Code review comment for lp:~albertomilone/gnome-control-center/randr-virtual

Mark Shuttleworth (sabdfl) wrote :

Alberto Milone wrote:
> On Thursday 29 January 2009 17:48:37 Mark Shuttleworth wrote:
> > Alberto Milone wrote:
> > > Alberto Milone has proposed merging
> > > lp:~albertomilone/gnome-control-center/randr-virtual into
> > > lp:~ubuntu-core-dev/gnome-control-center/ubuntu.
> > >
> > > Requested reviews:
> > > VCS imports (vcs-imports)
> > >
> > > With xserver 1.6, the ctrl-alt-backspace shortcut for killing X
> has been
> > > defaulted to off.
> > >
> > > At UDS it was decided for Ubuntu to accept this upstream change,
> but to
> > > provide GUI mechanisms for GNOME allowing the user to switch it on or
> > > off.
> > >
> > > This branch implements this mechanism.
> >
> > I very much appreciate Alberto's work in implementing this, but would
> > like to test the decision against our commitment to ease of use. I think
> > enabling or disabling this feature in X is an expert option. I think we
> > can choose to enable it, or disable it, and of course we can allow
> > experts to change that through a config file or through a rebuild, but
> > this capability *should not* be exposed to end-users as a GUI option. It
> > will create more confusion than it will solve.
> >
> > Mark
> Dear Mark,
> I see your concern but the option which my patch adds is very simple,
> see the following screenshot:
> It says "Ctrl+Alt+Backspace restarts the xserver" and doesn't even
> mention the word "DontZap".
> A lot of users (see what's happening on will upgrade
> to Jaunty and will be a bit shocked by this change. Most of them have
> learnt to deal with X freezes (which are by no means infrequent) by
> using Ctrl+Alt+Backspace. This doesn't make them "experts" though and
> it's very likely that they are not aware of the existence of the
> DontZap option.
In that case, if we want this to be the behaviour of X in Ubuntu, we
should leave the option ON.

There is a fantastic commentary by MPT about the forces that create bad
usability in free software:

Check out #10: placating people with options.

In essence, what we are saying here is "we can't make a decision about
whether it should be ON or OFF, so we're going to force YOU to make that
decision. Every time you look at this dialog box, which is a useful
dialog box and which lots of people will look at, you are going to have
to decide if you want the Ctrl-Alt-Backspace to kill X and all your
running clients.

I know this work was done out of pure intent, but I would rather that we
take the time to agree on the principles by which we will ask users to
make choices before we add more choices for users to make.

Alberto, please take a look at MPT's work, and then I'm happy to discuss
further if this is a choice that we want our users to make.

> For this reason (as requested at the UDS) I implemented the same
> change in Kubuntu:
> I deem it a good compromise.
I don't believe this to be something on which we need to compromise. I'm
happy to keep discussing it, and would like to use MPT's commentary as
the usability framework for that discussion.


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