Udisks2: Another Loss For Linux
Udisks2 is emerging, and while this could have been good news for Linux, it is instead a prime example of how Linux is in decline.
Author David Zeuthen explains his reasons for rewriting udisks here. To put it simply, it’s all about Gnome. It appears that increasingly udisks is becoming an internal Gnome component and less a universal Linux tool, certainly not command-line friendly. That means there is no real replacement for hal without adopting almost complete desktop environments. This is not a good state of affairs for Linux development. I haven’t tried it yet, but it will be interesting to see what a mess udisks2 makes of systems which aren’t running Gnome, since the udisks2 author seems to barely consider such use, and even works against it. udisks v1 certainly proved difficult enough with many non-Gnome users having endless polkit and consolekit issues. Rather than addressing this, udisks v2 aims to worsen it.
David Zeuthen seems to have no use for the Linux command line either – new in version 2’s docs for the command line tool:
This program is not intended to be used by scripts or other programs – options/commands may change in incompatible ways in the future even in maintenance releases. Scripts and/or other programs should either use the D-Bus APIs of udisks2-daemon(8) or native low-level commands such as mount(8).
Want to write a quick script to mount a device? Forget it, according to David Zeuthen – that’s not to be done in Linux. While this update may make Gnome’s Disks utility prettier, it undermines the core philosophy of Linux, which is that programs interoperate using simple command line interfaces and text streams. Apparently, the vision here is to make it as closed and convoluted as Windows.
This has become a trend in Linux – increasing use of convoluted and buggy library APIs and mostly-broken security mechanisms, the abandonment of simple command line interfaces, and continuous breakage due to usage and API changes. This effectively turns Linux into Windows, where users can’t do much from a command line, and even when you should be authorized to do something on your own system, that system denies you permission. This decline of Linux is being enabled by desktop environments like Gnome and KDE which seek to replace core Linux tools with their own too-good-to-be-true tools, then change these tools to demand that more of their desktop environment be completely installed, security problems, bugs, and all. Lightweight apps get drawn into this cycle using the likes of gvfs and udisks, which renders them bug-ridden and bloated. Users then have to sacrifice their system security and performance to use them at all.
It’s hard to give a negative review of free software development, but I think this kind of narrow-sighted, monopolistic development does more to undermine free software in the long run. Simply put, this change to udisks leaves Linux with no good options for device management.
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