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#1 2011-10-02 14:54:53

ninjaaron
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Registered: 2010-12-10
Posts: 284

'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

I really like this KISS stuff.  After looking around for for different programs that strive to 'keep it simple,'  I've run into several different brandings of the idea that seem to be almost identical.

Is there actually a difference, of people just get so excited about it that everyone feels the need to write their own manifsto on the issue.

P.S. The best writing on KISS is still easily Henry David Thoreau's Walden.  Highly recommended reading for Archers and anyone who doesn't want to suck at life.

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#2 2011-10-02 16:27:26

karol
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

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#3 2011-10-02 16:59:13

skottish
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

Arch allows for the best tool for the job. For instance, nVidia's video drivers are in the repos because they happen to be the best Linux drivers. Does this fit in the Unix philosophy? Probably not. It's not open source, so it probably doesn't fit in with suckless. So yeah, there are differences.

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#4 2011-10-02 19:09:42

ninjaaron
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

There are lots of programs in the Arch repos that don't fit the "Arch Way."

KDE 4, Gnome 3, Gimp, and LibreOffice are in the Arch Repos.  The programs in the repos have nothing to do with 'The Arch Way,' as it is easy to find many which are neither simple nor code-correct.  the 'Arch Way' applies mostly to the packages in the core repo.

And cat -v isn't the arbiter of proper embodiment Unix Philosophy.  "The Arch Way,"  "Unix Philosophy" and "Suckless ideology" are not more or less dogmatic than the others.  They are all dogmas.  Someone may choose to follow them dogmatically or not.  It may be that communities gathered around these various ideas (if they are not really one idea) display variable levels of devotion to them, but I'm talking about the ideas themselves.

I still don't see the difference, unless Suckless has a special emphasis on Open Source.  Obviously all of the code for Arch Linux itself is open source, but I guess that isn't expressed in the Arch Way explicitely.

[edit]
Although the Arch Way does talk a lot about "transparency and simplicity in the code" which is kind meaningless if you are working with closed source.  Doesn't get much less transparent than a compiled binary.

Last edited by ninjaaron (2011-10-02 19:13:22)

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#5 2011-10-02 20:33:58

Awebb
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

1. Connecting "The Arch Way" to Thoreau is like saying that simplicity equals minimalism.
2. Are you implying anything that leads anywhere?
3. If you think some packages should be handled differently, join the respective mailing lists.

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#6 2011-10-03 00:19:21

ninjaaron
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

Awebb wrote:

1. Connecting "The Arch Way" to Thoreau is like saying that simplicity equals minimalism.
2. Are you implying anything that leads anywhere?
3. If you think some packages should be handled differently, join the respective mailing lists.

1.  Kinda.  I'm more just saying that it's one of the best works on KISS.  It's not just minimalism.  Minimalism tends be a stylistic choice.  Walden is about simplifying every aspect of life and seeing where it goes.

2.  Not really.  I just find it humorus that proponets of KISS feel the need to duplicate so much effort when it comes to defining their goals.  I'm not mad.  I'm just musing over it.  I would also genuinely like to know if there are substantial differences in the three mentioned approaches to software systems.  If suckless has a special emphasis on FOSS, then there is at least one difference, espeically from Unix.

3.  I have no problem with it.  I use a lot of crufted up programs, including LibreOffice and Gimp (and Firefox, when I can't bend uzbl to my will).  I usually prefer apps that "do one thing well", but these do some things which no other FOSS programs do that I need to get done.  Choice is much more important to me that simplicity, so I think the more packages, the better.  Not being much of a developer myself, I'm not terribly interested in how the code looks.  I want gui apps that display content in the clearest and most efficient way, and I want cli apps that take text input and produce useful text output so they talk to my scripts.

In my own 'programming,'  I try to keep it relatively simple and modular, though my programming doesn't amount to much more than a few score of shell scripts that talk to each other and generally perform one calculation and execute a command or two.

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#7 2011-10-03 05:36:34

Iranon
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Registered: 2011-06-11
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

I think the Arch Way applies more to the conventions of the distro itself (e.g. packaging, configuration, distro-specific tools) than to what the user is supposed to do with it.
Nobody discourages anyone from using a complex and arguably bloated desktop environment, but they arrive in a mostly vanilla state, shouldn't mess with what one has already rather than offering full integration of everything out of the box, and shouldn't be pulled in for absolutely everything. Arch sometimes does it for expedience, but less than others.

Suckless and Unix philosophy seem more related as they're about the software itself.

Last edited by Iranon (2011-10-03 05:37:06)

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#8 2011-10-04 03:09:22

killer_siller
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

I'd agree that the Arch Way is more of a method of execution than a determinant of what software is and isn't included in the repos.

The Arch Way does, at times, conflict with The Unix Philosophy.  For instance PacMan is very much a monolithic piece of software which, at its core, is extremely nonintuitive to navigate.  I have to see the man page or wiki nearly every time I want to do something outside of updating or installing a single package.

Want to see the true Unix Philosophy at work?  Look up Plan 9.  It's beautiful.  Unified I/O.  "names" (that is everything was represented as a file.  This was passed on to Inferno.  Good stuffs.

Last edited by killer_siller (2011-10-04 03:10:38)

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#9 2011-10-04 08:27:04

Larsson
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?


"If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear." - A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)

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#10 2011-10-14 18:46:32

ninjaaron
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

killer_siller wrote:

I'd agree that the Arch Way is more of a method of execution than a determinant of what software is and isn't included in the repos.

The Arch Way does, at times, conflict with The Unix Philosophy.  For instance PacMan is very much a monolithic piece of software which, at its core, is extremely nonintuitive to navigate.  I have to see the man page or wiki nearly every time I want to do something outside of updating or installing a single package.

This is an interesting point.  For me it kinda raises the question as to whether or not pacman is in conformance with the Arch Way as it is stated in the wiki.  A good test case for this would be if someone could show how, by following specific principles stated in the "Arch Way," pacman is forced to violate "Unix philosophy"

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#11 2011-10-27 07:06:48

ConnorBehan
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

Maybe "The Arch Way" can be seen as a way of Arch distancing itself from the programs it packages.

"Sure, some programs in our repos were written by people who are culturally incompatible with UNIX but you will definitely not find the same mistakes in the code that we are responsible for."


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#12 2011-10-28 13:44:02

Mr. Alex
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

ninjaaron wrote:

There are lots of programs in the Arch repos that don't fit the "Arch Way."

KDE 4, Gnome 3, Gimp, and LibreOffice are in the Arch Repos.

Hmmm... That makes me think that the Arch way is not that good. Imagine that you have an option to install Photoshop or Aftereffects on Arch. Would you reject it just 'cause it's "not the Arch way"? Good software can be heavy. You just need to make it as heavy as it needs to be and do not add unneed weight. GIMP & OpenOffice (LibreOffice) are really good software that perfectly fits Arch Linux.

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#13 2011-10-28 14:59:29

Awebb
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

Let's not oversimplify simplicity. Examples:

While {Open,Libre}Office is a bulky pile of code, it still has massive competition when it comes to sucking. All the alternatives I tried so far, sucked as much as OOo did. I had to abandon the concept completely and use Latex and HTML for letters and presentations. All that's left is calc, but I only do spreadsheets at work and only if I lose rock-paper-rs232 three times in a row. However, since OOo and Abiword for example quantitively suck equally, each in it's own way, they're both the best tool for the job. If they now decided to drop one of them, half of the userbase had to compile it's office software. That would be neither simple, nor clean, nor open.

Gimp plays the same game. Unless there's a Photoshop for Linux, I don't see real competition. I always loved MS Paint, because I didn't do anything but stretch, shrink, cut and crop and I loved the interface, but all the paint thingies for Linux I tried sucked, so I use Gimp (and recently pixlr.com, a web based Gimp rival). I also discovered imagemagick as an alternative, why bothering with a GUI, when all I want is a cropped image?

Like ConnorBehan started to say, 'The Arch Way' is less about the packages it choses, but about the structure of the system itself. "Complexity without complication." it says. If you need crazy complexity, systemd made it to [community]. It's complex, but it's simple, because it's only a pacman call away. I also tend to think that all that Arch Way stuff isn't to be taken too seriously, as it has many words like unnecessary, priorities, openness, freedom and choice, while making a clear statement: functionality over ideology. We are so used to stubbornness all around us, that we started to reduce everything to predicate logic.

I always found all those 'Ways' funny. The Arch Way. The Debian Way. Those two are actually so predominant, that the term '$DISTRO Way' is now used everywhere, usually by beginners, who ask for the specific 'Way' of doing things. I was once asked for the 'Ubuntu Way' handling a driver problem and my first thought was: "PPA or WinXP dual boot". Yes, that's what the average user would do. What she really meant was: "How to solve this without playing against my OS, instead of using it right?"


@pacman <> Unix philosophy:

Let's take Eric Raymond's idea of what Unix should be (stolen from the Wiki article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_philosophy):

<<tl;dr

    Rule of Modularity: Write simple parts connected by clean interfaces. → libalpm.so
    Rule of Clarity: Clarity is better than cleverness. → every "-" parameter has a "--" parameter that uses natural language, the rules of Q,S,R and D are clean and self explaining.
    Rule of Composition: Design programs to be connected to other programs. → libalpm.so again. You don't need to call pacman, if you want to work with packages
    Rule of Separation: Separate policy from mechanism; separate interfaces from engines. → uhm... lib... gets boring huh?
    Rule of Simplicity: Design for simplicity; add complexity only where you must. → we could have done without -D, but reinstalling a package just to change a flag is not simple. Also: package signing (finally :-))
    Rule of Parsimony: Write a big program only when it is clear by demonstration that nothing else will do. → There is no absolute measure for "big", let's take apt+dpkg* for comparison...
    Rule of Transparency: Design for visibility to make inspection and debugging easier. → I'm unsure about this one. I find the output of pacman sufficient for users, I don't know about pacman development.
    Rule of Robustness: Robustness is the child of transparency and simplicity. → I don't know how it could be more transparent without making it slower, and I can't complain about it's robustness, but I leave this open to discussion (or better not, I smell trollbait).
    Rule of Representation: Fold knowledge into data so program logic can be stupid and robust. → mirrorlist (check), databases for sync and local (check), manpage (check), keystore (check). Is there more?
    Rule of Least Surprise: In interface design, always do the least surprising thing. → I found capital letters mixed with small ones to be confusing at first. Could be breaking "Rule of Clarity" as well.
    Rule of Silence: When a program has nothing surprising to say, it should say nothing. → If this translates into "shut up unless error", then pacman fails. I find the output useful, though.
    Rule of Repair: When you must fail, fail noisily and as soon as possible. → It does. Pacman does not forgive unless --forced.
    Rule of Economy: Programmer time is expensive; conserve it in preference to machine time. → This does not apply to single pieces of software. I hereby ignore it to prevent myself from talking trash.
    Rule of Generation: Avoid hand-hacking; write programs to write programs when you can. → pacman -Rs `pacman -Qem`? Sounds good to me. This point might be irrelevant to single programs as well.
    Rule of Optimization: Prototype before polishing. Get it working before you optimize it. → I know you'll all hate me for this, but we can finally sign our packages. It worked well without it too :-D
    Rule of Diversity: Distrust all claims for "one true way". → Yeah, that's the Arch Way, the only true way telling you to GTFO and DIY. Logic demands this to be a paradoxon, your heart won't.
    Rule of Extensibility: Design for the future, because it will be here sooner than you think. → Uhm, whatever the future of Arch package management is...

tl;dr

Another often-quoted Unix philosophy is: "A program should do one task only, but do it well." Yes. Pacman manages packages. Is this one task? Or shall we split it up into RSQD? Is Debian with it's aptdpkg-* jungle more Unix compliant, because it splits up the tasks?

I tried to be as fair an unbiased as an Arch fanboy can be. All of those points are open to (a theoretical) debate, but be advised, that the sole purpose of me doing this was to demonstrate how blurry and open to interpretation this kind of paradigmas and philosophies are. I think software should be designed with all those things in mind, but not blindly following it as a set of rules.

I personally break many of those Unix concepts. I prefer clever over clear. At work, I write scripts with functions and config files, even if it's just for backing up one server in a cron job. I never know when I need this thing again, do I?

Last edited by Awebb (2011-10-28 15:00:49)

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#14 2011-11-18 03:04:52

shadowdancer
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Registered: 2011-11-16
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

Thanks for the discussion. As I read the Wikipedia entry on "Walden", looks like this is the book that really inspire Chris in "Into the Wild" movie.

Simplicity and minimalistic cannot be easily achieved, as in software in many cases, we got strong need to add another functionality which sometimes doesn't really consistent with the original design of the software. And people/crowd pushed us to inject that functionality. Look at the most popular software maker Microsoft, also Apple. I don't think they follow simplicity rules. They follow, "just works" rule. Apple add "beautiful" rule smile

Also in life, Walden's type of simplicity is nearly impossible to achieve without sacrificing many aspects in our lifes. Our dependant, friends, collegue, and job. Also, how can we contribute better to society if we throw ourself away in the woods? Unless many people doing the same things, our contribution is much lesser than doing our current job.

We don't have to be in the woods to have a simple life. As long as our mind is simple enough

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#15 2012-06-30 00:58:15

ninjaaron
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

This might be considered necromancy (thread has been dead for months), but I just read Awebb's post for the first time and found it very enjoyable.

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#16 2012-06-30 01:27:59

/dev/zero
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

Necromancy is acceptable when you have something new to offer. Come on man, fire the conversation back up wink.


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#17 2012-06-30 05:56:23

axel668
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

look at what's on the Arch ISO ... you can't be more simple or more minimalistic. after that, the focus is on user centric "Arch Linux targets and accommodates competent GNU/Linux users by giving them complete control and responsibility over the system", which means it's totally up to YOU to choose between KDE and Openbox, LibreOffice and Abiword or nano and vi. the job of Arch as a distribution is, to make it simple and easy for you to execute on your choices, and they're doing that job extremely well


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#18 2012-07-25 17:49:44

lspci
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From: Virginia, USA
Registered: 2012-06-09
Posts: 242

Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

axel668 wrote:

look at what's on the Arch ISO ... you can't be more simple or more minimalistic. after that, the focus is on user centric "Arch Linux targets and accommodates competent GNU/Linux users by giving them complete control and responsibility over the system", which means it's totally up to YOU to choose between KDE and Openbox, LibreOffice and Abiword or nano and vi. the job of Arch as a distribution is, to make it simple and easy for you to execute on your choices, and they're doing that job extremely well

(Oh, I love this kind of conversation! big_smile)  I agree completely.  I think that Arch Linux is more about giving the end user as many choices as possible in a modern operating system.  I mean, I've used a lot of the more 'user-friendly' distributions, y'know, like Debian and Ubuntu, but they hardly offer any opportunities to choose between stuff.   (Let me try to re-explain, I feel like my explanation of what I'm wasn't very explanatory.) 

I mean, the part of Arch Linux that makes it so beautiful and inviting for us is the freedom that Arch Linux provides.  It's more than just that I think though.  I mean, Debian provides some freedom too, I guess... but it's not as straight forward.  Like

sudo apt get install blah

is so much more awkward than just entering

pacman -S blah

 

(Offtopic: that was a beautiful post Awebb, by the way.  Quite lovely; I really enjoyed reading it.) 

Uhh... So yeah, I mean, the 'Arch Way' isn't really THE WAY, it's more of YOUR WAY.  Or, to paraphrase: "We are here to provide an OS that works, it doesn't sing and dance, yet--it can if you want it to, but it doesn't have to.  Do whatever you want with it."  I feel like Arch Linux is the true embodiment of the KISS principle.  Or, what I mean is that the KISS is all about giving the end user more choices and more power, or at least Arch Linux's definition of the KISS principle seems to be that. 

I wouldn't say that Arch Linux is minimalistic though.  Something that's minimalistic is both complex and obscure, like Debian's start up initialization stuff--I think it's Systemd maybe.  On the other hand something that's simplistic is straight-forward and simple, like our BSD-init stuff.  And I don't remember how I was gonna tie that into the overall point I'm trying to make, but uhh.. yeah, I don't think that saying that Arch Linux is a minimal distro accurate.  We seem to be anything but that.  However, we are a simple and straight-forward distro.

Last edited by lspci (2012-07-25 17:50:11)


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#19 2012-07-25 21:23:48

ewaller
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From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

lspci wrote:

pacman -S blah

In all fairness, that should be

sudo pacman -S blah

I get your point, but apples to apples, and all that. tongue


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#20 2012-07-25 22:02:01

skanky
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Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

In that case isn't it always just

ins blah

with "ins" being a wrapper script? smile

Last edited by skanky (2012-07-25 22:02:13)


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#21 2012-07-26 04:09:38

lspci
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From: Virginia, USA
Registered: 2012-06-09
Posts: 242

Re: 'The Arch Way' 'Unix Philosophy' 'Suckless Ideology'. Differences?

ewaller wrote:
lspci wrote:

pacman -S blah

In all fairness, that should be

sudo pacman -S blah

I get your point, but apples to apples, and all that. tongue

lol, good point.  I forgot to add that, but then again I always forget to add the 'sudo' and I always have to type

sudo !!

to get to work.  xD

Last edited by lspci (2012-07-26 04:10:27)


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