Mon 01 Mar 2004 20:55:35 GMT

March 1, 2004

I’ve not posted in a few days but I just read havoc’s post about gconf. And I’m a touch irate. Let’s quote a bit:

For the average admin, the primary mistakes in gconf (other than multiple-login design bugs) seem to be things that are confusing.

Now let’s figure this one out.

What this sentence should say is:

The average admin can figure out most confusing and horribly confusing configuration file format. What they cannot figure out is how multiple logins and roaming users are not supported, at all.

On its best day gconfd is horribly broken with regard to users of networks of machines where, as is the most common, the home directory is shared out using a networked file system – like nfs or afs.

Give sysadmins some credit. We’ve figured out sendmail.cf, fvwm’s m4 abomination and many of us suffer through cisco ios’ butchering of config styles, we can sort out gconf’s own format.

The thing that most admins cannot sort out is how to correct a designed-in problem that causes applications and MOST of the gnome desktop to keel over when a user decides to walk down the hall to check on something and login to a machine there when they’ve not logged out from their desk.

I know how neat it is to have automatic application notification of configuration changes. That’s neat, it’s pretty, it has nifty effects. Yay. It is not obvious to me that this feature is worth sacrificing roaming network users. If anyone doubts the existence of roaming users on a network of machine I’d like to invite them to duke to follow the average undergrad or grad student around and count the number of machines they login to and/or logout of.

If gnome wants to be deployed on networks, especially corporate and/or academic networks in a large scale they must fix this problem.

So before you get too deep into data formats or where the files should be or look like I think it is imperative for various parties involved in gconf to sit down and figure out some solution to the gconfd network-login problem. It has to happen.

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