Usability… WTF is that?

One of the very important things when it comes to software development is usability. Software should be user friendly and easy to use. Despite sustained opinion software for system administration should not be an exception. After all, system administrators are still humans (although some people don’t agree with that :). So it was always a mystery to me why some OS developers, or at least developers of user space tools, try to complicate it as much as they can.

Perfect example for this is Veritas Volume Manager. Other UNIX LVM technologies provide very logical and simple to use tools for LVM administration, but seems that VxVM has “the more confusing – the better” philosophy. Perfect example for this is simple activity of checking how much free space is left in Disk Group (Volume Groups are called Disk Groups in Veritas Volume Manager :)).

# vxdg -g rootdg free
rootdg rootdisk c1t0d0s2 c1t0d0 46595904 96722880 -

Now, all fields are self explanatory, but WTF are Offset and Length?! Well, Offset is the number of the block where free space begins and Length is size of the free space in blocks. I agree this is very informative and useful output, but why naming fields like this? Why not use simple names like for example “Used space” and “Free space”? Hm, beats me.

But fun doesn’t end there. In case you don’t have free space in your Disk Group vxdg command will not inform you about that, it will just output the header and exit. Very user friendly, isn’t it? :)

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying VxVM is a bad piece of software. I think it is very powerful and with features that many other Volume Manager software lacks. But, people at Symantec could really hire some usability expert to work on VxVM, it would be a challenge of a lifetime. :)