“It wasn’t for nothing”

Inspiring & humbling article by fellow hacker Marius Bakke on what hacking means to them.

A good illustration of being not just about software.

@mray I don’t think there’s any such thing as a “GUI user”. A “non-coding” person can use the CLI, too; I encourage you to give it a try.

GUIs have lots of qualities—they help discover features and get started quickly. But here the project is also about helping users emancipate and become autonomous; GUIs all too often work against that.

@mray Sorry for the poor wording; what I meant is that a user is a user, regardless of the kind of interface they use. So to me, “GUI user” or “CLI user” as categories are not so relevant.

I do understand that GUIs make it easier for many to get started and that CLIs are a higher barrier to anyone who’s not been exposed to it before. But I’m against the idea of reserving CLI to an elite while “normal people” would use nothing but GUIs.

@mray And to be totally clear, I’m all for providing a GUI for Guix. This has been discussed several times in the past on guix-devel.

@civodul my thoughts exactly! (and beautiful pieces of writing, too)

@civodul what a blog! thx for the share. i often wonder about the intersection of life purpose (or lack thereof) and free hacking.

@civodul This attitude is a problem. I know I *can* use the command line. Does it occur to you that I don't want to though (with a passion!)?

It is nice that you think you achieve emancipation and autonomy by using hacker tools – but expecting everybody else to follow your steps is wrong. At least if you consider GUIX to be used by GUI users like me.

I do exist, and I am a GUI user. Even if I'm forced to not be, from time to time.

I'm just sad that GUIX is not interested in me.

@civodul How can you say the category is not relevant? One category (the vast majority of humans using a computer) is unable to use your distro, does that not bother you?

This isn't about which is the "right" or "elitist" category - it is about the plain fact that the CLI barrier keeps away most people.

@mray That's only until an ethusiast fan such as yourself submits graphical tools to help the newcomers ! What exactly do you think would be needed ? Is it about the installation process ? Or an interface to the package manager ? Or to the amazing features of guix itself (like, managing the system itself, which isn't entirely about packages, or spawning VMs and containers) ?


@alice @civodul I would need to see how I can handle installation of applications, updating the system, adding new sources and ways to generally interact with installed packages.

So far I only heard about plans for a plugin to the gnome software center – which would be a start.

Being able to use the fancy features of GUIX would be awesome, too of course.

@mray it is a long discussion in the #NixOS community to create GUI tools

the last release added a graphical installer based on calamares (i contributed to that effort)

and there are many attempts to create a gui config. and package manager tool, but they all miss UX design

for now, nixos is not for the average computer user

@alice @civodul

@mray I hadn't heard about the gnome thing, not being a huge gnome enthusiast, but why not. That'd be a good start indeed. Using the advanced features would require a carefully-designed UX (think, if for instance you could trigger a full rebuild of the system from there — and I see no reason why you couldn't) to convey the differences in terms of time required, scope of the install etc. That'd be cool if someone tried to do it : )

@mray @civodul A major part of the reason why I use Linux and BSD is because it does not cater exclusively or focus primarily on a specific group of people with specific needs. I feel that there are already enough projects out there with such focus across all major operating systems and Linux as well (aptitude, GNOME software centre).

I'm also not sure if you can empathise with this but I find GUIs less inclusive when it comes to user choice than CLI tools. Although I don't use specifically use GUIX, I know I can use it on basically any half decent terminal application on any Linux distribution and it would work, without issues. I cannot say the same for GUIs.

Here's a simple example. I want to use KDE's file picker when I press CTRL + o in Firefox. This was possible before but GTK developers removed the means to do so and called users "clowns" for doing it or advising to do it. Now, I cannot use the KDE file picker in Firefox unless I use Firefox from Flatpak, which is yet another GNOME sponsored technology. This is just one of many gripes I have with the very few GUI tools I use.

If GUIX gets a GUI, I wouldn't be against it but I do know that I would not use that GUI version. Just like you, a GUI user exist, so does other people with different needs and priorities exist.

@civodul @mray There might be a way to get people started with CLI and programming so that GUI's feel awkward (unless they're editing photos or something where GUI makes sense). What if we started using computers while writing learning journals in text and backed them up with git or something from the command line. We'd learn D.R.Y. techniques to make use of notes for printing, slideshows... Is there a graded way into competent work so that opening GUIs would just seem a silly waste?

@civodul @mray My feeling is that we need an ecology of tools, techniques. It can be overwhelming to jump into the ecology once the habit of using Office Software has taking hold. The benefits of text-based revision control, when experienced from the very beginning might help keep people on the right track. It's embarrassing for me to think of all my false starts and wasted time while trying to get competent with Free Software. Maybe it wouldn't be taking decades if I had eased into an ecology?

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