Quit means quit

I’m either getting old or getting young, because it takes more concentration than I can afford to wade through this semi-interesting novella about the Ubuntu design meisters taking an axe to the “quit” function.

I really only have one thing to say in reply: Quit means quit. One thing that always irritated me about Windows programs over the years was that some of them seemed to hang in memory until forcibly removed.

Even Skype, which I use only rarely, drives me batty because clicking the giant X in a box in the upper right corner, which on most planets means “Your work here is through,” only causes it to sink into the system tray.

If I actually want to rid the running system of it, I have to use the even more brutal right-click-quit-and-confirm command. Rubbish.

Quit means quit, and if the logic behind removing quit functions is to keep programs running silently in the background, count me out.

When I say stop, I mean stop. When I say close, I mean close. When I say quit, I mean quit — with extreme prejudice.

Furthermore this is not a new perspective for me. I hated it when AT-style hard-switch power systems, circa 1998, made the move to power systems that required you to hold down the button for the system to turn itself off.

There was never anything quite so satisfying as hearing the snap and click of an old-style power switch, viciously and unequivocally severing the system from its power source, in the space of an instant.

I want the same behavior from programs. Quit means quit, and chances are I’ll seek out applications that follow that rule.

Of course, most of the computers I use couldn’t run Ubuntu if their temporal existences depended on it, so the chance that a quitless program and I might cross paths … well, it’s pretty slim.

In closing I’ll say that it’s altogether possible that I completely misunderstood the point of that missive. It was quite long, you see. And while that’s sometimes a sign of a well thought-out argument, this time it only meant more words to string through my brain.

And in the end, for me, the issue is simple: Quit means quit. That is all.


21 thoughts on “Quit means quit

  1. Hippytaff

    I quit reading the quit novella after the first paragraph. I admire your will and determination to read the whole thing. With this and the Gnome shell, I think, where X is necessary I’m off to fluxbox.

  2. helf

    wow, wtf? Ubuntu has gone completely batshit insane. People are going to eat this crap up, too 😦

    Gnome3 is looking worse and worse, “unit” is a freaking joke, and now losing maximize/minimize buttons and quit functionality?! wtf?

    1. Anonymouse

      While I certainly don’t like this GNOME Shell bullcrap, stop bashing things you don’t understand. If you were to read anything about the loss of minimize/maximize buttons, you’d realize they aren’t really needed under GNOME Shell.

      1. helf

        Unless I’m mistaken, you can still have free floating windows in Gnome Shell, correct? Then how are they not needed and or not be useful still?

        1. helf

          OK, I stand corrected on the minimize/maximize. I just looked at the latest nightly builds and they have changed the shell a good bit since I last used it a couple of months ago.

          I can see why they are no longer needed. oopsy. :p

  3. hurleyef

    I agree with most programs, but they have a point with the file manager/desktop thing. Hitting the x on a nautilus instance performing the same function as “pkill nautilus” would kill the desktop too.

    Also, there are a few programs I like to stay open after their windows are dismisses, namely tranmission and pidgin. I think sometimes it makes sense, but even then I like to have a choice.

    1. Anonymouse

      That’s no reason to subvert the functionality of the “quit” or “close” button! There’s this thing called “minimize to tray” (or equivalent) if you want to have things stay open w/o their window being open.

  4. damaged justice

    I actually read the whole thing and feel stupider for it. Hardly any of this person’s observations jibes with any of my own experiences going back over thirty-plus years. One of many niggling disagreements which is not just semantics: The problem is not that “Quit means different things and is thus inconsistent and not useful”. The problem has been created by human beings — developers — using “Quit” to mean different things. And instead of encouraging people to use language in a clear and consistent manner, the first thing these people think of is to remove some ability of the user to control what their computer does and does not do?

    The writer, like most users and developers today, is trapped inside a Procrustean box of fundamental assumptions about the way he thinks computers work and the way he thinks they ought to work. And the only thing that will save us from people like that, is people like this:




    Though I’m not holding my breath.

  5. ErSandro

    Come on, the way ubuntu choosed to follow was clear months ago. And I think it’s not entirely bad. I’m sure that lots of people will enjoy ubuntu 11.04 whit Unity and stuff (maybe me too on a thinkpad x41 tablet).

    Remember that ubuntu was thinked for people that just want a plug’n’play experience. For the “serious” matters i will stick to arch and a good tiling wm (i really like musca and i3).

    When you’re talking of open source the keyword will always be “freedom”.

  6. Duncan Snowden

    The novella is pretty dense and confusing, but I think it does contain some germs of truth. There is some confusion today over whether the “close” button on a window means “quit” or simply what it says: “close the window”. That certainly should be made more consistent. And it’s true that the “open file” dialog is – or should be – completely redundant: why do we have both that and file managers like Nautilus and Dolphin?

    The old Apple Lisa OS (of which the classic Mac System was a watered-down variant with many of the best ideas cut out), ROX desktop, and – from what I can gather – Étoilé manage this sort of thing much better. Drag-and-drop is much more pervasive, for example: if you want to create a new text file under those systems, you create a new empty file first, then drag it to your text editor (which, let’s face it, is what we do in the real world: you don’t sit down at an empty typewriter and expect it to magically spew paper). From what I understand of the Lisa OS, files were edited in place on the disk, too: there was no explicit saving (if you wanted to retain what you already had on disk, you copied it and worked on the copy). In a sense, the user was barely aware of there being applications at all; just files that were opened and closed. It’s an interesting concept that probably is worth revisiting.

    But what those systems don’t do, which is what it sounds like Canonical wants – is have programs hang around in memory waiting to decide for themselves if the user really, truly, meant it when he said “quit”. You can count me out from that too.

  7. fuddle-duddle

    Seems to me there is a rampant malignant infection going on. Suddenly people swoon at the sigh of desktops filled with icons. Ubuntu and Gnome are desperately trying to come up with something that is fresh. In that quest, they figure removing user freedom is the only safe way to ensure their warped visions can stick.
    They are charging at he users with a take no prisoner attitude.
    I know, they all found a batch of electric kool-aid.

  8. truzicic

    God bless skull and bones 🙂 (I’m guy with 2 gigs of Ram and I don’t know what to do with them).

  9. Foz

    Well, since Ubuntu 10.04, I fell out with Ubuntu. Problems with the minimise, maximise and close buttons moving, coupled with failures to load, failures to shutdown and just in general failures… well, I’m now Debian all the way!

  10. anon

    Unrelated, but you’re in Japan: did you feel the earthquake? Tsunamis are coming for you and every country near as well.


  11. jorge

    Is it only me, or do the replies of Mr. Paul Thomas in the quoted page seem rather belligerent in their defensiveness? He seems annoyed at having to explain his argument and answer pertinent inquiries. Not very dialectic. His bottom-line defense also seems to be that computers have enough power now to have enough stuff open simultaneously in case something is needed. Well… not here in the third world.

    For the record, I use the file managers constantly, for managing files of different types, moving them around as I reclassify their storage status, or whether I may need them as reference for an upcoming project. I also do clean-up of no longer needed files, as storage space is not unlimited in my machines.


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