Desktop Linux suckage: a prime example

I've said before that, in my experience, filing bugs with Ubuntu seems more effective than filing them upstream, and a while back I filed a minor bug against GDebi. GDebi is a GUI .deb package installer that's pretty cool: it effectively lets you click on a link to a .deb in Firefox and install that program all without touching the command-line. The bug was "Size" field in "Details" tab should show KiB units), an I included a patch, and got it accepted and applied as quickly as any bug relating to the Linux desktop I've ever filed.

If you follow that link now, you can see that someone's just pointed out that, no, when apt-get(1) says "kB" it's not lying, it's completely serious. A quick apt-get install and check of /var/cache/apt/archives suggests they're right, at least as far as reports of download size are concerned. (It's harder to measure installed size, but I've no reason to doubt the claim.)

What I do doubt is the sanity of the person who made this design decision in the first place.

And while I accept that my patch was incorrect, and GDebi now claims file sizes are KiB rather than the kB they actually are, I also doubt the sanity of the person who actually thinks we should display file sizes in kilobytes rather than kibibytes. (Especially considering Nautilus, the GNOME "file manager" does actually use KiB, even if it calls them "KB". Especially considering the recent class-action lawsuits against the drive manufacturers. But I'm preaching to the choir here.)

Any time I try to kid myself that one day we'll have a non-crap Linux desktop, what makes me lose hope is that the Linux desktop isn't the kind of place where stupidity gets fixed or even papered over. There's no-one in charge to tell people to get their act together, and everyone has their own agenda, and half of them ought to be in a padded cell with no access to a keyboard.

At the moment, we have a situation where some applications are using kilobytes, some are using kibibytes, and what these applications appear to be claiming to use may or may not correspond to what they're actually using. And all this breakage surrounds something that's trivial in every way. The home computer operating system I was using in the late 1980s had a library call that you gave a number of bytes to, and it gave you back a string to show the user. Those old guys weren't geniuses, they were just good engineers.

The Linux desktop has neither, and it's also lacking a benevolent dictator to at least herd the monkeys. Or whatever it is one does with monkeys, other than spank them.

It's not like we're talking about something as "hard" as globally respecting a date or time format preference. That's so far in the Linux desktop's future that at this rate, I might actually have retired before it happens.