Re: nautilus improvements


Am Sonntag, den 26.03.2006, 14:32 +0200 schrieb Peter Chabada:
> I wrote article "40+ Suggestions for Better Desktop". Some of the
> suggestions could be implemented in nautilus. Especially:
> I would like to ask developers to look on these ideas and to implement
> them if you found them interesting.

Very nice ideas... something for Xfce to chew on, at least...

Let me comment on a few things:

Better properties dialog

> modify metadata

I agree... 
Now if the filesystem/os developers get their head out of their
and actually map those kind of attributes to extra files (as in
"foo.mp3/artist"), it would be even possible easily everywhere. 
Probably takes years until they finally do it, if it isn't bogged down
in endless posix compability discussions. 
For now, every application that wants to read/store in-file metadata
needs to link to a gazillion of libraries or use some weird extra layes
(called f.e. gnome-vfs) for no good architectural reason. (and with the
advent of FUSE in the linux kernel, there isn't even a lame excuse left
- for linux, that is)

> Note/comment will nobody use until it will be on first tab. 

Yes, and until one can actually search for those comments. (Think tags.)

> On image thumbnail could be two arrows to make lossless image

I wouldn't put it on the image thumbnail, but an extra button, sure, why
not... Actually if you can get it into the "Open" context menu as an
"desktop file action", you can do it today.

> multirename

Useful way too seldomly. If you have broken names, think where they come
from and fix the program that imported them from there and was too lazy
to fix them.

> And even more if user tries to rename "image.jpg" to "image.png" why
not offer conversion (if file was really jpeg and not mistakenly named

No. Nobody should ever need to convert file formats. If they need to,
they use a program specialized for the task that doesn't destroy half of
the file contents on conversion :) (which is unavoidable otherwise IMO)

The conversion from jpeg to png is a bad example because if you do that,
you didn't understand the difference between the jpeg and the portable
network graphics format (the conversion makes the file larger and jpeg
had much loss to begin with). Actually it should come up with a big fat
error dialog in that case and not let you do it...

"Renaming" wav to ogg that loses information also sounds like a very bad
idea. This kind of stuff just belongs into a specialized app.


Filemanager foo wav -> context menu -> create ogg compressed audio

And that calls external program that creates the ogg file (and doesn't
*ever* delete the wave audio file).

> change properties for root-owned [... files]

That sounds so easy to do but in fact is very difficult. Just executing
the file manager as root is no solution because running any X program as
root is a huge security risk. I wouldn't trust X any further than I can
throw it.

There needs to be a well-thought-out way with a daemon-like app that
runs as root and actually does the actions on behalf of the file

So not like:

sudo nautilus
and nautilus doing "mv x y"

but like:

and nautilus doing "sudo mv x y"


Nautilus improvements

> Browsing through files in nautilus with keyboard right arrow key
should not have "hard" edges and should allow user go to next row.

Nice idea. Get it into gtk :)

> Keeping user interface simple shouldn't lacks information about files.

yep. statusbar should have those (except for permissons which are only
interesting to the user when he actually opens the file).

> undo function.


Multi-seat desktop

> If system detects possibility for multiple terminals wizard with two
questions (press key X, click on Y)

xorg needs to be extended to allow this kind of stuff. Would be nice

> Easy multimedia codecs installation

Yes, please please, distros, get that dialog in. I know how to unbreak
it manually, but it would be nicer if it does that automatically. But
IMO the reason it is done like it is done right now is that the
distributors "pretend" not to know those packages exist.

I'm not sure which country's law is still braindead enough not to allow
users to play back what they own. Even Jon Johansen won the lawsuit and
is a free man, so I'd say screw it and just include it. 
Some people think that _if_ your country's law is still stupid enough,
whether civil disobedience isn't the best way to fix that once and for


> nice tooltips

ah yes, the eternal problem. There is some rich formatting tooltip class
around for gtk, but not included in the gtk distribution. That should be
changed. Mind asking the maintainers of both parts?

Audio notifications

> Some system notifications like, such as low disk space, updates
available... should be audible. 

As in "BEEP!" ? Ok
As in Text-to-Speech: No way in hell. That scares the living daylight
out of you. And I tried. I'll never add that again. Thankfully, I'm
still alive.

Better notification for progress of long time operations

> program icon in taskbar shows progress,

That would be very nice indeed. Please bring it up with the apps that do
long running-tasks...

> showing progressbar on taskbar

looks weird and isn't neccessary in that detail, I think. Pie-filled
Icon is enough.

Editing root-owned files

> sudo gedit

Again, if it were that easy, it would be done already. Don't run X stuff
as root, ever.


> Integration between applications


> When user see information that is possible to change, it should be
possible to change it. Even if changing it is out of the scope of that

That is only possible once UNIX filesystems stop sucking or with a huge
extra vfs lib that takes care of the details (which falls into the "too
many layers are evil" category).

Multimedia center

> integrate everything needed for home entertainment 

I don't know, I'm pretty fine with the current state (rhythmbox,
mplayer). Thats probably because I don't know that there would be a
better way though :)

> Cellphone/PDA synchronization

I'm not sure if there are even projects started that cover all this...
Seen any?

> Multiple data reduction based on standards

That's a hard one ... I can understand that the apps use whatever format
their framework handles best.

But as one that likes the UNIX philosophy, _please_ use folders and
files more. Looking at the various bookmark formats makes me bang my
head on the keyboard. _My_ bookmark storage is just a folder tree with
tons of "desktop files" in, one per link. Not the overcomplex mess that
is XBEL, and don't get me started on ical for calendar data.

Let me list my ideal formats:

> addressbook

every contact as a file on it's own, format just some (standardized?)
"Key=Value" lines

> mailbox

maildir, please, just use a maildir. Have mercy.

> IM archive

I thought every single one of them was already a folder full of html
files, one per conversation/day :)

> calendar

sigh, not ical.

> browser bookmark

normal folder tree on disk, one link stored in one desktop file.

> music database

What do you mean "database"? Fix the filesystem/os and use beagle/... if
you want to search.

> video database

huh? What would be in there? And what would be different from the music

> photo database

What do you mean "database"? Fix the filesystem/os and use beagle/... if
you want to search.

> thumbnails database

What do you mean "database"? Fix the filesystem to support subfiles in
files ("foo.png/thumbnail" is a file that has the thmbnail data).

> news feed

NNTP/usenet or Atom feeds? The wonders of time confused those both under
the term "News"...

> cddb

How would that be useful? The app you rip your CD with is the only one
that will ever need that. Or do you actually use your original Audio CDs
instead of ripping them?

> Importing/exporting isn't best way to handle this data because it
multiplies data and makes soon or later different versions of it.


Let me add that "too many layers are the root of all evil" (hello,

One configuration place

> hidden files mess

With the xdg standard, this is being fixed. I agree that distributions
should use their power more by keeping apps out that still spam the
user's home dir directly with config files, or just file friendly
bugreports on the apps.

> One configuration database like gconf is important for enterprise use
but some programs doesn't use it.

Too many layers are the root of all evil. Use files, pleeease. Don't
reinvent the wheel. If you must, use one file (put within the obvious
subfolders) per gconf key. I never got what gconf is for.

One proxy configuration

>  Gnome proxy, Firefox proxy, Synaptic proxy, environment proxy...

Yes, please. And proxy support that requires authentication does't work
in half the places (i.e. Ubuntu Synaptic)

Help making safer e-mail

SMTP server extension for digital signatures

> store digital signature certificates for their users

For content encryption. Digital Signatures alone are nice but not

> I am skeptic about this suggestion because it will require to upgrade
mail clients for all users in all systems

Doesn't matter. The earlier something unsafe is gotten rid of, the

> but RFC can be very strong (upgrading server will not be required but
its users will not take advantage of this). 

> Second point for skeptics is that for governments it will be harder to
read everyone's e-mails and possibly will try to make this not valid.

Hah, as long as we are a democracy "the government" will do what I and
the majority wants or else run for their lives. 


No idea about that. If that is supposed to fight spam, don't. Just make
spamming illegal and charge lunatic fines when caught.

Linguistic search

> search: spellchecker guess all possible word variants

nice idea

> In searchbox should be able use keyword lang:xx for using different
language than user's environment.

No, quite the opposite. It should find your word in all other language
versions of it too. I.e. I should be able to search for "suche" (German
for English "search") and get both files with "suche" in them AS WELL AS
files with "search" in them. 

Search also in archives

> within archives (e.g. zip)

Archives are archives precisely so that they aren't in the way of normal
operations and thus what is in them should NOT be found except when you
_specifically_ demand it. Many people get that wrong and use archives
just to save space when they should *use a decent filesystem that does
that automatically instead*.
There is a reason they are called archives.

Treat archives like regular folders

> Archives are opening in applications like File Roller. Why?

Because they are archives?

> When you thing about you realize that archive is nothing less than
special type of folder.

Technically yes. Conceptually, archives are "stored away" because you
don't need the data in them any more / for a long time.
It's questionable if you ever want to use them in a normal file manager.
Why would you?

> Note: When you try to drag big file out from the archive from File
Roller you need to wait to fully uncompress file before releasing mouse
button (once it started to uncompress it). It's bad and very annoying.

Yeah. Annoys the heck out of me, too.

Extended filesystem attributes

> encryption and compress

Good idea... what about getting encryption/compression support into the

> LUKS based on dm-crypt looks promising

sigh. Better than nothing.

New authentication methods

> passwords, usb keys, bluetooth cell phone id, any combination of these

This should already be possible with pam modules. I'm not sure, wanted
to play with it, but got distracted.
I agree that it should be integrated into distributions' desktops.

Network settings

> nat, dhcp, firewall, ipsec

Gnome Network Manager is a huge step into the right direction...
although there are still things to be done. In fact, your text on that
should be sent to the maintainer of it :)

Continue stopped/broken downloads

> resume

yes, please

Exporting downloaded packages from upgrade

>  other computers on network to upgrade from this one

Nice idea :)

Global keyboard shortcuts

> [win]+[c]

> Why is key with windows logo named like meta4, super, hyper...

Because the key was there before and was called that. Not everyone has a
windows keyboard / x86 computer for that matter and I'm generally for
keeping the older name of something. Of course microsoft blurred the
waters by their marketing gag "Windows Key". But that doesn't make it
any less valid.

Enable optical drive eject button

> Default should be to leave drive unlocked

No, that's the wrong way. Without supermount, the kernel will become
confused. And supermount is still not in the default kernel.

HAL did it another way and catches the eject button click and makes it
available as a normal button click event to applications :) Nice...
didn't try yet though... but heard rumours.

Hibernation and power management

> Hibernation and power management need to improve.


Say goodbye to old technologies

>  e.g. gtk1 and applications based on it.

Yes, please, PLEASE, distributions, get rid of it so people "port" the
apps to gtk2. "Porting" it is so easy that it's ridiculous that there
are still gtk1 apps in a desktop distribution.

> It seems to be not professional to have two different dialogs for same

It is *very broken* to have two dialogs for the same thing that look any

Look at , I
even replaced the Qt filedialog with the gtk one. Unfortunately, there
are still some hard to find bugs and no distribution has adopted it yet
(wake uuup :))...

In general, I dislike file open dialogs. If you have a decent desktop,
you never need them anyway. And for saving I tolerate them because I got
used to them, although even there XDS (X Drag Save, Freedesktop) exists.


> Shortcut [Alt]+[F4] on desktop should invoke shutdown/logout dialog.

Now that would annoy me. I just want a clean desktop (i.e. close all the
apps) and hold alt+f4 and the logout dialog pops up? 

> Integrate mouse gestures to the whole desktop. Many users will not use
it but for many it could be used like accessibility tool and on small
portable devices (PDA's, tablet PC's, cellphones...) it will improve
usability with stylus.

That would be nice, however, half of the developers probably don't even
know what mouse gestures are... and there will be "ingenious" people
that set the middle mouse button (= wheel) for mouse gestures, which I
don't find very funny.

> In windows can two windows be align side be side (horizontally or
vertically) on right clicking on taskbar. Similar functionality is
missing in Gnome.

Ah! I never noticed that... Someone actually found/used that feature? :)

Nice idea

> Also too big buttons like in XFCE panel are not good.

"Too big"? It always depends on what they are layouted for...
For this reason, most panels have the launcher size settable.

I.e. on a touch screen you need biiiig buttons.

Even with a mouse, they are nicer. There are limits, of course :) and
when higgs law is honored, you can hit panel buttons easier with a mouse
anyways, almost no matter how small.

> Services settings dialog

Huh? We have a init.d service manager? Where? :)

I hope that helps, Note that I'm mostly Xfce developer and more or less
a bystander on nautilus list :)


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