Zsh Mailing List Archive
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Re: Default usability wiki page set up

On Jul 13,  1:46am, Keir Mierle wrote:
} Perhaps we could get a better conses on things before I start
} implementing code that won't be accepted?

I've been waiting to see where this discussion would go, but so far
it seems rather one-sided, so ...

The first thing you have to explain is exactly where you think we
should put these defaults.  You keep using the phrase "out of the
box" without seeming to notice that there is no box -- and I don't
mean in the obvious sense that zsh is distributed electronically.

We don't control what gets installed in the /etc/z* files; it would
instantly alienate the very sysadmins who have to make zsh available
to their users if "make install" stomped on whatever they may already
have in those files; and back when we included samples in the source
distribution, the results were messy to the point of near-disaster
because of inattention on the part of (for example) the people at
RedHat who created the zsh RPM.  (Those sorts of packagings are the
closest zsh comes to a "box", but -- except for, say, Clint, who
actively contributes to this list as the Debian packager -- the zsh
maintainers are not the people who pack those boxes.)

We're even farther from being able to control the default "skeleton"
that sets up individual users' home directories.  Before any other
discussion is useful, the bootstrap problem has to be solved.

As for "Make completions Just Work(TM)" I'm not sure how much closer
you want us to get.  There are 460 completion functions now included
in the distribution, plus "compinstall" to interactively set up your
init files to use them; and commands like xpdf and acroread *do* have
completions that are limited to files they're likely to understand,
once the completion system has been enabled.

It's also worth noting that a significant source of complaints when
lots of nifty defaults are provided is that the shell (or any other
program) begins to take much longer to start up.  I can't tell you
how annoyed I am when I find that a sysadmin has preset the LESSOPEN
environment for me to the horrible lesspipe.sh, and I end up waiting
several seconds every time I want to look at a text file while this
stupid script analyzes it seven ways from Tuesday to decide if it
should uncompress it or unzip it or some other thing that only needs
to happen in a tiny fraction of the actual cases where I use less.

This is an example of killing usability in the name of ease of use,
and it's where every discussion of "better program defaults" that I
have ever seen (and I don't mean just for zsh) always ends up going.

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