How did we get here?
- Traditional distros didn't really provide a way to "work on" development libraries
- Language-specific tools like virtualenv, npm, etc exploded
- Combining these things became so difficult that binary black box solutions like Docker, Flathub, etc took off
- Web 2.0 happened, lots of software *using* FOSS became aimed at *not for end users*

This is *one half* of what has really resulted in a lot of "the developer knows best" kind of mindset which cuts out the user.

Part of why I advocate Guix so hard.

I really like software that encourages the user to learn, to get involved, to feel empowered to explore and participate. We need more of that.

And by the way: I actually love Gnome, most of it! It's a delight to use, gtk is really nice, etc.

But I don't like *this* cultural component of Gnome and surrounding tech (nor of *most* server-oriented FOSS) and I think it's been to both Gnome and user freedom's detriment.

@cwebber I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, I do like software that treats the user as a participant in the experience, rather than just a passive vessel. I want more of that.

On the other hand, as someone who has had to do both tech support and UI design, user theming can make both those jobs anywhere from much harder to downright impossible. There’s just no way to know where elements are, what they look like, how they relate to each other visually/spatially, etc., if all that stuff can be changed by the user. So by supporting the user in that one way, you take away the ability to support them in other ways.

It’s a hard problem, and I don’t know what the ideal answer is. But if a developer asked me, and they had the power to just disable theming, I would probably tell them to turn it off unless they had a really good, thoroughly thought-out reason not to.

Allowing theming while knowing it can break your app seems like the worst of both worlds. (imho, of course)

@jalefkowit Theming, and the ability for theming to break, is admittedly tricky. It's pretty silly to adopt CSS specifically for this goal and then discourage theming generally. It's the attitude about it that's troubling, though. But GTK applications were extremely themable in the Gnome 2.X days. It's not an impossible thing. But it is tricky, and that's true.

The packaging stuff however, that's a sign of something deeper and more serious. And it's not that the developers are *bad*... they're following a zeitgeist, but one that's ultimately been lead astray and has been really toxic for user freedom generally.

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@cwebber @jalefkowit Sounds like a déjà vu: weren’t stylesheets for the web initially supposed to allow users to customize presentation, among other things?

@civodul @cwebber Firefox even still lets you customize its own UI via CSS -- a remnant from the days when the whole interface was defined with XML + CSS. kb.mozillazine.org/index.php?t

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