you have a great idea and I like much of what you have to say.
I would just like to add my thoughts on the design level: I feel you need to confront the variability of Linux distros and file layout. The question is how you can add an app and a definition of its configuration elements (even with choice lists if possible) in a straight forward way to this system; and at the same time your system could support multiple states based on machine.
It's no good for the user to effectively endup using your tool as a blank scheme where user has to add in new objects (eg., mySpiffProg), in need of configuration, and the definition specifics to get some configuration interface; and then configure the object. At this point, just go straight to configuring the object arbitrarily.
The issue I feel is one of developing a model of distributed knowledge (that's essentially what a Linux-universal config tool would be) where your tool is the implementation of that model.
Now this model must do 2 things: (1) seperate knowledge requirements from utilization and (2) seperate knowledge requirements from knowledge need.
This model can exist as a public online database of configurations, and your tool if it could get/create/poll the current environment to determine all available objects and then query your public db to download the required configurations. Any requests for configurations that the public db did not have would be logged for later resolution.
Possibly users who had a configuration to submit to the public db, could do so through your tool which would then accept item to be validated before going into distribution.
I have just installed your-config-tool; it polls my system and determines there are 3000 configurable objects (ok I run SuSE Linux) -- your-config-tool would need to determine which configurable objects are already properly configured and which are not -- then I could download those configs I had selected from the picklist of objects in need of configuration. I would then get those selected configurations loaded in my machine and what was not available in the db was logged by the db for future acquisition. I even get a chance to have you guys poll my system for configs that you are in need of (as in thousands of thousands of people want my my freeware program mySpiffProg dispite its tricky config setup) and/or one I directly submit.
Now, I jsut got me a reved-up bash or emacs configuration along with a nice config for wine, apache and squid (all version relevant of course). Your db uploaded 3 configs (to by polling my system and one by user submission - I just want to get mySpiffProg out there!)
Ok, you see the point I am trying to make. I see the issue essentially one of information distribution in a distributed community where users can add to the pool of configurations as well as get configurations a la carte... This is what I think addresses your idea of "universal configuration." "IT'S NOT JUST A TOOL, BUT A WAY TO linux-BLISS)
I have posed my take on the issue at the widest level, to see what the basic interaction could be like given your "universalization" on the config theme
and good luck
Re: Where are the warriors today?
off the bat, let me say that I am learning Linux
and computing. A friend helped me put in RH 5.x
some time ago and I kept it as a second OS for a
long time. I remember my first year of Linux. I
spent most of my modest computer time configuring
and checking things out.
I discovered MDK and wow! I came on board. Now I
run Linux as my OS-of-choice at home. I am still
learning; but often I put off the tinker gloves
and decide to USE my computer to surf, write, etc.
Nothing is a culture of one (except maybe
insanity). For the expert, and the character with
way too much time on his/her hands, for those
virtual individuals, I am sure spending the next
36 hrs finding out why some item did not fly is
the first choice in a worthwhile life--and that's
great. But the world is always more diverse than
some people are willing to admit.
(The existence of Mandrake itself speaks against a
1 class society of warriors.)
I need you guys who are the warriors of Linux, but
please don't dispise the rest of the tribe: after
all you are defending the village from that evil
invader who, at this moment, is about to lay seige
to to this village/(ok town):
get ready folks! the rape and pillaging of Linux
has yet to begin... what! you think evilB will
just donate his money to charity and lose
disappear in an infinite smile.