I feel the best way immutable operating systems like (the excellent) can get over the remaining usability issues is if they make a conscious decision to forget that they are immutable operating systems.

What are the defaults you would implement if you weren’t allowed to tell people it was immutable?

Implement those.

(e.g., Have the default terminal open in a mutable container & a separate command to launch an advanced “admin” console for layering, etc.)


Isn't that also counterproductive in a way though? Shouldn't the longer term goal and "ideal" use case be to avoid mutable terminal shenanigans as much as possible?
For inexperienced users default mutable containers might be misleading because they might be tempted to blindly follow googled tutorials and do a lot of apt-get/dnf/zypper etc. Very experienced ones will get along fine either way.


It probably might be the more attractive option for intermediate linux users looking to switch, who are somewhat used to the terminal and might feel immutable systems are missing something because they are not aware toolboxes etc exist. But even for them it might reinforce "bad" patterns then.


Either way, having a preconfigured toolbox from the get-go would probably still be a good idea, default option or not.

@just_a_frog @aral Mac OS has an immutable system partition, does it not? The idea is eventually the average Joe can use it, and there’s GUI tooling to handle rollbacks when necessary, etc. Ideally, The technical people will know how to work with the immutability, and the non-technical people should never need to worry about or even notice the fact that the system is immutable.

@leggettc18 @just_a_frog Exactly what I was saying. If you have to know that it’s immutable that means the seams are showing. Immutability of the OS should be an implementation detail. Have intelligent defaults; layer the seams.

@aral Can immutability be invisible? Like, is it possible?

I remember running Silverblue and being unable to sh the .run from PIA to install their app, and it makes sense since it’s definitely making major changes.

I was able to set it up via manual configs in OpenVPN, but I can’t think of a way that get a third-party app that requires system-level changes to “just work.” It can’t just be thrown into a flatpak like GIMP.

@aral @mopedad One of the things I hate about MacOS is the hoops you have to go through to change your own system. Linux started going down hill when they got rid of FVWM ;-) In all honesty in the 90s I said “Linux will be great when its finished”. That’s still the case. Rather than messing with the fundamentals people need fix the missing basixs, the current functionality and the documentation. Its like systend, what it replaced wasn’t finished and had issues so they replaced it with something else which isn’t finishes and has issues but at least the old system was less monolithic. You can’t use Gnome3 without systemd! That breaks the whole philosohy of *nix. I can’t tell you the number of embedded projects where we have ripped out systemd and reverted. If you want to protect systems from clueless users just don’t give then admin rights!

@cyberspice @mopedad Sadly, traditional Linux desktop is also one of the most insecure systems possible. Its security properties date back to the assumptions of the mainframe era. So we have privileged ports (yay!) but a windowing system (X) where any app can be a keylogger. So thank goodness for wayland. Similarly, we have non-sandboxed apps. Flatpak is a step in the right direction (if an imperfect one). Immutable OS is also. We must think beyond “users” to “everyday people.”

@cyberspice @mopedad (And those “everyday people” aren’t dumb, either. They’re brain surgeons. They just don’t have any more time to fiddle with their OS than they do to work on their car because they have brain surgery in the morning.)

@aral I’m running macOS and I forgot, so very possible I guess, lol.

@aral I LOVE Silverblue... in very specific, ie I don't want to maintain, places.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Aral’s Mastodon

This is my personal Mastodon.