Discussion:
What can be done with little?
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gareth evans
2020-09-14 21:10:50 UTC
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The graphical user interface and the world wide web are two
fantastic developments in the field of computing, but why
do they come with so much baggage dragging them down? Have we
forgotten the capabilities of simple OSs?
Quadibloc
2020-09-14 23:27:11 UTC
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Post by gareth evans
The graphical user interface and the world wide web are two
fantastic developments in the field of computing, but why
do they come with so much baggage dragging them down? Have we
forgotten the capabilities of simple OSs?
Plenty of things can be done with much smaller computing systems. Thus, one can
compile and run Fortran programs on a PDP-8.

It's just that on the one hand what many people want to do with computers is
play Fortnite, and on the other hand when they want to do what an older computer
could do, they're probably using a pocket calculator for it.

John Savard
Chris
2020-09-15 00:30:32 UTC
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Post by gareth evans
The graphical user interface and the world wide web are two
fantastic developments in the field of computing, but why
do they come with so much baggage dragging them down? Have we
forgotten the capabilities of simple OSs?
Quite a lot. Software dev doesn't need a gui for the sort of work
done here, still makefiles and command line, though a gui does
make it seamless for any number of shell windows open at once.
File manager doesmn't need a gui, but the again, you might need
one or more open at once. You can use a text based browser, but
only get a fraction of the content and usability.

The issue here is really the difference between a purely text
interface and a graphical one. Graphical is so much more
capable at formatting data to suit the intended audience, it
communicates better...

Chris
Joy Beeson
2020-09-15 03:56:09 UTC
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Graphical . . .
communicates better...
If and only if the designer of the interface has communication as a
goal.
--
Joy Beeson
joy beeson at centurylink dot net
http://wlweather.net/PAGEJOY/
Charlie Gibbs
2020-09-15 05:17:13 UTC
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Post by Joy Beeson
Graphical . . .
communicates better...
If and only if the designer of the interface has communication as a
goal.
*applause*
--
/~\ Charlie Gibbs | Microsoft is a dictatorship.
\ / <***@kltpzyxm.invalid> | Apple is a cult.
X I'm really at ac.dekanfrus | Linux is anarchy.
/ \ if you read it the right way. | Pick your poison.
J. Clarke
2020-09-15 11:52:09 UTC
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Post by Charlie Gibbs
Post by Joy Beeson
Graphical . . .
communicates better...
If and only if the designer of the interface has communication as a
goal.
*applause*
And it depends on what you're communicating. A GUI is not really all
that much help if what you're trying to communicate is "WAKE UP YOU
LAZY <BEEP>". Not the most dependable system for "FIRE FIRE FIRE"
either--you want something that will get your attention even if you're
not looking at it.
gareth evans
2020-09-15 12:46:34 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
Post by Charlie Gibbs
Post by Joy Beeson
Graphical . . .
communicates better...
If and only if the designer of the interface has communication as a
goal.
*applause*
And it depends on what you're communicating. A GUI is not really all
that much help if what you're trying to communicate is "WAKE UP YOU
LAZY <BEEP>". Not the most dependable system for "FIRE FIRE FIRE"
either--you want something that will get your attention even if you're
not looking at it.
I wonder what OSs the NSA (Yanks) and GCHQ (Brits) use ?
Niklas Karlsson
2020-09-15 12:48:38 UTC
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Post by gareth evans
I wonder what OSs the NSA (Yanks) and GCHQ (Brits) use ?
The NSA wrote SELinux (a kernel-level system for enforcing detailed
policy on who and what can do what), so I'd guess they use a lot of
Linux, probably a pretty stripped-down distro.

Niklas
--
If you demonstrate that you can cook superior food using an induction
stove, is that an instance of proof by induction?
Peter Flass
2020-09-15 13:16:12 UTC
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Post by Niklas Karlsson
Post by gareth evans
I wonder what OSs the NSA (Yanks) and GCHQ (Brits) use ?
The NSA wrote SELinux (a kernel-level system for enforcing detailed
policy on who and what can do what), so I'd guess they use a lot of
Linux, probably a pretty stripped-down distro.
Aren’t many other distros now based on SELinux?
--
Pete
Niklas Karlsson
2020-09-15 13:38:08 UTC
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Post by Peter Flass
Post by Niklas Karlsson
Post by gareth evans
I wonder what OSs the NSA (Yanks) and GCHQ (Brits) use ?
The NSA wrote SELinux (a kernel-level system for enforcing detailed
policy on who and what can do what), so I'd guess they use a lot of
Linux, probably a pretty stripped-down distro.
Aren’t many other distros now based on SELinux?
SELinux isn't a distro, just a kernel subsystem. But yes - the Red Hat
family (RHEL itself, CentOS, presumably Scientific Linux, Fedora)
certainly supports SELinux, as probably do many others.

Ubuntu seems to use one of the alternatives, AppArmor. I was involved in
a Red Hat-based project recently where we were using SELinux but found
it extremely cumbersome, so we investigated AppArmor as an alternative.
Unfortunately, the stock RH kernels don't have AppArmor support compiled
in, and building our own would have voided access to Red Hat's support.

Niklas
--
You've been autopsied twice?!? And you're still posting?
-- Steve VanDevender
Dennis Boone
2020-09-15 17:07:48 UTC
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Post by Niklas Karlsson
Ubuntu seems to use one of the alternatives, AppArmor.
AppArmor and SELinux aren't exactly either-or. Debian ships both.

De
Niklas Karlsson
2020-09-15 17:19:12 UTC
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Post by Dennis Boone
Post by Niklas Karlsson
Ubuntu seems to use one of the alternatives, AppArmor.
AppArmor and SELinux aren't exactly either-or. Debian ships both.
I sit corrected. That's good to hear.

Niklas
--
Actually I think that "fucking off" is an idempotent operation.
-- Alan J Rosenthal
Quadibloc
2020-09-15 19:28:05 UTC
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Post by Niklas Karlsson
Post by gareth evans
I wonder what OSs the NSA (Yanks) and GCHQ (Brits) use ?
The NSA wrote SELinux (a kernel-level system for enforcing detailed
policy on who and what can do what), so I'd guess they use a lot of
Linux, probably a pretty stripped-down distro.
And _given_ the big security enhancement of SELinux, one can guess that at one
time they had been using Multics in order to get such ideas...

John Savard
Dennis Boone
2020-09-15 19:31:50 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
And _given_ the big security enhancement of SELinux, one can guess that
at one time they had been using Multics in order to get such ideas...
Well, they did. Dockmaster comes to mind. But that's certainly not
the only way they could have come by such ideas, even assuming they
were unable to do basic security research for all these decades.

De
Scott Lurndal
2020-09-15 19:56:06 UTC
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Post by Dennis Boone
Post by Quadibloc
And _given_ the big security enhancement of SELinux, one can guess that
at one time they had been using Multics in order to get such ideas...
Well, they did. Dockmaster comes to mind. But that's certainly not
the only way they could have come by such ideas, even assuming they
were unable to do basic security research for all these decades.
Indeed, the orange book was published in 1983 (although we had
preprint copies a couple of years earlier).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trusted_Computer_System_Evaluation_Criteria
Peter Flass
2020-09-15 13:16:11 UTC
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Post by gareth evans
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Charlie Gibbs
Post by Joy Beeson
Graphical . . .
communicates better...
If and only if the designer of the interface has communication as a
goal.
*applause*
And it depends on what you're communicating. A GUI is not really all
that much help if what you're trying to communicate is "WAKE UP YOU
LAZY <BEEP>". Not the most dependable system for "FIRE FIRE FIRE"
either--you want something that will get your attention even if you're
not looking at it.
I wonder what OSs the NSA (Yanks) and GCHQ (Brits) use ?
Probably something they bought from a small startup in Saint Petersburg.
;-)
--
Pete
Quadibloc
2020-09-15 19:30:47 UTC
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Post by Peter Flass
Post by gareth evans
I wonder what OSs the NSA (Yanks) and GCHQ (Brits) use ?
Probably something they bought from a small startup in Saint Petersburg.
;-)
Oh, wait. There _is_ another St. Petersburg besides the one that used to be called Leningrad.

I don't know about the NSA, but *NASA* used to use a lot of computers from the
only computer company based in Florida that I can think of offhand, SEL. Systems
Engineering Laboratories, nothing to do with SELinux.

John Savard
J. Clarke
2020-09-15 21:20:29 UTC
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On Tue, 15 Sep 2020 12:30:47 -0700 (PDT), Quadibloc
Post by Quadibloc
Post by Peter Flass
Post by gareth evans
I wonder what OSs the NSA (Yanks) and GCHQ (Brits) use ?
Probably something they bought from a small startup in Saint Petersburg.
;-)
Oh, wait. There _is_ another St. Petersburg besides the one that used to be called Leningrad.
I don't know about the NSA, but *NASA* used to use a lot of computers from the
only computer company based in Florida that I can think of offhand, SEL. Systems
Engineering Laboratories, nothing to do with SELinux.
Well, there was that little outfit in Boca Raton, but they were a
division of a bigger company . . .
Quadibloc
2020-09-15 23:10:22 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
Well, there was that little outfit in Boca Raton, but they were a
division of a bigger company . . .
Ah, yes. I associate that company with Poughkeepsie in the state of New York. NASA certainly did use a lot of their computers.

John Savard

Carlos E.R.
2020-09-15 11:47:16 UTC
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Post by Chris
Post by gareth evans
The graphical user interface and the world wide web are two
fantastic developments in the field of computing, but why
do they come with so much baggage dragging them down? Have we
forgotten the capabilities of simple OSs?
Quite a lot. Software dev doesn't need a gui for the sort of work
done here, still makefiles and command line, though a gui does
make it seamless for any number of shell windows open at once.
File manager doesmn't need a gui, but the again, you might need
one or more open at once. You can use a text based browser, but
only get a fraction of the content and usability.
Huh. I find that Midnight Commander (aka 'mc') as text based file
browser is more powerful than any GUI based browser I have tested,
except on one respect: showing graphical content of the files, like
photos or videos.

I would gladly use a GUI tool for doing the same, but there ain't any,
there are always missing features.

Of course, I talk of using 'mc' inside a GUI session in an emulated
terminal, so that I can have dozens in sight, not in a pure text terminal.
Post by Chris
The issue here is really the difference between a purely text
interface and a graphical one. Graphical is so much more
capable at formatting data to suit the intended audience, it
communicates better...
Usually, yes. :-)

On the other hand, they often run slower than equivalent text tools,
because a large part of the computing time is used on drawing those nice
graphics :-p
--
Cheers, Carlos.
J. Clarke
2020-09-15 11:49:20 UTC
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Post by Chris
Post by gareth evans
The graphical user interface and the world wide web are two
fantastic developments in the field of computing, but why
do they come with so much baggage dragging them down? Have we
forgotten the capabilities of simple OSs?
Quite a lot. Software dev doesn't need a gui for the sort of work
done here, still makefiles and command line, though a gui does
make it seamless for any number of shell windows open at once.
File manager doesmn't need a gui, but the again, you might need
one or more open at once. You can use a text based browser, but
only get a fraction of the content and usability.
The issue here is really the difference between a purely text
interface and a graphical one. Graphical is so much more
capable at formatting data to suit the intended audience, it
communicates better...
It gets down to "what are you doing and who will be running it".

Even Microsoft has dumped the GUI for file servers--to get the
Microsoft certification for network administrator you have to be able
to run servers from the command line.

I was reading somebody's instructions for making an alarm clock with a
Raspberry Pi the other day. He has you writing the code in Python. I
agree totally that that's the _easy_ way to do it, but it means having
enough Linux to run the Python interpreter, which in principle is
gross overkill for something whose user interface is 54 LEDs and a few
switches.

There's danger in using more software than is needed for the job.
Something in my car times out every few months and when it does the
car has to be jump started. Note that it's an electric car and does
this even if it has been parked with the charger connected the whole
time. No, it's not a Tesla--don't buy an electric Ford. It's my
understanding that it's actually something in the entertainment system
(aka "radio") that causes the problem but there's no fix for it other
than pulling the fuse on the entertainment system and leaving it
pulled.
gareth evans
2020-09-15 08:22:35 UTC
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Post by gareth evans
The graphical user interface and the world wide web are two
fantastic developments in the field of computing, but why
do they come with so much baggage dragging them down? Have we
forgotten the capabilities of simple OSs?
Apologies for this; It seemed that my reply was not getting
through to AFC, so I sent it again as a new thread, and it
still did not seem to be getting through. Certainly, last night,
neither appeared in my SENT ITEMS folder, so I'm surprised
this morning to see them both (as are, no doubt, the
rest of you :-) )
JimP
2020-09-15 15:01:51 UTC
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On Tue, 15 Sep 2020 09:22:35 +0100, gareth evans
Post by gareth evans
Post by gareth evans
The graphical user interface and the world wide web are two
fantastic developments in the field of computing, but why
do they come with so much baggage dragging them down? Have we
forgotten the capabilities of simple OSs?
Apologies for this; It seemed that my reply was not getting
through to AFC, so I sent it again as a new thread, and it
still did not seem to be getting through. Certainly, last night,
neither appeared in my SENT ITEMS folder, so I'm surprised
this morning to see them both (as are, no doubt, the
rest of you :-) )
Sometimes computers, and Usenet servers, do what they please.
--
Jim
Andreas Kohlbach
2020-09-15 19:56:51 UTC
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Post by gareth evans
The graphical user interface and the world wide web are two
fantastic developments in the field of computing, but why
do they come with so much baggage dragging them down? Have we
forgotten the capabilities of simple OSs?
To allow advertisements and eye-candy.

Mind you, you can still run a word processor on an Osborne, but since
decades user want eye-candy and not to work.

Most people went away from PC and use a smartphone or tablet today. You
can no seriously work on them.
--
Andreas
Questor
2020-09-15 20:31:04 UTC
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Post by gareth evans
The graphical user interface and the world wide web are two
fantastic developments in the field of computing, but why
do they come with so much baggage dragging them down? Have we
forgotten the capabilities of simple OSs?
Anyone who has used the Geoworks Ensemble product from the early 1990s knows
that a GUI is not the problem. Like early versions of Windows, Ensemble was a
graphic environment that ran on top of MS-DOS/DR-DOS/PC-DOS. It included a
WYSIWYG word processor and drawing program, a terminal emulator, and the usual
collection of utility applications: address book, calculator, calendar,
notepad, etc. There was a game package and additional clipart. The printing
model had fine control that produced near letter-quality output even with
nine-pin dot matrix printers. The code was tight, object-oriented, and based on
their own extensions to C.

It ran well on a 286 PC with one megabyte of RAM. By discarding unneeded
drivers and other files, some enthusiasts managed to fit a working copy onto a
single 1.44MB floppy. (A typical installation was closer to 6 MB.) A lot of
users were churches and small organizations that used Ensemble to create their
own newsletters with sophisticated graphics. All this in 1991.

There are a lot of reasons why Geoworks never made it in the broader personal
computer market, but code bloat and poor performance are not among them.

The Geoworks example makes clear that the bloat and baggage being associated
with GUIs and web browsing are not strictly necessary. They are the result of
design decisions, such that code size and efficiency are not high on the list of
considerations.
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