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Re: disk vs partition numbering

From: Yoshinori K. Okuji
Subject: Re: disk vs partition numbering
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2006 23:46:23 +0100
User-agent: KMail/1.8.2

On Saturday 09 December 2006 01:17, Hollis Blanchard wrote:
> On Tue, 2006-12-05 at 20:46 +0100, Yoshinori K. Okuji wrote:
> > > Oh, btw, it's HIGHLY confusing that disks start at 0, partitions at
> > > 1. Could you please fix it and make it consequently? either hd1,1
> > > or hd0,0, but not hd0,1 or hd1,0.
> >
> > No. It is consistent with most operating systems, so less confusing to
> > the user. GRUB Legacy used 0-based counting for partitions, and I have
> > received an uncountable number of complaints. Thus it is really a bad
> > idea to make GRUB inconsistent against other systems.
> I am very glad partitions are now numbered from one; that will certainly
> reduce user confusion (although we should expect complaints from people
> who know how grub1 works).
> However, we will now receive lots of complaints, like this one, because
> disks start at zero but partitions start at one. After all, we've all
> learned that consistency is critical for good user interface...

Agreed. Yes, consistency is extremely important. Unfortunately, there are two 
types of consistency in this world:

- Mathematical or symmetrical consistency

- Customary or accustomed consistency

As you know very well, GRUB Legacy follows the former. I decided to change it 
to the latter in GRUB 2, as I don't have to care about compatibilities with 
GRUB Legacy so much, and I learned that theoretical beauty is often just a 
masturbation when coming to the user interfaces with experience.

There are so many "inconsistencies" in computers. For example, lines are 
counted from 1. Columns are counted from 0. AFAIK, all editors and viewers 
follow this convention. If one makes it "consistent", probably a lot of 
people would feel uncomfortable.

The critical thing is how to reduce new things that people would have to study 
for using a program. GRUB Legacy made a mistake, since nearly all operating 
systems use 0-based for disks, and 1-based for partitions. In GRUB Legacy, 
compatibilities preceded the learning curve. That is why one chapter is used 
only to train people for a new thing in the manual! The same thing is 
described more formerly in a later chapter as well. This is the cost in 
having inconsistency with other materials. Not about the cost in writing 
documentation. It is about the cost in millions of people reading many lines 
again and again.

Now, some people say that this is inconsistent against GRUB Legacy. OK. I 
admit it. But which is more important in a long run: easy for existing users 
to migrate to GRUB 2, or easy for new comers to adapt GRUB 2? How difficult 
is it that existing users know GRUB now follows the same rule as others? How 
difficult is it that beginners study a rule different from others, so not 
intuitive at all?


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