Formal complaint concerning the use of the name "System Settings" by GNOME

George Spelvin linux at
Thu Aug 4 06:27:40 BST 2011

I think what is needed is a series of more specific alternate names in
a .desktop file, with more levels than the current GenericName and Name.

By default, applications get the simplest name.  If there is a collision,
*both* get promoted to the next most specific name.

E.g. you might have
name1=Image Viewer
name2=Image Viewer (kview)
name3=Image Viewer (kview 3.5.9)

while another application might have
name1=Image Viewer
name2=Image Viewer (xv)
name3=Image Viewer (xv 3.10a)

So if you only have one application of a particular type installed, you
get the simple generic name.  If you have multiples, you get to choose
between Amarok, Clementine, Rhythmbox, Banshee, Gudyadequ, alsaplayer,

In the current dispute, it would be "System Settings (KDE)" and
"System Settings (Gnome)".  A user would only see the disambiguation
suffix if they had both installed.

You might even, as in the example I gave, include the version number so
you can install multiple versions at once.

(The overdesigner in me is thinking of an alternate menu implementation
that uses the collising name as a submenu name, and the more specific
names an entries below that, but maybe KISS is more appropriate here.
Certainly even a design that *allows* such a thing should also allow
not bothering.)

This nicely avoids trying to divide desktops into "primarily Gnome" or
"primarily KDE" to decide who gets the generic name.

The answer is that nobody does.  If I share an office with Joe Bloggs
and Joe Shmoe, then I'm going to use their more specific names to refer
to *both* of them.

One naming suggestion I'd make would be that a pre-beta piece of software
should probably avoid using the fully generic name, until it's stable
and feature-complete enough to be the only such tool on a non-technical
user's system.

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