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Old 05-21-2008, 01:38 AM
Bart Silverstrim
 
Default

Mario Vukelic wrote:
> On Tue, 2008-05-20 at 15:35 -0400, Bart Silverstrim wrote:
>> Interesting point, but to answer your question, if the system is broken
>> and they needed the help desk to begin with, something is already
>> impeding them.
>
> But taking over their screen can easily impede them more.

Can. We try not to. Sorry dude, that's just the way it is...I also have
to work around my mechanic's schedule when my car needs service. If they
don't want it fixed I'll stay out of the way.

>> The NMAP front end?
>
> I just looked at screenshots, and while I haven't used it, I think I can
> say two things:
>
> One, it is not a configuration editor as such - it controls several
> independent applications. To make it work as an analogy to Derek's
> proposal (GUI editor that prevents admin from making mistakes), you
> would now have to require that Zenmap allows only combinations of
> options and settings that achieve what the admin intended and don't
> break anything.

It does not configure a configuration file, but it does configure your
command line options for a potentially complex application. And it only
controls nmap, if you're looking at the application I had used.

> <snip>
>> Maybe. It depends on the nature of the edits. Otherwise you couldn't
>> have commented CPP code that can be opened in your favorite IDE/editor.
>
> Hmm, interesting point, but something is wrong with it, i just can't put
> my finger on it right now. I'm sure someone else will

Oh no doubt. We're a particularly chatty bunch all of a sudden...TV must
be repeats.

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Old 05-21-2008, 01:41 AM
Bart Silverstrim
 
Default

Mario Vukelic wrote:
> On Tue, 2008-05-20 at 14:40 -0400, Bart Silverstrim wrote:
>> The statement I made reflected on the quote:
>> **
>> I'm sorry but admins who are reduced to point & click monkeys by
> ^^^^^^^^^^
>> Window's GUI config tools can provide all the arguments that are
>> necessary.
>> **
>>
>> I think that while my statement wasn't tactful, it wasn't unprovoked either.
>
> I had thought that "reduced to" had made it sufficiently clear, but
> sorry for any ambiguity.

No problem. I was being snippier than I should have been. I apologize
for that.

>> [snip stuff I agree with]
>> I still stand by the statement that so far the argument is GUI tools
>> just suck, just use it and you'll know why;
>
> No it isn't. You will find in the archives that it is "mandatory
> imposition of GUI tools is a bad idea, because some task are better done
> with a CLI".

You're right, and that statement is reasonable.

>> this doesn't say what the
>> problem is.
>
> Actually, myself and others have posted several analyses of problems
> with GUI tools, as well as examples.

Well, NOW it's done. At the time in the thread as I had it in my reader
they weren't there... :-p

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Old 05-21-2008, 01:42 AM
Bart Silverstrim
 
Default

Mario Vukelic wrote:
> I just wanted to add to my previous reply that you probably simply
> haven't had the chance to read the analyses and examples I mentioned at
> the end. Too much going on in the thread I didn't mean to have write
> with an unfriendly voice.

Okay, this made me laugh (considering where in chronology I got it and
replied previously).

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Old 05-21-2008, 01:48 AM
Bart Silverstrim
 
Default

Mario Vukelic wrote:
> On Tue, 2008-05-20 at 15:53 -0400, Bart Silverstrim wrote:
>> If you didn't make the interface and it doesn't have that option
>> then no.
>
> I guess that exactly the problem here, being limited to whatever the GUI
> designer thought you'd want to do.

True enough. I could only submit that the GUI will accomplish the task
or purpose it was expressly designed to do, or the itch the particular
<developer/team> wanted to scratch.

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Old 05-21-2008, 01:55 AM
Bart Silverstrim
 
Default

Avi Greenbury wrote:

> The way people learn is they make mistakes, and learn from them. I only
> know what I do because I've broken lots of things in the past. Without
> that access to the core of how the system works (with options named as
> what they do, not dressed up in novice-user-speak), I wouldn't have
> learnt anything except 'don't click there'.

This is becoming a favorite phrase of mine..."I would submit that" there
is a time for learning, and a time for getting the job done. Sometimes I
just need to get it done, but I do love the learning part.

I'd rather not screw up while under the gun to deliver a product,
whether it's completing a service task or getting a program installed
and working.

But other than that I think I agree with you. One of the things I love
about Linux is that when needed you can dig into the workings to get
things working or configure as needed, and it'll let you skirt the edge
of sanity in configurations.

Unfortunately, that also comes with responsibility. Configurability,
choices, they come with responsibility, and people usually don't want to
shoulder that. It's most of the reason, in my opinion, we have so many
problems today with Spam, among other problems.

But that's a different conversation :-)


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Old 05-21-2008, 01:58 AM
Bart Silverstrim
 
Default

Karl Larsen wrote:

> Whenever the subject is servers this list gets 200 messages. I am a
> home user and could not care less about a server.

Um...in case you're not familiar with it, the line between desktop and
server is severely blurred, especially when running a desktop.

The very fact you may have something like SSH running means you're
administrating a server.

And it's not like if you're compromised the trojan/worm/hacker sees a
magic "desktop" setting and gracefully bows out, respecting the fact
that you don't consider your system a server.

-Bart

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Old 05-21-2008, 02:04 AM
Florian Diesch
 
Default

Derek Broughton <news@pointerstop.ca> wrote:

> Florian Diesch wrote:
>
>> Derek Broughton <news@pointerstop.ca> wrote:
>>
>>
>>> _webmin_ - it's the individual modules. Personally (and list members
>>> should by now be getting tired of hearing me say this) I believe that GUI
>>> admin tools are _always_ the right way to do configuration, and this is
>>> pretty much anathema to many of the hardline debian geeks. Configuration
>>> should always be possible through a question/answer system, rather than
>>> hand-editing, because even the most experienced users make mistakes when
>>> hand-editing, while a GUI tool should always prevent syntactic errors.
>>
>> * GUI tools usually don't have things like search, replace, undo,..
>> which makes them hard to work with except for very simple tasks.
>>
>> * Most of them don't support saving and restoring so it's hard to go
>> back to or compare with your old settings
>>
>> * Often they don't support comments which IMHO makes them close to
>> unusable if more than one person is modifying the config or configs
>> are worked with over a long time
>
> Yet again, these are arguments against specific implementations, not
> arguments against doing configuration with tools. There's no excuse for a

I just don't know *any* GUI config tools that supports this things.
And that's just the basics, with text file based configs you easily
get versioning, template or rule based generation, automatic
distribution, ...


> gui tool not supporting save & restore. Heck, if I was writing the tool,
> I'd probably embed svn. Yes, comments are important - so when writing a
> config tool, _make_ people add comments. If you're hand-editing, you
> certainly can't enforce that. The search/replace/undo business is harder
> to implement, but there's no reason at all that the config tool shouldn't
> or couldn't do it.

It's the same as with CLI based syntax checkers: We have to muse
what's there, not what may be possible.




Florian
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Old 05-21-2008, 02:25 AM
Steve Lamb
 
Default

Bart Silverstrim wrote:
> Les Mikesell wrote:
>> But if you have that path in a text file, it becomes a cut/paste

> Are you talking about this operation being done in X? Because that would
> also technically be utilizing a GUI to assist in the administration :-)

Or screen, which is CLI. Or variables, which are programming.

>> How is anything easier to compare than what diff will do to text files
>> or a directory of them?

> Honestly? Because I have had cases where I'm scrolling through a listing
> of a large number of things and the scrolling becomes a solid pattern,
> and the thing I'm looking for is an anomaly.

> Or I put two windows side by side comparing items visually.

vimdiff, absolute godsend. I recently had an upgrade where the patch
files overwrote custom modifications by an admin long since gone. I was
facing digging through about 30-40Mb of JSP source, hundreds of files... and
did I mention I didn't know the language?

> Okay GUIs aren't easily scriptable. That doesn't mean they're
> fundamentally flawed for other tasks any more than saying that the
> command line doesn't easily let me browse hi-res photos.

Agreed. But would you say that CLI's the _only_ way one should browse
hi-res photos or would you concede that maybe a remotely displayed display
(program name, not a double word there, honest) which is CLI might be useful?
Same concept here. We're not saying that GUIs are fundamentally flawed.
Well, I certainly am not. We're just refuting Derek's naive assertion that
GUIs are the only way one should configure things. We're pointing out that
while they are good for configuring a great many things they are not as
ubiquitous Derek thinks precisely because they are flawed for for configuring
other things.

> Preferences are. But there are other benchmarks that can be applied.
> Usability studies and interface research aren't based on magic.

They should be. KDE4 is absolutely abysmal when it comes to usability.
It somewhat mirrors Vista which is universally panned by everyone I've spoken
with. The OSX's interface, in fact most of Apple's interfaces, drive me
absolutely batty at how stupid, limited and otherwise horrible they are. This
is because usability studies often throw the device at a neophyte and tell
them, "hey, can you work this." If they can it's "good UI". Hogwash. It's
an easily learned UI. A good UI lets people do more as they /learn more/.
The CLI is not an easily learned UI but I could not trade the absolute raw
power it affords me.

A simple anecdote on the difference between easy and good. Notepad is
easy, I don't think anyone would refute that. Good? Not a chance. The prime
example is the day when a coworker of mine was scripting something in batch
(that's another story) to update the background image on 300+ machines. He
had a list of machines, one per line, and was culling the cruft and prepending
the copy command one at a time.

After watching him for 3 minutes I was getting frustrated and said, "mind
if help you with that?" Got a copy on my machine, loaded it into vim:
:%s/.*(Ad+).*/copy image.jpg \1/g

Is that easy UI? Hell no. Did it take me a while to learn a third
dialect of regex (Perl, Python, vim, in that order). Oh you bet it did. But
with 20 /seconds/ of work I saved him over an hour of "easy" UI grunt work.

But here's the real catch. Imagine if he had spent 1 hour learning the
"hard" and therefore "bad" UI. How much work would he have saved in him the
months prior and the months since?

> The tools and techniques often aren't a %100 fit. But on average you can
> find trends against which to judge the tool.

Yes. And as we have shown the trend is that for the tasks we're talking
about a GUI configuration has repeatedly failed. Don't get me wrong. I have
once, and will still, argue for GUI configurations. My perfect example of
poor UI design because of over-pushing text configuration; window managers.
Who in their right mind thinks that a window manager, which has icons to
launch applications, is best configured in a text editor? Sure, sure, having
them in a scriptible interface makes stuff like the automatic update of
KDE/GNOME menus on package installs workable. But I'm talking things like
ICEWM or FVWM2 where to get an icon to launch something you *must* fire up a
text editor. Doubleyew....tee....EFF people!?

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PGP Key: 1FC01004 | And dream I do...
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Old 05-21-2008, 02:30 AM
Les Mikesell
 
Default

Bart Silverstrim wrote:
>
>>> I don't have 100 servers, but I have had a fair number of systems to
>>> configure and quite frankly I find a mix to be most appropriate. The
>>> command line is slick and fast (as long as I've already learned about
>>> and know what I am doing). But it gets *unwieldy* when I have a two or
>>> three line set of commands because of long paths or redirects, for
>>> example.
>> But after you have done it once, you can just recall that command and
>> edit it into ssh commands to your other machines, paste it into shell
>> windows running remotely, or paste it into a text file or script for the
>> next time you need to do it.
>
> And backspace to where in the line I need one subtle change from what I
> just executed previously... :-)

Errr, you didn't know bash has multiple command line editing modes? In
that case I'd probably paste long or multiple lines into an editor and back.

>
>>> I have had tasks that are easier with a few typed commands. I've had
>>> some where it's just easier for me to work with a tree of objects. Ever
>>> try navigating the Windows registry by command line? Painful, with some
>>> hive and key names.
>> But if you have that path in a text file, it becomes a cut/paste
>
> Are you talking about this operation being done in X? Because that would
> also technically be utilizing a GUI to assist in the administration :-)

You can do some cut/paste type operation on console mode but I prefer X
with multiple windows since it is easier to see multiple copies of
things and cut/paste among them whether local or remote. I don't mind a
GUI "assisting" at all. I'm only arguing that it isn't going to be
smarter than you are or better at doing similar things in lots of places.

>>> Graphically, it's a cinch, plus easier to compare
>>> two or more keys.
>> How is anything easier to compare than what diff will do to text files
>> or a directory of them?
>
> Honestly? Because I have had cases where I'm scrolling through a listing
> of a large number of things and the scrolling becomes a solid pattern,
> and the thing I'm looking for is an anomaly.

diff file1 file2 |less
now you can use vi-like commands to search and move around
But it is rare for me to have more than a screen of changes in one shot
even in an enormous config file like squid.

> Or I put two windows side by side comparing items visually.

There are an assortment of diff tools to do this. But the point is that
they hide the unchanged parts for you. If you run two copies of a GUI
config tool side by side to compare, you still have to wade through
every screen, and there may be many, hunting for the differences
yourself. On something that mattered, I'd be using cvs or svn and could
use their diff tools or 'viewvc' against the repository to provide a
nice side-by-side color-coded diff view of any two versions ever committed.

>> One problem is that GUI's don't have a way to repeat multiple
>> operations. Or if they do, their programming language in no way
>> resembles their interactive language, where with the command line and
>> shell, a script is exactly the same as the interactive command plus you
>> have some consistent tools for loops and substitutions if you want them.
>
> Okay GUIs aren't easily scriptable. That doesn't mean they're
> fundamentally flawed for other tasks any more than saying that the
> command line doesn't easily let me browse hi-res photos.

Agreed, they can be pretty good at presenting a large but not infinite
number of choices with some context sensitive help. But at some point
you don't want interactivity, you want to give a command and be done
with it.

>> The other is that the safety checks you expect from the GUI are only
>> possible for things where there are a known number of choices.
>
> I guess I'm lost here on how the command line gives you more
> safety...

They don't give you more safety unless you use some of the tools that
you take for granted with text manipulation to verify the differences
against your backup copy, etc. But the command line doesn't give you a
false sense of security either - soft of like not having training wheels
on a bike.

> I've mistyped commands on the command line and hit <enter> to
> accept the command out of just repetitive action, just like clicking the
> <accept> button on installers without fully reading what the dialog had
> to say...?

If it's that repetitive you should script it.

>> Preferences are subjective...
>
> Preferences are. But there are other benchmarks that can be applied.
> Usability studies and interface research aren't based on magic.

But you need to revisit those preferences after you have some
experience. If you study what is best for an inexperienced user, you'll
pick something that is wrong for most of their lives.

--
Les Mikesell
lesmikesell@gmail.com



>
> The tools and techniques often aren't a %100 fit. But on average you can
> find trends against which to judge the tool.
>


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Old 05-21-2008, 04:41 AM
Mario Vukelic
 
Default

On Tue, 2008-05-20 at 21:42 -0400, Bart Silverstrim wrote:
> Okay, this made me laugh (considering where in chronology I got it and
> replied previously).




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