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Re: disk vs partition numbering

From: James Lockie
Subject: Re: disk vs partition numbering
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 03:14:29 -0500
User-agent: Mail/News (X11/20061116)

Yoshinori K. Okuji wrote:
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?


I like that fact that grub is different. :-)
All software should refuse to work unless the manual is read, grub legacy was like that for me. :-) I take that back, software should work without having to read the manual, grub legacy was NOT like that for me. Maybe grub should use the way of designating a disk/partition in the same way as what OS it is running on?
Yes, being different for each OS. :-)

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