kB in KDiskFreeSpace and others

David Jarvie djarvie at kde.org
Fri Mar 28 13:09:51 GMT 2008

On Friday 28 March 2008 11:49, Jeff Mitchell wrote:
> Speaking particularly of the situation I encountered in Dolphin, Under
> normal
> circumstances I'd have looked at kB and thought "1024 bytes" and not given
> it
> a second glance.  But the value, which was returned as "kB" from
> KDiskFreeSpace, was being passed into a convertSizeFromKiB function.  That
> discrepancy between the two acronyms led to my confusion, even though the
> actual values were consistent.  The KDE docs should ideally be consistent
> in the acronyms in use.
>> However, we're going towards the KiB acronym, for which there's no such
>> ambiguity. Whether anyone says "kibibyte" aloud remains to be seen
>> ("kays", "megs" and "gigs" are more common aloud).
> Come on, you know you want to be heard saying "kibs", "mibs", and "gibs"
> :-)
> OK for me to change the documentation text, then?

Am I right in concluding from what you say that Dolphin reports sizes in
kB (1000B), not kiB? This comes as a surprise - wouldn't it be better to
change the code to use kiB, and label the values as such. The only
unambiguous unit is kiB since kB can in practice (even if not in SI
theory) refer either to 1000 or 1024 bytes.

IMHO it's important to ensure that the displayed values are as far as
possible clearly understandable without having to refer to the
documentation. Documentation should serve the function of expanding on
what the user can already be expected to already understand, or to clarify
when there is already doubt in the user's mind. It shouldn't be there to
tell the user that his reasonable assumptions are wrong - this sort of
information is unlikely to be found by the user at the time it is needed,
since in this case the user doesn't realise there is anything which needs

David Jarvie.
KAlarm author & maintainer.

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