority segment of the overall market and that they are no longer worth optimizing for.

To make this clear: imagine if Windows, which currently is marketing itself to the "average computer user segment", a user segment that by-and-large were humans with some large subset of eyes, hands, and ears, and decided that the real money in the future was going to be branching out to take over the "any organism of any form" market.

Of course, that market has no real use for a keyboard or a mouse, as the majority of organisms don't have fingers. They can't see the screen, and they probably can't even reason in symbols. So the entire user interface starts getting converted into some kind of EM sensitive yes/no detector that is mostly useful for doing simple arithmetic.

Would this be reasonable? Would the people who currently use Windows not find this ludicrous? This analogy is obviously downright insane, but frankly I think it covers the situation here really well: the people who care about Linux are power users, so by forsaking power users they are forsaking their entire existing market segment.

For a simpler analogy, that I think also nails the core of the problem here while seeming really awkward: imagine if ALL the worlds best manufacturers of semi-trucks decided that cars were more profitable, and so decided to start marketing their products to them, not just by adding amenities but by making them less useful as semi-trucks.

So, over time, new models stop taking diesel, they force a back seat into the front, they add an optional trunk, and one they they decide to just remove the option to hitch things to the back at all. Would this be sane? This may even make sense on some kind of long-term strategy to take over the car market, but their market doesn't want a car.

Here, then: yes, I would agree with "the terminal is a power-user feature", but it is missing the point entirely to then argue that "I don't see any comment on the number of power users out there" here: claiming something is a power-user feature in order to justify its removal is indicating "small market segment", but power users are the market segment.

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How does removing functionality "put [me] in control" or "bring freedom"? It does exactly the opposite; it leaves me with less freedom and control.

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"It is designed to put you in control and bring freedom to everybody."

That mantra should not just affect the product, it should be the way the whole project functions too.

How is it freedom if they decide that a feature I use is no longer relevant, necessary, chose to remove it and don't inform me about it? It also doesn't give me control, does it?

The whole behaviour of the devs on that thread is completely in-elegant, so much for that part.

I also fail to see how that mantra excludes users that do spend a lot of time in terminals? Don't we deserve nice and elegant things and to be brought control and freedom? They explicitly state everybody, that includes us terminal mungers.

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Is it just me, or the quotation really sounds like some content-free marketing slogan?

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It is designed to put you in control

Clearly their marketing crew aren't talking to their development crew.

My favourite failure is that one of the few options left to the user is setting a default viewer for videos. A setting which it subsequently ignores.

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It's kind of ironic that a project with a non-transparent development process decides to remove transparency features in this manner.

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I'm with you. I'm not a Gnome user, nor is my terminal background (semi-)transparent. I just thought this was a great window into the attitude among the project's developers.

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I often read discussions asking for designers to get involved in open source software, but maybe some PR folks are needed as well.

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Is it me or has comments 19-24 been deleted? I'm guessing that's where the Mueller response used to be, but I don't see anything.

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I just looked at the bug again and it’s been sanitized. I commented 2 or 3 times in the linked bug to add backstory. Those comments are gone now. The attachment I added is still there.

Funny story, they banned me now because they think I submitted this HN story. I didn’t, I came here way later.

http://i.imgur.com/wCTh0MZ.png

Makes you think, doesn’t it? (The warnings refer to another bug a few months ago, where I tried to make another developer explain his removals, and good discussion and a full blog post resulted. All in all a good result. But still they said I was out of line because I named names)

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Wow... that is so weak.

Their attitude makes me want to switch to another desktop even more so that the software itself.

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> to add backstory.

Didn't you accuse them of intentionally mixing up commits to make the changes hard to reverse? Calling that adding backstory is dishonest and the comment was entirely inappropriate.

(Sincere apologies if I am mis-attributing this comment to you.)

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Well, I added backstory, which extended two years before this unnecessary public outrage event. People were asking questions about where the code went. I explained there was no clear single commit and how to find where it was removed.

And then I overstepped and deduced that this may be assumed to be intentional, condering the backstory.

You might say that was inappropriate and I was banned with justification. But I’m a human too and this lack of proper communication frustrates me to no end. If the developer in question can be said to have a breaking point, I have one too.

None of this would have happened if the involved parties had a better standard of communication and of handling matters.

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I empathize with your position, but I don't think it is fair to paint such a negative picture when the reality is, at worst, much less offensive.

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It's like a North Korea of development. Any dissent, real or imaginary, and you're gone.

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More like 1984. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

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Mueller wasn't saying that it wasn't done intentionally. He was saying not to assume that its removal had been maliciously hidden.

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[deleted]

‘this’ refers to hiding the removal, not the removal itself.

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I stand corrected. However, Tobias Wolf shows that it was indeed intentional. Which makes sense to me as an outside observer, because if it wasn't intentional then why close it pertly as WONTFIX, why not just come out and say that this feature was scheduled to be removed?

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It is obvious that the removal of the feature was intentional. This easily justifies closing a bug as WONTFIX. Whether or not this was intentionally done in a particularly nasty/hidden way is not obvious, and while the commenter claimed that it was intentional, there is little proof, and even if there was proof, it wouldn’t change anything, hence why he was pointed at the CoC.

Am I really defending the GNOME project now? ó.Ò

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And this is why I haven't been running gnome since 2.2

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Stuff like this seems to be endemic to the Gnome project. It helps explain the lack of direction the project has taken in the past 2 years. Gnome has suffered greatly in many ways because of this.

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Past two years? Gnome has been messed up beyond belief for much longer than that. I used to strongly support Gnome, but these days I'm just happy Canonical largely do their own thing with Ubuntu (for now they happen to do stuff that gives me a better environment than Gnome, but I'm ready to jump if they start doing stupid stuff too).

Gnome is quickly making themselves obsolete.

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A friend of mine works on gnome, and I asked him about it. The actual explanation for this is a lot more reasonable:

"Him: OK, I figured out what happened. It wasn't ideal in terms of commits. So, we have an old configuration system GConf, and we replaced it with our new one, GSettings, for N reasons. GSettings was missing a feature for gnome-terminal to implement, so it went without GSettings for a long time, until the 3.8 cycle, when we ported it over with a workaround. The port wasn't 100% complete, so it landed with the intention of adding feature parity, like with terminal transparency support.

However, after asking our team, we decided it wasn't worth it keeping the support code around for terminal transparency, and dropped it.

It's an unfortunate thing that happened where the reasoning wasn't relayed entirely in commit messages, and you're right -- it was dropped in a seemingly unrelated commit. But that's after intentions changed -- a broken port to new tech with the intention to fix it, then that changed, and thus it got dropped under the guise of "Remove dead code"

me: fair enough. so the only wrongdoing really was persch's response.

Him: Yeah. So, it turns out that he was just tired. That was the 7th or 8th bug report about it, and he didn't feel like explaining it again."

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So, the moral of this story is "communicate clearly the first time or you're going to end up having to communicate clearly about seven or eight times."

That said, I don't understand why he felt he had to keep explaining it. He could have just copied and pasted the answer or closed the bug as a duplicate of the original one that reported the bug. In the original he could have posted a kind explanation about it, and linked to it from the duplicates that followed.

I understand what it's like to get tired and short tempered. I used to moderate an online community primarily of middle schoolers and high schoolers. But ultimately, you end up hurting the community you're supporting more by not doing things The Right Way™ the first time around. You hurt it even further when you fail to acknowledge that you're tired, short tempered, and should probably just go to bed and deal with it in the morning.

Maybe I just expect adults to behave like adults, but "he didn't feel like explaining it again" doesn't float with me as a valid justification for how he handled the issue. It would have taken a comment and a link to deal with it the correct way. Live and learn, sure, but the attitude reflected in his response appears (to me, at least, with my limited visibility) to be reflective of a systemic attitude surrounding GNOME development. And that's no good.

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I was going to recommend "closing as a dupe" as well. One nice thing about that is it makes it very easy to see which bugs are causing anguish with the users.

Also it makes it clear which single point of discussion contains the rationale for the changes so that the developer doesn't have to re-explain (something to which I'm sensitive myself, having been on the dev end of changes like this).

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Close-as-duplicate is the right answer, though there's a special place in hell for people who close-as-dupe without referring to which ticket is the dupe. In my previous role as a software tester, there'd be all sorts of tickets closed-as-dupe, yet I couldn't find them. Turns out that they had no common search terms and were (usually) not actually dupes, just that the coders didn't want to think too hard on the issue. I'm fine with "won't fix" or pushing to backlog, but let me see what the dupe is.

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I'm mostly used to the equivalent functionality in Launchpad, but my impression is that most bug trackers have a special "duplicate of bug N" closing reason that requires a link to another bug.

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I just searched for a few different mutations of the phrase "background transparency" in their bugzilla and didn't see any. I was expecting this to be a case of an end user not taking the time to see if their issue was already in the bug tracker, but if it's in there, it's hard to find. If there were really multiple bug reports (which I'm not saying there weren't) then bugzilla has a pretty bad search feature.

It's a pretty big problem when bug trackers are exposed to a group of non-technical users. Stackoverflow has a nice feature where it does a real time search of existing questions as you type yours in to prevent duplicates. I wish that was a considered a must-have feature of bug trackers.

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You have to use an advanced search to find NOTABUG, WONTFIX, and DUPLICATE and similar bugs. Otherwise you turn up empty. There’s even more discussion in the other bugs. For some reason they didn’t dup all those bugs consistently. Maybe that would’ve lead to a criticla mass. But who knows why not.

[List of bugs mentioning problems related to background transparency](https://bugzilla.gnome.org/buglist.cgi?product=gnome-termina...)

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So if it's a duplicate bug report, mark it as such. Do just type in "No." as your answer and close as WONTFIX. Point the reporter back to the original bug!

How is that hard to do?

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You might be surprised what's hard to do, depending on what condition you happen to be in.

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For example, you might have a gunshot wound and are trying to make a tourniquet while you type. Did you ever consider that?

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Or you could be trying to thread a needle while overdosing on PCP.

The possibilities are endless! :D

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I find it interesting that you use the word 'guise' in a post defending the code removal. There is still no explanation for the removal except for "wasn't worth it", which is pretty lacking by itself.

And the way you resolve a repeated bug report is to link it to the last one and close-duplicate. You don't even need to respond at all.

In short: What you've explained is more reasonable but it's still opaque and unhelpful; someone involved should summarize why it was removed and if it could be rewritten and put back in.

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I'm that friend. I said to Jonanin: "If you want to know exactly, it's a lot of very, very tricky code that's easy to get wrong, hard to get right, and even when it looks like it's working, there's a large perf cost if it's not 100% right.", but it seems he didn't paste that part of the chatlog.

I can't speak for why Christian Perch spoke the way he did, but he knows that he shouldn't do it anymore.

So, let's go into more details. There are a few ways to get real transparency for windows under X.

First of all, there's _NET_WM_OPACITY which is handled by the compositor window manager, and that's the replacement workaround suggested, but some think it's not appropriate enough. Fine.

Second, there's "psuedotransparency", which is expensive on a modern system. Basically, you copy parts of the root window, excluding your window, and then paint it under your window. Every time some other window updates, you need to re-fetch contents. This is wasteful, but it's how transparent terminals were implemented in the 80s. To implement it, there's a bunch of MMX (yes, MMX) code that's been copy/pasted to every project. The only existing program that uses pseudotransparency that's still maintained is XChat/HexChat.

Third, there's RGBA visuals, which require a compositing window manager. The issue here is that the RGBA visual isn't always around: it's dependent on your window being redirected to an off-screen pixmap. If the compositing WM restarts, or you close down the compositing WM and start up a traditional WM, or close down the traditional WM and start up a compositing WM, you have to basically close your window and re-open it. This is racy and bad to do at WM startup time, and accounts for a few bugs/crashes in the WM or in gnome-terminal. Furthermore, closing and restarting the window means that the new window is now on top of the stack whenever you restart the WM.

It's really ugly behavior all around, and we did an informal poll and found that almost nobody was using transparent terminals, and decided to drop the code.

X just isn't meant for modern graphics.

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  | First of all, there's _NET_WM_OPACITY which is
  | handled by the compositor window manager, and that's
  | the replacement workaround suggested, but some
  | think it's not appropriate enough. Fine.
This is the part that I don't understand. The whole point of 'terminal transparency' is to make the background transparent while leaving the text opaque. This 'workaround' makes everything transparent, which defeats the purpose of leaving the text readable.

I don't personally use terminal transparency, but it does not seem logical that someone could see _NET_WM_OPACITY as a replacement for this. This seems like a really weak (and poorly thought out) attempt to 'throw a bone' to the people that want the feature that's being removed.

  Sure, we're removing the NY strip steak from our menu,
  but there's always the hamburger, that has beef in it
  too. You can even add steaksauce to the burger!

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I didn't think that through 100%. You're absolutely right.

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By the way. Ubuntu was using transparent background by default [1].

So it’s fair to say that at bare minimum tens of thousands of people were using this code path.

[1] https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=692609#c2

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I think it would be reasonable to start requiring a compositor for transparency, if it simplifies the code.

That way we can have our cake and eat it - most of the time if you don't have a compositor then transparency doesn't make sense anyway (performance is terrible) - instances include VNC.

I'd certainly be happy with this solution.

(Speaking as a transparent gnome terminal user).

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That's what we did with Konsole for KDE 4. KWin integrated compositing with a software fallback in case GL wasn't available, so there was simply no need to maintain the KDE 3.5-era fake transparency.

Nowadays GNOME Shell simply requires a compositor, or so I thought, so it seems like you could assume one is present.

The one issue is supporting the case of running gnome-terminal from non-GNOME environments that also don't have a compositor, but I think it would be fair to give up entirely on supporting that use case.

However you might still want to handle the case of the compositor crashing (I think one of the dev's comments in this thread mentioned that), which is admittedly going to be annoying since it involves dealing with X.

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We'd love to do that, but sometimes it doesn't work that way. If you restart the compositor, in order to not crash, you need to unmap and remap your window with a different visual. So the code needs to be there anywhere if your compositor WM doesn't crash.

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From what I’ve read on another bug from 2011 ARGB Visual could also just stay on even without a compositor.

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You forgot to mention that the ARGB Visual type was working well enough for years, ever since xcompmgr was around, all trough compiz and GS.

And the GS → metacity → GS cycle was not crashy here at all. It worked.

And now you’re getting into Wayland territory. All the more reason to make sure that windows with alpha maps work.

You can keep the old code around in the meantime.

Also, making a poll in your 50 people IRC channel is not a very meaningful sample size is it?

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  | Also, making a poll in your 50 people IRC channel
  | is not a very meaningful sample size is it?
They just polled the IRC channel? Really? That just seems like the definition of a 'circle jerk.' Was the assumption that all or a majority of users technical enough to use the terminal would be in the IRC channel?

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> Really?

No idea. That’s what I derive from "we had an informal poll". Since they hang out on IRC that is probably where it happened.

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The old code didn't work after the port to GSettings. It crashed in weird places. That's why it was "#if 0"'d around in the GSettings port commit. As I said, the original intention was to fix it, but minds were changed.

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> but minds were changed.

So what does it take to make the minds change back again?

When I stare at opaque terminals all day I get severely perceptually understimulated to the point that I fear becoming an automaton.

But with some sliding animations and a bit of flower poking through it soothes my nerves.

Is that not enough reason?

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I can’t see how Gsettings has anything to do with opacity and the compositor.

Perhaps separating these things out in different commits would’ve been smarter to begin with.

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With hindsight, yes, we'd love to do things differently. Saying "you should have done" doesn't really help the current situation here.

The gsettings port broke stuff and reintroduced problems. It was long overdue. This means that cutting features to get things out of the door might happen.

If I had to guess without debugging, I might guess that the 'changed' signals were firing at different times in comparison to when the slider was being adjusted that means that changing the background wasn't ordered 100% correct. The code stems back to 1996 -- it's possible that assumptions like these are being made.

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I can’t see how Gsettings has anything to do with opacity and the compositor.

You are implying that because you don't know about the connection, there must not be one?

Perhaps separating these things out in different commits would’ve been smarter to begin with.

20/20 hindsight criticism from someone watching from the sidelines? Helpful.

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Only looking for explanations. Really super grateful that Jasper_ added some, but it’s still not entirely clear.

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Your "informal poll" evidently didn't include the userbase.

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> However, after asking our team, we decided it wasn't worth it keeping the support code around for terminal transparency, and dropped it.

Um, isn't this all handled by VTE?

And as a Gnome project, does this mean transparency will eventually be removed from VTE? I know of about 20 VTE-derived terminals that will not be pleased to hear this.

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It's the attitude more than the bug. People (and to a greater extent Developers) don't always have the greatest grasp on language. And this DOES NOT mean everything needs to be 'sugar coated'.

Want something removed? Create a definition of when you should activley remove something. Like this:

Candidates for feature removal of (SYSTEM)

* Does not impact how the application can be used

* Requires manual testing

* Is greater than 1% of the size of the application, or greater than 500 lines of code

If X meets all three candidates it's up for removal. Any bug created can be referred directly to this list.

There. You don't have to come out and say "We're terribly sorry, but unfortunately we've decided to remove this feature because of blah blah blah" and you don't have to just say "No.". Instead you can say "Removal decision is based on (INSERT LINK TO ABOVE), if you disagree (INSERT ACTION TO CHALLENGE)".

What people want is something that gives the impression of a uniform set of decisions. They don't want to feel that people/developers are just being petty dictators.

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It's perhaps telling that you believe the issue here is that the developers didn't say it nicely enough or have some authoritative rule to fall back on. Many developers and systems guys think like this.

The issue many developers have is not with language, it's interacting with other human beings. And the issue here is that the developers don't communicate with their user base. There is no public discussion, poll, or even a heads up. When a user asked about it, he was effectively told, "There will be no communication about this change."

Advising users, no matter how technical they are, to dig through system internals or devote the time and energy to become core contributors of Gnome so they can have the blessed power to ask that something they depend on not be removed for "maintainability" (really, someone's OCD sense of elegance) is actively hostile to those users.

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There is no public discussion, poll, or even a heads up. When a user asked about it, he was effectively told, "There will be no communication about this change."

Although there is an IRC channel, a discussion mailing list, and mentioned elsewhere in this comments page, there was a poll of some sort. And half a dozen duplicate bug reports with comments already in bugzilla.

Advising users, no matter how technical they are, to dig through system internals or devote the time and energy to become core contributors of Gnome so they can have the blessed power to ask that something they depend on not be removed for "maintainability" (really, someone's OCD sense of elegance) is actively hostile to those users.

Stuff changes, you can't absolve yourself of the need to deal with it changing just by waving the 'user' or 'busy' cards. If you depend on a feature, don't just go moving entirely to a new version with no way to revert, without testing that the feature is still there. What if it was present, but had a bug and didn't work on your system? Would you go to the developers and demand they consult you before having bugs because you depend on it?

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> there was a poll of some sort

As chris_wot said,

> Your "informal poll" evidently didn't include the userbase.

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Conversely, it's the developers' time and energy. If the people requesting the feature care enough, they should go through the hoops necessary to (edit: learn how to code and) become part of the core team.

For this _particular_ feature, it's a "rampant layering violation" -- translucent windows have been available in compositing window managers (Compiz, and whatever that thing that KDE uses) for at least three or four years.

Assuming these users have a fast enough CPU/GPU, they can configure the desired behaviour using the ccsm graphical tool.

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I would argue your solution is exactly backwards.

The job of the compositor is to draw a window how it asks to be drawn. The window in question is extending that choice to the user: "how do you want me to look." It then tells the compositor to draw it in that fashion. I would argue that this is the correct place for this choice.

If you use the compositor to control transparency, what you have is the window asking to be drawn in a certain way and the compositor saying "Eh, you'd look way better at 50% opacity". If it's the user controlling this it's even worse. Now they have to be able to write a regular expression on certain window classes for each application they want to modify, and have far less granularity in how the window is modified.

The compositor exists to faithfully draw windows and place them on the screen according to what is requested. Only in exceptional cases should it be asked to do weird things with certain windows.

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Do you also then accept that it is okay for the window in question to have access to the bitmap data drawn in other windows in order to tell the compositor "how I want to look"?

I'm not sure how else you expect the window to get the data for the background (i.e. root window) (and/or other windows, as applicable) in order to make a transparent background.

Edit: Although if it specified the background with an alpha channel, I suppose I guess it would be okay.

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That is not a valid workaround as it applies transparency to the text as well, not just the background.

I see no "rampant layering violation" here as the goal is not a transparent window, but rather a transparent background, big difference.

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Hm, I see your point.

But I still think that accessing the data of other windows to draw a transparent background is a great deal of complexity for a terminal emulator -- AFAICT it means the terminal emulator has to be innately aware of the innards of the graphics system it's drawing to.

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The app doesn't need to be aware of the content under the widget it wants to have an alpha value < 1.0. Its the job of the compositor to render the app's content as provided, regardless of what is over or under it, that is what it exists to do.

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If you really want a feature, I agree with you. You shouldn't have to learn how to code to prevent a feature that many people are using from being removed.

Regardless, given the attitude shown in the bug, do you really believe if somebody provided a patch, it would be accepted? And do you really expect people to become core maintainers in every project they want features to not be removed from? That sounds ridiculous to me.

Gnome can decide whether to have a feature or not. But, as a very popular open source project, they should respect their users enough to gather their input and take it into consideration. At the very least, they should communicate well enough that users can make informed decisions before a feature is yanked from under them.

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To be honest, I don't believe that if someone provided a patch, it would be accepted. I also don't "expect people to become core maintainers in every project they want features to not be removed from".

But I also believe it is crazy to believe that simply using a piece of free software gives you any right to dictate the feature set of that software.

One, the freedoms granted by free software include the right to modify and redistribute code. If you want to re-add a feature, fork the code. If the community sides with you, you will become the de-facto upstream.

Two, just because a user is vocal doesn't mean his/her incentives align with those of the developer. If the developer is working in his/her own time, he might prioritize things that are important to him, like, say, porting the terminal emulator to Wayland, or keeping only features s/he cares about. Or, perhaps the developer is being influenced by an external body or benevolent dictator.

I also find your "users can make informed decisions before a feature is yanked from under them" comment confusing. Presumably a user could always downgrade the package, or use source control to build an older version, if the missing feature is indeed mission-critical. If this risk is really unacceptable, they can make an informed decision to not upgrade, or to purchase a support contract.

It seems to me that the developer's communication skills are reasonably adequate, so I don't object to continuing to use gnome-terminal. I assume that the people who approved them becoming a developer would feel that way too.

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> If the people requesting the feature care enough, they should go through the hoops necessary to (edit: learn how to code and) become part of the core team.

Why? so they can argue will fellow core devs?

> For this _particular_ feature, it's a "rampant layering violation" -- translucent windows have been available in compositing window managers (Compiz, and whatever that thing that KDE uses) for at least three or four years.

NOPE. Setting the transparency by compiz would make the whole window transparent, including the text, which makes the transparency useless. You need the background to be (semi) transparent, and the text to be fully opaque. This is a non-solution.

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> Why? so they can argue will fellow core devs?

So they can be an active participant in the decision-making process. Right now, they're powerless -- like serfs or peasants.

> You need the background to be (semi) transparent, and the text to be fully opaque.

I will admit that I didn't notice this distinction before -- I found the transparency too visually distracting to leave it turned on. I'll admit I erred here.

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It bothers me that you consider it reasonable for the gnome developers to not care about the gnome users because the users don't contribute code. The only reason software exists is to be used. Without users, gnome has no reason for existing. Without users gnome developers have no reason for contributing. As a developer i would never treat my users with that little respect, because they are literally the only reason my code has value.

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It bothers me that you think the opinion of the people in the original bug report is representative of all users.

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That's like saying it's a rampant layering violation for a .png to have an alpha channel. It's the job of the layer to say what it covers and what it doesn't cover.

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The impression I had the last time I used this feature wasn't that it used RGBA -- if that was all that it was, then I'd expect you'd be able to set a transparent background with a gconf value or something.

What I recall was that it would somehow grab the bitmap of the area behind the window, and then draw that partially transparent as part of its own background. The way you could tell this was happening was to use a asymmetric image (like, a flower or some landscape photo) and notice the background "sticking" as you drag the terminal window around.

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That might be a fallback mode, but if it's the only mode then yes it's a problem but simply removing it isn't a very good solution.

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If accurate, this comment by Tobias Wolf is the craziest part: https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=698544#c19

"He hid the removal among very unrelated changes (gtk to gsettings switch) and spread the rmeoval across more than one commit. Such that you cannot easily revert it. I strongly assume this was done intentionally."

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It can be reasonable to #if 0 a block of tricky code during a refactoring, just so that you can quickly cross the bridge to a working state. But removing it at that stage will make it impossible for the VCS to track changes to that piece of code, which makes it much harder to restore the functionality afterwards.

The RAID/LVM removal from Palimpsest followed a similar pattern (code deleted during a rewrite of an underlying library), but the developer was willing to work on reinstating it. Here we don't really know what Persch thinks — though damn the users is a tempting guess.

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It is stated in the previous talk he mentionned that removal of that feature was planned. In they eye of 'Persch' this is not a bug, it is an improvement to GNOME.

It's not a bug, it is the removal of a feature. Is a bug tracker really the most appropriate place to discuss in which direction a software is to go ?

'No' and a link to the relevant reason and workaround should be fine in that case but apparently that had already been discussed before (and a reason was given).

I don't know if removing it through so much commits is good practice but if the feature was to go it doesn't make a difference in the end, he sculpts his piece of the software any way he likes it as long as it's feeature oriented, right ?

Note: I have no advice on wether that feature should have been removed or not in the first place.

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Actually I think the line between bugs and new features is thin enough so everything can go to the bug tracker. They're both changes that need to be made, tracked, to get to a better state.

Also, inevitably some people in good faith will believe they find a bug when something doesn't work the way they expect it to behave. You can't expect everyone to follow all discussions about features getting cut, so a link to whatever discussion there was (if ever) would have been appropriate.

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Wouldn't that be a problem for large projects such as gnome or firefox ? Devs would have to spend some precious time curating the bug tracker issues and explaining decisions and educating users instead of using the bug tracker for its intended use: to track bug.

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Would? I'm not sure about gnome but firefox definitely has feature requests and planned features sitting in its tracker, with some of these created by the devs themselves for coordination.

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Well... I am naive about collaborative software development :)

Do users post to the firefox bug tracker when features are removed like in the gnome case ? How is it handled ?

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Yep. There's one that bit me recently, where Esc key was previously able to stop GIF animations, and was very handy.

Apparently, this behaviour was considered a bug, if a very long-lived one. So a recent update 'fixed' that behaviour, although the justification is stronger there, and the workaround (SuperStop addon[2]) is actually useful, although still on a different keybind (Shift-Esc)

[1] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=825486

[2] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/superstop/

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Well, the point I suppose is the person filing the issue thought it was a bug. Apparently the removal didn't make any release notes, so why believe otherwise?

The reason you have these discussions on the issue tracker is so when the next person comes along to file the issue, he/she now has the relevant context. Randomly guessing at which group to search and post to hardly helps in discovery. If you don't want discussion, disable the comments. But that's hardly conducive to good community teamwork.

And I'm really not aware of any project that only uses a "bug tracker." They almost all track issues, ranging anywhere from bugs to new feature requests. Maybe Gnome is different in this regard, but I don't think it's crazy for someone to believe otherwise. Redirecting conversation smacks of a "bugger off" mentality.

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By "talk" you mean the link to the "prefs redesign" bug, right? That bug was a good place to discuss which way the redesign would go, but Persch had already decided and made a branch to remove the code.

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Yes, that "talk".

I might be naive about collaborative software development or the way gnome dev handle things but I think bugtrackers should be about bugs and technicalities, not feature approval or UX discussion if user feedback is wanted otherwise everything that a given user finds annoying would be considered a "bug" and drama would occurs.

This "talk" is more shocking in my opinion than the one that made the headline.

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> 'No' and a link to the relevant reason and workaround should be fine

Yes, the original answer is "just" missing the link. As is also the answer to the why comment.

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The comment is the craziest part, but it is because it is crazy conspiracy mongering, not because it is accurate.

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There’s no gnome-terminal mailing list. Since "bike shedding" is struck down with regularity on the bug tracker I wrote the guy directly before he made the commits.

I asked why he wants to remove the feature. He said it’s loosely connected to other features that are buggy and he doesn’t see the point of the feature anyhow. Whether I had a justification for the feature to stay.

I replied and gave him two good reasons, one of personal merit, one of technical merit.

Then nothing else.

Then I discovered that it indeed had been removed, while I was following git snapshots. So I checked the NEWS and Changelog, ReleaseNotes and git. No mention. Could’ve been temporary or unintentional.

So I wrote the guy again to ask what’s up. No reply. Then he replied with a non-answer only pointing to a FAQ entry he made the same day with a distracting workaround.

So I checked out git locally to see where the code went.

It turned out among unrelated commits where the code was #if 0’ed out only to be removed a few commits later with "delete dead code" etc.

So I wrote him again to ask why he did this. No reply.

So I downgraded to the known-good old version and waited for release time. Same story repeats with other people. Apparently nothing personal because of my tone.

So. Conspiracy or justified puzzlement about this behaviour?

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So you felt entitled to publish the personal emails you had with him?

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Olav, there were eight bugs filed and no explanation. I came back to the bugs irregularly to see wether there was anything new in terms of explanation.

Then this trainwreck happened and people were asking questions.

So I thought it worthwhile to add what I knew. I don’t think I disclosed anything personal. It was strictly technical matters relevant to the bug at hand.

So why did you ban me with a false accusation?

If anything the "removing type-ahead search from nautilus" bug should’ve taught the lesson that an information campaign works better than outright censorship.

When that bug got attention Jon McCann came in, explained, and then made a full blog post[1] to expound the directions they were taking. I still didn’t like it but I was satisfied with the explanation.

Stop digging in and realize that just slightly amending your policies and interactions with users would fix everything.

[1] http://blogs.gnome.org/mccann/2012/08/01/cross-cut/

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Sit down and let me tell you a story about Gnome of old - a very happy little linux desktop with a bunch of happy users. For nearly ten years I was a gnome user and there were many like me who looked at their DE and smiled because it was good. but as time progressed, the desktop ecosystem got stale and most of the other DEs were unchanged in any noticeable way for more than ten years because people were happy enough.... then people started talking and decided that this year or next was the YEAR OF THE LINUX DESKTOP and something had to change to make it so.

So the gnome developers had a plan. "Linux needs a desktop for all of these people who don't use linux". We need to build something for the non-users.... and the other developers looked at each other and agreed. "YES! Let's throw away our current user base and focus on the users we don't have". The developers were very happy with themselves.

We can focus on tablets and touch... everything can be round and safe and nobody will be able to change anything because they will simply love our environment so much.

and since that sad day, the gnome developers pretended that nobody actually uses gnome and everybody who did were less than human. They waited for the billions of people on the planet that would really really love using gnome once they find it.

So I left..

Classic gnome developers and their little man syndrome.

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Here is my theory/perspective.

I, and a lot of people, are willing to spend time configuring the environment until it fits like a glove. When we have to upgrade, what we want is for that to just continue to work, but with bugs fixed.

In practice we wind up having to reconfigure to get back to the same state as before. And this makes us want to avoid upgrading. This also makes people who care not be involved in development - after all our environments are as we want them to be, and we want that to get out of our way so that we continue to work. So developers never hear from us unless something breaks. And then we're upset.

When an upgrade means getting rid of the way that we are used to working, we get unhappy. Therefore people who develop desktops do not like people like me. I can understand that. But I still do not appreciate the arrogance and condescension that I see coming from desktop developers towards people like me.

I personally have no idea why people get involved with developing desktops. It is not something that interests me. It is clear when I read what they say that they do not want anything resembling what I want.

My ideal desktop almost used to be fvwm2 - maximum real estate, multiple screens, no "helpful (mis)features" that I didn't want. The only missing feature on my wishlist is to have multiple monitors, with the monitors cycling independently through screens. But many years back Debian integrated their version of fvwm2 into Gnome, and things stopped working properly. (This was long enough ago that I no longer remember what broke - just that it did break.)

I developed a dislike of the Gnome project back then, which I've never seen anything to dissuade me from.

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No affiliation with Gnome or any desktop project here, so don't blame them if you disagree with me.

The people complaining when they're upset do not necessarily represent everybody. Actually the people who are so vocal as to post the same bug 8 times and tar the project on Hacker News with lots of misrepresentations of what happened are probably not the most helpful to the community. Let those determine the direction of a project and you will continuously add features without any technical direction until it becomes bloated, a nightmare to fix or extend, and the only tastes served are this one bitter, vocal minority that becomes your entire community.

Maybe you should buy a commercial OS and try complaining to the salesmen, see how much they will charge you to ensure that arbitrary custom feature X ends up in the next release.

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I'm fully aware of this. But the definition of a feature is "a bug with seniority".

Transparent terminals are a feature that they used to have. I've used that feature myself so that I'd be constantly looking at my daughter's happy face rather than the blank background of my many terminals. No utilitarian purpose? Perhaps. But a very real psychological one!

In fact this is valuable enough to people who spend time in terminals that even commercial OSs that you disparage, like OS X, have realized this is a valuable feature to include. So have the providers of other terminals.

But Gnome developers don't see things this way. They have a theory of what is utilitarian for their users, and that is the direction that they pursue. In the process they consistently ignore actual feedback from actual users, and completely devalue the psychological needs of their own users. This is a great attitude if you are designing a jail. Not so great if you are designing something for humans.

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The craziness started more than 10 years ago when Havoc Pennington declared himself as the "usability expert" by writing this article:

http://www106.pair.com/rhp/free-software-ui.html

Excerpt:

> On hearing that preferences have a cost, some people get upset that we're going to remove every preference, or that their favorite one is gone, or whatever.

Sometimes I think the problem with Gnome is that the cost for them to do anything is just too high, due to bad architecture. Thus they always opt to do less. This is in contrast with KDE's approach, where they strive to improve the architecture, so that it is easier to do more.

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Regarding the removal itself, this is an unfortunate trend that, as far as I'm aware, started in the last couple years with Firefox and Chrome inappropriately and unapologetically removing features and options (and changing standard behavior like the image view background color) that had previously been present and in use. I don't think it's really curable, as it always seems to be the result of inconsiderate people having too much sway over what gets pulled/committed, and that's just a risk of open source.

The dev's attitude here is also shit... if you're not willing to reasonably address valid concerns related to decisions you've made that were obviously going to affect regular users, you have no place making those decisions and forcing them on others in the first place.

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There are a couple of problems at play here.

The first one is that it become fashonable to remove features, and this is not just an open source trend, instead of making softwre that fills a ninche, everybody is trying to build the same 10% of the features that 80% of the people use 90% of the time. (And let's forget that those other 10% of the time are still important for 100% of the people, ok?)

Another problem is that unless the user develops it, open source development is not user oriented... Well, proprietary software development isn't either, (only softwre developed in-house is really made for you) and both will cut costs in places you don't like sometimes.

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The trend towards a more concise feature set is I suppose a consequence of open source software maturing from "hackerware" to proper, widely used software. The moment your settings screen would benefit from a search functionality, you should reconsider "doing it all". Maybe they want to concentrate on a very basic Terminal solution, leaving more complex use cases and features to other implementations.

At the same time: The reaction of the developer and they way it was done was pretty unprofessional. When redesigning a settings dialog and dropping a couple of 'em in the process, a proper changelog-entry would be the least.

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This is a terminal we are talking about, its never going to be widely used. It makes sense to simplify things like the file browser, but a terminal?

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Everyone who deliberately chooses linux is also a terminal user. I cannot imagine someone choosing linux and then never using the terminal. It is by far the most widely used program on the system.

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By that logic, everyone who uses linux is a power user who will never be confused, there is no need to remove any features in the first place. (btw, i think that's true but gnome people don't get it)

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Every mainstream shell adds a search box to its settings screen. I love the ones in Windows and OS X. They're very good.

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The moment your settings screen would benefit from a search functionality, you should reconsider "doing it all".

Have you seen the "GodMode" hack in Windows 7? It's really a nice counterexample. Sometimes, verbose flat interfaces are just what the doctor/user ordered.

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Veteran users of Gnome will recall the screensaver kerfuffle. IIRC, that preceded these browsers somewhat. In fact, Chrome didn't even exist at that time.

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Wasn’t Gnome 2 already an attempt to clean up/remove features that had cropped into Gnome 1? I recall ‘veteran users of Gnome’ complaining about the lack of settings/options back in 2005.

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Is it me or linux desktop was better 5 years ago?

The ui was always inconsistent and ugly (e.g. Gnome icons are a joke), but it was fast and had some cool features the competition implemented years later.

Now its behind the competition, terribly slow and still inconsistent and ugly.

Sorry devs, I don't mean to understate your work, but sometimes criticism is needed to help evolution and improvement.

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Part of the problem, I think, is that projects like Gnome don't seem to have clear goals, targets or ambitions.

In the beginning, Linux desktops were incomplete, but they were thriving, developers all keen to add new stuff and catch up with Windows/Mac. And naturally, most of it ended up as almost-copies of other OS's functionality, but with plenty of unique stuff in there too.

But then, the desktops slowly became closer and closer to 'feature complete'. So where do you go from there? It seems to me that Gnome has become a 'change for the sake of change' project. Maintaining and making incremental improvements to a desktop isn't that interesting for developers, I guess. So they strike out in all different directions, at the expense of existing users. But there doesn't seem to be any goal any longer in what they are doing. Certainly I can't find anything obvious on their website!

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"The linux desktop" is not a meaningful phrase. There are many and Gnome is no longer as widespread a default as it used to be.

"The competition" have just screwed the pooch with Win 8 as well. I'm not an Apple user so you'll have to tell me how they're doing.

So... no.

I personally use XFCE, which is fast, pretty, fairly lightweight and doesn't seem to want to force me to change how I work. In Xubuntu, or on debian with a bit of effort and a couple of themes installed, it's a good looking, slick interface. If you want a decent linux desktop experience it's worth a try.

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> "The linux desktop" is not a meaningful phrase.

Sure it is. It's an umbrella term for Gnome, KDE, etc.

> "The competition" have just screwed the pooch with Win 8 as well.

Nah. Not enough that people are leaving it in great numbers. People who want a Windows 7 experience download Pokki or Start8.

> I'm not an Apple user so you'll have to tell me how they're doing.

As a Mac user, I'm perfectly happy with Mac OS X, out of the box. Haven't upgraded to Mountain Lion yet, though.

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On the Win 8 subject - needing 3rd party downloads to fix the borked desktop is very much screwing the pooch, especially when the vast majority of your users are entry level and have no idea what a desktop extension even is. The 8.1 climbdown is further evidence of cockup. Not to mention the serious analysis in the mainstream press suggesting that win 8 has actually depressed the pc market. So yeah.

The point is there is no single linux desktop and the OP seemed only to be talking about gnome.

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On the Win 8 subject - needing 3rd party downloads to fix the borked desktop is very much screwing the pooch

Sure, but who cares? Apparently not enough people, because nobody is leaving. While their position is certainly precarious in other areas, Microsoft's dominance on the desktop is pretty hard to excuse away; it seems to me that they could have another three or four missteps of this magnitude and few people would consider leaving even then. Their primary competition is their own operating system, and that's a great place to be.

The point is there is no single linux desktop and the OP seemed only to be talking about gnome.

There's no "single Windows desktop", either; stuff like LiteStep has existed forever. But when people say "Windows", they don't mean LiteStep. Which isn't to say the usage numbers for non-GNOME/Unity DEs are that dire--from what I can see, they're fairly dire but not that dire--but for a majority of Linux users, GNOME and GNOME-y things are the Linux desktop.

Or, put another way: You knew what he meant. He knew what he meant. Does being That Guy help anything?

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>> Sure, but who cares? Apparently not enough people, because nobody is leaving.

Did you read the part where the whole PC market is being depressed by Win 8? Either way this conversation was not about numbers - linux people probably aren't leaving because gnome's changing either.

>> While their position is certainly precarious in other areas, Microsoft's dominance on the desktop is pretty hard to excuse away; it seems to me that they could have another three or four missteps of this magnitude and few people would consider leaving even then.

This is absolutely nothing to do with the conversation at hand or the point I was trying to make! Of course they're not going to lose dominance anytime soon, you'd have to be a moron to think otherwise! The fact is that they've made missteps that negatively affect the desktop experience compared to previous iterations, that's the beginning and end of it!

>> There's no "single Windows desktop", either

Umm, yeah, there's the one Microsoft ship and don't really allow you to change very much, or. That is the windows desktop. That you can over-install third party bits and pieces is not really the same thing as the myriad of different desktop environments in Linux.

>> for a majority of Linux users, GNOME and GNOME-y things are the Linux desktop.

And I'd be surprised if that continues, and it still doesn't mean there's a single linux desktop, nor that talking about 'the ui' and then referencing Gnome icons is particularly useful.

>> Or, put another way: You knew what he meant. He knew what he meant.

Yeah, I know he meant Gnome, because that's all he talks about. If he did mean the umbrella term then it's not meaningful to talk about whether a highly disparate set of projects have got worse.

>> Does being That Guy help anything?

I don't know, why do you feel the need to be that guy and argue against a whole bunch of stuff I didn't even say?

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I agree regarding the trajectory of the KDE and GNOME projects, but XFCE has made huge strides in the past five years and stands as a great model of evolutionary rather than revolutionary development (to borrow from Nimzowitsch's vocabulary). It is a very usable, attractive desktop environment. It even has a QuickSilver-like tool built-in these days (Alt-F3).

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"[L]inux desktop" is not a single thing. There are many different desktop options. What ships with the default Ubuntu is but one of them.

For example, I'm using the Trinity version of KDE 3.5. Works great for me.

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I personally feel all this "usability nightmare" started with Ubuntu Unity and GNOME 3. I'd suggest you to check out MATE (a fork of GNOME 2) and Cinnamon desktop environments.

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I agree that current UIs are inconsistent and ugly, but I would argue against that ~2005-2008 UIs were inconsistent and ugly. The Gnome icons were cartoonish, yes, but they were consistent AND informative.

If you remember using Ubuntu 8.04 (perhaps the greatest Ubuntu release of all time), you'll remember it being VERY consistent, fast, and excellent all-around.

I loved it so much, that out of nostalgia I had to VirtualBox it just to bring back the memories.

Really, it was OS perfection. No other operating system comes close to the intuition, the pure ease that 8.04 had.

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Oddly enough, I still have the Hardy Heron wallpaper on my current Debian Wheezy xfce4 based desktop.

CentOS 5.9 is a close analogue and CentOS 6.4 can be themed appropriately.

Interface Design Reflection: Go and watch a string quartet playing. Reflect on the 'usability' of a couple of violins, a viola and a cello. Heidegger may have had a point.

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I agree. The Tron-esque modern UIs look like they come from some Android theme from XDA. Earlier Gnome revisions were good looking, with colour cues, and a sort of homogeneity.

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I don't know about 'better', but I remember it being a lot more fun to use various Linux desktops 5 years ago.

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GNOME has been plagued with terrible maintainers and even worse management that doesn't get rid of them immediately, leading to a drastic erosion of the brand value it acquired during GNOME 2.

In any sensible project Mr Christian Persch would be stripped of all his commit privileges immediately, but in GNOME there is no such oversight.

The root issue is probably that most GNOME people are employed by Red Hat, but Red Hat doesn't really care about the consumer desktop GNOME is targeted for because they focus on servers and enterprise.

As a result, these guys are paid to work on GNOME and thus have plenty of time to influence it, but are left without any management, which results in these guys directing the project according to their own whims, with total disregard for users.

Over time, this culture eventually influenced even people like Persch which appear to be independent maintainers.

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"The root issue is probably that most GNOME people are employed by Red Hat, but Red Hat doesn't really care about the consumer desktop GNOME is targeted for because they focus on servers and enterprise."

Well, thanks to Redhat for paying the wages because we need developers working on desktops.

In my experience, corporate clients are conservative (blue shirt, suit, pocket protectors). Many corporate clients will license Redhat servers and perhaps use CentOS on the clients.

Can you imagine how a demonstration of Gnome 3.x would go with those kinds of people? I suspect xfce4 will be available as an option in RHEL 7.

-----


I said "No." once, but it was in a code review, and there was a lot of context involved. It generated a pretty big backlash until I went to the trouble of explaining all of it. In retrospect, it worked out perfectly, because without the backlash, people might not have realized what had been going on.

I was responsible for keeping a LAMP stack running which ran a bunch of tests written by various other people in the larger department. Usually the benchmark would be C++, and that would be kicked off by a shell script, and that shell script would be kicked off by a Python program. Obviously this is pretty crazy already, but this one guy found a way to make it worse.

One day I noticed this machine was running out of disk space. It was also getting bogged down and was starting to swap since something was chewing CPU and memory. I found a benchmark program (one of the C++ binaries) running, and since it never shut down properly, it kept these giant log files open. Since they were still open, the log rotator couldn't reclaim the space.

I filed a bug with the test owner: please make this test not leave these processes behind. He didn't seem to know how, so I just said that you should make sure you've stopped anything you started. He didn't know how to do that either and booked an appointment in my calendar to see me in person (yes, really).

On that day, we chatted, and I told him that syscalls like fork() return the PID of what you started. You can just hang onto it and whack it later. If that process doesn't fork itself to become a daemon (which this one didn't), odds are it will be the value you want when the time comes. If it does fork or whatever, you might be able to get something done with process groups. I had to explain fork, kill, setpgrp, setsid and all of that to someone who was supposedly employed as a systems tester.

A couple of days later, he sent me a proposal for a fix. It amounted to this:

    ps aux | grep bin_name | grep -v grep | awk ... | xargs kill -9
I should point out that this machine would usually run multiple instances of the same test on different machines at the same time. They'd all have the same bin_name, and they all ran as the same user. At best, the script would kill itself. If we weren't so lucky, it would also bring down anything else which happened to match "bin_name", even if it was completely unrelated.

Even though I had shown him the low-level way to do the right thing, he fell back on this scripting monkey approach. I said that was unacceptable, and left him to figure it out.

Months passed. I'm not exaggerating here. It was something like four months later when I heard back from him. He posted a comment to the (still living) code review asking if things were okay now. I loaded it up to see what he had done.

Nothing had changed. It was the same "ps ... xargs kill -9" cruft he wrote originally. He didn't even try to change things. Maybe he was trying to sneak it past me and wanted to see if I'd forgotten, or didn't care, or what.

Well, given that his question was "is this okay now", my answer to the review was just: "no.". I was no longer interested in elaborating and spoon-feeding him.

He obviously didn't like this, because a few minutes later I had mails from both his boss and my boss saying how I needed to be more constructive and all of this.

I wasn't about to take this lying down, so I found all of our old communications where I tried to teach him how to do his own job: job control stuff fork, kill, and the like. I mentioned all of the back and forth we had and the time I had taken to explain it in person. I even dug up the example code I had written to demonstrate exactly what a session leader or process group winds up doing in practice.

I pasted all of this into the code review, making it public record for the entire company to see. The managers backed off and apologized to me.

A couple of weeks later, he disappeared into some other department.

-----


That's a nice anecdote, but it really doesn't have anything to do with the linked bug.

-----


Christian Persch replied No, which has made people angry. rachelbythebay also replied No and made people angry, but provided background to explain it. Although the circumstances seem different on the surface, I found it to be an instructive narrative.

-----


The difference here is that Rachel had extremely good reasons behind her answer, and she explained why in the bug. She wasn't a jerk, but Christian shows that he is with his response.

I've never been a big fan of jerk developers. Even Torvalds. But at least Torvalds explains why he does something.

-----


How do you know?

Aren't you still at the managers stage where you just got an email fwd to you with someone just saying no?

Or do you know the entire Christian's side of the story?

-----


You nailed it. The point of my story was that there may be more going on which isn't evident from this response. I don't agree with what's apparently happened here, but we don't have the whole story, either.

Full disclosure: I have no horse in this race. I use fluxbox and eschew all "desktop environments" on Linux.

-----


Fluxbox is my preferred fallback for the "Shit I Broke KDE" failure mode. It's highly recommended for those who just need to open Chrome and an xterm and don't need anything else fancy.

-----


That's my right-click menu in Fluxbox: Chrome or xterm.

-----


Oh I hate incompetent developers who play political game. It seems that's what they are good at.

-----


> ps aux | grep bin_name | grep -v grep | awk ... | xargs kill -9

I know this isn't the point of the story, but, friendly reminder to everyone about the existence of `killall`

-----


Please don't assume this will work on all Unixes. killall... sometimes... really kills all.

-----


Contrary to pgrep and pkill, which do the right thing everywhere (as far as I know).

-----


So basically, a junior dev came to you for help because he didn't understand how to solve the problem, you spent a lot of time showing off how much you knew about the subject but didn't actually help him solve it, then he went back and struggled on it for months, still couldn't figure it out, and finally got transferred to a different department. This sounds to me like you being unhelpful and condescending towards someone less experienced than yourself.

-----


Hardly. It was his job to resolve the issue, that's what he was employed to do. That wasn't Rachel's job, and in fact she went out of her way to explain to him how to resolve the issue.

What would you have her do? Do the fix herself? If so - phooey to you, that wasn't her job and she shouldn't have done so. If you don't think she should have done the fix herself, then the only other recourse here would be for Rachel to not give any help at all and let them struggle on themselves.

The developer attempted to push out a change that Rachel had already said wasn't acceptable, then made a massive fuss to his managers and attempted to make her look bad. Then Rachel explained, in detail, why she said no - developer got transferred due to his own incompetence. I can't feel any sympathy for that developer!

-----


Really? It sounds like he explained all of the relevant tools and APIs, and the junior dev decided he didn't actually have to learn any of that and instead could just code monkey his way through.

Basically, the junior dev sounds incredibly incompetent. Some people you just can't teach.

-----


*she

-----


You've heard of the expression about leading a horse to water, right? At some point, if the horse won't drink, you take it out back and shoot it. It's no good to you if it can't feed itself.

-----


She told him how to solve it! Was she supposed to write his code, too?

-----


This is not the first time gnome developers are doing this. The project is in a state where they just don't listen to the community and keep on doing really bad things. Its not surprising that the whole gnome 3 is a huge failure. Here is an example.

Quite some time back they removed the tree view[1] and nautilus extra panes[2]. Reason? it is not good on touch screens! So what about all the developers on normal laptops? I dont see a good future for the gnome project with all this rude behaviour.

PS: I wrote a longer blog about this sometime back. http://jaseemabid.github.io/07-11-2012/thoughts-on-gnome-3.h...

1. https://git.gnome.org/browse/nautilus/commit/?id=ef467c87753...

2. https://git.gnome.org/browse/nautilus/commit/?id=b8d5b4a7bcf...

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Personally what annoyed me was the removal of spatial features in Nautilus. Fair enough, they were not that much used, but the amount of code needed was minimal and a similar amount of code required to strip it out could also easily have made it non-invasive. As it is, I use Nautilus rarely as most Linux file managers are still primitive compared to Amiga filemanagers ca. 1990, and Nautilus is far from the top of the bunch of Linux file managers, and so I resort to the shell most of the time, but to me that took away the one redeeming feature Nautilus had.

Gnome developers seems to have been on a decade long ego-trip. Of course that's their right - it's their project, but they shouldn't be surprised that their decisions gets constantly questioned and criticised by people who started using Gnome based on totally different assumptions of where they'd be going.

These days, gnome-terminal is pretty much the only Gnome app I regularly use left, and with apps like Terminology, and Ubuntu replacing more and more with their own stuff, there might soon not be much Gnome left for me (and at least I know Terminology won't strip the eye candy, coming from the Enlightenment rew).

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I fail to see a single use case for terminal transparency. It makes text less readable.

-----


Allowing people to choose their own text colors and backgrounds is inefficient and can make text less readable. There ought to be a small set of allowed combinations that have optimal contrast, referred to by simple names.

Allowing people to choose their own fonts can make text less readable. There are only 3 or 4 reasonable choices anyway, so all others should be dropped.

Allowing themes to change window decorations can cause confusion and reduce usability. Let's drop that.

Having more than one window manager available is inefficient and means that more developer time is wasted in duplicative effort. Only one window manager is needed.

Having more than one web browser is inefficient and means duplicated effort. Drop all other browsers.

Having more than one Linux distribution is inefficient.

Having more than one OS is inefficient.

Having more than one system architecture causes needless work.

Supporting any NIC that isn't the best makes the system less efficient. Drop inferior NICs.

-----


I agree with most of your points. Within one product there should not be too much choice. But choice between different products i.e. Linux distributions or operating systems is ok IMHO.

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I am pretty sure the comment you are replying to is satire.

-----


Satire on GNOME, or Apple?

edit: I think the question is relevant, because part of what is going on here is that projects like Ubuntu and GNOME are taking cues from Apple's success

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Apple supports both transparency and blur on their terminal app, AFAIK...

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Having more than one user causes needless user related problems.

Go KDE.

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> Allowing themes to change window decorations can cause confusion and reduce usability. Let's drop that.

Like apple did with the iphone?

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And as it turns out, that customizability is something people like and want and is a reason people enjoy android.

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People like iOS more than Android.

-----


Nope:

http://techland.time.com/2013/04/16/ios-vs-android/

Depending on which metric you chose, either iOS or Android is ahead. However, the data is not conclusive enough to warrant your statement. If anything, it seems to be leaning in the opposite direction.

-----


People like iOS more than Android.

http://www.jdpower.com/content/press-release/upO8vjP/2012-u-...

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Some people like Android more. Some people like iOS more.

-----


Some people.

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...the reason they enjoyed MySpace. </troll>

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mseepgood's argument is that terminal transparency always makes things worse. None of your ironic statements illustrates a comparable case, or constitutes a rebuttal to that claim. I can't see a worthwhile use case for terminal transparency either, but I'm happy to be corrected.

-----


Not 100% relevant, but there are quite a few people who like to keep inactive windows semi-transparent.

At any rate, the only reason you need is user choice! User choice is always a valid reason. Removing customization options is rarely the proper thing to do.

Of course, in this case, users still have a choice: they can choose to install another terminal! Which it seems many of them have done.

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Transparent terminals are awesome. With the right amount of transparency it can get a very cool background while still being readable.

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Are you sure you're aware of how it's implemented?

In a good terminal (e.g. konsole) the text remains fully opaque while only the background becomes transparent.

This is more difficult than simply setting a window-wide opacity, which is why the terminal must have its own support for it.

So you maintain the readability benefit while still being able to see major changes to the window behind the terminal if necessary (something which I have found occasionally useful).

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Agree 100%. Even OS X's built-in Terminal.app offers this; there's even a blur effect on the transparent background which is pretty awesome.

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Yes! I never understood having transparent terminals before, but one day I discovered that configuring a slight amount of transparency, together with the blur, can be really useful. The terminal still stays clear to read.

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I quite commonly use it when I want to see an application behind the terminal e.g. I might be editing code in vim whilst the application or browser window is open in the background.

Also, it just looks nice! By having an appropriate background image and playing with the opacity it has a negligible affect on readability.

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I happen to agree with you and I don't use any degree of transparency in terminal windows.

I suspect the issue at hand is the removal of a feature that was available previously without explicit discussion or explanation.

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Transparency makes me happy.

With aterm (transparent only to backgrounds, not other windows) and an imagemagick script to shade backgrounds, I get to have pretty much any photo I want as a background, and it doesn't impact my work.

Only exception: astronomical photos with lots of stars. Very hard to resolve a white '.' character.

Shading script is short. Here it is for reference:

  #!/bin/bash
  # should set my background and darken the image for aterm
  # imagemagick documentation here:
  # http://www.imagemagick.org/script/command-line-options.php#fx

  convert $@ -fx 'u/2.0' ~/.shadedbackground.jpg
  fbsetbg -c ~/.shadedbackground.jpg
And, my aterm options:

  aterm -tr -sl 10000 -fg white -bg black

Terminals that permit a dynamic view of obscured windows are also occasionally useful. For example - keeping an eye on small process-monitoring gui while continuing to code.

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Not if it's done subtly (5-8% transparency) - if you've got multiple windows in a screen, it greatly enhances context in terms of what windows are where.

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> I fail to see a single use case for terminal transparency. It makes text less readable.

I've always liked it for the ability to see/read documentation on a window behind the terminal. Specific use cases include referring to man pages, API docs and the like where I can't just copy+paste something and/or need to check config.conf against the settings/defaults in online docs.

It's especially useful on smaller screens where I don't have the luxury of having a 80-char wide terminal side-by-side with a browser window (and avoiding horizontal scrolling).

-----


You want a user case? To read code, check API information or shortcuts through the window you're working in. My screen estate at work is severely limited. Also, it just looks better, and that matters, because I spend a lot of time in terminal windows.

I haven't been a Gnome user for many years though... Exactly for reasons like this. They have removed a few features too many. IIRC, last time I tried to log in with a Gnome session to see if anything had improved, I couldn't turn off cursor blinking in the terminal.

I've been using Linux since way before Gnome existed, and it does piss me off that (from the perspective of a power user) it's less usable now after all those years than it was in the first few years of its existence. Gnome turned on its own users long ago, and I think the year of the Linux desktop might be further now than ever, especially for the Gnome project in its current form. It's an illusion to attract new users if even the old ones don't want to use it anymore.

I wish the Gnome project good luck, but they are clearly sailing a different sea.

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If you use a big screen your brain will be able to refocus faster when you look from one side to the screen to the other and back again when there are more recognizable patterns in the background.

-----


Any study proving this?

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How can I use a full screen terminal window and still read documentation in that same screen?

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Small screens.

-----


Apparently nor do the Gnome devs. Shame they don't seem interested in listening to justifications.

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  I have a cheat sheet open behind my terminal, for say c-vim keybindings.
  Instead of switching windows continuously
https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=660711#c8

RTFA it does not make text less readable: https://bug698544.bugzilla-attachments.gnome.org/attachment....

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> I have a cheat sheet open behind my terminal, for say c-vim > keybindings. Instead of switching windows continuously

Drag the windows side by side with the snap feature.

> RTFA it does not make text less readable

The text would be more readable with an opaque background.

-----


Side by side so I have less editing space? I have emacs and terminator split 5 or 6 ways and optionally fullscreened if needed. Being able to read documentation, cheat sheets, watch videos, live reload, and handle issues while not switching windows through my terminal is a giant productivity boost. Side-by-side just makes both parts less enjoyable, especially on a small laptop screen.

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I do the same. I make notes on a web page, book or slide deck in emacs by setting transparency. If someone came along and removed it to just because of internal code changes I don't care about I would also be angrily posting on bug reports. http://justinsboringpage.blogspot.ca/2009/10/transparent-ema...

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I do the same, and setting terminal transparency is usually the first change I make to a new box after importing my .emacs. With your terminal split at least 4 ways stuffing it over on one side of the screen is a non-starter. And even with multiple monitors, I find I can work faster if I can glance at the API docs without having to change my gaze, rather than having to find my place in code again each time I look away.

-----


That screenshot attachment you posted has much less readable text in the _NET_WM_WINDOW_OPACITY example?

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That's the 'suggested fix' for this issue. It doesn't actually fix anything, obviously - it just makes everything transparent.

-----


Surely choice is good? I fail to see a single use for comments that dismiss the right of optionality for others.

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No, choice is poison to a software program and should be avoided unless there are very good reasons to justify an additional option.

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You know, I understand wanting to put a little pressure back on the "make everything configurable" crowd; there are a lot of software engineers who go a bit overboard on the "just make it an option" approach to design, and then wind up with big, bloated, buggy software that tries to do everything but fails at most of it and is frustrating to configure.

However, "choice is poison" is a rather extreme over-compensation for this problem. Sometimes, options really do provide value. And many times, if they are designed correctly, they don't substantially increase cost; if the features are orthogonal and implemented independently, the additional complexity is only linear with the number of features, not quadratic or worse as happens if they are too interrelated.

I understand that we want to get away from the "you need to spend hours customizing your environment to make it usable" approach to design that plagues some open source project, but going to the other extreme and saying that "choice is poison" is just as bad.

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I would suggest that retaining an option needed by some users with unusual perceptual requirements is a 'very good reason'

(Personally, I do leave my XFCE4 desktop on default settings, but I do alter defaults in some packages)

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If it was the only terminal emulator, there would be a good reason.

The person in the link commenting "PUT IT BACK EVERY OTHER TERMINAL EMULATOR HAS IT" is more baffling.

Both wanting choice and options, but at the same time not wanting to have to change when there are other options.

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"If it was the only terminal emulator, there would be a good reason."

Gnome Terminal may (effectively) be the only terminal emulator available to you if you do not have rights to install software or to change default software.

-----


If you are in an environment where you have to take what you are given, then whinging to the software developers to add in the functionality your boss won't let you have seems like the wrong move.

-----


Yes, you're right. They should apparently be whining to their boss to use something other than GNOME instead instead of trying to fix their work environment at the source.

-----


I'm assuming the said boss would not have approved the update to GNOME without first checking that all the features they require the workforce to have in order to work, are present.

Then yes, they should.

If the boss gives you lemons, you don't go to the lemon tree and ask if it can make lemons that read email, browse NFS shares and change screensaver settings. You go to your boss and say "just-lemons isn't good enough".

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When you cook, do you just give people a bowl of nutrient paste, saying "that's all you need to remain functional"? But we'd like something with texture and flavour. "So what, it's not like those things are needed to be functional. You can get by without them."

-----


This is a baffling opinion to have on HN.

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There's plenty of precedent. The plan9 guys were very explicit about not having variable colours in acme. The suckless.org team say that you can configure whatever you like, but only through changing the source code. BeOS aimed to have no configuration and good defaults.

I'd rather have something that was well thought through and is internally consistant than a grab-bag of customisation, none of which coexists well - like most linux desktops.

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I'm not baffled. Giving people fewer options seems like a pretty popular paradigm these days. We tried "Give people choice" in the '90s and '00s, and it turned out people were mostly unimpressed. "Opinionated software" is the paradigm du jour.

-----


Choice may be good, but it always comes at a cost. Each choice takes time to design, to code, to test, to document, to support, and most importantly to learn. Software designers should aim to offer the smallest number of options they can get away with.

-----


In new software, I can see your point. This issue relates to a removal of a previously available option.

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> Software designers should aim to offer the smallest number of options they can get away with.

That's should always be second to providing solutions. Solve the problems that transparency solved first. If you aren't aware of the problems that transparency in terminals provided, then removing it is purely an act of ignorance.

-----


The thing is transparency didn't solve any problem. It was just a nerdiness thing.

-----


This is a classic example of someone who doesn't use a feature being unable to see the use cases for it.

-----


How do you know?

1) Have you searched the literature on perceptual defects and enablement? If so I'd love to see references.

2) Have you consulted widely on mailing lists that Gnome Terminal users use and checked use cases? If so, can you link to those? I'd like to see them.

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> The thing is transparency didn't solve any problem. It was just a nerdiness thing.

Um, do they know their market? I doubt grandma is clammoring for transparency in her terminal windows but she's not the primary user profile for Gnome, you know?

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Nerdiness is evolution. Flowers are colorful and fancy to attract bees. Transparent terminals are colourful and fancy to attract hackers (aka users).

-----


You are ignorant of the problems it solved.

> How can I use a full screen terminal window and still read documentation in that same screen?

I've asked this question. I've yet to see a reply.

-----


Try one of a dozen solutions which split your screen into two parts? screen and tmux both do this?

If your documentation isn't viewable in terminal, why do you insist of having a full screen all the time - resize your terminal? If you do insist of having a full screen all the time, why are you using gnome-terminal at all?

-----


I already use tmux. It doesn't solve the problem in the least.

> why do you insist of having a full screen all the time

Because I'm actively working in my terminal. Why should I waste space moving something somewhere else, especially away from where I'm looking?

> resize your terminal?

Maybe you like limiting the size of your workspace, but I don't.

> If you do insist of having a full screen all the time,

Because I'm not always in the terminal, but when I'm in the terminal, I don't see a reason to limit the space it uses.

Anyways, not you are being willfully ignorant. Rather than try and understand the problem, and how transparency was being used, you are being dismissive. You aren't trying to help in the least.

So, unless you want to take the time to understand the problem, why waste your time, and others, adding a comment that is essentially worthless?

-----


Linux is not about choice (http://www.redhat.com/archives/rhl-devel-list/2008-January/m...) was posted to HN a few days ago.

-----


Also relevant: http://www106.pair.com/rhp/free-software-ui.html This text is the unofficial Gnome UI manifesto. If you don't agree with it then you probably will never be happy with Gnome and should use something else.

-----


The personal opinion of Adam Jackson is the ultimate and only truth.

-----


It makes me sad how prone programmers are to condescension and dismissing attitude towards other programmers. Especially leads of open-source projects. Something about having all that influence gets into people's heads.

-----


I run a large open source project. I don't think it's an ego thing. I wake up every morning with around 50 e-mails of people complaining and criticizing something I devoted a lot of time to writing, while asking nothing in return. Of course, there are many more happy users of the software. However, I can totally relate to his "No." response. I would cut him a little slack... he was probably just having an off day.

-----


First of all, thank you for your work!

I think this kind of angry dialogue isn't helpful. It won't bring people closer to agreement.

But I don't think you can say "I made this thing, and gave it to you, so you can't criticize my actions regarding it".

The core team of an open source project control what code gets into it.

Some core team members are great programmers, or contribute a lot of time. Others are the real world friends or bosses of important team members.

It's not like you could get up tomorrow, go full time on Gnome project, and expect to be able to put this feature back in.

Regarding your 'I get nothing back, so go easy on me' point, this isn't always true.

On some open source projects, many of the biggest contributors are working on the project for a company, and use their influence to take it in the direction the company wants. They are being paid, and changing what the project is in return that. If I don't like those changes, I'm not sure your argument applies.

More generally, strong contributors to popular projects often consult or get jobs on the back of them.

I can see how this stream of complaints could be disheartening. But you do have power. You have been entrusted with other peoples work. I think being held to account (politely) is sort of fair enough.

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If I put a lot of work into making something, it does not make me accountable to do whatever you want to that work. Sorry, it does not work that way. But if I open sourced it, you can make the change yourself.

Open sourcing it does not mean that other people are entitled to control it.

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There is a contradiction in your post, and in this story:.

The developer in this case is part of a self appointed core team who have the keys to infrastructure bought with other peoples donations.

He has removed functionality written by someone else.

In neither case does this "it's my ball, don't tell me how to play with it" thing apply.

The wider problem-

Zooming out from this specific case, from open source projects to standards organizations, unelected cabals have a great deal of influence over what happens in technology.

Why is it important? Try this scenario - What if a key player at Mozilla (who got the position because his company bought them servers) decided to delete FTP support. Would that be okay?

Sure, we could fork Mozilla, add FTP back in. But if our fork didn't get much adoption, then it wouldn't make it into linux distributions, wouldn't have the manpower to merge in bugfixes from the mainline. It would fizzle, Chrome would drop it, then IE, and FTP would be gone from the world.

So these people do have power that the ability to fork doesn't nullify.

The community gives them power and resources (especially in the case of large projects where the project lead wrote less than 1% of the code). Can you really say they shouldn't be held to account for how they use them?

-----


Of course you're always going to have a bunch of annoying people who feel entitled. However, this is not the case here: somebody reports a regression, in a helpful and polite way. "No" is not an appropriate justification, especially when it comes to such a widespread, widely used feature. I don't even understand how this would trigger such an emotional reaction wrt to removing a feature (presumably) he hasn't coded.

Gnome is not a throw-it-on-Github-and-see-if-it-sticks project. Development shouldn't happen in a vacuum, and antisocial behaviour shouldn't be the norm.

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"I run a large open source project."

Well, thankyou for your work.

"I wake up every morning with around 50 e-mails of people complaining and criticizing something I devoted a lot of time to writing, while asking nothing in return."

OK, can you point to a Web page where you explain the scope, expected use cases and intended audience of your work? (perhaps then just set up an auto-responder with a link to the page)

-----


To quote the maintainer in another bug.

--- The reason is that these settings make no sense. Why should a terminal be transparent, or have an image behind everything, but the same not apply to, say, gedit, or firefox, or evolution?

-----


That's the problem with self-proclaimed usability experts. They see the word "consistency" and think to themselves "Oooooh, I shall make everything consistent".

This is why in Gnome, all tab bars are on top, including in the terminal. Consistency for the sake of consistency.

-----


Terminals have only text, sometimes lots of empty space, never images. The transperency makes it look nice and people (that care to enable it) happy.

-----


Because mentioning that it's Gnome 3.7 is so much less important than the bug number. (The original submission title did include some editorializing perhaps, but at least the reader had a chance of knowing that it was about Gnome 3.)

-----


Why did the title of this link get changed? Now it's generic and doesn't highlight why this is a big deal. It's glossing over the most salient part of this narrative.

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This is the final straw, I'm switching to KDE/Kubuntu in next release.

Even if a transparent terminal is a weird thing to like, I like it, and have always used it. Taking it away just because you think it's useless is not acceptable to me. Really you can come with 1000's of arguments why it's non-productive, "just aesthetic", "not in web browsers either" and so on but I don't care. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

(as an aside I think it could be a interesting feature in web browsers to support window-level transparency. Use a background with partial transparency and render web content directly to the background. For example, for desktop widgets)

We're in 2013 right with super-powerful GPUs of today (and even the crappy i945 in your old laptop) it shouldn't be too much to ask to do a small bit of composition. Sure, X's archaic architecture may be at fault, it may be tricky, but now there's Wayland, Android Surfaceflinger, ... Please don't go backward to better support archaic APIs.

For me, open source is about choice and customization and possibilities, if I wanted a platform with a single vision I'd go for Apple.

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Frankly, I think Ubuntu will soon enough have so little of Gnome left in its standard version that you shouldn't worry too much about switching.

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I like transparent shell backgrounds. I recently upgraded to Ubuntu 13.04 using Gnome 3.8 (using the team-gnome3 ppa), and my terminals still has transparent backgrounds (with a setting in the profile menus that allow me to modify it as well). So I guess either Ubuntu or team-gnome3 patches Gnome to keep the transparent stuff in?

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The gnome3 ppa is still 3.6 for the most part unless you are also using -staging.

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Ok, thanks. That's quite confusing. I'm using the Gnome 3.8 shell, with mostly 3.6 Gnome packages. Looks like I'm in for a surprise when I upgrade in the future.

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Thank you Gnome

Next time I get into a discussion about how Gnome doesn't give a rat's ass about user experience, I'll just point to the article link.

Here's (another) proof of that.

And that's why switching to XFCE is the first thing I do in my Linux installations

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I think it's telling that even before clicking the link, I knew precisely what it was about, even though I haven't used Gnome in years and never knew the terminal ever gained or lost the ability to have a transparent background. Actually, compare and contrast with this bug report https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=198175 about a similar feature in kde's terminal.

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Meanwhile, Apple added improved terminal transparency support in Terminal.app in the last OS update which allows the user to control not only the transparency but also the blur. (I've found transparency goes from distracting to slick if you include blur.)

I guess the question is why is it that GNOME developers are cutting features in the name of simplification when a company known for obsession with simplicity is adding those very same features?

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Aside from whether they were right to remove it and whether this was communicated properly or not,

can anyone explain me what's so useful about having a transparent terminal?

I agree that it looks pretty and sci-fi, which is a fine reason, but from the general backlash I get a feeling there's more to it than that. I personally always found semi-transparent terminals harder to read, and prefer a plain dark background (I've tried subtle textures, but found them to be more effort to get right over how much they improved visual style).

I'm assuming it might be something about the ability to read what's behind the terminal window? But every time I encountered such a situation, the letters on the terminal were interfering with the info behind it (probably a browser), and even if I could make out what it said, a quick alt-tab switch back and forth was so much easier.

The only real advantage I can think of might be the ability to roughly determine what application is running behind the terminal, or whether there is in fact an application running or not. Which is nice but most WMs have other ways of indicating that information (taskbar, etc).

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Plucked a few reasons I found here and there in this discussion in case anyone's interested, turns out I may have underestimated the functionality of pretty & shiny!

<btilly> "I've used that feature myself so that I'd be constantly looking at my daughter's happy face rather than the blank background of my many terminals. No utilitarian purpose? Perhaps. But a very real psychological one!"

<towolf> "When I stare at opaque terminals all day I get severely perceptually understimulated to the point that I fear becoming an automaton."

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Well, Desktop on Linux has been shitty in the last 10 years, and it will be for the next 10 years, exactly because an attitude like that. 10 years ago, after faffing around for several years with Linux desktop environments, I simply decided to move on to OSX, and have been happy since then.

Downvote me as much as you want, but some developers will never learn how malicious their attitude is to all of the OSS community.

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There's a simple fix for this, and other, GNOME related issues...

Get rid of GNOME!

I can do as much, and be as productive, without using a specific DE, by setting up my GUI to use a simple tiling Window Manager (DWM) along with dmenu.

Seriously, there are a myriad of Terminal Emulators available which are not desktop specific, and configuration is merely accomplished by editing a plain text file.

Why is this crap even on the front page of HN?

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Just wait, gnome is slowly removing features I think the plan for gnome 4.x is to simply not exist

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I don't use transparency and I think it smells like feature creep... but taking it away from those who have become semi-dependent on it is very different from having the foresight to have not added it in the first place. I think those users have a legitimate gripe.

I hate it when my development environment gets screwed with.

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For general Gnome3 stuff (I don't care much about the look of my terminal):

I know they are trying to make it very easy to use for average useres (whatever this is) but why do I have no access at all to not even really "advanced" options directly from gnome? I need tweak tool for nearly everything. Where did the menu bar go in Nautilus 3.8? Why do I need to download a gnome extension to disable this hot spot in the upper left corner? same for window list. No minimize/maximize buttons, need tweak tool for it.

I think the concept of gnome 3 is nice and worth a try but why are they trying to block users who are not absolute beginners? and even those beginners maybe want to change their window theme or have other icons.

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I've given Gnome 3 a fair shot despite the fail whale cries from community at large, but after a couple of months it's really starting to wear on me, particularly drag & drop support, which is straight up GONE, system-wide, ouch.

On the plus side, Nautilus has become pointless as I've switched to Midnight Commander, a great FM.

I do have background transparency set for gnome terminal, a nice touch, I quite like it.

Currently hiding Gnome behind I3 WM, but it does creep up to the surface at times, like the odd mid-beer bomit (burp -vomit).

Oh well, nothing is perfect on Linux, there must be some pain involved; otherwise it would be OSX where pain is replaced with happy spinning beach balls ;-)

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Yes, welcome to the reality.

You can never talk about user friendliness, simplicity, aesthetic with Linux maintainers and their best friends.

Their religion is robustness. And having a religion leads you believe that what your religion tells you is always more important than what other people would like.

He probably has a good reason and doesn't want to explain that because you are not smart enough to listen him.

Welcome to the Linux community. I use Arch Linux for 8 years and recently was advised to stop using Linux because I asked maintainers to not break things and listen their users.

All they care is more robustness. It's their religion and you can't discuss about this with them.

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While I don't personally think that terminal transparency is a big deal (just switch to Xfce Terminal if you want it), the attitude of the developers is rude and uninformative.

You don't have to be completely ingratiating; just say "This feature was removed because of [reason], if you do not like this decision, comment on [place to comment].

That's it. A "No." is unacceptable.

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I understand why Gnome don't want huge configuration dialogues.

Still, it's stupid and they're wrong. They should have a big "[return to default configuration] button that people must use before filing bugs or asking for support. But they should then also have a nice config file with configurations for everything.

That allows tinkerers to tinker and to set up alternate support. It allows God_Designers_Coders to lock down everything in the One_True_Environment_Config.

It certainly avoids threads shown in the OP, which are just a turn off for some developers.

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Funny. The Gnome guys got rid of desktop icons too... took me a while to find how to add it back with Gnome Tweak.

Gnome developers are like that: they like to remove useful features.

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I understand that Bugzilla may not be the appropriate place for the discussion. However, the reporter did not seem to be impolite in any way and may of not been aware there was a more suitable location to discuss the change so I'm not sure what warranted the blunt reply from the first developer who replied. The reply later on from Tobias Mueller seems much more appropriate.

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Agree it was too blunt and not appropriate. The cause was that he was upset after various bugreports and private emails accusing him of all sorts of things. At one point it'll get to you.

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The point with terminal transparency is that people who use them a lot tend to look at them a lot, and having something more appealing than white-on-black is in many cases a necessity for their happiness and well-being.

And we already have a 'simple' default terminal - xterm. We also have twm, but not many people seem to be using it daily either. Guess gnome's going there too.

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The good thing about FOSS is that the developers own the code. The bad thing about FOSS is that the developers own the product.

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I can think of an open source project for a popular node.js debugger that has similar problems.

https://github.com/dannycoates/node-inspector/issues?labels=...

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Several terminals are my IDE. The font and the transparent background are my theme. If you're staring at terminals for 4 to 8 hours-a-day a good combination of font, text colors, and background keep the text from floating away on your burned-in retina.

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> Persch was very devious with this one. He hid the removal among very unrelated changes (gtk to gsettings switch) and spread the rmeoval across more than one commit. Such that you cannot easily revert it.

What is wrong with these people?

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Disgusting. Linux desktops are lacking as it is, the destruction of mature features has it moving backwards... and now weaker than Windows 95.

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I don't really know why anyone wants transparent terminals anyway. Don't they just make the text harder to read?

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Wow, and all it takes is one smart angry 'user' and blam! you've got a fork and yet another window system.

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No is a fine answer, if an explanation accompanies it. I am surprised GNOME still has a user base really.

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It its core. I don't disagree with what gnome is doing.

Removing an old feature is fine by me if you have something better.

If you have something better.

but... If you're just trying to homogenize your user base, then you deserve the acrimony you're going to get. I'm glad this story got some publicity. Thanks Signez!

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How about forking it?

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Forking doesn't fix the issue at hand here, which is the lack of communication between Gnome developers and everyone else.

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The fork provides way forward for the rest of us, while Gnome developers rapidly make themselves irrelevant.

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http://mate-desktop.org/ is a GNOME fork.

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first of all, the users are not giving any argument of why they need the transparency back, just "because I like it".

Second, this is open source, hack it.

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An example of a group of users who find this feature valuable is [new] users who might want to have documentation open in a browser while navigating the commandline. I've definitely found it useful, especially when on a small laptop screen.

The response that it's open source, don't complain, you fix it, doesn't even seem to apply here. Does it even make sense to commit a patch to put a feature back in that a maintainer with power over the direction of the project decided to remove without explanation?

Additionally, open source is also about community and wanting people to use your software, not alienate users out of some misguided ideal that sounds good in your head but just makes you out to be a selfish jerk in practice.

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Then the terminal would need to be really transparent allow text reading, honestly, I find that improbable.

The fix it argument is valid in any open source project that you don't contribute, and if you want to contribute show first valid arguments.

Open source is about many goals, a simple terminal transparency is not one of them, and why would a user alienated because it doesn't have a transparent terminal?

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Isn't "because I like it" a valid argument?

Also, in the case of a feature being removed I feel that the onus is on the remover to make the case for why it should go.

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Come on, we are all developers here I want to think If I see a feature is just for aesthetic reasons with little purpose, then I could be considered as code sanitization, nobody really needs a transparent terminal, in the contrary, it may be contra productive.

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I don't agree that aesthetic features have little purpose in a desktop application - they are a major part of the user experience. In this case the transparency feature is clearly something that a lot of people consider worth having.

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Except they don't give a valid explanation for it.

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Yes, they do - there are lots of them in this thread. Either you are not paying attention, or you are making assumptions of the validity of other peoples experience that you have no basis for.

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Everything in life is not about productivity. But even if it was, the aesthetics of your environment does impact productivity. Personally I do continuously tweak the appearance of my environment because being relaxed and at ease makes a big difference to my concentration, which makes a big difference for how easily I get in the zone and is productive.

To presume that a feature that is "just for aesthetic reasons" has little purpose is arrogant and/or implies a lacking understanding of other developers.

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I like it XD

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Why was the title changed? It was much more descriptive of the appeal of the link (the developer's response). Now it looks like the bug report itself is the focus.

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Maybe someone at Gnome is a moderator here. A generic title about a bugzilla bug makes me less interested in clicking.

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If you want a workaround, install xfce4-terminal. It's a fork of GNOME terminal and retains all of the settings that GNOME removed, including background transparency. It also appears to be faster.

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It's worth installing Xfce in general. It really ought to be the default desktop environment for Linux.

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