As most people know, there has been some flamewars accusing Gnome
developers of removing options for the benefit of "idiot users". I've
definitely been responsible for removing preferences from some parts of
the desktop in the past. Probably the most dramatic is the drive mount
applet, which started off with a preferences dialog with the following
Mount point: which mount point should the icon watch the state
Update interval: at what frequency should the mount point be
polled to check its status?
Icon: what icon should be used to represent this mount point. A
selection of various drive type icons were provided for things like
CDs, Floppys, Zip disks, etc.
Mounted Icon and Unmounted Icon: if "custom" was selected
for the above, let the user pick custom image files to display the
Eject disk when unmounted: whether to attempt to eject the disk
when the unmount command is issued.
Use automount-friendly status test: whether to use a status
check that wouldn't cause an automounter to mount the volume in
These options (and the applet in general) survived pretty much intact
from the Gnome 1.x days. However the rest of Gnome (and the way people
use computers in general) had moved forward since then, so it seemed
sensible to rethink the preferences provided by the applet:
Nautilus's volume handling has matured a lot since then, and been
pushed down to the platform as the GnomeVFSVolumeMonitor API. This
API makes it possible to enumerate mounted volumes and mount points
on the system, so we can do a lot better than providing an entry box
and file chooser to select a mount point.
The GnomeVFSVolumeMonitor provides asynchronous notification of
mount/unmount events, removing the need for the applet to poll the
status. If the applet isn't polling, then there is no reason for it
to provide the update interval preference.
The GnomeVFSVolumeMonitor API provides icon names for volumes
depending on the drive type. If we can detect that a disk is a
floppy or a cdrom or whatever, why ask them what sort of icon to
use? This change also means that the icon can be picked from the
user's selected icon theme, providing better integration with the
rest of the desktop (not to mention the accessibility benefits when
the HighContrast icon theme is used).
Certain types of volumes always make sense to eject on unmount.
Other volumes don't. Since we know the volume type, we should be
able to just do the right thing.
Since the applet is no longer directly checking the mount point
status, the "Use automout-friendly status test" preference
doesn't make sense. But even if it was applicable, it is the sort
of preference that only has one sane value: assuming both types of
status check work, why wouldn't you want to use the one that works
The other major change I made was due to a change in the types of
volumes people mount: USB devices. If you have a fixed number of mount
points/devices you care about, then the old model works pretty well. If
you have a large number of devices, and rarely plug them all in at once,
you probably don't want to create drive mount applets for all of them.
My solution was to alter the drive mount applet to display a button for
each user mountable volume on the system rather than one applet per
The result was an applet with no preferences. However, I'd contend
that it has more features than before. It has been improved further
since then, to provide media-type specific options (e.g. start the movie
player if you insert a DVD Video disc).
The problem I have with the current drive mount applet (and the reason
it no longer graces my panel) is that it's all or nothing - you can't
have a subset of mountable volumes and you can't alter the layout. I
have a 4-in-1 flash card reader, 2 cdroms and an ide floppy drive. So, I
get dumped with 7 items inefficiently layed out (I use a single 48 pix
panel; old school). I only use 1 of the 4 flash slots, so I'd rather
ignore the other 3, and vertical items make a lot more sense for my
Luca De Rugeriis -
Same here: it would be nice if it was possible to hide some of the
James, you have provided us with a most wonderful example of our
Philip/Luca, this is a common feature request, and is probably relevant
to people with lots of little devices, so is a patch forthwith? If you
were going to implement this, I would recommend storing a mask of drives
to hide, rather than a list of drives to show. That way new devices that
have never been seen before always appear, and could then be hidden by
Exactly, there is a huge difference between features and options. In the
ideal case, the only choice a user _ever_ has to make should be "what
do I want to do". And that is what GNOME is all about.
Some people insist on having unlimited customizability available and I
understand that GNOME isn't the right desktop for them. But that is not
the same as functionality. Functionality means to me "the ability to do
something", not "a specific method to do something".
> I only use 1 of the 4 flash slots, so I'd rather ignore the other 3
Wouldn't it make sense to just automatically ignore drives that
couldn't be mounted, such as card slots with no cards in them? You
don't want to see them because there's nothing you could do with them.
it would be enough if people can select which drives he wants to display
on the panel. Some people only want their cd/dvd drives, but the rest
they don't care about. I really hope such a highly requested feature
will be implemented!