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Ubuntu Will Switch To Base-10 File Size Units In Future Release

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the stay-above-the-belt dept.

Ubuntu 984

CyberDragon777 writes "Ubuntu's future 10.10 operating system is going to make a small, but contentious change to how file sizes are represented. Like most other operating systems using binary prefixes, Ubuntu currently represents 1 kB (kilobyte) as 1024 bytes (base-2). But starting with 10.10, a switch to SI prefixes (base-10) will denote 1 kB as 1000 bytes, 1 MB as 1000 kB, 1 GB as 1000 MB, and so on."

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Cannonical is just trolling us (5, Funny)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639942)

First, screwing with GUI buttons, now this? Mark Shuttleworth, I'm calling you out on your BS
 
;)

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (5, Informative)

g-to-the-o-to-the-g (705721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639998)

If you read closely, you'll see that the summary is kind of misleading. What canonical is actually doing is using SI prefixes for base-10 units, and IEC prefixes for base-2 units.

In other words, they will use 1kB for 1000 bytes and 1KiB for 1024 bytes. This is a good thing, it just means the UI should be consistent and you don't need to second-guess.

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (2, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640078)

you don't need to second-guess.

a few years ago you didn't need to: 1kb was 1024 byte. it was defined like that. why don't we define 2 as 1 and 1 as 2 next ?

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640182)

It was never defined that way!

"kilo" has always meant "1000". That is the way that IT is DEFINED.

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (1)

g-to-the-o-to-the-g (705721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640212)

a few years ago you didn't need to: 1kb was 1024 byte. it was defined like that. why don't we define 2 as 1 and 1 as 2 next ?

Not really [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640226)

There has never been a point since the introduction of the 1024 "binary k" prefix that you didn't have to second-guess. RAM was different from disk, before that communications was already using SI kilo (or I should say, what would become SI kilo, since they predated the codification of SI).

The "binary" prefixes have always been problematic and don't help new people entering the field to understand anything, so they ought to go, or at least be segregated out so that there can be no confusion.

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (3, Informative)

gweihir (88907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640260)

1kb never was 1024 bytes. It is either 128 bytes or 125 bytes. 'b' is bit, 'B' is byte and that distinction is rather important.

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (3, Informative)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640298)

a few years ago you didn't need to: 1kb was 1024 byte. it was defined like that.

No, it wasn't. It meant, variously: 1000 bytes, 1024 bytes, 1000 bits, 1024 bits, or "approximately 1000 bits/bytes". There was also the goofiness that if you transferred at 64 kbps for 10 seconds, you ended up with 62.5 kb, and when you formatted your 10 GB hard drive, you ended up with only 9.3 "GB" of space.

It confuses ordinary people for no good reason.

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (1, Insightful)

Espectr0 (577637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640304)

a few years ago you didn't need to: 1kb was 1024 byte. it was defined like that. why don't we define 2 as 1 and 1 as 2 next ?

Because it was wrong to do so. Kilo is a SI prefix and it denotes one thousand. It should mean that everywhere. This is a good decision.

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (4, Funny)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640332)

Kibibytes always makes me think of cat treats.

Is that what we want? More lolcats in our hardrives? Fuxxoring up our filesizes?

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (4, Insightful)

Reemi (142518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640338)

I am more confused by people mixing b (bit) and B (Byte).

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640218)

Only to you punk kids who are confused by the difference. Who gives a shit that SI says KB is 1000? For digital computer it has always been 1024 (none of this KiB idiocy). It's only the slimy hard drive manufacturer who use the base-10 values to make people think their devices are larger than they really are.

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640222)

It's more than just a prefix standardization:

File sizes can either be shown in both base-10 and base-2, only base-10, or a user option to choose between the two (but with base-10 set as the default).

So according to this, applications are supposed to display both, or just the base-10, defaulting to base-10. What application designer wants to waste space on two different but similar units?

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (0)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640342)

In other words, they will use 1kB for 1000 bytes and 1KiB for 1024 bytes. This is a good thing, it just means the UI should be consistent and you don't need to second-guess.

But it's inconsistent with previous GUIs. It'd be like the world saying "Tomorrow, we will start using the term 'yes' to mean 'no, and 'foo' to mean 'yes'. This will not cause any confusion, because we will use these new terms everywhere."

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640034)

Why moan? Apple have been doing this for years, and everyone knows anything using Gnome is the tramps version of OS X.

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640082)

Apple started using SI prefixes half a year ago with Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (2, Insightful)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640272)

Apple started using SI prefixes half a year ago with Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

...and look how well that worked out for them. I'm still not an Apple user...

Re:Cannonical is just trolling us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640354)

Yea, that is F#@&ing stupid! If one is too stupid not to know 1kB is of space is 1024 bytes then you should not be touching a computer. Why your too stupid..

Thing is (4, Insightful)

davidjgraph (1713990) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639948)

Anyone who's too stupid to understand the difference, isn't going to care. Someone, somewhere, has too much time on their hands...

Re:Thing is (2, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640074)

I care because if a sector is 4096 bytes, I can easily tell how many sectors a 4 MiB file takes (1024). Let's say someone says a file is 4 MB. How many 4 KiB sectors is that?

Counting sectors is overrated (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640146)

Disks are big enough nowadays that if your files are in the megabytes or mebibytes, you don't need to count sectors. Counting sectors is more useful for folders full of files smaller than 5 sectors, like source code or thumbnail images or HTML files, in which case you're wasting over 10 percent on internal fragmentation if you're not using one of the few file systems with tail packing [wikipedia.org] . But don't worry; the article stated that file managers MAY (and probably SHOULD) include an option to show file sizes in KiB, MiB, and GiB.

Re:Counting sectors is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640204)

the article stated that file managers MAY (and probably SHOULD) include an option to show file sizes in KiB, ...

MeB, MeB not :-)

Re:Counting sectors is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640248)

I prefer fudge packing [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Thing is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640180)

An int is 4 bytes. I can easily tell how many ints a 4 MB file contains. Let's say someone says a file is 4 MiB, How many ints does it contain?

One of us will have to grab a calculator. It used to be me, now it will be you. Overall I think my use case is more common, so it's a net win to use decimal prefixes for files.

Re:Thing is (1)

AngryNick (891056) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640320)

Where are the extra 24 bytes going? Seems like some kind of fishy accounting scheme to me.

ubuntu joins apple... (4, Insightful)

the unbeliever (201915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639954)

Apple did this with Snow Leopard, which makes me a cranky geek.

Why can't the OS manufacturers pressure the hard drive companies to market their sizes correctly? =(

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (5, Insightful)

Shinobi (19308) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639992)

HD manufacturers are presenting the sizes correctly. SI prefix = hard-defined base-10, it's just computer engineering and computer sciences that broke the established standard.

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640122)


HD manufacturers are presenting the sizes correctly. SI prefix = hard-defined base-10

Correctly according to who? Standards aren't the laws of physics nor are they laws or government. You can choose to follow one or another or none. This is a case where there was a well established standard for a kilobyte for quite a long time, and HD manufacturers chose to ignore that. "Correct" is a matter of perspective.

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640158)

Correct according to everyone except computer science. Every other field goes by base-10.

Computing shouldn't be exempt.

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640262)

"Computer science" has nothing to do with this. This was a careless piece of software engineering that spread to infect most of the software stack.
It's convenient for dealing with sectors, and for RAM and flash makers, but they'll get by fine using the designated binary prefixes. We all will. But wow, computer people sure are fanatically conservative. Guess we'll just have to wait for the old guys to retire and die.

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640278)


Correct according to everyone except computer science. Every other field goes by base-10.

Do you write to the publishers of dictionaries complaining when a word has two definitions as well?

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (1)

Shinobi (19308) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640292)

Correctly according to the SI system, and prefixes being base-10 was defined in the 19th century, quite a while before comp sci started breaking the standard by incorrectly using the prefixes for base-2.

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (1, Informative)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640126)

Considering that kilobytes predates SI units...I kind of doubt that it broke the established anything.

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (2, Interesting)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640214)

err, kilo have been a SI prefix since 1795. And mega, giga and tera got defined in 1960.

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (1)

itsme1234 (199680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640240)

WHICH of the SI units? kilo is at least 200 years old (with the clear-cut 1000 meaning), I doubt kilobyte is older!

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640290)

"Kilo-" has been in use since the late 1700's. Byte came about, what, 1950-ish?

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640344)

KB as 1024 predates 1799? I really need to brush up on my computer history? Sure it is not SI but metric, either way, I think the standard has been established long enough to call KB = 1024 incorrect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilo- [wikipedia.org]

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640138)

Um, that's why we have mebibytes and such so that this confusion will not happen..

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (1)

tuomoks (246421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640330)

" .. it's just computer engineering and computer sciences that broke the established standard." - wrong, the standard was there long before once we had base-2 systems instead of 10 based - or maybe we can get to 10-based systems soon?

Not really an issue but makes all kinds of size, performance, capacity, whatever calculations more complicated. And why change - as many have said, there is so small difference that 1024 == 1K shouldn't be a big deal when talking about computer systems? There is much more "wasted" in caps, error correction data, segmentation, fixed allocations, whatever overhead anyway - the public (as many in IT) doesn't really know / understand the real measurements!

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (3, Insightful)

bigtomrodney (993427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640010)

I think you've misunderstood the issue. The problem is that the kilo, mega, giga etc. are base-10 orders of magnitude that were used incorrectly for base-2 numbers in computers. It should never have been 1 kilobyte means 1024 bytes. This is just the move to fix a long standing problem.

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (1)

NNKK (218503) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640110)

No, I think _you_ misunderstand the issue. Different words can and do take on different meanings in different contexts due to historical accidents, even where they really should mean the same thing.

Base-2 units have been in use for computers for decades, with HDD manufacturers the sole dissenters not for any technical reason, but because it makes for better marketing.

Taking this path isn't "fixing" a problem, it's caving to 20+ years of false advertising.

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640168)

Actually, all they did was apply the nearest whole base-2 value that was related- which at the time that it was done, made sense after a fashion (you're not dealing in base 10 numbers...).

There's 10 types of people that get binary numbering out of the gate and transparently- the other type is the ones that consider this stuff a "problem". ;)

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (1)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640228)

if it is so, it's the wrong move. there is no such thing as a power of 2 which equals 1000. the base-10 measurement have little meaning in a computer. if you are saying that we're using the wrong word for the right thing, or something like that, then the issue is very different: we have to convince however many people to start calling them "somethingelsebytes" instead of "kilo"bytes. you may say that most people just want to know how much space is left on a disk for por... ehm, their documents. but then you would have a double standard -- common people unit and geek unit. i don't think it would be a good thing.

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (2, Interesting)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640358)

We have kibibytes already. They're now using those for the base 2 measurements, instead of kilo.

Re:ubuntu joins apple... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640026)

The H.D.D. manufacturers *do* market their sizes correctly. They even make a point of telling you on the box what GB actually stands for.

It's MS and lazy programming that's created the idea it's the HDD manufacturers faults - disc based media and memory based media operate in different ways. Getting it right for once will only reduce confusion - and the silly lawsuits in the US.

Interesting (2, Interesting)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639958)

I find it interesting that operating systems are headed in this direction, while SSDs are becoming more and more popular, and which (for the most part) use base 2 measurements.

It looks like both Apple and Ubuntu are trying to get consumers to think that they use less disk space.

Re:Interesting (1)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639974)

Really? My 80G Intel SSD is reported as 79,919,312,896 Bytes (74.4GB).

Re:Interesting (1, Redundant)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639988)

"(for the most part)"

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640176)

[citation needed]

Re:Interesting (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640054)

Sorry to double post, but I think I need to correct myself.
 
"for the most part" may be incorrect, but there are definitely more SSD manufacturers who use base 2 measurements than standard HD ones (OCZ, which gives a rough estimate of sizes based on base 2 measurements). So the way I see it, there is kind of some momentum there to start using correct measurements, so that's what baffles me about Apple and Ubuntu, and which leads me to believe that their motives are making it appear that once installed, users magically have more available disk space.

Re:Interesting - GiB (1)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640274)

79,919,312,896 Bytes (74.4GB).

Wrong, it has 74.4 G i B (Giga binary bytes), and 79.9 GB. And another perfect reason to switch. With bigger harddrives the discrepancy between base-10 and base-2 only becomes bigger, so the sooner we leave these digital imperial units, the better!

Also, isn't 10.10 the perfect version number to do the switch?

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640004)

... except that it will make them think they use more disk space... you will use more units of 1000 than units of 1024.

Re:Interesting (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640016)

Consumers pay more attention to how much they have available.

Re:Interesting (1)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640050)

"It looks like both Apple and Ubuntu are trying to get consumers to think that they use less disk space." so they'll need less time to be amazed by full disk warnings popping up. it looks to me like both apple and ubuntu are just giving up. those who know how big a MB actually is will continue knowing, and will quickly (and eagerly) find the ways to make their computers show sizes correclty. the others just don't care, so who minds anyway. besides, those who just can't stand seeing a MB represented as 1000 KBs will just drop ubuntu for some other distro, if they ever did use ubuntu that is.

Re:Interesting (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640102)

You very well might be right.
 
It's just very easy for me to see an Apple board room meeting where they suggest that users (who more often check available disk space than used disk space) will be amazed by how much more space they have available after installing Snow Leopard.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640242)

Sorry, but you're nuts if you think corporate board members at a multibillion dollar company actually spend time discussing whether a MB is 1024 KB or 1000 KB. Mundane decisions like that are what actual employees are for. Boards of directors talk about the big picture, like strategy for getting book publishers onto the iPad or how to negotiate the lowest LCD component prices.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640316)

At Apple? Apple is a superficial company. Their products sell because of looks and feel. I think they quite often talk about superficial things like that at board meetings. It probably wouldn't be the way you described it, but "OK, if we can make consumers think our product is better than it really is, let's do it."

Re:Interesting (1)

Lally Singh (3427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640098)

Well, there's the matter of actually telling the *truth*, as the current base-2 values are flat-out, numerically, mathematically *wrong* values for KB, MB, GB. It's literally bad sloppy programming that's caused a habit that's stuck around for far too long. When a HDD says it has 40 GB, it actually has 40 GB. When most modern OSs say a file is 40 GB, it literally *is* *not* 40 GB. It's 40 GiB. The underlying byte counts are really different.

Re:Interesting (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640170)

I see where you're coming from, and I've had that opinion in the past.
 
It's just that right now, because of how operating systems have always (until now) reported disk space, there is a standard (even if technically incorrect) that people understand. What we need right now is consistency, which I suppose is what Ubuntu is doing here. What I was saying in my post is that finally storage manufacturers are making the change, so it's odd that operating systems are basically switching with them.
 
In my opinion, we should all switch to KiB, MiB, and GiB (and label them as such).

Re:Interesting (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640202)

They're not numerically, mathematically wrong for base-2 concepts, which is where the use of 1024 for "kilo", etc. came from. It's the closest whole base-2 number to the 1000 mark. It's not a "bad sloppy programming" induced "habit"- it's from the dark and distant past of computing and computer science that the whole thing came from.

Re:Interesting (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640300)

Well, there's the matter of actually telling the *truth*, as the current base-2 values are flat-out, numerically, mathematically *wrong* values for KB, MB, GB.

K is not an SI prefix [wikipedia.org] . And this has nothing to do with math, just definitions. Since K isn't an SI prefix, KB has no definition in SI, thus the computer definition (1024 bytes) is fine. Thus, KB is the name of the unit, not a prefixed unit or acronym.

I think we should just switch to bits, as the communication field has done all along. Then you can use kbit, Mbit, Gbit, etc. without any confusion. Considering that byte itself isn't a specific number of bits [wikipedia.org] , even GiB doesn't really tell you how many bits you can store.

Re:Interesting (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640224)

That's a myth. The chips in SSDs use sizes that are usually based on powers of two plus an extra 1/64th (or so) of spare data for error correction (so they aren't even a power of two size - they're slightly larger). For example, typical SLC flash has a power of two number of blocks, each being 64 pages, each page being 2KiB data plus 64 bytes of spare area.

Actual Flash storage devices with a controller (SSDs, SD cards, whatever) will have some bad blocks, and they also reserve more blocks for error correction, wear leveling, and future bad block relocation. In the end, manufacturers tend to match it up so that the actual usable data size is close to some common SI size. For example, a 4GB SD card probably uses a 4GiB Flash chip, which actually contains something like 4429185024 bytes of Flash cells (4.125GiB). 4GiB are used as the data area, and of that a portion is reserved for bad blocks and wear leveling, so in the end what your reader sees is more like 4GB (3.73GiB).

NOR Flash, on the other hand, typically guarantees a full binary-sized array, but that isn't used for consumer bulk storage. The only consumer product that physically comes in binary-sized units is RAM. And even then you always waste some of it, due to address space mapping issues.

WRONG: Re:Interesting (1)

yet-another-lobbyist (1276848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640310)

This does not make sense: if you switch from base-2 to base-10, the number will actually get larger. So 1 kB will then read 1.024 kB and so on. This is why HD manufacturers are using this trick (make it look larger). So this "trick" would make your OS look like it's using more space. Thus it can't be the reason for the switch. Conspiracy, conspiracy! (Or maybe it's just because they finally want to get it right?)

NO YOU'RE WRONG: Re:Interesting (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640340)

As stated previously, consumers pay more attention to available disk space than used disk space.

Re:WRONG: Re:Interesting (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640346)

This "trick" would make your OS look like it's using more space (more space used on the HDD), and also make it look like it's using less space (more free space on the HDD). Proportionately, the OS still uses the same percentage of your hard drive, of course.

Why? (1, Troll)

alexandre (53) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639962)

Why?
To excuse hard drive makers for using this stupid format to grown their number artificially?
Hopefully this doesn't affect the command line... only gnome, right?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640072)

Why?
To excuse hard drive makers for using this stupid format to grown their number artificially?
Hopefully this doesn't affect the command line... only gnome, right?

We have ten fingers. We have ten toes. The majority thinks in a base-10 number system. A computer is designed work for us. Why not represent data in the most convenient way possible?

By your logic we should get rid of bytes, and just measure everything in bits. Because, you know, a computer thinks in bits. It's easier to understand that a mp3 file is 30,000,000 bits as opposed to larger numbers, no? How about 1000 mp3 files. What is the word for 10000000000 bits? 10e10 bits.. Would you rather talk in terms of a billion bits? A trillion bits? A quadrillion bits? A quintillion bits? Maybe a sextillion bits? Or how about a septillion bits?

Thought not.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640188)

We have ten fingers. We have ten toes.

Not all of us, you insensitive clod.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640130)

Hell, I want BYTES from the command line. Parsing all those symbols is as computer UNfriendly as it gets.

Annoying... (2, Insightful)

anss123 (985305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31639970)

Human language is context based; meaning the exact meaning of words depends on in which context they are used. Why should it be different for prefixes? Just so a few morons won't be confused? Pah... morons being morons will just find something else to be confused about.

Re:Annoying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640042)

UBUNTU -- The OS for morons. So simple, even a chimp can pronounce it.

Re:Annoying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640092)

My thought exactly. Base-10 has no place with computers because nothing with computers is calculated/measured in base-10. The fact that the "SI purists" got upset that the SI-prefixes were "misused" in computer sciences and suggested be use a different prefix (e.g., kibibyte vs. kilobyte) is merely just that: anal retentivism.
Since there is no reason to represent computer quantities in base-10 (only in base-2), and we have well established prefixes to denote magnitudes of amounts, why is it SO WRONG to use the prefixes in the context of computers to have 1kB be 1024 bytes? It makes perfect sense to me... It's called CONTEXT!

Re:Annoying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640100)

Fixing human language is next.

IEEE 1541 Recommendations (2, Interesting)

Kreychek (264929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640018)

I thought the reputable mfgs had already jumped on the bandwagon where they use kibi-/mebi-/etc prefixes to denotes powers of 2? See IEEE 1541 [wikipedia.org] . Following this standard, the change makes sense. Either that or they should have switched to the binary prefixes.

Stupid. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640022)

So what's the rational for changing from a system that nearly every operating system, program, and computer on the planet uses to represent file size?

The applications themselves can display the file size however they please. So in all likelyhood individual applications are still going to use the base-2 system. Isn't that more than a little stupid to have two different units that most people don't even know there ARE two units to represent file size?

This will only lead to confusion, and has essentially no upside.

Re:Stupid. (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640164)

Basically the same reason for moving the window control buttons to the left:

1. No reason at all
2. Because that's what Mark wants
3. A vague kind of Mac fanboism

I'm just waiting to hear... (1)

CoffeeDog (1774202) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640080)

"I upgraded/switched to Ubuntu and it made my hard drive bigger!" *facepalm* Great.

Really annoying (5, Interesting)

Madjeurtam (101190) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640084)

I work mostly on OS X and this so-called feature annoys me to no end. I do not know the size of my files anymore, I have to go to the terminal just to know the size of a file (bash hasn't been polluted by this feature).

I've been using computers for 20+ years and I do _not_ want to change how I think file sizes, especially since I feel that base 10 is the wrong way to count. What's next? Imperial units for us Europeans?

The most annoying? That nobody has hacked Snow Leopard to restore real units.

Re:Really annoying (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640230)

CMD+I to open the info window, which shows you the exact number of bytes. If file size concerns you that much, you ought to know it to the byte, not to the thousandth or millionth byte.

For example: 2.56 GB on disk (2,561,880,064 bytes)

Makes much more sense than 2.56*1024*1024. Join the rest of the world with the SI units.

Re:Really annoying (4, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640252)

What's next? Imperial units for us Europeans?

Hell no. Imperial units for file sizes. A byte will be twelve bits, a kilobyte will be 3 bytes, and a megabyte will be 5280 bytes. A petabyte will be 5.87849981x10^12 megabytes. There won't really be such things as terabytes or gigabytes, which will make drive manufacturers happy because most of their drives are measured in TB or GB.

Re:Really annoying (3, Insightful)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640258)

I've been using computers for 20+ years and I do _not_ want to change how I think file sizes, especially since I feel that base 10 is the wrong way to count.

How is it possible you survived working in IT for over 20 years and not being able to adapt to radical changes? These sort of things happen all the time. One moment you're working from LSB upward, then you're suddenly working from MSB downward. 8 bit changed into 16, into 32 and now in 64. Filenames can't be longer than 8 characters and now they can. A file can't be larger than 4 GB and now it can. And now finally, operating systems are beginning to understand SI units (which we've been using for all sorts of applications for hundreds of years) and *THAT* is a problem?

What's next? Imperial units for us Europeans?

A better comparison would be using metric units in the US, because metrics are based on SI and imperial units are more like the weird way bits and bytes are counted into kilobytes, megabytes etc.

Saying that 1024 is a kilo never made any sense to anyone. I'm really glad we're finally entering an age where computers represent datasizes in units people can understand.

Re:Really annoying (2, Insightful)

Gorath99 (746654) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640318)

What's next? Imperial units for us Europeans?

Quite the opposite. The imperial units are the base 2 ones. After all, kilo means 1000, not 1024, both in the original Greek and in the SI system that most of the world uses.

The HDD manufacturers were right (albeit for all the wrong reasons, of course). Good for Apple and Cannonical for recognizing this. I hope the rest of the world follows suit and becomes (SI, IEEE, ISO/IEC [wikipedia.org] ) standards compliant.

Just use the right prefix (5, Insightful)

mmontour (2208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640096)

As long as they use the correct prefix, I don't really mind whether they use base 2 or 10 to display the numbers.

RAM sizes are naturally powers of 2 due to how the individual memory cells are addressed, so it makes sense for RAM capacity to always be listed in GiB.

Hard drives, on the other hand, have nothing that is fundamentally based on a power of 2. They arbitrarily use a sector size of 512 (or 4096) bytes, but everything else (number of heads, number of tracks, average number of sectors per track) has no power-of-2 connection. Therefore there's nothing wrong with reporting their size in SI notation.

The original shorthand of calling 1024 bytes a "K" was not too bad because it's only a 2.4% error. However the error gets worse as you go up each level, and by the time you're talking about a TB/TiB it's something that people actually care about.

Re:Just use the right prefix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640244)

RAM sizes are naturally powers of 2 due to how the individual memory cells are addressed, so it makes sense for RAM capacity to always be listed in GiB.

Hard drives, on the other hand, have nothing that is fundamentally based on a power of 2. They arbitrarily use a sector size of 512 (or 4096) bytes, but everything else (number of heads, number of tracks, average number of sectors per track) has no power-of-2 connection. Therefore there's nothing wrong with reporting their size in SI notation.

What use is data on a hard drive until it's been loaded into RAM? Whatever else you think, I can't see why anyone would suggest different units for RAM and disk.

Re:Just use the right prefix (1)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640306)

so we have a disk which size is expressed in base-10 while the files it contains are sized in base-2? then why not listing the numbers of files in directories in hex... just for the hell of it.

No no no nooooo! (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640118)

Stop screwing around with information processing standards.

But more importantly, stop introducing capricious differences from other systems that just end up making the
whole computing ecosystem more complex.

Absolutely BS (2, Informative)

Island Admin (1562905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640142)

Oh this makes me sooooo grumpy. FFS, who does the International System of Units think they are. 1024 does equal 1 kilobyte ... always has been. That's what I was taught in school. If I had answered 1000 bytes = 1 kilobyte, it would of been zero marks.

According to the Oxford Dictionary: noun Computing a unit of memory or data equal to 1,024 bytes.
According to Websters Dictionary: A unit of information equal to 1024 bytes.
According to Cambridge Dictionary: a unit of measurement of computer memory consisting of 1024 bytes
According to http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/kilobyte [reference.com] :

–noun Computers.
1.1024 (2^10) bytes.
2.(loosely) 1000 bytes. Symbol: K, KB

So until the guardians of the English language change .... 1 kilobyte = 1024 bytes. Finished.

Better not advertise in Australia (1)

kandela (835710) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640156)

There was a recent ruling against a company in Australia for false advertising, for misrepresenting the storage space of their product when they advertised as x number of kB but counted a kB as 1000 bytes.

Appropriate usage of base 2 and base 10 units... (1)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640196)

Things which are measured should use base 10 units. (Bandwidth, Hz, mass, etc.)

Things which are addressed in binary should use base 2 units. (Memory, cache, disk, etc.)

Ubuntu should not follow Apple's bad example here. Maybe things were different 30 years ago, but more recently, every platform had settled on base 2 units for storage, save the dishonest drive manufacturers, and now Apple.

Perpetuating this stupidity makes the display of file sizes across platforms inconsistent, which is a lot worse than the "problem" it is attempting to solve.

People I work with still call them "jiggabytes" (1)

fauxhammer (1148803) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640234)

I'd much rather just be able to say that a gigabyte is 1000 megabytes is a thousand kilobytes, than have to explain to granny who wants to burn a CD with her grandson's birthday photos on it what a "kibibyte" is. We live in a base 10 society. I don't see why we need to encourage usage of the new base-2 terms outside the world of computer science.

base-10 storage size is incorrect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31640238)

...as base storage units are base-2, or some factor thereof.

I'd prefer to leave my storage units base-2, but I guess it's like windows 32b showing 4GB installed then listing how much is actually useable, well if you look in the right spot.

These marketroids need to get a clue that listing things in base-10 is NOT a free capacity "upgrade".

Cannonical is MS (1)

DrLov3 (1025033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640266)

Not only is it scientifically/mathematically incorrect !!
Canonical is now trying to revamp a standard widely accepted for their own benefit of looking easy to understand.
In fact they are pushing usability at the expense of working on functionality so that more user can use something that does less, much like windows. And then Mark Shuttleworth goes on to tell the developers working on functionality that they need a big cup of STFU [slashdot.org] .

I urge you ppl to switch to another distro, im on Debian right now an everything is fine.

User friendly (1)

Tyr.1358 (1441099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640268)

Finally Linux will have one user friendly feature that people making the switch will understand.

Other distros should follow (1)

psYchotic87 (1455927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640270)

Correct basis

Use base-10 for:

  • network bandwidth (for example, 6 Mbit/s or 50 kB/s)
  • disk sizes (for example, 500 GB hard drive or 4.7 GB DVD)

Use base-2 for:

  • RAM sizes (for example, 2 GiB RAM)

For file sizes there are two possibilities:

  1. Show both, base-10 and base-2 (in this order). An example is the Linux kernel: "2930277168 512-byte hardware sectors: (1.50 TB/1.36 TiB)"
  2. Only show base-10, or give the user the opportunity to decide between base-10 and base-2 (the default must be base-10).

Exception

The application can keep their previous behavior for backwards compatibility if the following points apply. The application may add an option to display the sizes in base-10, too.

  • is a command-line tool
  • is often parsed by machine (for example, the output is used in scripts)
  • only the prefix is displayed and not the unit (for example, M instead of MB)

Some applications which fall under this rule are:

  • df
  • du
  • ls

This basically means that they won't actually be changing anything important (like the semantics of the stat() system call). This only means that lots of graphical applications will eventually display data sizes correctly, as defined by the displayed SI prefix. Though it may be confusing to users of multiple operating systems at first, Ubuntu is doing the right thing. It'll stop being confusing when other distros follow their lead.
If you know what the difference between the KB and KiB prefixes, then it doesn't matter. If you don't know, it doesn't matter either. Right?

Bad move (1)

Just Brew It! (636086) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640280)

They say they're doing this to reduce confusion. But unless they can get everyone else to change too (very unlikely), this will only add to the confusion. At least "everything is base 2 unless it is a drive capacity number from a hard drive vendor spec sheet" is a consistent and reasonably easy to understand rule, once you know it. Now the rule is going to be "everything is in base 2 unless it is a hard drive capacity number from a hard drive vendor spec sheet, or you're running Ubuntu, and using one of the applications (link to list of Ubuntu-ized apps here) that Ubuntu has patched to use base-10".

How does this help anyone?

And no, justifying it by saying "Apple does it" doesn't count. Apple and their fans represent a parallel reality that I don't particularly care to inhabit.

I've been considering switching from Ubuntu to Debian, or even -- God forbid, I despise RPM/yum -- back to Redhat/Fedora. This just one more push (albeit a fairly small one) in that direction.

Who want's to speak only French (1)

synriga (946549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640326)

Who want's to only speak French when there is are a myriad of ways to better describe the universe, which French falls far short.

The world changes, the way we view the world changes, and necessarily so does the way we describe it.

While I know that traditionally 1KB is 1024 byte, I've always thought of it as 1000 bytes unless I need to perform some computation which I then use 1024. I've been doing this for 30 years.

I don't see an issue here.

Computers don't care (1)

Kobus Retief (65647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640352)

From the point of view of the computer (which is after all the one working in a base-2 environment), it doesn't matter. Computers don't require "shortened" versions of an exact large number to easily understand it. My computer is quite comfortable with the fact that it has 39,192,862,720 bytes free on my hard drive. The days when bit-shifting was significantly faster than division for once-off calculations like this are long gone, and at least now I'll be sure I have 39Gb available (give-or-take 0.192,862,720Gb). I won't have to reach for a calculator to decide that I only have 36.5Gib left.

Quick, how many bytes in one TiB? No calculators, now...

Time for a change then (0)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31640356)

I like Ubuntu but if they are going to screw around like that, I will be thinking around for a different distro.

The only people who lie about this have been the HDD manufacturers. Wasn't there a class action about that some time back? I expect the court didn't understand the problem of my 120GB drive actually being under 112!

GiB KiB and all that other rubbish has no meaning. A Kilobyte is 2^10 bytes. A Gigabyte is 2^10 of those and so on. Trying to sell me something that claims to be 1TB but only holds 1,000,000,000,000 bytes is only 0.91TB. That sounds like fraud to me and if the OS is covering that up, it is less trustworthy than it used to be.

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