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Shuttleworth On Redefining File Systems

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the as-long-as-we-don't-call-it-2.0 dept.

Data Storage 414

moteyalpha writes "Mark Shuttleworth described the beginnings of what could a great step forward in making file systems more usable. I've personally had the experience of trying to find a file for a customer who had just finished editing a critical report, saved it, and then couldn't locate it to deliver to their client. Quoting: 'My biggest concern on this front is that it be done in a way that every desktop environment can embrace. We need a consistent experience across GNOME, KDE, OpenOffice and Firefox so that content can flow from app to app in a seamless fashion and the user's expectations can be met no matter which app or environment they happen to use. If someone sends a file to me over Empathy, and I want to open it in Amarok, then I shouldn't have to work with two completely different mental models of content storage.'"

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In other news, (-1, Offtopic)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510483)

Water is wet.

Re:In other news, (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25510567)

Unless you store it at very cold temperatures. In that case users expecting to be able to sip away at their water may be a little disoriented when someone hands them a block of ice.

Re:In other news, (3, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510669)

More like "Breaking News: plumber having problems figuring out roofing job"

Computers are a tool. If you can't figure out how to use them effectively, either learn or leave it to those who can. In my personal opinion, filesystems should not have to track files for you, they should just save the stupid files. If the OS wants to organize the files on the filesystem and track them, then fine.

Re:In other news, (5, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511051)

Why not in OSX a combination of OS and filesystem data allows me to move applications while they are in use. I can uninstall an application or change it's directory location and all files know how it gets opened again and where it moved to.

Literally you can move an application to a thumb drive, and the next time you open a file that launches said app it will try to mount the thumb drive if it isn't already done so. I get so frustrated in locating files under windows. Why can't the OS get out of my way so i can work? if it takes a file system, and OS to track them properly the so be it.

As for the missing file in the description. most applications include a recent file list as does windows(since 95) and OS X. if you can't remember where you put something, try checking those speed lists first. It is like people only want windows and then refuse to read the dialog box that pops up every time they click on the start button. It is as bad as bill gates with outlook open goes to the task bar to find a calendar.

This would be easy (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510485)

I've personally had the experience of trying to find a file for a customer who had just finished editing a critical report, saved it, and then couldn't locate it to deliver to their client

Was it a Word file? Locate all .docs, run them through antiword, grep for words from that critical report, and report back the matches. Less than a minute of Bash scripting.

Re:This would be easy (5, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510493)

or search by last modified time.

Re:This would be easy (3, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510725)

Or just be a frickin file nazi. A couple hours planning and organization, and you'll never hunt for a file again.

Re:This would be easy (1, Interesting)

smidget2k4 (847334) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510497)

Ooops, posting to remove mod

Re:This would be easy (5, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510541)

Or just use spotlight, Mac users have been able to do find files quickly for years.

Re:This would be easy (3, Insightful)

DigDuality (918867) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510583)

Oh yes, spotlight is soo novell. Exactly what can you do with spotlight *nixes haven't done with find, locate, and grep for many more years before apple even thought of going the *nix route?

Re:This would be easy (3, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510633)

They can search for files by typing in words to search for and pressing enter.

Re:This would be easy (4, Informative)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510671)

So like Tracker that comes installed by default on Gnome based distributions then?

Or Beagle, that was released somewhat before Spotlight.

Re:This would be easy (2, Funny)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510797)

We don't press enter.

Cheers,

Re:This would be easy (4, Funny)

chromatic (9471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510881)

We don't press enter.

That'll free up space on the new Macbook!

Re:This would be easy (3, Insightful)

SignOfZeta (907092) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510939)

Actually, they don't even have to press enter. Spotlight searches as you type. Shuttleworth's point here is that while we Slashdotters have slocate, find, grep, etc., what do the grandmothers and Microsoft expatriates have?

Re:This would be easy (5, Insightful)

MrCoke (445461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510649)

You don't get it.

My grandmother could use spotlight. She won't be able to use find, locate and grep.

And that is the target audience of Shuttleworth's point: the Computer Illiterates.

Re:This would be easy (1)

bheekling (976077) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510691)

It seems as though people here haven't heard of Beagle[1] and Tracker[2].

1. http://beagle-project.org/ [beagle-project.org]
2. http://www.gnome.org/projects/tracker/ [gnome.org]

Re:This would be easy (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511247)

Nice, except for the fact don't allow you to save your documents, so they are no good as storage abstracions.

Re:This would be easy (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510801)

and thats why we have stuff like beagle, catfish, and tracker

Re:This would be easy (4, Insightful)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510813)

You don't get it.

My grandmother could use spotlight. She won't be able to use find, locate and grep.

And that is the target audience of Shuttleworth's point: the Computer Illiterates.

I agree, everyone on here acts like linux is way better because it's had this stuff for ages but i STILL can't use most of it because it requires spending hours online searching for answers (and when you're trying to get the internet working in linux on a dual boot machine, it's hell... you have to reboot to something else, search for answers, reboot to linux, try it, forget what you had to do, reboot...)

I don't really need to try hard to make the argument because you guys either already know what i mean or you pretend like it's easy ("duh just type ~rf - m" or something something, because yeah, a menu to do that would kill someone).

Anyway, yeah, spotlight is probably nice. Google desktop is also awesome. I especially like being able to just double tap control to bring up the search, type what i want, it's right there.

Anyway, now that i've pissed off everyone...
*hides*
-Taylor

Re:This would be easy (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511087)

(and when you're trying to get the internet working in linux on a dual boot machine, it's hell... you have to reboot to something else, search for answers, reboot to linux, try it, forget what you had to do, reboot...)

Ahh... the good ol' days.

I remember doing that when I was 11 years old, trying to Install Redhat 6.0 on my mom's computer.

Boy have things changed quickly. Now we have LiveCD's (and LiveDVD's) to test hardware with... the most important of all being your network connection... if you have that and, say, lynx (or links/links2) you're pretty much set.

Re:This would be easy (4, Informative)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511097)

"duh just type ~rf - m" or something something, because yeah, a menu to do that would kill someone

For no one thing would a menu item to do that thing be particularly bad. But you can't put _every_ task in a menu, because there are infinitely many tasks.

If you find people often tell you to type in commands you don't understand, it's probably because it's the most efficient way to do something once you do master it. See for instance http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/linux-newbie-8/modifying-functions-678643/ [linuxquestions.org] . I've built a 1650-byte podcatcher in #!sh [and that's including proper error-checking and all].

It's also dense communication-wise; compare "sudo ifconfig eth0 192.168.0.1" with "System -> Administration -> Network; unlock, wired connection, properties, enable, static ip, 192.168.0.1".

That being said, though, deskenvs should support the most common and important tasks in an easy-to-use way.

Re:This would be easy (-1, Troll)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511075)

The problem is that stupid have pretty much ruined everything. Maybe we shouldn't really be encouraging computer illiterates to use computers. Maybe we should let them evolve into computer users of fail at life.

Re:This would be easy (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511127)

My grandmother could use spotlight. She won't be able to use find, locate and grep.

Sounds like find, locate and grep need a nice GUI, rather than being fatally flawed.

Re:This would be easy (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511197)

Sounds like find, locate and grep need a nice GUI, rather than being fatally flawed.

I think that was the point Mark Shuttleworth was trying to make.

Re:This would be easy (3, Insightful)

fluch (126140) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510655)

Spotlight is faster. Very much faster...

Re:This would be easy (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510659)

How many binary file formats can you search that way?

Does it search user-defined/entered metadata (Spotlight comments) too?

Re:This would be easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25510899)

When I first bought my Mac and spotlight was new I thought it was cool, I never use it though, because it can't find anything. (or more accurately, it finds all kinds of useless irrelevent stuff and never what I'm actually looking for. If you keep things in folders you don't need search tools.

Re:This would be easy (2, Insightful)

arminw (717974) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510997)

....How many binary file formats can you search that way....

How many grandmas do you know or think you might know or imagine, who want to search a binary file? How many would even know what a binary file is for? OK, this is /. and how many grandmas visit here? You're excused!

Re:This would be easy (3, Insightful)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511057)

Um, doc files? ppt? xls?

Re:This would be easy (1)

cswiger (63672) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510737)

Exactly what can you do with spotlight *nixes haven't done with find, locate, and grep for many more years before apple even thought of going the *nix route?

Nothing, but that's assuming the dude can actually *use* find, locate, and grep. Folks who don't know where their documents are saved are not likely to be skilled with Unix CLI utilities.

Besides which, Spotlight performs incremental search (see: / in vi or less, or isearch-forward in Emacs), so you only have to type a few letters (2-3, usually) before it starts showing you the right stuff.

Re:This would be easy (4, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510745)

Next I suppose you're going to say that rsync is the same thing as Time Machine, when in reality while they may be in vaguely the same arena of functionality, they are orders of magnitude different in utility. Instant searches of both local and remotely accessible drives tied to various easy filtering and categorization functions makes Spotlight a game-changer. Just like always on, incremental, and back-through-time searches and intra-file record retrieval (ie. 1 address book entry, photo, song, etc) make Time Machine a game-changer.

Re:This would be easy in KDE4 (1)

Polski Radon (787846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510647)

Or Akonadi/Nepomuk in KDE4. There's a lot of metadata that you can attach to your files and documents to make it easier to search in the future.

Re:This would be easy (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510677)

Have a look at Tracker and Beagle. There's desktop search on Linux too :)

Re:This would be easy (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510565)

Sort all .DOCs by mod-time, most recent first. Half the tech world hasn't really thought about why sorting by time is so useful, and the other half uses it as the default sort for everything.

Re:This would be easy (5, Funny)

haeger (85819) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510575)

Less than a minute of Bash scripting.
Obviously you're not a consultant.
"If you're not part of the solution there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem."

Do you honestly expect ANY customer to pay you if you solve their problem in less than a minute?
Back to school young grasshopper, you're obviously not ready for the real world.

 

.haeger

Re:This would be easy (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510987)

That's a better reply than what I was thinking:

What kind of linux advocacy is it in 2008 where the answer to the problem is Writing a Script?

No. Not gonna happen. No-one in the windows world writes a script to search for a file, it shouldn't require that in linux either.

Re:This would be easy (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511165)

"Don't panic" is pretty darn good advocacy.

You don't have to "nanny state" everyone. You can let
people know that the problem really isn't as big or as
bad as some people would like you to believe.

You don't have to disrupt everything and re-engineer
everything and in the process BREAK everything by
introducing loads of new bugs. You can just use the
tools that are already there.

Some of them even include GUI elements. ...it probably means that the problem is already solved,
it's just not well publicized because too many people can
do for themselves.

Linux doesn't need "better filesystems". It needs better requirements analysis.

Re:This would be easy (3, Insightful)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510595)

- Or look in My Recent Documents (works with most applications)
- Or look in Recent Files in the application of choice's file menu (most applications)
- Or go to File > Save, eye the file browser that probably opens the last location you saved to

Or, you know, grow short-term memory capacity.

Honestly, "I just saved a file and now I don't know where I put it" is more indicative of the human operating the computer, than it is of the computer apparently lacking facilities to find the files.

That said
- Google Desktop
- etc.
Will all index files in ways that you can easily retrieve them beyond that base Windows will do. OS X and *nix systems do this even better and in an easier to use (completely transparent) way, too.

Re:This would be easy (2)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511119)

Shuttleworth's real dig is not, "Hey, we're going to make it so that you can do stuff you couldn't do before." No, no, no. Of course you can already do stuff like this. And I'm sure everyone who reads this site could tell you how.

The point is making it screamingly obvious and intuitive. Fool-proof. Unconscious. Integrated. The kind of abstraction where you don't think, "Hey, I have an application to do such-and-such," but where you think, "This is a computer, so it does that if I click here." Like the "Back" button on your browser or the Save screen in a videogame. You want it all in one place and you don't want to think about it as a separate component.

Re:This would be easy (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510735)

This hack works well, and illustrates one of the fundamental problems with storing/retrieving data based upon content. Current file systems can locate data based upon a few common characteristics such as timestamps, file type, size, names, etc. But more advanced indexing and lookup systems tend to be domain specific. The important characteristics of each piece of data tend to differ from one application domain to another. Or between organizations, business processes, or individual users.

The 'find ... |antiword | grep "something important"' ad hoc technique works well because "Something important" is to variable from case to case to know that indexing on it beforehand will be of any use without knowing the user's work process.

Re:This would be easy (2, Insightful)

ka9dgx (72702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510741)

A search might work, if you don't happen to have my 200,000+ photos or 100,000+ other random bits of stuff that accumulates over time you might even be able to do it in a few seconds, But I believe the OS (or the file manager) should be able to keep track of this stuff for you, which means a new API, and the file managers have to tap into it at a minimum.
It's reasonable to call for everyone to do it in the same way, to be interoperable.

We need a tag based filesystem (2, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510885)

I should be able to tag a file with "friends, birthdays, gifts" and be able to find that file again using any of the terms.

Hierarchical filesystems are ok for systems management, but they are crap for assigning meaning to user data. A hierarchy implies that any particular file can only have a single aspect when in fact it may have dozens of aspects.

 

Re:We need a tag based filesystem (5, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511037)

You think it's going to be any better for people who can't find things they saved?

They can't find it because they didn't care at the time of saving to attach enough information to the file to be able to find it later. Instead, they saved it under a name like "letter5", or even worse, "asdf", and possibly left it in a random directory as well.

Tags won't be just as bad, they'll be worse. They require a considerable effort to tag consistently. You also have to think of all the possible tags that could be related to the file. Is it "friends", "acquaintances", "buddies", etc? Is it singular or plural? Will "birthdays" be enough, or you also have to file it under "parties", "celebrations" and "events" in case you remember the file you need was related to some sort of celebration but you can't remember which?

What happens with categories that are diffuse, change meaning, or their contents? For instance, take emails from Alice, that initially get tagged with "acquaintances", then progresses to "friends", then "significant other", then "ex". If you search for something that was mentioned in a friend's email, are Alice's emails tagged as they were initially (in which case after the upgrade from acquaintances to friends her previous mail needs an extra keyword to find), or have they all been updated to "ex", in which case the search might fail since she was a friend back then?

Coming up with a good keywords system is something that only geeks and secretaries are going to do. Your average person will at best pick a couple keywords, then complain they can't find stuff because they didn't use the right keywords, or that every single document comes up because all the mail is tagged as "email" and nothing else.

Re:This would be easy (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510985)

Except that when this happens to me it's normally shared on some stupid multi-terrabyte windows-hosted nightmare fileshare connected by what seems like an IPoCP (RFC 2549) link and the search you describe would take three days. Most of the time Open Office's recent-opened list saves me; but not always.

ReiserFS FTW (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25510487)

...and if you diagree I'm gonna hack you into bits and make a garbage bag your final resting place.

The Notorious Yet Amazing ReiserFS (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510807)

The best system that I've seen that provides a unified name spaces, database, and file system is the very notorious Reiser File System. You can find out more at: http://web.archive.org/web/20071023172417/www.namesys.com/ [archive.org] .

What I like about it is the ability to search, find things, and the way that it can handle tiny chunks of data in their own tiny files as well as massive data files and directories with massive amounts of data. Who needs a database when one has a system like ReiserFS?

Bringing the advanced file system name space and search capabilities upwards into applications and presenting it to the user ensures that one uniform model is presented from the ground up through all layers of the illusion to the user.

Maybe the current implementation has problems but it can be improved...

While I'm not using the actual implementation in my system to end all systems I'm making use of a number of the key ideas in the ReiserFS system. Read the papers on the archived web site linked above.

Semantic desktop (5, Interesting)

oever (233119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510545)

Merging the efforts of Nepomuk [kde.org] and new file systems like brtfs are the way to go with this. Handling of file events can be done better than what we have now with inotify. File systems should allows plugins to update indexes on files within the file system structure and file systems should allow queries and query monitors directly.

DBPedia shows the power of SPARQL and implementing an efficient storage for it into a file system is the first step forward. Then user interfaces in GNOME and KDE can take advantage of the queries that are currently very expensive to do.

Ubuntu is in a good position to help out on the Nepomuk effort. Mandriva is already sponsoring this work. More support for this desktop-independent project would be a boon for achieving the file system Mark is looking for.

Re:Semantic desktop (4, Interesting)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511201)

Why not the other way around?

Get rid of the file system at the OS level.

Treat every document (text file, source code, song, album, web page, picture, movie, contact, email message, etc) as an object, with associated tags: class, interfaces, metadata, etc, and store it in a database.

Locate the objects by querying the database, not by going through a hierarchical tree (eg. 'find-object type:program, name:"python" version:2.5' instead of "/usr/bin/python2.5" - yeah, more typing, but consider this: when the object is not found, the system already has ALL the info necessary to download and install it, and all of its dependencies - just catch the exception thrown when "no matches found in local storage", invoke apt-get like magic on it, retry).

Remove the distinction between "regular" memory and cache, and just make whole RAM a big cache for accessing on-disk objects. Ensure object persistence across reboots - no more shutting down, hibernation the only way. No swap file or partition needed - the whole disk is a swap area. The anonymous memory (the malloc()/new one) is no longer anonymous - it belongs to the process object. Versioning - use the free space to hold older revisions of every object (unless explicitly marked not to do so - in case of /var like stuff or highly confidential data), and rm old backups as more space is needed for "current" (or more recent) objects.

Permissions - get rid of Unix permissions or ACLs and use capabilities, eventually use different namespaces for each running process (like Plan9 does it). Get rid of all-powerful root.

Exchange of objects over the network? Serialization (for example, turn the "image" object into a regular jpg or png, store other metadata in associated xml file, and pack everything into a zip or gzipped tarball).

Legacy apps? Implement the traditional file system API in a library, some LD_PRELOAD tricks or whatever. For example every object with a "type: program" tag would be accessible from /bin/, /sbin, /usr/bin...

The only problem?

$ apt-cache search ".*"|wc -l

25221

The transition would be ***painful***.

Anyway, if I'd be doing an OS from scratch (I tried some time ago - definitely not a task for a team of one human), that's how I'd do it.

Obligatory... (-1, Troll)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510555)

Vi! NO, EMACS! etc. Lather rinse repeat.

Just run an all-Microsoft environment (-1, Flamebait)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510577)

Just run standard Microsoft office software with Microsoft networking and Windows Search enabled, and you won't have these problems. This is an issue that Microsoft does try hard to address.

He's whining that someone sent him pirated music over Empathy's IM file transfer system, and now he can't find it to open it in the Amarok music player. So he says we need a new file system technology. Right.

Re:Just run an all-Microsoft environment (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510591)

Yeah, that's going to work for someone who's trying to make money selling Linux.

Re:Just run an all-Microsoft environment (1)

pseudonomous (1389971) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510701)

KDE has had this feature for awhile and unless the window's search has improved radically since Windows 2000 it's still just as bad.

And this is relevant to the discussion... (1)

tehBoris (1120961) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510757)

how?

Alright, the good (!?) folks at Redmond have a nifty --if limited-- solution to this problem, but we're talking about Linux here.

Also, that 'pirated music' bit wasn't a rant, it was a use case. It would be good if read more carefully TFS before trolling on teh ./

Expansive syntax, and the work required.... (4, Informative)

ka9dgx (72702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510615)

Version control, searching, and all of the other advances since the first directory tree are good things to add, but they must be supported down to the application level.

VAX/VMS had a wonderful system of versioning baked right into things, if you worked on a file, it kept versions for you as you saved them....

login.com;1
login.com;2
login.com;3
.. etc.

The default was the last version, unless you explicitly chose a different one. This is an incredibly useful tool, and I still miss it to this day, 20 years after I last used it.

If you can't express an idea explicitly, your power of expression is radically limited. If we can get consensus and support a bigger set of expressions, we can do a whole bunch of cool new stuff. As long as we follow the leader, we'll never do anything this innovative, and we'll always be playing catch up.

It won't be easy!

To do even this simple thing with Linux, all of our applications would have to be re-written to enable a new file specification syntax, hopefully one reasonably compatible with the past. We're talking about a shitload of work, so it's important to agree on a set of goals first, to avoid having to re-do it later.

--Mike--

Re:Expansive syntax, and the work required.... (2, Insightful)

pseudonomous (1389971) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510749)

Isn't this just a less elegant approach then having a versioning file system? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZFS#Snapshots_and_clones [wikipedia.org] http://www.ext3cow.com/Welcome.html [ext3cow.com] And if you really, really want to do it this way, just consistently use "save-as"

Re:Expansive syntax, and the work required.... (2, Funny)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510791)

To do even this simple thing with Linux, all of our applications would have to be re-written to enable a new file specification syntax, hopefully one reasonably compatible with the past. We're talking about a shitload of work, so it's important to agree on a set of goals first, to avoid having to re-do it later.

And there you have it, that is the advantage that open source really has. Backwards compatibility can be dropped fairly quickly because other software that relies on those APIs can be rewritten by the same people who changed the API.

Re:Expansive syntax, and the work required.... (5, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510809)

To do even this simple thing with Linux, all of our applications would have to be re-written to enable a new file specification syntax,

Why? Hans Reiser demonstrated that files can be directories too, without breaking the VFS layer.

Say we bake versioning into the file system. You want the old versions of /home/user/shopping-list.txt; you go look in /home/user/shopping-list.txt/old/1. If you want the one from yesterday you go for /home/user/shopping-list.txt/old/bytime/2008-10-24.00:00:00, and the file system figures out which of the old versions was present at that time.

Same old syntax. The name resolution is handled differently, but that's all in the file system. You could probably even write a fuse file system that adds a layer of versioning on top of another file system. No need to ever touch the apps.

If you want the duct tape solution: write a shell script that checks whether anything changed every n minutes, then commit your home directory to subversion/git/....

Do you have any numbers on how much space was used on extra versions for a "typical" distribution of files and usage patterns? TANSTAAFL and all that ;)

Re:Expansive syntax, and the work required.... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511099)

Do you have any numbers on how much space was used on extra versions for a "typical" distribution of files and usage patterns? TANSTAAFL and all that ;)

Of course it did take up space and you had to do some maintenance to reclaim that, but ATEOTD if you've bought a disk with N capacity and you only use N/2, it follows that the rest of it is essentially wasted. Might as well do something useful with it.

Re:Expansive syntax, and the work required.... (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511211)

but ATEOTD if you've bought a disk with N capacity and you only use N/2, it follows that the rest of it is essentially wasted. Might as well do something useful with it.

I come dangerously close to 100% before buying new storage. I even delete videos I'm done watching just to reclaim space [I can always download them again if I need them]. You're correct, but the condition of your if-statement is only true for 5% of the disk lifespan.

I'm not trying to say "wah wah it uses more space". I'm trying find out whether it's worth complaining about :)

You had to do some maintenance to reclaim that

Here's an interesting idea I just had: when the disk is full, it automatically runs through the non-newest versions of all files from oldest to newest, and deletes the old ones. Or perhaps some smart consideration of both age and freed-up size. But if the numbers say it doesn't give back much space...

I heard that the complete kernel revision history, as packed by git, takes up half the size of a single checkout. That's a very particular usage pattern, so be wary of generalizing this data.

Re:Expansive syntax, and the work required.... (2, Interesting)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510975)

HAMMER [dragonflybsd.org] provides similar capabilities; you can view files, directories, or entire filesystems as of specific versions. "hammer history foo" to find the history of a file, then look at foo@@[id] to view the file at any given point.

Re:Expansive syntax, and the work required.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25511001)

yes, but what if you dont know where the file is kept? MS Windows is terrible at randomly, across apps and versions of the OS storing stuff.

Theres an easy solution with something like dtrace - for every file created, create a single audit trail in /FILES so you can access every file. Of course, one has to distinguish user files from, e.g. firefox cache files.

The solution is ever so easy, but no OS or application has a clue.

Re:Expansive syntax, and the work required.... (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511095)

I still use VMS today at work (on Alpha and Itanium). I'd like to point out that versioning like this works a hell of a lot better on small text files than larger binary files. You also tend to get initimate with the purge command (which leaves deletes old versions) otherwise your sysadmin gets narky when you run out of disk. Half the time you just end up running a purge of everything but the latest version, negating the benefit of having the versioning in the first place.

Note too that VMS lacks a lot of what Unix has, like decent command chaining. In fact the sytax is very clumsy but it's hard to hold that against a system that's so old (although backward compatible improvements would be very welcome). What's much worse is that as a developer, I still can't easily set up a system at home because it costs an arm and a leg and I need specialized hardware and hobbyist licenses though available require you to jump through hoops. VMS is very much a proprietary HP solution.

Re:Expansive syntax, and the work required.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25511223)

I don't know if I'd call VMS versioning "wonderful". I found it annoying. But it sure was great for selling extra disk storage as people left 5, 20, or 40 versions of files around because they didn't know how to remove them from their accounts.

Why? (5, Insightful)

wumpus188 (657540) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510643)

... just finished editing a critical report, saved it, and then couldn't locate it to deliver to their client.

Well, there are some people who can't find Pacific Ocean on the map. I dont see map makers running around in panic, thinking how to make their maps more accessible to the general population...

Re:Why? (1)

elmartinos (228710) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510785)

What's interesting is that maps of the world have a quite good relation to where the locations really are. There are some projection methods which are good enough to put the information on a 2D map. The problem is that this is not possible or very difficult for other information like all your documents on your harddisk. Tree structures don't work very well because its impossible to find one single tree where everything fits nicely into just one section. Tagging and search is usually better but its also not the holy grail.

Re:Why? (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510941)

Well, there are some people who can't find Pacific Ocean on the map. I dont see map makers running around in panic, thinking how to make their maps more accessible to the general population...

I think it's just a shortage:

Well, I personally believe
that
U.S. Americans are unable to do so
because uh, some
people out there in our nation
don't have maps

And we should all help Mark Shuttleworth make more maps!

and I believe that our education like
such as South Africa
[...]
I believe that they should
our education over here!
in the U.S.
should the the U.S.,
should help South Africa

I mean, think of the children! You don't hate children, do you?

so we will be able to build up
our future
for our children

(watch more intellectual roadkill at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WALIARHHLII [youtube.com] )

Re:Why? (1)

Dr. Tom (23206) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511033)

That's right. Why did the user lose the file? Maybe it would be good for the user to learn how to remember filenames, or what a folder is, or otherwise how to use the tools required for work.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

Sentry21 (8183) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511183)

Yes, but most users don't create the pacific ocean, save it in the default location, and then have no idea whatsoever where that default location is, because it's not a fixed location across all apps, it never says it anywhere except the Save dialog, and it's not a sensible, obvious default.

That's the problem we're trying to solve here - not 'clueless users lose things', but 'regular users get confused when every program saves somewhere different by default'.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

finity (535067) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511257)

Ever used Google Maps? If you can't find something on the map, just type it in.

UI guidelines (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25510709)

So...it seems that someone on Linux has realized the benefit of UI guidelines.

Linux: 30 years behind Apple on the desktop - but they're catching up!

I think he failed to identify the problem (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510723)

I've personally had the experience of trying to find a file for a customer who had just finished editing a critical report, saved it, and then couldn't locate it to deliver to their client.

So the user decides not to pay attention to where the file was saved (I mean, you do get to choose where it goes, it does not just happen) and later has difficulty locating it. Yes, that is unpleasant, but is additional complexity in the file system really the best solution? I am honestly not sure how I feel about that. At the same time I agree that there are "user error" type of problems that better technology can either prevent or mitigate, I also feel like some of the proposed solutions I have heard are borderline ridiculous, that at some point there needs to be a minimum expectation of competence on the part of the user.

Is it really too much to ask of a user that they understand that it is a machine, an inanimate object, and it generally does only what they tell it to do (insert Windows jokes here), and that if they tell it to do something by mistake (like saving a file in an unintended location), the mistake is theirs and not the machine's? If that is too much to ask, then what is a more reasonable standard? How far should we go to accommodate users who, to put it bluntly, refuse to take responsibility for their actions?

It's like that Unix saying, (paraphrase) "Unix doesn't try to stop you from doing something stupid, because that would also stop you from doing something clever". I like that, not because I think it's witty but because in my opinion, it reveals a design philosophy that assumes that maybe this is new to you and you don't understand everything right now, but one day you do wish to understand how the system works and you do wish to achieve a degree of mastery over it. I really believe that just about anyone who really wants to understand something can do so, that gradually getting better and better at something over time is the most natural thing in the world unless you keep telling yourself that it's too hard. That's why I really don't understand these "permanent newbies", the people who can use a system for five years without grasping the basics. They claim that they are not interested in understanding, but it seems like they are strongly interested in not understanding. Is there something to be gained by accommodating this?

Re:I think he failed to identify the problem (2, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510963)

They claim that they are not interested in understanding, but it seems like they are strongly interested in not understanding. Is there something to be gained by accommodating this?

Not really. It will just make systems appear childlike in nature to those who are willing to learn, and generally unpleasant to use. Of course, I started out in 1975 on a mainframe and spent a lot of years after that at the command line, so perhaps I'm not the best person to ask. But, like most other things in life, there's a balance that has to be struck, and no matter what you do people will still be required to learn something about their machines.

A lot of that goes to motivation: people learn some pretty damn complex activities when it comes to earning a driver's license, for example. Yet, when it comes to a computer many of those same people can't be bothered to put forth one iota of effort.

Re:I think he failed to identify the problem (2, Insightful)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511231)

A lot of that goes to motivation: people learn some pretty damn complex activities when it comes to earning a driver's license, for example

That's because cars only have one level of user interface. If they were sometimes required to directly push the levers to turn right, cut the ignition wire to stop the car, or remove and disassemble the motor (and then rebuild it) to recharge fuel, they would all use taxis.

Re:I think he failed to identify the problem (2)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511025)

It's easy to avoid understanding a system at a deep level. People are pretty good at memorizing steps to get a job done. That doesn't mean they have any deep understanding of what they're doing. While this is a decent short-term way to get from point a to b, it's worthless if the steps change in any small way, of course. This is why continuously changing interfaces are a big deal to companies and office workers - most software developers don't understand this, because they think about things in an entirely different way than many computer users.

Deeper understanding generally comes from interacting with a system in many ways over time. Many employees have a very narrow window (no pun intended) though which they view the computer. Imagine how little you would learn if your only responsibility was to use some office productivity software to create documents, and occasionally use e-mail. To you, the entire computing experience would be viewed though the use of these applications. In fact, you'd likely be hard-pressed to make any differentiation between the applications, the operating system, and the computer itself.

This used to be a mystery to me as well, until I spent a considerable amount of time working with non-technical users in an office environment. I used to bang my head against the wall trying to encourage a deeper understanding of the computers and operating systems, because it would help people be more efficient and self-sufficient. In the end, I realized that no one *wanted* to do this. So I set up simple methods for people to accomplish the specific tasks they wanted to in a few easy, well-defined steps. If something went wrong, they called me and I fixed the problem. And while their methods were not exactly as optimal as they could be, they were still a hell of a lot more optimal than not using the computers at all.

Bottom line: there are a large percentage of people who are simply not interested in "mastering" the complexities and intricacies of an operating system. They just want to get their work done.

Re:I think he failed to identify the problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25511043)

So the user decides not to pay attention to where the file was saved (I mean, you do get to choose where it goes, it does not just happen) and later has difficulty locating it.

The problem is that depending on what application you're using it may or may not be clear exactly where you're saving things.

Under Windows, for example, things generally get saved into "My Documents." But recently my wife downloaded something in Firefox and was not prompted for a save location, it just dropped it into whatever folder Firefox 3 thinks is the default. She checked the desktop - nope! Checked her documents - nope! Turns out that Firefox 3 under Vista likes to put things in a folder called "Downloads." Makes sense, I guess, but that fact is never made terribly clear anywhere. Nor is the fact that under Vista what used to be "My Documents" has been replaced with a separate folder called "Documents" and all the special folders that used to be in there are now their own folders inside your profile directory.

And some other pieces of software make things even more vague because of the way they display their information. My media player, for example, just gives me a library view of all my music. That's great, but it doesn't indicate anywhere on the screen where that library is located. I have to dig into some configuration screens to discover that all my music is on a network share. Some random person who sat down at my computer would have absolutely no idea that the music wasn't actually on my own HDD.

Re:I think he failed to identify the problem (5, Interesting)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511111)

So the user decides not to pay attention to where the file was saved (I mean, you do get to choose where it goes, it does not just happen)

This isn't strictly true, as each program has a default action on saving a file. Some default to desktop, or to "My Documents" or ask for a directory by default. Others may do "smart" checking and try to sort the files depending on what file type gets detected. It's this wide variation that's the problem. Even for someone who is knowledgeable enough to handle the situation without help, it's still a pain in the ass (and waste of time) to dig out the setting and replace it with your preferred setting.

Yes, that is unpleasant, but is additional complexity in the file system really the best solution?

Probably not the best solution. Better would be for the OS developers to set a standard directory scheme and enforce other developers to comply with it. If you want to change the scheme you can dig in and do it yourself. Of course, this may not be practical, as it may prove more complex to enforce compliance (and still keep things customizable) than it would be to bolt on the same functionality in the file system.

that at some point there needs to be a minimum expectation of competence on the part of the user.

But who gets to decide what that expectation is? Don't forget, computers are not "for" hobbyists, developers, experts and geeks, they are for normal people to make their other tasks easier. The more time these people spend training and raising their minimum level of computer knowledge, the less time they spend doing their real work/play, the less value the computer has for them.

Is it really too much to ask of a user that they understand that it is a machine, an inanimate object, and it generally does only what they tell it to do (insert Windows jokes here), and that if they tell it to do something by mistake (like saving a file in an unintended location), the mistake is theirs and not the machine's?

Yes it is too much to ask, because it's not true. Computers as machines do what developers tell them to do. The amount of instructions given by the programmer vis-a-vis object code vastly outnumbers the number of instructions a typical user is going to issue to the machine. This is necessarily true since each instruction given by a user is a blind proxy for at least one instruction (and probably more like hundreds or thousands of instructions) given by a developer.

Users can't be expected to predict a) all the myriad directions that a programmer has given/is giving the computer and b) the effects of the user's instructions when interpreted in the context of the programmer's instructions and assumptions. Most users are bad at using computers effectively because they don't understand how developers think. You wanna try teaching them how you think?

If that is too much to ask, then what is a more reasonable standard? How far should we go to accommodate users who, to put it bluntly, refuse to take responsibility for their actions?

Well, in my opinion, I think we're pretty close to the reasonable standard right now. People can decide for themselves how much they want to learn, how much pain they want to suffer for their ignorance versus how much time they want to spend reducing their ignorance, and vote with their wallet. You're basically saying that you want users to learn more, to make developers' lives easier, but in fact developers get paid to make users' lives easier. Maybe the developers should do their jobs better.

It's like that Unix saying, (paraphrase) "Unix doesn't try to stop you from doing something stupid, because that would also stop you from doing something clever". I like that, not because I think it's witty but because in my opinion, it reveals a design philosophy that assumes that maybe this is new to you and you don't understand everything right now, but one day you do wish to understand how the system works and you do wish to achieve a degree of mastery over it.

That's great and all, but what is someone who's a graphics designer, for example, going to do with their mastery over a Unix system? What good does it do a visual artist to know how to build a makefile or compile a kernel? Wouldn't their time be better spent gaining a mastery of Photoshop (or I suppose the Gimp) and forget about trying to master Unix?

I really believe that just about anyone who really wants to understand something can do so

Whoops, that's wrong. 1) there is simply too much to understand, people have to be selective in what they choose to learn. There simply isn't enough time to learn anything. Most people choose not to learn the finer points of computer systems. 2) you are assuming that everyone is as intelligent as you are. This is a fallacy common to people who occupy the right side of the bell curve, and is just false. Not everyone can learn what you can learn.

They claim that they are not interested in understanding, but it seems like they are strongly interested in not understanding.

Take them at their word. They don't care, they don't have time to care, they may not have the ability to learn as much as you think they should learn.

Is there something to be gained by accommodating this?

Yes, since they make up by far the largest sector of the computer market, in business and in home computing. Without plain old ignorant users, we'd still be paying $3-4k for 486's. It's these people who drive the whole industry, with their demand not just for computers, but for computers that do the things they don't have time/inclination/money to do for themselves.

Re:I think he failed to identify the problem (4, Insightful)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511167)

So the user decides not to pay attention to where the file was saved

Of course the user paid attention to where the file was saved: it was saved in Word, inside the Save As... dialog. But when she tried to recover the file using the Open..., the file was no longer there. That's what Shuttleworth means when he says there are two completely different mental models of content storage: one is tied to functionality in applications, the other is a tree of folders and files.

Users understand perfectly that it is a machine that should do only what they tell it to do. They get upset when the machine *doesn't* do what they told them, because the machine changed their data to a different level of abstraction that they don't know about. To someone without a complete mental model of the inner workings of a computer, those different abstraction levels are a source of utter confusion.

You geeks only see the last one, and typical users only see the first one - and when they are required to jump the gap between the two completely unrelated abstractions, they are lost. At least the "My Documents" kind of folders tries to simplify the model so that users don't have to learn the two models.

So don't blame the users of something that is fault of the software designer [wikipedia.org] because of their insufficient research about the human API. Throwing layers upon layers of abstraction is a good way to tell programmers how the machine works, but it's not good for everybody else. If you designed a machine that only required one abstraction layer to be used efficiently [wikipedia.org] , users would love to learn it to the highest proficiency.

Re:I think he failed to identify the problem (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511195)

I just used my last mod point on a less worthy post, but I'll blow it off in order to say that I agree with the parent, and to add that I wholeheartedly despise the all-too-common mindset that expects and even encourages people to stay ignorant their whole lives.

So merge Reiser4 already (2, Insightful)

m50d (797211) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510727)

Seriously, there are efforts in place for more advanced filesystems - but it's all to no avail when the linux kernel will neither merge these into its tree, nor provide a stable API for them to be maintained outside it. It's kernel politics that's the biggest thing holding back linux filesystem development.

What's wrong with directories? (4, Insightful)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510729)

...had the experience of trying to find a file for a customer who had just finished editing a critical report, saved it, and then couldn't locate it...

None of this would be an issue if folks were competent and created directories themselves, and Word (or whatever) asked where to save stuff, as opposed to just assuming (or insisting on) some default system provided directory.

Am I the only person who hates those "My Documents" folders? Or on a Mac iTunes insisting on putting music in a certain weird place? I want to create my own folders, and maintain why own directory structure, and know exactly where stuff is because I put it there---not because Microsoft/Apple/Ubuntu think that's where I should keep stuff.

For the most part, maintaining my own folders for stuff works out just fine (easy backup, easy moving among environments, etc.), except when some program assumes it knows better, and saves a file "somewhere"; really hate it when that happens.

ie: The problem is caused by Microsoft/Apple (and Linux following) to cater to stupid users who just want to create a document and not care where it is saved. Those same users probably wouldn't be able to locate the file (for copy/backup, etc) unless they use the same program they used to create the file.

Re:What's wrong with directories? (4, Insightful)

Mwongozi (176765) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510943)

Or on a Mac iTunes insisting on putting music in a certain weird place? I want to create my own folders, and maintain why own directory structure, and know exactly where stuff is because I put it there---not because Microsoft/Apple/Ubuntu think that's where I should keep stuff.

I know that you're not really looking for a solution - but that behaviour in iTunes is optional. You can turn it off, and then iTunes will use whatever folder structure you've already got.

The thing is that 99% of iTunes users don't know, and don't want to know, exactly where in the filesystem their music is stored, they just want to click on iTunes and see it. So that option is on by default.

Re:What's wrong with directories? (2, Insightful)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511153)

The "My Documents" folder is not a weird place, is the only one that can be accessed in a sane way from the Save and Load dialogs. Normal user data is tied to the applications they use (the filesystem *is* the weird place to put data), so it's just natural that their mental model of storage is mediated by the application storage functions.

the answer... (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510739)

to crappy applications isn't to tack it onto the kernel. Ken Thompsons paper, written 30 odd years ago, reprinted in linuxjournal.com/article/2792, provides a better framework for understanding why this approach is so brain damaged.

On the other hand, every program within Gnome [ or whatever the desktop bling of the day is ] should co-ordinate ideas like 'recently referenced/saved/etc.... files', so that after clicking save in 'on app', I can find it immediately in the next app. That doesn't need any kernel work [ or even use of inotify like hacks ] to achieve.

Beware of the curse of Reiser (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510787)

Meddle not in the ways of filesystems. Lest you succumb to the curse of Reiser.

Every old idea will be... (2, Insightful)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510795)

We need a consistent experience across GNOME, KDE, OpenOffice and Firefox so that content can flow from app to app in a seamless fashion and the user's expectations can be met no matter which app or environment they happen to use.

In Windows we have survived several such attempts. e.g. "Recent File" or "Documents" in Start menu; or the useless location buttons in open/save file dialogs.

Let's just hope I would be still able to open a file at random location. Because the statement makes me feel that eventually I would be able to find all possible files - system thinks I may need to find, but not the files I actually need.

I've personally had the experience of trying to find a file for a customer who had just finished editing a critical report, saved it, and then couldn't locate it to deliver to their client.

Orienting future development on full idiots worked well in past... Or not? Well, GNOME full of it already and another drop of inusability into the mix will not hurt much its rabid fans.

As they say, give man a fish...

P.S. rfc1925, ch 11.

Simple solution (5, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510859)

If someone sends a file to me over Empathy, and I want to open it in Amarok, then I shouldn't have to work with two completely different mental models of content storage.

And you wouldn't have to, if every app would just show the frigging directory tree as it exists, instead of trying to fool the user with a random bunch of stupid fake roots in every GUI.

In other words ... (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510871)

If someone sends a file to me over Empathy, and I want to open it in Amarok, then I shouldn't have to work with two completely different mental models of content storage.

Yet another abstraction layer.

Is a new file system necessary... (0, Offtopic)

Narnie (1349029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510887)

Is a new file system really necessary for doing that? How about just restricting the user to what directories he's saving files to. ie:
.doc files go to the "doc" folder
.txt files go to the "txt" folder
.jpg files go to the "jpg" folder
.imafuckingstupididiotwhoiswastingyouroxygen go to the imafuckingstupididiotwhoiswastingyouroxygen folder
Think of it as a car problem. The user is having a hard time remembering how to keep the car on the road. Instead of redesigning how the road is constructed, install guard rails. If the driver still manages to drive the car off the road, the driver is an idiot and the gene pool is better off chlorinated.

My Easy Way To Find Lost Files (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510893)

When I misplace a file I simply search on its extension for all files modified today. I never realized that this was such a big deal.

Or... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510923)

Or you could just go back to the recently used file list and resave it in the proper location.

Not part of the kernel (1)

nawcom (941663) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510927)

Remembering where files that you last accessed or other forms of this type of organization shouldn't be part of the filesystem at all. It will only make things go slower. If the main problem here is that people don't remember where they saved their files (a la PEBKAC) then there should be something that should be mandatory for open file dialogs (in gnome(gtk2) or kde(qt3/4) - a recently accessed file tab. Hell, if you want, you can even have it remember all files that were last accessed in a small db if you want to make it desktop environment-wide for all programs to access instead of only finding the files accessed by that specific app, but i think that would be overkill.

Anyways. Shittleworth should remember what the Linux kernel is, and that it shouldn't be designed around stupid peoples preferences. (yes, i've been using Linux since the mid 90s so I'm no anti-gpl troll). Nepomuk [semanticdesktop.org] is an interesting project to check out. As for making a filesystem that does all this stuff by itself - not worth it.

This is all great but umm... (1)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25510971)

What does any of it have to do with a better file system?

This is gonna be popular (1)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511009)

Sounds like he wants Office.

Seriously, what the hell was his problem in finding the latest document someone "misplaced" in their PC.

Recent Documents?
find/locate?

I can think of more ways to find a recent document, but so can any other reader here.

But, this idiot thinks it's a new idea to have... What do they call it, a DOCUMENT STANDARD?

Can't even call this one fake advertising.

--Toll_Free

recent experience with a new Linux user (5, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511019)

My mother in law in upstate NY had a Windows box that she used for exactly two purposes: email, and playing online Scrabble. Her Windows machine got full of malware, to the point where it wouldn't even boot. While she was visiting us in California this summer, I set up a machine with Ubuntu for her to use, and she got fairly comfortable with GNOME and Firefox. I sent an Ubuntu install CD home with her on the plane, and she went ahead and installed it with virtually no problems. I only had to talk her through a couple of issues on the phone, the main one being non-Linux-related: her BIOS wasn't set to boot from a CD.

She got going with email, and then it was time to get her set up for scrabble. The one she plays isn't the famous facebook one, it's a java program that accesses a club's server in Romania. Well, I think I spent about an hour with her on the phone, and we still don't have it working. One thing that took us a heck of a long time was that when she downloaded the jar file for the scrabble app, neither of us could figure out where the file had gone. Probably if I'd been in the same room with her it would have only taken me thirty seconds to locate the file, but over the phone, it was more like I was experiencing it from her point of view, and it was completely confusing. She was clicking around in the Firefox download manager, in the GNOME file manager, all with no luck. It seriously took her about 20 minutes, *with my help*, to find the file. It probably didn't help that I use fluxbox myself, and am not familiar with GNOME or its file manager. (Now we're almost there, except that apparently she's got a completely dysfunctional version of the java runtime installed. You click on the widgets in the program's UI, and it doesn't respond.)

Anyway, what kind of indictment is it of Firefox/GNOME's usability when it's easier to install Linux than to find the file you just downloaded?

Of course now I have to slap a steel helmet on my head to withstand the inevitable onslaught of know-it-all slashdotters telling me what an idiot I am, and how I could have easily found the file. Of course that's always how it is with usability. To the person who already knows how to use the software, it seems painfully obvious.

Leading the way by going back to 2003? (1)

DraconPern (521756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511029)

"throw out the old "files and folders" metaphor and leap to something new" - sounds like WinFS?
"They import a picture into F-spot and then have no idea how to attach it to an email." - picasa?
"single-file version control system" - Shadow Copy
"We need a consistent experience" - Windows, OS X

"it would be phenomenal if free software were leading the way"? - I don't see any new ideas here that hasn't been implemented before.

identify the wrong problem get the wrong solution (3, Insightful)

daveb (4522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511093)

The problem is that the user couldn't find a file. The solution is a better INTERFACE - this has absolutly nothing to do with the file system!

From the headline I thought this was going to be about lost/cross-linked clusters not idiotic users forgetting where something is saved. You can improve the problem in this story by implementing better and more intuitive search features through to overhalling the traditional file-browser window implimented on all OS's that I see.

These changes are independent on the underlying file system which could be anything from fat16 through to reiser ... heck it could even be PICK or a relational DB. Of course - some FS's naturally lend themselves to a particular style of search/browsing - but that simply makes it easer/harder for the interface developer. They are still very seperate things.

Changing the file system will NOT solve this problem

PEBKAC (1)

opencity (582224) | more than 5 years ago | (#25511161)

Redundant but why not:

If you can't find the file, there's a user problem here.

Simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25511171)

Bring back the filesystem as a database and allow extensible columns attached to any file.

select * from pr0n where hair = 'red';

Err, I mean, uh...

select * from reports where type = 'TPS';

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