[Desktop_architects] Printing dialog and GNOME

Linus Torvalds torvalds at osdl.org
Mon Dec 12 20:19:59 PST 2005

On Mon, 12 Dec 2005, Gregory Raiz wrote:
> Technical users often feel that a usable design can dumb down the interface.


That's not what I'm talking about at all.

When user interfaces means that something CANNOT BE DONE, it's not about 
"usable design" any more. At that point, it's about UNusable design.

Any Gnome people who argue that it's about "usability" have their heads up 
their asses so far that it's not funny. I've argued with them about this 
before, and I know others have too, and mostly given up.

"Usability" is an issue only if you can do something at all. But if you 
can't do the thing at all, it's pointless to talk about usability: the 
thing is BY DEFINITION not usable if it cannot be used for a specific 

Then a person that claims that it's usable for something else is a FUCKING 

And in that FUCKING IDIOT vein:

> The majority of end-users want a simple printer dialog.

This is a great example of being a F.I.

There is no such thing as a "majority of end users" in general. For 
example, maybe _I_ am in what you _claim_ to be a majority, in that I 
want a simple printer dialog - because I have a simple printer, and 
even simpler printer needs.

So a simple printer dialog doesn't bother me, and as such you can count me 
in your "majority".

But I can guarantee you one thing: the _vast_ majority of people are part 
of a specific minority when it comes to something. This is somethign that 
the F.I. "interface designers" in the Gnome sense seems to continually 

For example, maybe I don't care about printers. But I _do_ care about my 
mouse. If I can't control the left/middle/right button actions, I get 
really upset. Again, the "majority" of people may not care, so by your 
majority argument, the mouse setup should be so simple that the majority 
of people can never get confused. But I _do_ care.

In other words: your "majority" argument is total and utter BULLSHIT. It 
can be true for any particular feature, but it's simply not true in 

To put it in mathematical terms: "The Intersection of all Majorities is 
the empty set", or its corollary: "The Union of even the smallest 
minorities is the universal set".

It's a total logical fallacy to think that the intersection of two 
majorities would still be a majority. It is pretty damn rare, in fact, 
because these things are absolutely not correlated.

And the technical term for somebody who claims to do user interface design 
and not understand this fact is a "FUCKING IDIOT".

And this has _nothing_ to do with "technical users". Even totally 
non-technical users care about something. In fact, it might be their 
printer, and having a way to set the paper type and resolution by hand. 

Another way of saying this: we're _all_ "special" some way. We're damn 
quirky, even the nontechnical among us.

But hey, just continue to remove all that confusing functionality from 
Gnome.  I don't care. I voted with my feet.


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