free software, repost to public 

we have a fortunes-off file so you can print offensive quotes at login time. No distro I know of comes with a fortunes-supportive file that lists encouraging, calming quotes.

You can make sudo(8) insult users when they type their passwords wrong ("Defaults insults" in sudoers). There's no option to make sudo be gentle and understanding when you mistype.

I grew up in free software circles and only really learned any emotional skills after growing out of them.

free software, repost to public 

When my lil dictionary is updating the db, it shows a minimal ascii animation of a steaming coffee mug, and goes like ‘X, done… Y, done… All done! $0 is ready to use, enjoy!’ In modern computers this doesn’t even take time anymore, but this little detail is by far what I got most praise on it (2nd most praised is the fact that it’s ‘pretty’, that I took care with colours and Unicode etc. in a cmdline app).

more cuteness and gentleness in sofware pls

free software, repost to public 

@elilla very relatable, i use the fish shell mostly because the default login message says it's friendly (“Welcome to fish, the friendly interactive shell”), i don't use any of its features 😅

makes me thing of this website:

tech, fish shell good 

@flop yass fish good!! the featureset is actually elegant and powerful, it’s refreshing coming from bash/zsh, but the way it makes a deliberate effort to be friendly and welcoming is what sets it apart for me. (also pretty!) things like all features ready out-of-the-box, or readable consistent syntax, seem like obvious nowadays, but cp. to bash; they make a lot of difference to new users, & if nobody new is learning to use shells where will the command-line be?

tech, command-lines 

It’s a shame that the only decent command-line we have is the Linux/Unix ecosystem. There are reasons it is the way it is, esp. the fact that most hobbyist devs are programmers/engineers (way too few designers, writers, sensibility readers etc., & the precious ones we have get little respect).

But a cmdline could be all of:

- fully decolonised
- discoverable
- consistent
- documented
- cute

& the fact that ours isn’t is taken to be an essential limitation of cmdlines…

tech, command-lines 

Have you tried being polite to your terminal?
alias please='sudo $(history -p !!)'

$ touch /etc/newfile
Operation not permitted
$ please

tech, command-lines 

@polyphonic I'm already thinking of sudo as saying please and following a command with sudo !! is a passive aggressive way of saying please if the computer says no the first time

tech, command-lines 

@elilla the fact that we only have a handful of human-usable (i.e. not primarily for scripting) shells is criminal. the entire modern shell ecosystem that I've heard of can be listed on one hand:

* Bash
* Fish
* Zsh
* Xonsh
* Elvish

of these, xonsh and elvish have serious problems which practically disqualify them

free software culture, command-lines 

I think what hurts the most is the general problem with Linux: The people who code the tools – all the programs the shells will call – by and large aren’t interested in making them easily learnable, discoverable, documented, or kind. So there’s no consistency. There are efforts to consistency in APIs etc., but heck not even all GNU software uses GNU-standard cmdline options.

isn’t it weird that we have to hack together completion from duplicated info?

free software culture, command-lines 

@ink somebody already told the computer "this software has an option -l which does blah". but then each shell has to tell it again.

I see lots of incomplete manpages these days, lots of software distributed without manpages. why is that? what is it about manpages that make them suck so much, why ppl are resorting to webpages, github's instead? what would a good, consistent, throughout, discoverable, zero duplication, console help system look like?

free software culture, command-lines 

@ink getting to that point would take a lot of design, a lot of writing, and the hardest part – interest and participation from the programmers of the tools.

this is why I’m such a fangirl of fish. it’s not just the cleanest, most elegant of modern shells; but maybe its greatest contribution is how ridiculousfish has fostered a culture of thinking about the users not as ‘users’ but as people, as, well, friends, from the very beginning 😌

tech, fish shell, question about learning 

@elilla @flop do you think it would be better to introduce people starting to learn linux-stuff to fish instead of bash?

I haven't used fish yet, but after reading these toots I watched some videos and it looks like it takes down a lot of the barriers to learn the command line, especially the autocomplete stuff with the flags or the syntax check while typing.

My hestitation would be "But bash is everywhere, it's much more universal!", but reading your toots, this more and more seems like a bad thing anyways...

tech, fish shell, question about learning 

@tobbsn @flop :lazer_Y: :lazer_E: :lazer_S: :blobrainbow:

we unfortunately live in a world where bash is the standard (for now :owobread: ) , so there's no way around that. but if I was going to teach beginners the command-line, I'd start on fish, get them a firm footing, then at some point have a discussion about other shells (good point to talk about diversity in linux, pros & cons) and show how to install fish when u get a system with bash.

tech, fish shell, question about learning 

@tobbsn @elilla @flop I too am intrigued about fish after hearing a lot of people talk about it recently. I only switched to zsh from bash recently and have found that a huge improvement, so I'm curious to see how much better things could be! Bash may be the norm now but it doesn't have to be that way forever

re: tech, fish shell, question about learning 

@hyperlinkyourheart @tobbsn @elilla @flop Fish shell is awesome. I've been using it since ~2013, back when it would crash a lot. The history, type-ahead highlighting, dir stacking (hit alt->left/right to go to previous directories) .. it's all really good.

It might not be a good starter shell as most tutorials are in Bash and things like $(echo foo) in fish are (echo foo), but it does provide you useful error messages when you try to use bash syntax.

tech, fish shell good 

@elilla I've been using fish for a few months now, and I enjoy it a lot. it has the features I want, and I don't have to work so hard to install plugins a la zsh. the nice syntax is also a plus. this is to the point where regular bash feels gross whenever I'm forced to use it

free software, repost to public 

@elilla I don't know how to do that kind of feedback on the command-line, but I must learn because I always love it when I see it

free software, repost to public 


I think the most important things take just effort, not coding skill. I'd rank in order:

- Actually having plenty of informative documentation error/diagnostic/etc. text.

- The wording and language of these messages.

- Colour, always with additional symbols (some ppl are colour-blind) but liberally – almost everything on terminal can benefit from colour. Don't do red/green for status, it's a v common blind spot, use red/blue instead.

free software, repost to public 

As for the ascii it was really trivial 🙈 didn't bother learning animation libraries or anything, just rewrote 2 images over one another periodically with SIGALARM

such a simple little drawing, took me like an hour to figure out the code maybe, but ppl loved it anyway 😌

(at some point I tried a tea mug like


but misalignment due to full-width chars was really common in terminals back then.)

free software, repost to public 

@elilla in the 90s when i was running my own BBS, i installed a typo-insulter, but instead of printing insults to the user, i made it print quotes from the ecclesiastes.

Of course the concept of kindness was quite alien back then, but i still remember the more philosophical solution with some fondness.

re: free software, repost to public 

It's not just free software.
They way my parents were raised, they were never praised or told that they did something well. Silence meant they did something well. They only got feedback when they did something wrong.

re: free software, repost to public 

@wolf480pl @elilla reminds me of how i just recently told a coworker to never send me an email saying "thank you" ever again

because every time i see that inbox icon...

free software, repost to public 

@elilla love how every Foss dev with a following has a default personality of hates your favorite thing and is mad at everyone for not being their perfect ideal programmer. And of course they see themselves as rugged individualists for all being the same asshole.

free software, repost to public 

@elilla @scanlime I am happy to sponsor uploads of supportive quote packages to Debian :)

free software, repost to public 

@elilla I wonder if we could use @pixelpaperyarn 's selfcare bot's pool of messages to start making a fortune file?

fortunes-kind package idea 

@M0YNG @ehashman

oh if there's already a collection to work with it, it would be quite simple? I'd be willing to write an export script and debian pkg o/

@elilla fortunes-off exists specifically so that the mainstream fortune file is NOT offensive.

I recall a case ~2000-2001 where a pair of California high-school students were visited by the local constabulary after a truncated William Gibson quote from Johnny Mnemonic, missing attribution and context, appeared on a system they'd configured:

I put the shotgun in an Adidas bag and padded it out with four pairs of tennis socks ...

School officials, reasonably, were concerned they might have a Columbine situation on their hands.[1]

The Debian Project, reaonably, felt that putting users at legal risk for running random-quote-selecting utilities was unsatisfactory, and moved that quote to the "offensive' collection.[2]

The request to split the package actually came from several years earlier, in 1997, for reasons similar to those you mention, by @joeyh in bug #10079:

It's still possible to be offensive, if you go out of your way to be so, but polite is the default.

Likewise with sudo's prompts.

Notes: for da yutes.
There should be records of this in the mailing lists and BTS, though I cannot find these presently.

@dredmorbius @joeyh Yes, just like cowsay-off, and how the insult option in sudo is an easter egg, and bash-insulteran optional package, etc.

There’s still no such readily available way to make a Linux system interact in an emotionally supportive, kind, gentle way. The default (without any -off package) most certainly isn’t.

The point is, the culture of anti-emotionality and tech elitism palpable in forums, ESR’s "How To Ask Questions" etc. leaks into how language is used in the subculture.

racism, homophobia, misoginy ment 

@dredmorbius @joeyh Look at what is still the description of fortunes-off:

"This package contains cookies which ~some~ may consider to be offensive. Please do not install this package if you or your users are ~easily~ offended."

The techie condescension practically drips.

Now let's see what is exactly that these easily offended snowflakes might object to:


racism ment, tech culture 

@dredmorbius @joeyh So in my buster, I can install a database of homophobic quotes in one command. I can install quotes from the BOFH. Heck I can make screen(1) talk to me in nethack quotes.

Is there a tool with an "emotionally supportive" flag? Non-Violent Communication easter egg? fortunes-nap-ministry? been sysadmin for 15 years, never saw a pkg suggesting kind things to say to your users. Gentleness-HOWTO. How To Answer Questions In A Compassionate Way.txt

@dredmorbius @joeyh There are exceptions; as others said, fish works hard at friendly interaction. But its vibe and culture stand out so much precisely because the norm in tech communication is to disdain emotional skills.

I recall when Ubuntu came along, one could feel real effort there to make interaction pleasant (above all in having an actual design project, even the names, ‘ubuntu’, ‘human’, warm colours etc.). But it was capitalist-led, and capitalism ruins everything, esp. FOSS.

@elilla @dredmorbius fortune is a kind of collection of generational time capsules of particular subcultures.

Fully 3% of the (non-off) is literally quotes from me and friends on IRC 2 decades ago.

It's hard to avoid this effect in the long term, unless you just throw it all out periodically. Or go for "timeless" stuff which will probably seem trite.

@elilla @dredmorbius
I do think sudo does a reasonable job with its "With great power comes great responsibility. Respect the priavy of others. Think before you type."

A bit trite, but I've felt before that helped put me in a good mindset.

Your animation sounds to hit a similar sweet spot. I think it's hard to do though. The suggestion to have a NVC fortune file reminded me that "NVC+cult" has half a million google hits, which is not to say it is one, but maybe it makes some people anxious.

scary/opaque error msgs 

@joeyh @dredmorbius
I know more than 1 student who was afraid that something bad was going to happen when they tried something and got

> $username is not in the sudoers file. This incident will be reported.

What's a sudoers file, reported to who, how? Am I in trouble?

How many attackers see that message (and care) vs. ppl messing by accident? Why not e.g.

> Sorry, $user has no permissions to run the sudo command. Please be aware that attempts to use it are recorded.

emotional care in tech (lack thereof) 


just trying to put self on the shoes of the reader.

not picking on sudo here, but voicing my long-held discomfort with the culture: How come in msgs, interfaces, even toys like fortunes, it never feels like the system is your friend, that the ppl who wrote it care about you, not looking down as ‘the user’ but as a human being whose emotional well-being is worthy at least acknowledgement?

(& not even getting into online interactions…)

nazi ment, free speech ideology 

@joeyh @dredmorbius

Re: throwing out: yes, I think this gets to the root of the cultural – and political – problem. The docs for -off say:

> Faced with two unpalatable
alternatives, of including material that really deserves no wider publication or of acting the censor, I choose to pass on the responsibility […] in America, at least, even Nazi rhetoric is a protected form of speech.

free speech ideology 

@joeyh @dredmorbius
This shows how I’ve experienced Linux/GNU/FSF culture through these decades: deeply centred on US values, neolib/libertarian-skewed, and into "free speech" not really about governments but as a kind of refusal to think about the needs of other people.

Doubt any queer or Black community would equate the act of deleting racism/homophobia _in one’s own distro_ as equally ‘unpalatable’ as the act of distributing it. But they’re not who coded or decided this.

re: free software, repost to public 

@elilla you do realize that this is a form of humor and not missing social skills aye?

While you obviously don't like it there are lots of people who like dark humor... heck more or less the whole of Britain, look at the Monty Python gags ;)

free software, repost to public 

@elilla BOFH is funny in retrospective but now just feels mean for the sake of it.

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