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Author: Steve Litt
To: dng
Subject: Re: [DNG] The real reason I like Linux
On Sat, 14 Mar 2020 15:08:37 +0000
Mark Rousell <mark.rousell@???> wrote:

> I am not opposing your central message in any way, but...
> On 13/03/2020 02:59, Steve Litt wrote:
> > involves programming, and most people can't
> > do that.
> >
> > Oh really? 12 lines of code and they can't do it (or have a friend
> > help do it)?
> Really. There is no way on earth that the average computer user could
> even come close to writing a program or script and this applies to
> most of their friends too.

True, but it doesn't have to be. More later.

> Some people might be able to use a macro recorder or a graphical tool
> that allows them to assemble functional blocks to create a script, but
> even that much would be too much for most end users in my experience.
> End users want to use, to consume. Creating/programming is not in
> their mindset.

Well of course the average person wants to take, take, take. And beyond
that, the average person has been *trained* to be stupid. More later...

> It strikes me that back when I first got into computers (the early
> 80s), there was a sense of optimism that the rapid growth of widely
> affordable technology would result in a new golden era of technical
> literacy. Oh dear, how naive.

Not naive at all. In 1987 I worked at a large law firm, and every legal
secretary could deal with the command line, and quite a few could write
WordPerfect macros. But Laissez faire capitalists had other ideas. More

> Instead, the techies, geeks and entrepreneurs made technology
> *easier*. We made it so that it was easier for end users to consume,
> to use what was offered to them. There was no need for the
> non-technical end users to learn anything. It all just works. Or, if
> it doesn't work, they throw it away and try something else. And so
> that golden age of technical literacy has never really arrived.

It arrived alright, during the MS-DOS era. But Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gates
had other ideas. If they could convince computer users they were stupid
and helpless, then Jobs and Gates could sell their gigantic albatross
OSes and the hardware manufacturers could sell their gigantic albatross
computers. They had the money, they forced the change, and the human
race got dumber.

Did you know that circa 1985 Osborne CPM computers had a hierarchical
menu interface? WordPerfect offered a very nice hierarchical menu
interface. This was pretty much the same as the program-running
interfaces of winXP, Gnome2, KDE2 etc. Heck, I personally made a
hierarchical menu program in about 1992 that worked just fine with DOS.
Mousing and "we do it all for you" wasn't necessary then, and it isn't
necessary now.

Today there's a program called dmenu, that
instantly lists every executable on the path, and narrows the list with
each keystroke. Typically it takes 3 or 4 keystrokes to run the
executable of your choice. Even a hunt and peck keyboardist can run
programs pretty quickly. The point is this: Gnome3 and its ilk aren't
needed to give an "average user" an easy way to work his computer.
Windows, AppleOS, and FreeDesktopWare are a deliberate marketing to
users to convince them they're too stupid to use anything but,
respectively, Microsoft, Apple and Redhat.

Drag-n-drop is nice. But the cost, in complexity, is too high. And this
other basura, these "we know what you want" interfaces, are worse than
useless, unless you're a stockholder in Microsoft, Apple or Redhat.

> What
> we have now is billions of consumers and, proportionately speaking,
> fewer and fewer people who actually know how it all works.
> Thus, the average user (even the average Linux user, I suspect) is not
> going to be scripting stuff any time soon (other than maybe by typing
> in stuff they Googled).

Of course not. They've been given an artificial mental block. Jobs,
Gates and Poettering have convinced them they're too stupid to write a
batch file. But that's nothing intrinsic to humanity, that's very
successful but destructive marketing.

And later in this thread somebody makes an important point: Those who
are really too stupid to learn how to pick a program from a menu, or
create a simple 12 line shellscript, should be allowed to migrate to
Apple or Microsoft, so that those of us in Linux land with over-80 IQs
can make our computers run the way we want, without interference from
Gates, Jobs, Poettering, Redhat, FreeDesktop and the usual suspects.
Luckily, this is just what Devuan is doing.


Steve Litt
March 2020 featured book: Troubleshooting: Why Bother?