Mozilla Lightning



  • OK, the Real WTF™ is me for actually going with Thunderbird 6 beta. I think I will be un-going with it in a minute, because Mozilla Messaging continue to display their ineptitude in being too wrapped up in their breakneck releasing to actually bother to make Lightning work with Thunderbird 6. Same symptoms exactly as with 5 + Add-on Compatibility Reporter – it loads, but it doesn't read any data, and the Today Pane doesn't know what day it is.

    There was a nightly to work around this with Thunderturd 5 beta, but for 6, there's nothing and the release date is “unlikely”. Unlikely? They're unlikely to release Lightning for Thunderbird 6 at all? WTF? (Sunbird has been scrapped, so that's not an option either.)

    Given that I already have a Heath Robinson arrangement to simulate an Outbox – something Mozilla just don't comprehend, being able to hit Send and let it send in the backgound – I really need to move away from this ghastly contraption of a mail client one day.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    There was a nightly to work around this with Thunderturd 5 beta, but for 6, there's nothing and the release date is “unlikely”. Unlikely? They're unlikely to release Lightning for Thunderbird 6 at all? WTF? (Sunbird has been scrapped, so that's not an option either.)

    I'd guess that means they expect to make it compatible for 5, and they don't expect anything to change in 6. I note some other releases say "skipped," which is partly how I came up with that. But, being Mozilla, who knows.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    being able to hit Send and let it send in the backgound
     

    I don't understand. You mean sending email locks up your Thunderbird?



  • @dhromed said:

    @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    being able to hit Send and let it send in the backgound
     

    I don't understand. You mean sending email locks up your Thunderbird?

    No, in any normal mail client or web-based mail service, you write a message, click Send, the message goes into the Outbox, and the compose window closes or you return to the Inbox and you get on with what you're doing. Thunderbird however decides to leave the compose window there, opens a progress window and sits there waiting for the message to send, which can take a while if you have to log back into the SMTP server etc, and if there's a large attachment ... Yes I can simply switch window manually, but it's a deliberate decision on Mozilla's part to construct a mail client with abnormal behaviour.

    Actually version 5 could have fixed this by now. I don't use Send any more, I use Send Later, and then use a combination of add-ons to arrange to have messages in the Outbox automatically detected and sent in the background. If send fails, I then get a modal dialog appear, and then another one and another one for every failed attempt until it works. If the Send button behaves differently now, I wouldn't know. I'll try to remember to check when I get home.

    There's so much wrong with Thunderbird, though, it's insane. If I compose an HTML e-mail, my font colour isn't preserved. If I reply to one, my text goes out in Arial until something triggers it to return to variable-width, so the font randomly reverts to Times New Roman in the middle of a message, even halfway through a word. Also, my font colour in the compose window overrides the colour of the original message (it basically resets all the text to the same colour regardless of who wrote it), except it seems not to send the colour at all ... To work around useless font size rendering I've wound up where pretty much all text comes out the same size so I have no idea what the recipient sees.

    Plain text compose has a half-arsed attempt at quote colour, except some add-on I have breaks that completely. Mac Outlook Express had dynamic multilevel quote colouring in the compose window, which I attached as an animated GIF screen recording to this RFE I filed in 2007 (note, this is Mac OS 9, not System 7):

    I put up with a lot of nonsense from this program and not being able to even keep Lightning – one of their own major add-ons – compatible, really annoyed me.



  • Thank you kind sir,  you have adequately explained away my misgivings and befuddlement.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    No, in any normal mail client or web-based mail service, you write a message, click Send, the message goes into the Outbox, and the compose window closes or you return to the Inbox and you get on with what you're doing.

    gmail also sends in the foreground, unless you enable the "Background Send" labs feature, which may or may not get removed at any time. 

    Saying that, gmail has many more WTFs: I tried to send a rar archive of an application file to someone, but because it included an executable file in the archive (setup.exe), gmail refused to send the file. Password protecting the archive got it through gmail, but got it bounced by the recipients mail server. Changing the extension on the archive didn't work (gmail still noticed it was an archive and scanned it), so I had to rename the executable within the archive to get it to send. 

     



  • @Mole said:

    Saying that, gmail has many more WTFs: I tried to send a rar archive of an application file to someone, but because it included an executable file in the archive (setup.exe), gmail refused to send the file. Password protecting the archive got it through gmail, but got it bounced by the recipients mail server. Changing the extension on the archive didn't work (gmail still noticed it was an archive and scanned it), so I had to rename the executable within the archive to get it to send.

    It's just punishing you for being that one asshole who always sends a .rar file instead of a .zip.



  • What can I say? I have WinRAR installed by default so the default archive type is RAR instead of ZIP. 

    (Another WTF: IT install the shareware version of WinRAR by default, if you want it licensed, you have to submit a PRF... )


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    It's just punishing you for being that one asshole who always sends a .rar file instead of a .zip.
    As much as I'd like this to be true, the same shit happens for zips. Executables are outright verboten.



  • @Mole said:

    What can I say? I have WinRAR installed by default so the default archive type is RAR instead of ZIP. 
    So you're too lazy to change the default.@Mole said:
    if you want it licensed, you have to submit a PRF...
    I've used WinRAR for several years.  What's a PRF?

     



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @Mole said:
    if you want it licensed, you have to submit a PRF...
    I've used WinRAR for several years. What's a PRF?

    Sounds like some local TPS variant required to get someone up the chain to spend some money. Purchase Request Form?



  •  @blakeyrat said:

    @Mole said:
    Saying that, gmail has many more WTFs: I tried to
    send a rar archive of an application file to someone, but because it
    included an executable file in the archive (setup.exe), gmail refused to
    send the file. Password protecting the archive got it through gmail,
    but got it bounced by the recipients mail server. Changing the extension
    on the archive didn't work (gmail still noticed it was an archive and
    scanned it), so I had to rename the executable within the archive to get
    it to send.

    It's just punishing you for being that one asshole who always sends a
    .rar file instead of a .zip.

    Rar offers much better compression when you have more than one file in the archive (and being an archive format as well as a compression format, it's a pretty common need) because it can recognise patterns across all the files in the archive to apply compression to, rather than zip which compresses file by file. File size doesn't mean much when you're just storing the file (but why store it in a compressed format then?) but it is [b]very[/b] important when you come to transport that archive. Even with the best fibre optic lines, a several GB file still has to contend with bandwidth, contention ratios, etc.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    What's a PRF?
     

    Pequest Ror Froposal, indupitably.



  • @ASheridan said:

    Rar offers much better compression when you have more than one file in the archive (and being an archive format as well as a compression format, it's a pretty common need) because it can recognise patterns across all the files in the archive to apply compression to, rather than zip which compresses file by file. File size doesn't mean much when you're just storing the file (but why store it in a compressed format then?) but it is very important when you come to transport that archive. Even with the best fibre optic lines, a several GB file still has to contend with bandwidth, contention ratios, etc.

    And yet that additional transfer time is still absolutely NOTHING when considering the time it takes for the receiver to:

    1) Figure out that it is indeed an archive format (no OS supports .rar by default, so generic icon time!)

    2) Find a program that can deal with the archive format

    3) Download the program (here's where your space savings disappear)

    4) Install that program, being careful to say "no" to the 37 pieces of spyware and IE toolbars it tries to inflict on you. Also, possibly have to reboot

    5) Then figure out how to use that program to extract the archive, because it's guaranteed to have shitty usability

    There's no way you could possibly think you're saving time, effort, or creating a good user experience by using .rar instead of .zip. So I can only conclude you're an idiot. Or perhaps an asshole who loves to make people jump through pointless hoops.

    Are you familiar with the concept of a false economy? No clearer example than the one asshole shooting .rar files around, who only considers compression ratio and ignores all other salient factors.



  • Preach it, blakey. This is the reason we should all just be using gzipped tarballs as God intended.



  • By the way, what is Mozilla Lightning anyway? I have no idea what the first half of this thread is about.



  • @Xyro said:

    Preach it, blakey. This is the reason we should all just be using gzipped tar cpioballs as God intended.

    FTFY



  •  @blakeyrat said:

    And yet that additional transfer time is still absolutely NOTHING when considering the time it takes for the receiver to:

    1) Figure out that it is indeed an archive format (no OS supports .rar by default, so generic icon time!)

    2) Find a program that can deal with the archive format

    3) Download the program (here's where your space savings disappear)

    4) Install that program, being careful to say "no" to the 37 pieces
    of spyware and IE toolbars it tries to inflict on you. Also, possibly
    have to reboot

    5) Then figure out how to use that program to extract the archive, because it's guaranteed to have shitty usability

    There's no way you could possibly think you're saving time, effort, or creating a good user experience by using .rar instead of .zip. So I can only conclude you're an idiot. Or perhaps an asshole who loves to make people jump through pointless hoops.

    Are you familiar with the concept of a false economy? No clearer example than the one asshole shooting .rar files around, who only considers compression ratio and ignores all other salient factors.

     Where to begin?!

    1) Linux supports this by default. Linux is an OS, so before you whine about how low a user-base it has, let me just point out that that was not what you said. Just admit you got this point wrong.

    2) I reckon most people in the world know how to use Google. Putting in "windows rar" brings up winrar as top result. That's 4 seconds of my life I won't get back, oh wow!

    3) I said specifically that space savings were not an issue, only transfer was the issue. Space is cheap, no point shoving things into an archive format if you're not doing anything with it.

    4) I installed Winrar on Windows recently, no spyware at all, no toolbars.The real WTF is that you actually use IE. Considering this is you, who is wont to make uninformed opionions about things you don't really know about, then you seem perfectly suited to the browser built for the uninformed user.

    5) There's a big shiny (forgive me for some creative license here, but the word seemed to fit) extract button at the top. Or you could just do the whole copy/paste thing, or drag&drop, et al. You mention usability a lot, perhaps you'd like to entertain us all with what you'd consider to bean example of good usability?

    There's a very big way I can think that I'm saving time and effort. One time to install some software if you're unfortunate to be using an OS that doesn't support it out of the box (you poor unfortunate, you) and then you're done. Smaller compressed files means lower transfer times. Lower transfer times means more can be transported in a given window of time, crucial transfers are performed quicker (I hope I don't really need to spell out how this is a good thing?) I'm not an idiot, nor am I an asshole, just someone who actually knows a few things that can make my job easier. I do so hope that whatever it is you do for a living (giving you the benefit of the doubt that you don't actually live under a bridge) has nothingto do with any kind of computer or related technology. In-fact, I'dgo so far as to say I'd be extremely sorry for your colleauges should that be the case.

    I've not ignored all the "other salient factors", rather I've prioritised them in order of importance as I see them. Considering that creating an archive file is primarily for transporting many files at one time (as opposed to just creating the archive and putting it on the same machine as the original files - which would be a false economy) then transport time is crucial, ergo so is the file size of that which is being transported.



  • @ASheridan said:

    Linux supports this by default.

    Wrong. Some particular distro might support it by default, I dunno.

    Edit: Yeah probably the mimetype is mostly recognized by default, and it might be integrated in a way that software to open it will automatically install when double-clicking. Anyway too generic and vague a point to agree with.

    @ASheridan said:

    Linux is an OS

    Wrong. Linux is a Kernel.

    @ASheridan said:

    winrar

    Wrong.



  • @derula said:

    @ASheridan said:
    Linux supports this by default.

    Wrong. Some particular distro might support it by default, I dunno.

    Edit:
    Yeah probably the mimetype is mostly recognized by default, and it
    might be integrated in a way that software to open it will automatically
    install when double-clicking. Anyway too generic and vague a point to
    agree with.

    @ASheridan said:

    Linux is an OS

    Wrong. Linux is a Kernel.

    @ASheridan said:

    winrar

    Wrong.

    Wow, your grasp of the English vocabulary there is astounding.

    I see you're one of those pednatic nit-wits who refuses to accept Linux as anything but the kernel. Generally when someone says Linux they mean more than just the kernel, so it includes whatever window manager et al that you decide to use.

    What's wrong with Winrar? I offered it as a viable choice on an OS that didn't offer any compatibility with the rar format.

    Double-clicking? I use Linux, don't need no damn double-clicking. Using the GUI for everything is for pussies. Go back to your Win7/OSX box and paint pretty pictures and leave the real work to the adults.

     

     

    mod: your post is 66% point and 33% troll and I still cleaned up your horrible quoting accident. That's how dedicated I am. -dh



  • Derula kind of covered your points, but I'm going to respond anyway because I like redundant.

    @ASheridan said:

    1) Linux supports this by default.

    No Linux distribution I've ever used does.

    @ASheridan said:

    Linux is an OS,

    Linux is a kernel. Linux is used as a basis for OSes. For example, Ubuntu is an OS that uses Linux as a kernel. There's no technical reason you couldn't recreate Ubuntu using Windows NT as a kernel. The constant confusion between "kernel" and "OS" also drives me nuts about Linux users, but that's off-topic at the moment.

    @ASheridan said:

    Just admit you got this point wrong.

    I admit that there's probably one or more Linux-based OS that can open .rar files without additional configuration. I don't know of any.

    @ASheridan said:

    2) I reckon most people in the world know how to use Google. Putting in "windows rar" brings up winrar as top result. That's 4 seconds of my life I won't get back, oh wow!

    That's 4 seconds that would never have been wasted in the first place if the archiver had bothered to be courteous.

    @ASheridan said:

    3) I said specifically that space savings were not an issue, only transfer was the issue. Space is cheap, no point shoving things into an archive format if you're not doing anything with it.

    Well, ok? I don't see how that changes my point at all. Unless you're magically getting the .rar program without using "transfer".

    @ASheridan said:

    4) I installed Winrar on Windows recently, no spyware at all, no toolbars.

    Maybe it's improved. Last I used it, it was a ball of shit.

    @ASheridan said:

    The real WTF is that you actually use IE.

    Two points:

    1) What's wrong with using IE9? It's on-par or better than any other browser available today.

    2) I only use IE for testing JavaScript and running OracleApps.

    @ASheridan said:

    Considering this is you, who is wont to make uninformed opionions about things you don't really know about, then you seem perfectly suited to the browser built for the uninformed user.

    ... what?

    First of all, I never said I used IE as my daily browser, you pulled that out of your ass. Secondly, what makes IE more "built for the uninformed user" than Firefox or Chrome or Safari?

    @ASheridan said:

    5) There's a big shiny (forgive me for some creative license here, but the word seemed to fit) extract button at the top. Or you could just do the whole copy/paste thing, or drag&drop, et al. You mention usability a lot, perhaps you'd like to entertain us all with what you'd consider to bean example of good usability?

    In the case of archive files, double-clicking the icon and having it open in a standard Explorer window would be the ideal case. You know, like what already happens with .zip files.

    The only way WinRAR could really compete with that is by making it an Explorer extension. But even then, you'd still have to install it and likely reboot, so the experience would be inferior.

    @ASheridan said:

    I've not ignored all the "other salient factors", rather I've prioritised them in order of importance as I see them.

    ASheridan's priorities:

    1) Pissing off recipient of file

    2) Showing off superior computer knowledge with smug expression

    3) Pitching Linux to people who don't want it (with smug expression)

    4) Bandwidth usage

    ...

    57) Not being a jerk



  • @Mole said:

    Another WTF: IT install the shareware version of WinRAR by default... )

    TRWTF™ is people who install WinZip in Windows XP.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @ASheridan said:
    Linux is an OS,

    Linux is a kernel. Linux is used as a basis for OSes. For example, Ubuntu is an OS that uses Linux as a kernel. There's no technical reason you couldn't recreate Ubuntu using Windows NT as a kernel. The constant confusion between "kernel" and "OS" also drives me nuts about Linux users, but that's off-topic at the moment.

    This is such great flamebait. Inb4 GNU/Linux trolls!

    @blakeyrat said:

    @ASheridan said:
    Just admit you got this point wrong.

    I admit that there's probably one or more Linux-based OS that can open .rar files without additional configuration. I don't know of any.

    Looking at my Kubuntu 11.04 installation, there are packages for unrar and unrar-free. I happen to have unrar installed. It's possible that I did that at some point, although I notice that ark (the default KDE un/compression app) "Suggests" installing unrar or unrar-free to enable it to deal with rar. However, two different machines both have unrar installed, so I'm leaning towards the idea that it was installed by default, by installing a KDE based distro.

    It's also possible that some asshole sent / posted some rar files that I was trying to deal with.

    Hmm...looking at a Kubuntu 10.10 box, however, unrar isn't on there, so I guess that's inconclusive as a counterexample.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    @Mole said:

    Another WTF: IT install the shareware version of WinRAR by default... )

    TRWTF™ is people who install WinZip in Windows XP.

    TRWTF is that Windows 7 doesn't ship with built-in support for patent-unencumbered formats like 7z. It's not like it would cost Microsoft anything to add it, but NOOO, every time I get to a fresh OS I have to install 7zip or suffer with shitty Zip compression. Or find that some idiot before me has installed (an always unlicensed version of) WinRAR.

    It still boggles my mind that IT departments have no idea of the existence of 7zip. Yes blakey, I know it's not perfect, but it is the least annoying archive manager I've used.



  • @Xyro said:

    By the way, what is Mozilla Lightning anyway? I have no idea what the first half of this thread is about.

    A calendar/to-do add-on for Thunderbird. It's an official Mozilla project, which is why having it completely break is far more disturbing than the usual assortment of add-ons that don't claim compatibility yet still work anyway (give or take Add-On Compatibility Reporter).

    As far as decompression goes, I've never found a better UI than StuffIt Expander for the Mac – double-click, enclosing folder created if root of archive contains multiple items, archive contents are decompressed next to archive, job done. Couldn't be simpler.

    StuffIt Standard for Windows used to have this behaviour, but it used to crash on a lot of archives. The replacement version I bought, ripped out these features, making it just as clumsy as WinRAR, WinZip, 7-Zip, and every other unintelligent archive tool. I've tried to recreate this in Perl using a pipe to 7-Zip's 7z.exe to read the archive contents (in order to figure out if I need an enclosing folder; this method lets me support any archive format that 7-Zip does), and Win32::SetChildShowWindow(Win32::SW_HIDE) to stop the pipe opening up a console window briefly. I thought that was working, but it stopped working – I can't make it work without the stupid console window opening.

    Gnh.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    TRWTF™ is people who install WinZip.
    FTFY.



  • @The_Assimilator said:

    It still boggles my mind that IT departments have no idea of the existence of 7zip. Yes blakey, I know it's not perfect, but it is the least annoying archive manager I've used.

    Needing an "archive manager" at all IS THE WTF.

    From the user's point of view, a .zip, .rar, tgz, .7zip, whatever is just a folder. The fact that the files are compressed is an implementation detail they do not and should not give a shit about when working with the folder. The reason .zip is the superior format is that it's the only format that acknowledges this fact in every OS.

    @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    As far as decompression goes, I've never found a better UI than StuffIt Expander for the Mac – double-click, enclosing folder created if root of archive contains multiple items, archive contents are decompressed next to archive, job done. Couldn't be simpler.

    I agree; StuffIt Expander on Mac Classic (I never used it in OS X) was about the best you could possibly make that particular type of UI. But that doesn't change the fact that there is no need for that particular type of UI in the first place.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    I've tried to recreate this in Perl using a pipe to 7-Zip's 7z.exe to read the archive contents (in order to figure out if I need an enclosing folder; this method lets me support any archive format that 7-Zip does), and Win32::SetChildShowWindow(Win32::SW_HIDE) to stop the pipe opening up a console window briefly. I thought that was working, but it stopped working – I can't make it work without the stupid console window opening.

    Instead of Perl, you could re-implement it as a quick-and-dirty C# application and use the Console class. Then you could show nothing but your progress bar. And if you do write this, please pop me off a link... sounds cool.



  • Wow, I never thought I would stir such a hornets nest when I threw in the rar comment! 

    Maybe you want to know why IT installs WinRAR by default: Quite simply because we had (and still have) OSs which didn't/don't even support ZIP without external software. Yes, pre-XP. Some manufacturer provided software has still not been updated to support XP (and even if it would work in 7, I don't think IT want to ruin a working setup. It's not the kind of software you can just run setup.exe and sit back)

    Why WinRAR? It got approved by the IT staff "after careful consultation with key staff" and of course installing/uninstalling software without IT approval is grounds for disciplinary action. Seriously: Someone almost got fired because they changed the default association of a file type, which caused a different icon to show for those file types, which caused IT tickets to be submitted because some braindead morons then got confused when double clicking didn't get the expected result. That doesn't happen where I work, but we are all under the same IT and domain so all have the same stupid rules. 



  • @blakeyrat said:

    From the user's point of view, a .zip, .rar, tgz, .7zip, whatever is just a folder. The fact that the files are compressed is an implementation detail they do not and should not give a shit about when working with the folder.

    Depends. There are severe performance concerns with solid archives (tarballs, solid RAR etc) that are resolved by a prior expansion.

    There's a bigger issue -- it's a hack. It doesn't need to be, but in Windows, while zip files appear as folders visually, the files and folders contained therein don't have real paths, so the majority of operations and tasks are invalid on them. Other platforms may vary; maybe for *NIX systems there already exists a magic automounter that permits archives to behave as true folders at the file system level, not at the shell namespace level as it works in Windows.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Instead of Perl, you could re-implement it as a quick-and-dirty C# application and use the Console class. Then you could show nothing but your progress bar. And if you do write this, please pop me off a link... sounds cool.

    It's on my to-do list once I decide what language and framework to resume software development in (I was going to try for wxWidgets in C++). I don't anticipate ever resolving this problem.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    There's a bigger issue -- it's a hack. It doesn't need to be, but in Windows, while zip files appear as folders visually, the files and folders contained therein don't have real paths, so the majority of operations and tasks are invalid on them. Other platforms may vary; maybe for *NIX systems there already exists a magic automounter that permits archives to behave as true folders at the file system level, not at the shell namespace level as it works in Windows.
    There's programs like this for Windows, too, at least one of which would hijack zip files so well that nothing would ever see them as a ZIP file on the disk, which caused problems with some autoupdaters.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    Other platforms may vary; maybe for *NIX systems there already exists a magic automounter that permits archives to behave as true folders at the file system level, not at the shell namespace level as it works in Windows.

    I've never used any, but apparently so: fuse-zip:

    fuse-zip is a FUSE file system to navigate, extract, create and modify ZIP archives based in libzip implemented in C++.

    With fuse-zip you really can work with ZIP archives as real directories. Unlike KIO or Gnome VFS, it can be used in any application without modifications.

    Or...unpackfs:

    "unpackfs" is a filesystem based on fuse (filesystem in userspace) for transparent unpacking of archives. It shows the content of archives right beside them in the filesystem hierarchy.
    Probably, more exist...


  • FUSE would be an obvious choice (I must have edited that out of my prior message), but at the same time, it's a no brainer in *NIX where there's no expectation that any path node shares the same volume or file system as its parent or siblings.

    Windows however is horrid. Unlike both Mac OS and *NIX, this formation isn't valid: "C:\Foo\Shortcut to bar.lnk\Some file.txt" -- shortcuts only exist at the airy fairy shell namespace level and they cannot be path components. Windows has a chasm of separation between the "real" file system and the shell namespace system. So many things Microsoft failed to learn from UNIX ... or Macs.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    Windows however is horrid. Unlike both Mac OS and *NIX, this formation isn't valid: "C:\Foo\Shortcut to bar.lnk\Some file.txt" -- shortcuts only exist at the airy fairy shell namespace level and they cannot be path components. Windows has a chasm of separation between the "real" file system and the shell namespace system.

    That's because Shortcuts have to work in FAT32, which doesn't have the ability to store HFS-style aliases, or EXT-style symbolic links. Incidentally, why is it all successful filesystems have TLA names?

    @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    So many things Microsoft failed to learn from UNIX ... or Macs.

    And yet there's something UNIX and Apple have failed to learn from Microsoft: the importance of backwards compatibility.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    And yet there's something UNIX and Apple have failed to learn from Microsoft: the importance of backwards compatibility.

    Good god, not this again. It's obviously a trade off. And obviously, Microsoft's business model depends on it, and has served them pretty well, although of late (last 5 years or so) they've been sacrificing some backwards compatibility, acknowledging the trade off. Others go a different way, and seem to be doing OK.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    And yet there's something UNIX and Apple have failed to learn from Microsoft: the importance of backwards compatibility.

    Good god, not this again. It's obviously a trade off. And obviously, Microsoft's business model depends on it, and has served them pretty well, although of late (last 5 years or so) they've been sacrificing some backwards compatibility, acknowledging the trade off. Others go a different way, and seem to be doing OK.

    Ok, so let's assume you're Microsoft, and it's 1995, and you saw this great feature in Mac OS 7 called "aliases" and you want to replicate that.

    How would you have done it?



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @boomzilla said:
    @blakeyrat said:
    And yet there's something UNIX and Apple have failed to learn from Microsoft: the importance of backwards compatibility.

    Good god, not this again. It's obviously a trade off. And obviously, Microsoft's business model depends on it, and has served them pretty well, although of late (last 5 years or so) they've been sacrificing some backwards compatibility, acknowledging the trade off. Others go a different way, and seem to be doing OK.

    Ok, so let's assume you're Microsoft, and it's 1995, and you saw this great feature in Mac OS 7 called "aliases" and you want to replicate that.

    How would you have done it?

    I have no idea. What's your point?



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    Windows however is horrid. Unlike both Mac OS and *NIX, this formation isn't valid: "C:\Foo\Shortcut to bar.lnk\Some file.txt" -- shortcuts only exist at the airy fairy shell namespace level and they cannot be path components.
    That's because shortcuts serve a different purpose - while they're pointers to files, they also carry other information (eg. the working directory, what icon to show and a lot more - and they originally had to work on FAT volumes, which can't really store anything other than files and directories).
    But don't worry, you can easily mount a volume in a NTFS directory (my card reader is only accessible through C:\CardReader{CF,SD,MS,xD}), or even redirect part of the filesystem hierarchy with a reparse point (and from Vista onwards you also get symlinks, though they're implemented slightly differently from *nix systems).



  • @boomzilla said:

    I have no idea. What's your point?

    The point I'm getting at is that a criticism like "Microsoft failed to learn from Unix" is completely unfair, given the relatively wimpy machines they were dealing with and the very real need for compatibility with DOS and 16-bit applications.

    It's not like Bill Gates woke up one morning and said, "you know what'll really piss people off in 20 years? If we made shortcuts at the shell level instead of the filesystem level!" There's no evil plot, no cacking in smokey back rooms, and no tying women to railroad tracks.

    And considering that Unix was not usable by normal human beings until a full decade after Windows and Macintosh were, well, it kind of removes a lot of weight from those snide remarks. "Windows didn't learn from Unix back in 1995!" "Yeah, but you know what Windows could do in 1995? PRINT."



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @boomzilla said:
    I have no idea. What's your point?

    The point I'm getting at is that a criticism like "Microsoft failed to learn from Unix" is completely unfair, given the relatively wimpy machines they were dealing with and the very real need for compatibility with DOS and 16-bit applications.

    Ah, OK, I see now. You just quoted the wrong post, because I said nothing of the sort.

    Based on what you said earlier, a more interesting question might have been, "OK, assume you're Apple, and you want to make a cool new feature for OS7 called aliases. What do you do?" Obviously, they went a different direction than MS. (Note: I know nothing about Mac OS6 or 7 or their aliases, except that apparently they're some sort of symlink--I'm just BSing based on the posts of others.).

    I don't even know much of anything about how symlinks (or whatever the correct name is) have been implemented on Vista and later. But obviously, they've figured something out. My guess is that it could have been implemented earlier (based on stuff like hardware constraints) in NTFS, since they've been using that for a while, but for whatever reason (presumably, other higher priorities) they didn't.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    @boomzilla said:
    I have no idea. What's your point?

    The point I'm getting at is that a criticism like "Microsoft failed to learn from Unix" is completely unfair, given the relatively wimpy machines they were dealing with and the very real need for compatibility with DOS and 16-bit applications.

    Ah, OK, I see now. You just quoted the wrong post, because I said nothing of the sort.

    Well, to be honest, the argument made more sense in my head before I typed it, so maybe I don't really know where I was going with it.

    @boomzilla said:

    Based on what you said earlier, a more interesting question might have been, "OK, assume you're Apple, and you want to make a cool new feature for OS7 called aliases. What do you do?"

    Actually, I did some research and found that Apple's aliases are actually shell-level also. The only difference is that the shell treats them identically to the destination file. And Macs at the time had only one shell.

    Windows has multiple shells, unlike Macintosh. Also, Explorer's abstraction is leaky (for the reasons ender mentions) and Apple's wasn't. So maybe I'm just 100% full of shit today.

    @boomzilla said:

    I don't even know much of anything about how symlinks (or whatever the correct name is) have been implemented on Vista and later. But obviously, they've figured something out. My guess is that it could have been implemented earlier (based on stuff like hardware constraints) in NTFS, since they've been using that for a while, but for whatever reason (presumably, other higher priorities) they didn't.

    NTFS is POSIX-compliant, it's had symlinks from day 1.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    NTFS is POSIX-compliant, it's had symlinks from day 1.

    Yeah, actually I did know that...You just couldn't use them (like you still can't really use case sensitive files) on NTFS in a Microsoft OS until Vista.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    NTFS is POSIX-compliant, it's had symlinks from day 1.
    It did? Where did they hide them?



  • @ender said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    NTFS is POSIX-compliant, it's had symlinks from day 1.
    It did? Where did they hide them?

    Lot's of good background at The Old New Thing, Raymond Chen's indispensable blog. I think the short answer is that they just never implemented anything in the API to expose any of the functionality.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    And considering that Unix was not usable by normal human beings until a full decade after Windows and Macintosh were, well, it kind of removes a lot of weight from those snide remarks. "Windows didn't learn from Unix back in 1995!" "Yeah, but you know what Windows could do in 1995? PRINT."
    Having been party to distributing [i]thousands[/i] of Ubuntu-laden PCs to the unsuspecting general public via charities, NGOs and non-profits since 2005, I can tell you that it STILL isn't usable by normal human beings. We even wrote our own manuals. It did not help.

    To the best of my knowledge, [i]every single one[/i] of those PCs ended up with Windows on it, either legitimately or illegitimately. We even did an experiment on this and shipped a few hundred machines without including the Linux documentation package - which crucially included the logon information. Nobody called about it. The only reason we didn't knock it off with Linux altogether is because installing the damned thing is the best stress test we've ever come across. Machines that exhibit no detectable flaws doing anything else will, nonetheless, blow up spectacularly somewhere between the network boot and displaying the final logon screen.



  • @Weng said:

    Having been party to distributing thousands of Ubuntu-laden PCs to the unsuspecting general public via charities, NGOs and non-profits since 2005, I can tell you that it STILL isn't usable by normal human beings. We even wrote our own manuals. It did not help.

    I was being generous, extremely generous. The first Linux I tried in about 2000, RedHat, couldn't play sound from more than one application at once (and that was after you figured out the magical command to turn sound on, it was disabled by default because of ???), my network card didn't work despite being on the supported hardware list. And while Mac OS had been copying-and-pasting fucking video clips for 5 years, you were lucky if RedHat could copy and paste anything other than plain text. That ball of shit was going up against Windows 2000 and Mac OS 8, both of which were quite good and were doing things (like universal drag&drop, or Windows 2000's ShadowCopy) that the Linux crowd barely supports now.

    And even then, the idiots were going on about "the year of Linux on the desktop".



  •  We get Blakeyrat it, you hate Linux, it's not for you, now move on. Using an example you had of an OS that's over a decade old is a pretty piss-poor basis for an argument. It would be like me using Windows ME (about the same age as what you're talking about) to argue that Windows has always been pretty crap.

    Of course, you'll say that you didn't say that, and then you'll twist a slightly different meaning out of your words, but what can one expect from you, you live under a bridge.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Ok, so let's assume you're Microsoft, and it's 1995, and you saw this great feature in Mac OS 7 called "aliases" and you want to replicate that.

    How would you have done it?

    I said UNIX. Just the path to the target would be sufficient, which as far as I know, that's all a symlink is -- a text file with a target path in it.

    You're probably right about FAT32 though -- a symlink inside a path requires metadata to define it as a shortcut. Since all Microsoft had was file extensions, you'd never be able to pull off the correct path name for all files and many folders.

    As far as historical work goes though, maybe it's only me who feels that DOS was an anaemic effort even for the day, one that's stunted Microsoft forever. Apple and IBM both messed up, but while the Mac II brought ADB and SCSI (and multi-head video), the PC had to wait much longer just for a sensible way to connect peripherals (you get an extremely cryptic boot error from a PS/2 if you connect the keyboard to the mouse port by mistake).

    If you want a look at a very nice operating system for old machines, look up Acorn MOS. Designed for a 16 kB 6502 machine, it has a modular expansion API and a virtual file system, which was helped by it being designed for one of the very few machines in the 70s and 80s to be designed for onboard local area networking, so software needed an agnostic way to access files regardless of whether they were on cassette, ROM, disk, or the network fileserver.

    In fact, MOS could also run the whole machine as an dedicated I/O server, which is what the first ARM computer was -- the ARM1 plus its faster RAM ran on the CPU board, connected via a single cable to an 8-bit micro serving as the I/O board which gave it a keyboard and screen etc.

    When I look at the enhanced power of the IBM PC vs the 8 bit machines of the late 70s, I have to wonder how a giant like IBM couldn't come up with a half-decent operating system, when it already had the likes of UNIX to copy.

    That, to me, is The Real WTF.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I was being generous, extremely generous. The first Linux I tried in about 2000, RedHat, couldn't play sound from more than one application at once (and that was after you figured out the magical command to turn sound on, it was disabled by default because of ???) …

    I know I shouldn't double-post, but time zones and all …

    The one thing to consider with Linux is this: if it was a corporate effort, it would work a lot better. You wouldn't have the diversity, and you might have a lock-down scenario like with Apple, but it would work. Don't forget that Linux is being cooked up with very little vendor support by a rag-tag fugitive fleet. Also, every feature is mandated by convention to have several splits and forks and many rivals, so the total workload needed to complete anything is greatly magnified, and that must do more harm than anything, as well as destroying all hope of consistency in the eyes of the public.

    Get some order, some management, and interested hardware vendors. After all, had IBM created an OS, it would only need to support their own hardware!


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