Ubuntu will go to base 10 units...

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Postby ollie » Thu Apr 22, 2010 11:51 am

PCNetSpec wrote:I always thought Linux (or more correctly GNU/Linux) was the OS, Ubuntu a distro ...


There is no such thing as GNU/Linux. That is just sour grapes by FSF because they can't create a working kernel that has been adopted by thousands of developers around the world. You don't need the GNU tools for a Linux distribution to work, in fact it they aren't installed in many distributions by default. Linux is the kernel, an operating system is the kernel and the software applications that use the kernel to interact with the hardware.


Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_system
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Postby nelz » Thu Apr 22, 2010 2:27 pm

AndyBaxman wrote:No, my argument is that because we have done it "wrong" for so long without confusion, we should continue to do it "wrong".


Ah, so all those questions along the lines of "why is my 500GB drive only showing up as 460GB" were in my imagination. In fact, the confusion has been around so long, you could replace that 500GB with 500MB, or even 50MB.
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Postby nelz » Thu Apr 22, 2010 2:28 pm

ollie wrote:You don't need the GNU tools for a Linux distribution to work, in fact it they aren't installed in many distributions by default.


Really? How many distros can you name that do not use coreutils?
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Postby PCNetSpec » Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:12 pm

ollie wrote:an operating system is the kernel and the software applications that use the kernel to interact with the hardware.


Exactly, Linux + (at least parts of) the GNU toolchain/utils

ollie wrote:You don't need the GNU tools for a Linux distribution to work, in fact it they aren't installed in many distributions by default.


Can you name one?... I'm not saying it wouldn't be possible to make some other utilities that aren't GNU, that could interact with the kernel, but as far as I know... nobody has made/used such a toolset.
Last edited by PCNetSpec on Thu Apr 22, 2010 4:02 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby AndyBaxman » Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:41 pm

nelz wrote:
AndyBaxman wrote:No, my argument is that because we have done it "wrong" for so long without confusion, we should continue to do it "wrong".


Ah, so all those questions along the lines of "why is my 500GB drive only showing up as 460GB" were in my imagination. In fact, the confusion has been around so long, you could replace that 500GB with 500MB, or even 50MB.


That was caused by HDD manufacturers choosing to use decimal values to artificially inflate the size of their drives while all OS's used "traditional" base 2 measurements.

A better solution than this current fiasco would have been to require the HDD manufacturers to use base 2 units (like everyone else). Call em kibis, mibis and gibis if you must insist on SI purity (and never use Kilobytes, etc), but using decimal memory quanta is like trying to bang a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn't fit.

Trouble is they chose to move the mountain (everyone and everything else in the industry) rather then Mohammed (HDDs).

Whereas before there was just confusion over HDD sizes, we'll now have people confused about the size of RAM, DVDs, CDs and Flash as well as HDDs. Not to mention download rates and files sizes.

Its like trying to prevent road accidents by requiring people to drive on the pavement.
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Postby nelz » Thu Apr 22, 2010 4:02 pm

The HD manufacturers would never have agreed, because they were using the units correctly. Why should they change when they were using the units correctly and everyone else was doing it wrong?

Yes, this could have been sorted out a lot more quickly if it had been done early, and it wouldn't have been needed at all if the SI prefixes hadn't been hijacked, but you can hardly blame a company for refusing to use incorrect units just to make their products look worse.

The fact is that the binary units only make sense in the case of memory products and they did try to force the mountain to move by hijacking the decimal prefixes for memory. You're right that decimal doesn't work for memory, but it is the fault of no one but the memory people that they used the wrong units to describe their products.
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Postby AndyBaxman » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:55 pm

The fact that HDD manufacturers were "correct" was merely a by product of their wish to overstate their products.

Decimal units make no sense for memory. This includes flash memory and solid state drives. Base 2 units are equally usable in all circumstances.

More so, in fact, because when you want to transfer files from a memory device to a disk device it is better not to have to translate from one system to another.

Using 2 systems is confusing but, because memory uses binary addressing, we cannot drop base 2 units. Base 2 units can be used equally well in all circumstances. Therefore the base 10 units should be scrapped. Call the base 2 units kibis, and so on, if you really must, but use one system only. And because of the nature of computers, that must be the base 2 system.

In short, kill the Kilobyte and keep the kibi.

The SI Taliban can remain content that their holy sanctity has been preserved while the rest of us can get on with life calling a "Meg" a Meg and knowing it contains 1024 K (Meg, of course, being shorthand for mibi and K being shorthand for kibi)
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Postby nelz » Thu Apr 22, 2010 11:13 pm

AndyBaxman wrote:The fact that HDD manufacturers were "correct" was merely a by product of their wish to overstate their products.


That's more or less what I said, but you can't castigate them for being correct, even if their motives are self-interest.

AndyBaxman wrote:Decimal units make no sense for memory.


Then why use them? Even worse, why try to adjust them to fit when they clearly don't.

AndyBaxman wrote:Using 2 systems is confusing but, because memory uses binary addressing, we cannot drop base 2 units. Base 2 units can be used equally well in all circumstances. Therefore the base 10 units should be scrapped. Call the base 2 units kibis, and so on, if you really must, but use one system only. And because of the nature of computers, that must be the base 2 system.

In short, kill the Kilobyte and keep the kibi.


That's right, because that way there's no confusion. What Ubuntu are doing, AIUI, is not saying that you have to use the decimal units, but that if you do use the decimal names, you make them decimal.

AndyBaxman wrote:The SI Taliban can remain content that their holy sanctity has been preserved while the rest of us can get on with life calling a "Meg" a Meg and knowing it contains 1024 K (Meg, of course, being shorthand for mibi and K being shorthand for kibi)


That's fine because everyone knows what everyone else means, and hard drive manufacturers can choose whether to use decimal or binary units and we will know what they mean.

The Taliban comment is interesting, since Linux users are usually the first to jump on their high horses when standards are violated. I suppose that only applies when others do the violating...
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Postby AndyBaxman » Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:02 am

nelz wrote:The Taliban comment is interesting, since Linux users are usually the first to jump on their high horses when standards are violated. I suppose that only applies when others do the violating...


It depends on what you call a "standard". Standards are often created by common usage and later codified.

It could equally be argued that since 1024 bytes to a Kilobyte was in common industry use from the early 1960s and the "kibi" wasn't codified until 1999 that it was the IEC that violated a well know standard that was used by computer engineers for almost 30 years.

Forcing the use of a pair of incompatible systems in replacement of a single, well known, understood and usable system merely for the sake of notational purity is very "Taliban".
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Postby nelz » Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:39 am

Ah yes, thirty years is an age compared with the mere 300 years that the SI standards had been internationally recognised.

You seem to be going back to the argument that it's been broken for so long that it shouldn't be fixed now. As for forcing the use of a pair of incompatible systems, we already have that, all that we want is for the two systems to have different names.

We get along fine in the UK with the incompatible metric and imperial systems, because we call metres metres and yards yards.

Your suggestion is like the Monty Python character who called all his pets Eric instead of thinking up different names for each one.
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Postby AndyBaxman » Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:15 am

nelz wrote:Ah yes, thirty years is an age compared with the mere 300 years that the SI standards had been internationally recognised.


Indeed. You would have thought they would have done something about it when the term "Kilobyte" first appeared rather than waiting those 30 years for it to become the de-facto standard before having a hissy fit about it.

nelz wrote:You seem to be going back to the argument that it's been broken for so long that it shouldn't be fixed now.
No, the argument is that it wasn't broken in the first place. The term Kilobyte confused nobody in the industry and the introduction of the new systems won't reduce confusion outside of it (it'll probably increase it). Its merely down some obscure desire for unitary purity.

nelz wrote:We get along fine in the UK with the incompatible metric and imperial systems, because we call metres metres and yards yards.
Indeed. But nobody has told me that I cannot call a Yard a Yard. The situation is more like if we, in the UK, historically used the word "Meter" instead of Yard. Everyone was used to it, everyone knew there are 3 Feet to a Meter. Suddenly we are told that the unit clashes with the SI Metre (specifically how it is spelled in the US) and should now be called a "Wibble" and while there are 3 Feet in a Wibble there are now 3.280839895 Feet in a Meter.

nelz wrote:Your suggestion is like the Monty Python character who called all his pets Eric instead of thinking up different names for each one.


The problem is there is one "pet" which is now required to have two names. My dog has always responded well to "Kevin" but the new regulations stipulate that is a regulated human name and will cause confusion outside of the home. In future I am required to call my dog "Rover" when outside the home but am permitted to continue calling him Kevin when he's not in public.
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Postby RedWillow » Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:58 pm

AndyBaxman wrote:No, the argument is that it wasn't broken in the first place. The term Kilobyte confused nobody in the industry and the introduction of the new systems won't reduce confusion outside of it (it'll probably increase it). Its merely down some obscure desire for unitary purity.


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Postby ollie » Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:01 am

nelz wrote:
ollie wrote:You don't need the GNU tools for a Linux distribution to work, in fact it they aren't installed in many distributions by default.


Really? How many distros can you name that do not use coreutils?


Yes, Linux distros use coreutils, which is based on fileutils which was the GNU version of Unix common file management tools. You don't have to have them, you could use similar tools like the Ruby module FileUtils and interact with the OS through a Ruby interface. You could use The Heirloom Toolchest. Is it easier to stay with coreutils? Yes, because that tool set has become the defacto standard.

So, I stand by what I said - it is Linux not GNU/Linux.
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Postby jjmac » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:47 am

ollie, i can see what your getting at, but ...

If the system is using the gnu tool set, then it must be thought of as GNU Linux.

The term indicates from which direction it is coming from.

That doesn't mean that it couldn't use some other set. But a person would be hard pressed to find a distro that does, as part of its' default. In which case, to call it GNU would be a misnomer.

Aside from other concerns, being licened by the GNU public licence does tend to suggest it to be a GNU compliant program.

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Postby nelz » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:04 pm

How far do you go with this? A Linux distro is called so because it is base don the Linux kernel. Yes, it includes the GNU toolset, but it also includes QT or GTK, KDE or GNOME, maybe Apache, postfix or sendmail.

Does that mean I should say I'm using GNU/QT/KDE/Apache/Postfix/GTK/Google/Mozilla/Linux?

When operating system or distro names become longer than German nouns, you know something is not quite right.
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