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[Discuss] webmin

On 1/24/2013 1:49 PM, Mark Woodward wrote:
>  A GUI for this stuff should reduce the need for skilled admins to 
> add/remove users, check logs, or check hard disk status.

GUI interfaces have their place: they are handy for routine tasks that 
change little from one occasion to another.

But ...

Over time, managers start to believe that GUI-based software can be a 
substitute for properly trained IT personnel, and at that point, the IT 
organization starts a downward spiral, as managers chase a deus ex 
machina that they hope will take the place of competent employees.

The first, and most obvious effect, is lessened security: semi-skilled 
workers will always rely on the cookbook pages that they have used 
before, and thus they will create all users with the same set of 
privileges, often including unnecessary authority to access backups, to 
reset passwords, and other features that their supervisors assume are 
"harmless" and "convenient" for everyone to have.

The downward spiral accelerates as the out-of-their-depth "experts" (who 
have been set up to fail) find out that they are expected to learn "just 
enough" about multiple GUI-based software tools to accomplish "just 
enough" to keep their bosses from looking like fools: and then they 
start to find problems, such as allocation of gargantuan volumes to 
what-should-have-been tiny backup sets, just because the GUI doesn't 
have any provision to compress and chain multiple small files together, 
or reams of paper wasted because the GUI default for newly-created print 
queues is to require job-separation sheets on every printout, or even 
duplicate IP addresses assigned to multiple router interfaces because 
the managers assumed that the cookie-cutter, reduced-skill-set employees 
could be given another recipe book that would enable them to do 
everything the high-priced guys used to.

A GUI is nice - sometimes - and for the same reason that a Master 
Carpenter will use a jig to fit hinges for /some/, but not /all/, doors 
in a building. Let's face it: It's impossible to cram a Master's 
expertise and experience into a single set of instructions, and the 
results are as predictable as the fact that the GUI designers start to 
modify their software so as to facilitate sales of related business 
sectors. The problem, in essence, is that what-you-see-is-what-you-get 
interfaces, if deployed without proper planning, will become 


Bill Horne

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