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Another controversial change for Ubuntu 10.04: File size policy


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#1 +Frank B.

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 15:26

A less visible change than the controversial window control arrangement in the Gnome default theme for Ubuntu 10.04 'Lucid Lynx' is that a units policy was put in place, similar to what Apple have done for Mac OS X 10.6 'Snow Leopard': File sizes are now displayed in base-10 units. I.e. 1 kB = 1,000 bytes, 1 MB = 1,000 kB = 1,000,000 bytes and so on. Quoth Benjamin Drung, the person who suggested the change:

I stumbled over Ubuntu 10.04 Reads File Sizes Differently and I have to correct some statements.

First I want to ask you, my blog reader, to read the units policy. Then think about it and read it again.

Now my criticism to the blog post:

* We didn’t change the units policy. There were no such policy; we created one.
* KB does not exist (in the SI or IEC standard). It’s either kB (meaning 1000 bytes) or KiB (meaning 1024 bytes). Did the author read the policy?

Now my clarifications to the commenter:

* This policy was not Canonical’s decision. You have to blame me for creating the draft of the policy and the Technical Board for approving it.
* This policy has nothing to do with Apple. I have never used a Mac and I don’t care what kind of byte prefixes Apple uses.
* This policy is not connected to the decision to change the window buttons position of the default theme. This was done by different people. These two things are absolutely independent.

Correcting all applications to comply to the units policy is a goal for lucid+1 (Ubuntu 10.10). We are too late in the release cycle for the change in lucid (Ubuntu 10.04). My current plan is to create a library for inputing/outputting bytes to users. The user can then configure this library to display the units in base-2 (KiB), base-10 (kB), or the historical totally f*****-up format (KB).


Source via Planet Ubuntu

This is potentially a bad thing if all other Linux distributions stick to the old format and will lead to confusion sooner or later. IMHO at least.


#2 Thrackerzod

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 15:38

I always hated that they wanted to go and change it just because some people got their panties in a twist over the meaning of Kilo. Computers work in binary, not base 10. We've always defined them in digital measurements, and I'll continue to refer to 1 kilobyte as 1024 bytes, and no I will not use those silly baby talk sounding words like kibibyte. :p

#3 Sulphy

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 15:45

... installed 10.4 ..... no GUI ... nothing at all really, but i can create a folder on the desktop!!!!!! Not a big Linux buff... so please dont belittle me too much... especially if it involves the terminal.... which i also cannot get by the way! Posted Image

#4 roadwarrior

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 15:53

I always hated that they wanted to go and change it just because some people got their panties in a twist over the meaning of Kilo. Computers work in binary, not base 10. We've always defined them in digital measurements, and I'll continue to refer to 1 kilobyte as 1024 bytes, and no I will not use those silly baby talk sounding words like kibibyte. :p


+1 This revisionism is quite simply annoying (similar to the insistance in certain circles of using BCE instead of BC, when both refer to exactly the same time frame). People like me who have been using computers for the better part of 3 decades KNOW what KB means, because it has been used for decades and has always meant the same thing in computer terminology. The whole issue started with hard drive makers trying to excuse their use of the (then nonstandard) 1,000,000-byte definition of a megabyte when selling hard drives.

#5 boogerjones

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 15:56

A pretty silly change. Doing this for the sake of technical accuracy blatantly ignore's Ubuntu Desktop's biggest roadblock to adoption: user-friendliness. And the standards argument is problematic in the same way that the argument against the use of "literally" as emphasis is problematic. It's a snotty change and ignores the fact that almost every hardware manufacturer and user is used to 1MB = 1024KB. Yes, this whole thing is started by HD manufacturers who wanted to nickel-and-dime us, but that's not a good enough excuse to stop now.

I wonder which NASA shuttle is going to crash because of this.

#6 The_Decryptor

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 16:00

Good to see them finally do this, the kernel and most userland tools have been using the proper suffixes for ages.

It also brings it in line with HD makers (who have always done it properly), and helps the end user (having conflicting numbers = bad)

#7 Thrackerzod

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 16:20

Good to see them finally do this, the kernel and most userland tools have been using the proper suffixes for ages.

It also brings it in line with HD makers (who have always done it properly), and helps the end user (having conflicting numbers = bad)


Yes having conflicting numbers is bad, and since we'd been using 1024 from the very beginning it should never have been changed. It was the hard drive makers that changed it, not because it was correct but because it made their products sound bigger. Once again, computers are binary devices. Yes Kilo means 1000...in base 10. We're not dealing with that though.

#8 itzwolf

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 16:24

I always hated that they wanted to go and change it just because some people got their panties in a twist over the meaning of Kilo. Computers work in binary, not base 10. We've always defined them in digital measurements, and I'll continue to refer to 1 kilobyte as 1024 bytes, and no I will not use those silly baby talk sounding words like kibibyte. :p

I totally agree. (Y)

#9 XerXis

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 16:25

Yes having conflicting numbers is bad, and since we'd been using 1024 from the very beginning it should never have been changed. It was the hard drive makers that changed it, not because it was correct but because it made their products sound bigger. Once again, computers are binary devices. Yes Kilo means 1000...in base 10. We're not dealing with that though.


yes, computers are binary machines and they work with bits, there is however no reason why a KILObyte should be 1024, none at all.

#10 Thrackerzod

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 16:28

yes, computers are binary machines and they work with bits, there is however no reason why a KILObyte should be 1024, none at all.


Yeah, except for that first thing you said, and that it's been used that way for decades... :laugh:

#11 The_Decryptor

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 16:30

Yes having conflicting numbers is bad, and since we'd been using 1024 from the very beginning it should never have been changed. It was the hard drive makers that changed it, not because it was correct but because it made their products sound bigger. Once again, computers are binary devices. Yes Kilo means 1000...in base 10. We're not dealing with that though.

HD makers were correct though.

Kilo means 1000, whether it's in Base 2, Base 10 or Base 16.

Edit: And "Well we've been wrong all this time, may as well keep being wrong" isn't that good a reason to me.

Edited by The_Decryptor, 25 March 2010 - 16:31.


#12 Thrackerzod

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 16:35

HD makers were correct though.

Kilo means 1000, whether it's in Base 2, Base 10 or Base 16.

Edit: And "Well we've been wrong all this time, may as well keep being wrong" isn't that good a reason to me.


There is no 1000 in base 2, and I never agreed that we were wrong before.

#13 XerXis

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 16:40

There is no 1000 in base 2, and I never agreed that we were wrong before.


of course there is 1000 = 8

just kidding :p

#14 Growled

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 16:42

I really see no reason to change except just to change, which is never a good thing.

#15 Anooxy

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 16:44

Kilo in the binary system means 1024. We've never been wrong.