A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

Emerson would probably add prima donna open source programmers to that quote today.

One of the major obstacles to the smooth operation of open source programming can be demonstrated with some classic bugs:

Bug 5566 - ALT attribute value sometimes not displayed when image is missing

This bug has been sitting around for almost 7 years now, and broken web pages have been displayed correctly in firefox and incorrectly in chrome for that entire time.

The HTML standards say you should display the alt text when the image isn't available. The bug says webkit isn't doing that. Seems simple and straightforward, right?

But no! For seven years, the maintainers have been dithering around trying to decide if there is something they can do that is more sublimely flawless than merely following the $#@! standard.

They keep trying to drag in the title attribute and wondering how they ought to behave under thousands of vaguely related conditions that have nothing to do with the original bug report. People commenting on the bug over the years keep pointing this out and screaming and pulling their hair till they are reduced to gibbering and drooling in the corner.

Yet still, the bug is not fixed.

At this point, it seems inevitable that it won't get fixed till the current maintainers move on to something else in their lives (or get run over by a beer truck) or a frustrated clique of new developers fork the project and convince everyone using it to switch to their fork.

Bug 212649 - Missing grub-set-default command

This is a classic case of closing the barn door after the horse is gone.

Years ago, redhat created their own fork of grub, changed the way some things worked, yet didn't bother to change the documentation to reflect the differences.

Over the years, people running into the difference have wasted thousands of man hours in the mistaken belief that the documentation was correct (always a risky assumption with linux).

Now, in 2012, they are finally updating the documentation.

Unfortunately, also in 2012, redhat have almost entirely switched to grub2 instead of grub.

What a useful time to finally update the docs...

Bug 136541 - poor discoverability of text entry box in filechooser open dialog impairs accessibility

This is one of my favorite bugs of all time. It falls into the “Custer Decision” category — No matter how stupid and useless the design, that's the design the committee produced, so by God, that's the interface we are gonna foist on every GTK user in the universe!

Reading the comments in the bug, it is a wonder half the commenters didn't die of apoplexy during the excruciating years it took to eek microscopic consessions from the GTK developers.

Even after the consessions and the closing of the bug, it is still perhaps the most obnoxious standard dialog in all the history of GUI toolkits.

Judging from the developer comments, the design was produced for a host of “typical users” conjured completely from the imaginations of the developers. There were certainly no actual users involved (though over the years I have no doubt actual users have been harmed by this dialog).

Bug 451562 - no way to control X server startup options

In their endless quest for total perfection, the GDM developers utterly removed the gdmsetup tool for controlling the behavior of the GDM login manager. They had to remove it, because they hard coded all the behavior into GDM, thus there were no options that needed setting.

According to legend, the current GDM is merely a temporary stepping stone on the way to perfect enlightenment. Someday it will be flawless, but till then, users should be happy to make slight concessions (such as not being able to do necessary things which were once trivial). After all, they will be so grateful to have a perfect system someday (if they don't die of old age first).

So, the question you have to ask yourself is, why the hell did they foist off this imperfect system on the unsuspecting linux user community? I have no objection to a perfect system, what I object to is a system that is considerably less perfect than the one it replaced. Why not wait to replace it when the perfect system actually appears and till then, stick with the system that works best instead of the one that is merely newest?

Issue 41467: URL bar no longer shows http://

This is pure classic prima donna developer: Literally everyone in the universe absolutely hates and despises this “feature”, but it ain't gonna change — so there! (And while there are many quite rational and calmly stated arguments against the change, the only argument presented for the change appears to be basically: “because I said so”.)

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Page last modified Sun Jul 29 09:11:08 2012