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Ubuntu 12.04 To Include Head-Up Display Menus

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the shaking-things-up dept.

GUI 449

For the first few years of its existence, it would have been fair to say that Canonical was essentially polishing, packaging and publishing Debian Linux (and Gnome) to create the base Ubuntu desktop, to great acclaim. For the past few years, though, the company has pushed new looks and new applications (cf. Unity and Ubuntu TV), and refused to stick with prettifying existing interfaces. Now, Barence writes with this excerpt from PC Pro: "Ubuntu is set to replace the 30-year-old computer menu system with a 'Head-Up Display' that allows users to simply type or speak menu commands. Instead of hunting through drop-down menus to find application commands, Ubuntu's Head-Up Display lets users type what they want to do into a search box. The system suggests possible commands as the user begins typing – entering 'Rad' would bring up the Radial blur command in the GIMP art package, for example. HUD also uses fuzzy matching and learns from past searches to ensure the correct commands are offered to users. Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth told PC Pro the HUD will make it easier for people to learn new software packages, and migrate from Windows to Linux software without having to relearn menus. The HUD will first appear in Ubuntu 12.04."

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type g for goatse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804629)

"Unity" in my ass []

Re:type g for .. DONT WASTE YOUR MOD POINTS HERE (-1, Offtopic)

miknix (1047580) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804807)

Don't waste your mod points here... use them in registered users instead to affect their karma.

Trolls have been using this trick for years:
1) post random garbage as Anon;
2) wait until moderators waste their mod points with it
3) post flamebait thread;
4) if your flamebait thread is getting modded down, start from 1)
5) get paid by internet reputation agencies, $$$$ profit?


Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804829)

Thank you for your off-topic post.

Re:type g for .. DONT WASTE YOUR MOD POINTS HERE (-1, Offtopic)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805063)

That's very interesting. Seems a little conspiratorial but I wouldn't discount it completely. I always wondered why Linux posts seem to have so many ac flames in the first few comments. Hmmm...

Re:type g for .. DONT WASTE YOUR MOD POINTS HERE (-1, Offtopic)

miknix (1047580) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805253)

I always wondered why Linux posts seem to have so many ac flames in the first few comments. Hmmm...

My thoughts exactly..


Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805189)

Wow..... the trolls are all out today!

Too fast ! (4, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804663)

I'd rather have them make Unity usable first. We'll see if they are able to do it and we may decide to move forward from that point.

Re:Too fast ! (5, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804737)

Indeed, there is something wrong with everyone ditching mature products... So now Unity is "ok". I found that after adapting myself to it, it works. Not as great as Gnome2 did, but I can live with it as a default desktop. However, they're going to change even more. I wrote about this mindset a while ago. [] . For the TL;DR crowd: Mature software is not seen as something "good" but as "something to be replaced". It's a sad time we live in.

Re:Too fast ! (3, Interesting)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804857)

You claim to be able use Unity, so I have to ask: Did they fix the multi-workspace issue where the bar showing all your running apps show them all, not just the apps running in the current workspace? Because there's little point in having multiple workspaces if the bar showing programs doesn't make any difference between them..

That's one of my biggest grudges against Unity.

Re:Too fast ! (2)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805091)

Well, one thing you do if you adapt yourself is dropping stuff that doesn't work. I stopped using virtual desktops, just like I stopped using maximized windows. I just tested, and when I do switch to another virtual desktop and all running applications are indeed still show in the "Dock".

I agree, it's braindead. Do note that I said (in the linked journal) that I did change a lot of my habits. Moving to Unity was akin to when I moved from Windows to Mac OS X in 2001. I was so horribly frustrated, that I simply had to blank my mind and relearn how to use the totally different concept. I felt very dumb for a month or two, that's why it's so hard to switch graphical user interfaces and it shouldn't be done nilly-willy.

Re:Too fast ! (3, Interesting)

enemorales (1172133) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804895)

"... and migrate from Windows to Linux software without having to relearn menus" I do like typing the name (or part of the name) of an application to run it, but still I'm really not sure about this one. Menus, at least, are a lot more standarized in term of names (for the most common tasks: copy, pase, search, undo...) than applications names. I'm a long time linux user, for example, but I have not idea how is called the presentation application in open-office (or libre-office). Will I have to type "presentation"? How many people will guess that and not start typing "powerpoint"?

Re:Too fast ! (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804979)

For really common tasks such as copy/paste/search/undo, keyboard shortcuts are better. Even some fairly clueless users know how to use those.

I think the OO presentation software is called "Impress". Anyone writing a description and tagging this software to use with a Gnome DO/Windows 7/"HUD" style search box would likely tag it with words such as "presentation" and "powerpoint".

Re:Too fast ! (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804937)

IMHO Unity sucks, so I ditched it and went for gnome3 which is also a bit of a regression from Gnome2 but not so bad.

So yes, menus for the win.

This new interface sounds like keyboard-shortcuts-on-steroids. Nothing wrong with keyboard shortcuts, just that they're harder to learn than menus. This is promoted as "not having to relearn menus" - well true, but you have to learn so much more! For example how to find a function you don't know the exact name of? Or how to find what functions are available that may be of help for you? Browsing through menus works well. All functions are presented to you, in a more or less organised manner.

Same for software programs: how do you know the command to start a web browser? Is Firefox installed or Chrome or Opera or whatever? You have to know the name beforehand to use such keyboard input.

There is a good reason the command line with its typed commands has been replaced by the GUI for most tasks. The command line remains there, behind the scenes, for those in the know to find it. If you don't know about the existence of the command line terminal you likely don't need it anyway.

Now seriously: can anyone advise me a distro to try out? Ubuntu is losing it for me. Mandriva, my previous favourite, doesn't seem to have much of a future either as they're bankrupt again. So what'd be a good alternative? (no flame wars please).

Re:Too fast ! (4, Insightful)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805269)

Xubuntu. XFCE to the rescue.

Ubuntu Software Center starts way too slow (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805315)

If you don't know about the existence of the command line terminal you likely don't need it anyway.

Unless you heard about a program that you want to install, and you don't want to wait a minute for Ubuntu Software Center to quit spinning its throbber. (I timed it on my Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 running Ubuntu 11.10.) It's so much faster to open a terminal and sudo apt-get install audacity or whatever.

Re:Too fast ! (1)

scottp (129048) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805355)

I agree, Unity sucks, didn't like gnome 3, gnome 2 was great, Ubuntu was great until they killed Gnome2. Yea, I know I can install gnome 2 on Ubuntu still, but I seriously lost interest in using Ubuntu when they took something away I used for years, at least let us choose.

My advice is go to Linux Mint 12, based on Ubuntu and has a choice between Gnome3, Gnome2, and MATE. I'm actually using MATE and like it pretty well, it took a little tweaking to get to my liking, but is pretty good. I am still hoping Ubuntu will see the light and give us a choice, which includes Gnome2. I understand the ease of searching for a program for newer users, but for us old schoolers who know where are programs are and have been using menus for years, please leave the option in there.

Re:Too fast ! (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804961)

This might make Unity usable. After all, its main problem is that it causes too much clicking around. Like OS X, just a lot worse, half-baked and with solutions that simply don't work with many important apps. This seems like something in the direction of Quicksilver [] , a shell that made OS X ridiculously keyboard efficient.

Re:Too fast ! (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805139)

The more I think about this the more brilliant it seems. It's the logical evolution of the omni-present search box seen in all modern desktops. Why should the instant search be limited to documents, programs, settings, etc. when it can also display results from the menu of the currently focused program. Quite often I'll fire up some little used program and have to go hunting through the menus for something I know is there but can't recall exactly where it is. This sounds like a solution to that.

Re:Too fast ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805143)

This will make unity better? Getting rid of menus and making you type things in a box to find them. I like menus. When I don't use a program/OS a lot the menu give 'hints' to what the features available are, so I am not stuck looking at a box, wondering what the app/feature I want is called.

I'm glad I moved to Mint Linux after Ubuntu stupidly replaced their desktop with some crappy tablet interface called Unity.

Re:Too fast ! (1, Funny)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805127)

You cannot polish a turd.

Re:Too fast ! (0)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805267)

You cannot polish a turd.

Sure you can [] . All you need is a "cow pie" or "buffalo chips" and a can of shellack.

I have even learned to appreciate the clock made from shellacked Buffalo dung for the whimsical, ice breaking, conversation piece that it surely is!

Pictures [] , since someone is going to say "Pics or it didn't happen".

Not that I'd want one myself, especially on humid days ...

Obligatory XKCD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804667)

Re:Obligatory XKCD (5, Funny)

Bradmont (513167) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804869)

Generally, the "Obligatory XKCD" meme requires that the XKCD in question have some relation to the subject at hand....

RoboXKCD (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804925)

I think that's one face of some AC troll bot.

I saw the same comic posted by an AC in a thread yesterday, and it wasn't applicable to that thread, either.

typing commands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804681)

But we already have a way to type in commands, it's call the shell.

Re:typing commands (1)

miknix (1047580) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804851)

But we already have a way to type in commands, it's call the shell.

All hail the new fuzzy-bash (shell) overlord!

I thought it was for "human beings". (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804683)

I've been doing this for years... so much, in fact, that I have no idea where most menu entries are on my Windows and Linux boxes, and I'm sure many don't even have menu entries. My wife can't navigate my desktops.

I hit "F2" and type commands on Gnome/Linux, and hit "r" all the time. It makes me look like a hacker and is really intimidating to inexperienced users watching me.

Expecting the user to know which command they want - especially in Linux where most program names have nothing to do with their functionality - just seems like a very strong turn in the opposite direction that Ubuntu has been taking.

Re:I thought it was for "human beings". (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804825)

TFS (not even the TFA) says that that's the point, to make it less "intimidating to inexperienced users". This doesn't seem to be for console commands anyway, it is for menu items which usually have more fitting names.

Re:I thought it was for "human beings". (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804881)

Sorry, that's "alt-F2" on Linux and "win-r" on Windows.

Re:I thought it was for "human beings". (1)

wed128 (722152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805205)

protip: Try Launchy in windows and Gnome-Do in linux. they do the same thing as the 'run' shortcuts, but with completion and prediction and pretty icons.

Re:I thought it was for "human beings". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805069)

Expecting the user to know which command they want - especially in Linux where most program names have nothing to do with their functionality - just seems like a very strong turn in the opposite direction that Ubuntu has been taking.

On KDE4 if I hit F2 and type "browser" I get both Firefox and Rekonq appearing in the options.

Re:I thought it was for "human beings". (4, Informative)

Flammon (4726) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805151)

You didn't read the article, did you?

Watch the video and then let me know how you've been doing this for years on Windows and Linux because I'm really curious now. []

Re:I thought it was for "human beings". (4, Informative)

Stratoukos (1446161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805287)

I've been doing something similar on OS X.

Every application's Help menu item has a textbox that filters all menu items. You can also reach this textbox through a shortcut (cmd+shift+?).

So, for example, if I'm editing a document and I want to make some text superscript, Instead of hunting through its menus, I just hit cmd+shift+?, type 'sup' and hit enter.

Re:I thought it was for "human beings". (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805211)

How is this interesting? You are completely missing the point. Consider this: you are using k3b (cd burner) for the first time as a Linux newb. You will know it is the cd burner because the search box for the desktop brings it up when you start typing "cd bur...". When it opens up, you want to burn an iso so you start hunting through the menus for iso mode. But, wait, why hunt when you can just type "iso" in the same handy dandy little search box that you used to bring up the cd burner in the first place? It's brilliant. Of course, this is just an example and I'm sure when this comes out, it will find many uses that haven't been thought of yet that make a lot of sense.

Re:I thought it was for "human beings". (1)

sceo (1058316) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805275)

But we're not talking about the actual command name, here. We're talking about the name of the program. For example in current Gnome3, I hit the super key and then type 'calc' because I want a calculator. Pressing enter after I type 'calc' indeed pulls up "gcalctool"

sounds like the mac finder (0)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804685)

on steroids

cmd+space yo!

Re:sounds like the mac finder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804863)

ALT+F2 v2.0

Re:sounds like the mac finder (0)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804873)

Mac Finder, Windows 7 (and even Vista?) has this on the start menu, although it doesn't have an analytic to show you the most used commands first, you even have something similar on in BASH (and if you are going to count that, you might as well count the "run..." dialog on previous versions of Windows.

Actually, I'd be *very* surprised if something like this didn't exist already in KDE, Gnome, and probably even XFCE.

Sounds more like they are taking an existing tech, that was never really promoted, and promoting it, rather than actually producing something new.

Re:sounds like the mac finder (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805261)

This is not existing tech at all. Just to test I am in Chrome on Linux right now with Gnome3. I just typed the word "help" in the search box and the only help that came up was for the entire system. What this will do is if you type "help" while Chrome is focused, you will be presented with the help that is in the actual Chrome menu. It is giving the search box the ability to look in your program menus and fish out results. IMHO it is brilliant to put this on the OS level as a general tool that will work for any application.

Re:sounds like the mac finder (4, Informative)

Rary (566291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805321)

Sounds more like they are taking an existing tech, that was never really promoted, and promoting it, rather than actually producing something new.

If you watch the video, you'll see that they've expanded on the idea. It's not just an app/document finder, it's a functionality finder.

For example, I'm using Firefox right now. Let's say I can't remember how to add a bookmark. I would pop up the HUD box and start typing "bookmark", and just a few letters in I would see something like "Bookmark > Bookmark this page", which I would select.

I can't speak for OSX, but the Windows launcher functionality, while really helpful, does not do that.

Re:sounds like the mac finder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805361)

"If you watch the video, you'll see that they've expanded on the idea. It's not just an app/document finder, it's a functionality finder."

It's a fucking ribbon!

LTS? (5, Insightful)

CheShACat (999169) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804701)

Isn't 12.04 supposed to be the next LTS release? Seems like they've gone far wayward from their original goals if they're introducing such huge new projects into what's supposed to be a stable, reliable release that enterprises can trust. It would be a better idea to introduce it in 12.10, surely?

Re:LTS? (1, Interesting)

deathguppie (768263) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804875)

Actually seems like the opposite situation to me. If you are introducing such a far reaching goal you probably want as much time to work on it as possible and an LTS would give you that time.

The thing that really astounds me here is the fact that the feature is application specific. That means that every application will have this feature implemented downstream, at Canonical. That seams like an awfully large piece of beef jerky to bite off right there.

Re:LTS? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805015)

If you are introducing such a far reaching goal you probably want as much time to work on it as possible

You clearly don't understand the LTS release cycle in the slightest.

Re:LTS? (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805399)

what's supposed to be a stable, reliable release

Yeah I hope gnome 3 will still be available as an alternative

Emacs... (5, Informative)

WeirdAlchemy (2530168) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804705)

has had this for decades. M-x allows you to enter a command by name, with tab completion.

Innovation is... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804717)

Replacing the 30 year old GUI with the 40 year old CLI*.

(*plus autocomplete, yay)

Re:Innovation is... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804989)

Replacing the 30 year old GUI with the 40 year old CLI*.

(*plus autocomplete, yay)

Everything in IT is relentlessly cyclical. In 20 years we'll be scrapping the new CLIs for GUIs, again.

To some extent the "information bandwidth" and/or productivity of GUIs has dropped so low, that trying something like a CLI can only be an improvement.

Also CLIs are a LOT older than 40 years. That barely takes you back to the early 70s.

Re:Innovation is... (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805129)

Replacing the 30 year old GUI with the 40 year old CLI*.

(*plus autocomplete, yay)

Alt+F2 already does auto-complete. In LXDE, it even gives you a nice dropdown after the first few letters, so if you're not sure and want to browse things that are "like" a command, you can.

Remember - Canonical was one of Shuttleworths' venture capital schemes. He thought that he could launch a new linux distro, market the heck out of it, and get his 30x payday.

Too bad that none of his hoped-for buyers are interested. The nails in the coffin were (in reverse order) Canonical abandoning its attempt to create an Android Execution Environment, Amazon coming out with their own line of tablets, and Canonical alienating its user base by chasing tablets (while still not having Android support), and other companies shipping working Android tablets for well under $100. The final last nail in the coffin was Lenovo coming out with Android TVs (running the latest ICS) the same week Canonical announces UbuntuTV.

What's the point? This is just another attempt to generate hype, without anything really newsworthy. More UI fiddling, when the real problem is that, without out-of-the-box Android support, Unity is worthless to both tablet and tv manufacturers.

That ship has sailed. And like the captain of the Costa Concordia, it looks like Shuttleworth has no clue where he's going.

The concept... (3, Insightful)

christianT (604736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804725)

...sounds good. That is almost the way I work now on windows or linux. On windows I more often than not hit (windows) + R to get the run box and then type the name of the .exe I want to run. On Ubuntu, it is (alt) + (f2) and type a command. I for one hope our Ubuntu overlords pull this off.

Re:The concept... (2)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805051)

Yeah, it's an interesting idea. If it works well, it means people are going to be using the mouse less - instead of click to open a menu, then move to open submenu, and repeating until you get to the action you want - you are just going to be hitting some keyboard hot key and typing "edge fil" and then selecting from the drop down options. It might even be useful for accessibility. OTOH, it is not what people are used to, and there are going to be people complaining. But it is only a default desktop, and people should remember that there are plenty of other desktop options for Ubuntu, and distributions like Kubuntu and Xubuntu make installing them a breeze. I'm a bit bored of the repeated rants against Unity on Slashdot - if you want Ubuntu with a traditional w95 style desktop, then just install Xubuntu. Job done. Multiple desktops is one of the strengths of Linux, not a weakness - does a teenage tablet user really want the same desktop as a seasoned systems programmer? Probably not. Different people, different desktops.

(I don't use Unity, but here's an interesting thing... I was at a friend's place recently, and he said "Hey have you seen this great new Ubuntu?" I was like "You mean the new Unity desktop?" and he said "I don't know, but look at this ..." and proceeded to show me some of the features, and turns out he *loves* Unity - the visual effects, in particular, the left-side app bar, with app icons that glow or something to notify you of events like new emails that require attention etc. Canonical must be doing something right, for some people.)

I liked Ubuntu when it was "polished" Debian (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804729)

Now Mark Shuttleworth is well on his way to being the next Steve Jobs, for good or for bad.

And I've gone back to Debian, which is a huge relief after the crushing disappointments that were the last few version of Ubuntu.

In a year or two I expect Ubuntu to be as "open source" as IOS...

A full round... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804733)

>>simply type or ....

So a glorified CLI...??

Re:A full round... (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804917)

kind of. to be honest, it might actually be something worth looking into.

LTS? (5, Insightful)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804747)

Why are we introducing a dramatically new interface feature for a long-term support (LTS) release?

Not so innovative (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804767)

"Ubuntu is set to replace the 30-year-old computer menu system" ? Really ? More like imitating Quicksilver, the well-known life-saver on Mac. Perhaps they should concentrate on preventing regression at every release. Like, NOT forcing users to have their dock on the left side of the screen. NOT forcing users to have their Desktop icons automatically organized on the left side of the screen (same place !!). NOT having ccsm go south every 10 clicks. etc. etc.

Ubuntu TV is already obsolete. (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804769)

Lenovo is selling a 55" Android Ice Cream Sandwich TV []

Why would anyone want to partner with Canonical, who abandoned their attempt to make an "Android Execution Environment" a couple of years ago because they couldn't make it work, when they can get the real deal?

They're inventing the CLI? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804773)

Awesome! Er, but, I can already do that with kubuntu. And every other version of Linux. And even with Windows -- my notebook has text to speech, and if you want to type DOS commands you can open a DOS window.

Steampunk retro!

Re:They're inventing the CLI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805187)

Even Windows XP has this feature. Hit the windows key and start typing and you will cycle through the items pinned and the system items (My Computer, Control Panel, etc)....Agree with everyone above this is nothing new, except to maybe menu's but who uses menu's, everyone uses shortcuts....

Re:They're inventing the CLI? (3, Insightful)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805327)

I can already do that with kubuntu

So if you are using GIMP in Kubuntu, you can just type "Undo His..." in the desktop's search box and the menu entry for Undo History will come to the forefront? I just tried it for shits and giggles and it don't work. This is very smart on Canonical's part but don't let the Ubuntu-hate grind to a halt on my account.

This reminds me soooo muuch of... (5, Funny)

tyl (520631) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804775)

"For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive - you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same programme."

s/radios/linux/g ; s/listening to/running/

Nearly there. Time to start spinning in your grave, Mr. Adams.


Re:This reminds me soooo muuch of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805221)

NEARLY? The future is already here [] , Air UI on Nokia N9 (Meego Harmattan, Linux-platform). And yes, it does work with the music player. "This application allows you to interact with your Nokia N9 with simple gestures over the front camera without actually touching the device and integrates smoothly with Gallery and Music Player application." Or at the very least, try to...

Windows 7 Start menu (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804777)

Ah good, they're copying the Win7 start menu, every OS needs to replace its nested menus with a type-to-search menu. Now if only MS would copy Nautilus, Windows Explorer is a real relic at this point, I mean no tabs, SRSLY?

Re:Windows 7 Start menu (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805353)

No, they are not replacing the Windows 7 start menu. If you are in Chrome on windows and you want to view the "page source", can you start typing that in to the windows 7 search box and the menu entry for it come to the front? Thought not. This is different. Accept it.

Innovation (4, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804779)

I have to say it... While there have been a lot of issues with Unity and Ubuntu in general I love the fact that Ubuntu dares to try and do genuine innovation.

Let's face it: It's easy to bash something that "sucks", but it requires a lot more courage to risk braking stuff and trying to find genuinely new approaches to existing problems.

Re:Innovation (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804983)

Courage: Yes.

Sense: No.

Lots of things take courage, including throwing yourself off a building. It doesn't mean it's a good idea.

My first thought was actually:

"For fuck's sake. No another attempted 'paradigm' shift on how my users are supposed to run the only program they use and print a document from it."

Seriously, innovation is all well and good. But can someone please innovate around getting a system that increase productivity by NOT requiring retraining. Every "new" way to do things costs money and customers. Whereas a lot of people would pay a lot of money for a system that operates pretty much like Windows 95 did, but without the bugs and other horrendous ideas it had like Active Desktop.

Where is the "Productive Desktop Distro"?

Re:Innovation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804987)

We're users, not testers. This is exactly why people treat desktop oriented linux distributions as a joke.

Re:Innovation (5, Interesting)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805039)

Agreed. It's fashionable to decry any new UI ideas as stupid. And indeed many UI redesigns are a step backwards, or purely aesthetic, or confusing, ... I'm not a fan of Unity, for instance. But we have to be at least somewhat open to new UI ideas, or computer interaction will never move forward.

This particular idea seems really good to me. In fact it's something I've been wanting for a long time. There have been small pushes in this direction (e.g. the Ubiquity add-on for Firefox [] would let you type commands (like "map XXX" or "email page to XXX") and get immediately useful results), but for it to really work, from a user perspective, it has to be available in every application so that it's worth the cost to learn the new style.

Being able to search the menu structure is really powerful, especially for applications with loads of commands (photo editors, word processors, etc.). I've lost count of the amount of time I've wasted searching through menus for a command that I use infrequently. I know it exists, I've used it before... but does it count as a "Filter" or an "Adjustment" or an "Edit"? Why can't I just search for it? Moreover, I shouldn't have to train myself to remember where it was put. Once you get used to typing commands, it can be extremely fast to do so, becoming almost as fast as a keyboard shortcut. (Obviously this will be more the case in applications where your hands are already on the keyboard, like word processors; it could be slow in applications like photo-editing where your hand is usually on the mouse...)

The ability to rapidly invoke commands via the keyboard is something that I would think most slashdotters would love: it adds back in some of the power of the commandline. It also inherently streamlines across applications (you should be able to just type "Save" or "Preferences" in any application and get the expected behavior, regardless of where they put the menu item. If they're smart, they'll kind synonyms, so that "Options" and "Preferences" map to each other...)

While I am excited about all this, they do need to leave, in my opinion, the usual menu bar accessible and visible. The reason is simple: during the initial learning phase of an application, you don't even know what's possible. You need some way to explore the available commands, see what the app can do, and experiment. Only once you're somewhat familiar with the application does it make sense to quickly invoke commands with the keyboard.

Re:Innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805121)

That's very true, but can it not be Ubuntu straightaway? Can it be Ubuntu Incredible New Thing Edition with good old gnome2 in the normal version? At least for a while?

I don't want to be their frickin guinea pig.

Re:Innovation (1)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805311)

I agree. As a matter of UI, I never understood the appeal of the Windows centric layout:

- If "Start" button doesn't behave like a button.
- If "Start" is a menu, its position docked at the bottom-left is unusual because that usually contains settings for control but "Start" doesn't control anything about the desktop.
- As a menu "Start" is clumsy where navigation of more than two levels in another system that menu would be a target for redesign.
- If "Start" is a file explorer, then the interface is inconsistent (sometimes you click to navigate...or hover...or double click?).

And so on. Doing the "Explain It To Grand Mother" test usually exposes all of the weirdness about Windows. It always seemed to me people figured out how to work with the Windows desktop in spite of itself. I'm all for Ubuntu going in another direction: Don't make it like Windows or MacOS but learn from all of them and come up with something different. Even saying that, this different thing maybe a problem or a failure so Ubuntu should also include a fall back desktop that contains the most basic UI layout.

linux for dummies (1, Interesting)

X10 (186866) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804803)

Canonical is dummyfying linux so even windows users can use it, or so they hope, probably in vain. They don't care that linux users will move on to other distributions.

Re:linux for dummies (1)

wh1pp3t (1286918) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805227)

They don't care that linux users will move on to other distributions.

That's what they want. There are already plenty of neck-beard oriented distributions.
This one is for the masses who want to only (or can only) use GUI tools.

Wasted money (4, Insightful)

rev0lt (1950662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804809)

So the big menu improvement is... a text console! The idea itself is not new (AutoCad and several games use the same principle), but what I find hilarious is that apparently, is targeted for beginners - the same kind of users that usually don't know the name of the option/command/whatever they want to select. In most cases, advanced users don't use the menubar that often, because of... keyboard shortcuts - yes, using the keyboard to select actions from the menu! I guess that improvement will be announced on a next version...

Re:Wasted money (1)

robmv (855035) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805337)

Exactly, this is being targeted to beginners, the same users that are afraid to use the keyboard for commands, the same users that do nothing without a mouse. What is worse, the menu is hidden by default so people has no way to learn that keyboard shortcuts exists, so instead of learning about Ctrl+V they will need to write "Paste"+Enter

There's a reason for menus (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805347)

That's right. When I learn a new program, I don't know what command I'm looking for. I haven't yet memorized all the commands, and I want to look at all the menu commands to find the one I vaguely remember. Or to find the one I didn't know about. Most computer users are like that.

After I've learned the commands, I use the keyboard shortcuts. I don't use the menus much, but they're there when I need them.

What's the alternative? Am I supposed to read the manual and put post-it notes on my monitor? Do I watch an instructional video?

Ill received (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804837)

From the article: "Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth told PC Pro that HUD will help people get to grips with new software more quickly. “One of the first things people do [when they get a new piece of software] is go through all the menus,” he said."

I'm disappointed in Shuttleworth's understanding of people. Not even a single person I know, with the exception of Mr. Shuttleworth I suppose, ever goes through all the menu's when a new piece of software is installed. With a good piece of software, you hardly ever have to go through and memorize the menu. Moreover when one needs a function it is much easier to ask Google for it's whereabouts. In most cases Google even beats the build in Help function.

Re:Ill received (1)

drx (123393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805117)

And now the menu has a built-in Google.

Not for me (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38804855)

What if I don't know what I'm looking for? Or what if I just want to browse all the options?

Obligitory (4, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804931)

"Oh for fuck's sake, where are the preferences?"


"Oh, there they are."

It's NOT Quicksilver (4, Informative)

RichardDeVries (961583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804939)

There are a lot of comments saying that this is copying the Run command in Windows or Quicksilver for the Mac. It's not. These don't get you to commands within applications, As Shuttleworth says: “It’s all hooked in below the application level.”

Re:It's NOT Quicksilver (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805281)

But Quicksilver does that, too, with the User Interface Access Plugin!

Re:It's NOT Quicksilver (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805297)

Gnome Do could do this using plugins. Years ago I was using it to add notes to Tomboy and interacting with Banshee to pause/play my music.

Fair play if they can use their position to force it to be implemented across the entire desktop. I do hope that they do it in a way that allows other distros/DEs (including Gnome3) to integrate with the apps in the same way.

"...without having to relearn menus" (2, Insightful)

Arrogant-Bastard (141720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38804951)

I think that anyone who is so intellectually impoverished that they cannot or will not relearn menus really ought not be using a computer, and certainly should not be permitted the privilege of being on the Internet, where they constitute an active, operational menace to everyone else.

As a side note, it should be interesting to study the privacy and security implications of this approach. A careful read of the Ubuntu mailing lists (all of which I'm on) reveals that -- so far -- nobody has put up their hand and pointed out that this "helpful" approach has as one obvious side effect the construction of a resource that's enormously useful to attackers.

Re:"...without having to relearn menus" (2)

drx (123393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805089)

Good user name!

Re:"...without having to relearn menus" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805323)

This sort of 'voice toy' has been around for a long time. It has yet to catch on. Oh there are fits and bursts where people use the hell out of it (usually when it first comes out like siri). Then people realize it can not really understand them very well they get pissed off and go back to typing it in. I have been using similar systems since DOS. Each one is cool and works within its limitations. But then you eventually feel like a tool sitting there talking to your computer and after the 5th time it misunderstood you for 2 weeks in a row you get torqued off and give up on it. Think windows even has one built in (has since at least vista and some rudimentary stuff for xp tablet) gave up on it after 2 days.

Also its not "intellectually impoverished". Its GUI fatigue. Yet *another* interface to learn. Oh and its semantics are just slightly different than the one we got you used to last time. Just enough to be disconcerting. Then you have a mix of computers at the old ver and the new ver... Its a pain in the ass...

all of which I'm on congratulations btw. And your on the lists yet dont bring up the subject but do on slashdot... interesting... Also leaving your mic on all the time. You literally have bugged your self... Talk about a nice attack vector.

"Stark Contrast"... yeah, sure. (0)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805007)

Shuttleworth described HUD as a âoestark contrastâ to Microsoftâ(TM)s ribbon interface, which festoons menus with dozens of the most frequently used commands.

Unfortunately, it's not a "stark contrast" to the Windows Vista/7 Search box [] , the one that appears right above the Windows (formerly Start) button which you click it. And has since Vista came out in 2007. Oh, even better, it's been backported to XP as Windows Search 4 [] .

And it should be noted that Microsoft stole this idea from Google Desktop [] .

I have no idea if you can use voice commands to access the Windows or Google versions, though.

The opposite of Microsoft's ribbon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805035)

This is essentially the opposite of the ribbon that Microsoft is putting everywhere. They are targeting beginners by putting all the commands right out there where they are MORE visible. Ubuntu has decided to hide all the commands and make them LESS visible. If there are no menus, how do you learn what to search for?

new users/discover-ability (2)

N1ckR (1289800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805047)

Not sure if I like this. If I am new to an app and don't even know the name of a command/action how do I find out what it is, how do I navigate a list of commands/actions to find out ?

Apple did it before, more or less (4, Informative)

drx (123393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805067)

OS X Lion has a similar feature, you can search the menu of any application by typing the command in a menu search box. The menu still stays on the screen though. It is actually quite useful, because if a menu item is in a obnoxious place, it becomes more easy to find.

Re:Apple did it before, more or less (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805421)

I have to agree. I hate Unity as much as everyone, but a feature like this could be really useful, especially when designers decide to change the GUI of an application every month or so (Firefox comes to mind). However, I also think that it shouldn't target beginners, but rather more experienced users who don't use the application often enough to remember all shortcuts. If I don't use a feature very often, I find it easier to remember (a part of) a command name than some obscure "Meta-Alt-Control-K" shortcut.

Launch Bar (1)

andawyr (212118) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805099)

I know I'd be completely lost without LaunchBar on OS X: []

I initially thought that entering keyboard commands to run a program was completely opposite what a GUI was supposed to offer, but being a command-line driven guy (hey, I'm getting old!), it was amazingly intuitive, not to mention blazingly fast. I rarely use the toolbar to start programs any more, let alone navigate through the Applications folder.

Definitely recommended for all you OS X folks out there.

OMG - a command line interface! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805103)

What a great idea! Why didn't someone think of it sooner?

Let me take a stab at this: (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805113)

Within 2 weeks most of the people trying to use this will be choking on their own vomit.

drop tables semicolon (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805123)

Yes.... I can finally run through the office yelling "drop tables semicolon" for hours of fun.

The life of the GUI comes back full circle! (3, Funny)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805135)

GNU-Linux started as a command based OS, various GUIs were attempted, and now we're back to typing in what we want to do.

Jef Raskin would have approved! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805299)

Sounds like someboby just read The Humane Interface! (which I totally recommend)
But seriously, this is one of the things he was working towards. It's been a while since I read it, but the reasoning was that commands should be typed inline with content. I think he called it literal something.

Typing commands is better because
- the interface is consistent
- it is discoverable
- does not clutter up the interface and is scalable for novice and experienced users
- works well literal human beings, who think, express and interact with language

I am pretty excited about this!

Maybe, if they can get it to read minds (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805319)

KDE has had a search function like this for years. It is great, however... you have to know what you are looking for. Take a simple example of opening a console. We know it is called a console or terminal, or rxvt, or xterm, etc.. however a new user may not think of a term window, they may think "I need a command window" however, typing command windows does not display terminals.

Ill admit that this example can be handled with a lot of research using users who have never used linux before and asking them to type stuff.

Personally, I have gone over to using a panel with the most common apps on it and the search for stuff I use less often. However, I still use the menu from time to time to look up stuff that I just can't remember the name of.

Let's all guess at what our software does (1)

Cogneato (600584) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805357)

While I know some people love search boxes on everything, I personally use them as a last resort. Inevitably it takes me more times and more interfacing (mouse or key clicks) to accomplish the exact same thing that a well written menu can do.

The argument that they present for why the HUD is great is exactly the reason why it is a poor replacement for menus. Menus are more than triggers for functions. They tell the story of what the software can do. For example, I use a lot of different graphics programs. Some have certain filters that others don't. Some filters are named differently in different programs. Sometimes there are brand new filters that I am just beginning to learn the names of. Sometimes I see a filter in a menu that I have never used and say "oh, let's see what this does". In all of these cases, a menu system beats a search box every single time - and the same is applicable to other kinds of functions in software.

If a solution requires someone to know the first letter of a command, then why not teach them to better use keyboard commands? Or perhaps come up with a way to better organize keyboard commands in a way that easier for a regular users to understand? Search boxes have their place, but they are not the best at being a primary point of accessing functions from a finite, predefined list.

Remember when Ubuntu was usable? (2)

DaneM (810927) | more than 2 years ago | (#38805367)

I wish Ubuntu (and the rest of the Linux GUI world) would quit trying to re-invent everything with the user interface, and put some long-term polish on something that already works. Gnome 2 had finally become pretty darned usable when--oops!--you can't use Gnome 2 anymore! You have to use Gnome 3 (where half your stuff doesn't work, doesn't appear in a menu, or is generally very counter-intuitive to access and use in any case), or Unity (which is no better about all that, but also has all of about 1 year of code maturity and bug fixes).

Why, oh WHY can't I just go back to the fully-functional Gnome 2, where the System Menu was in the "System" menu, rather than being a bunch of random junk in the "other" category? Why must I now avoid the upper-left corner of the screen when I want to work with windows I already have open? Why the heck must I now spend time typing AND clicking on stuff, rather than spending the 3 seconds it used to take to open applications (or hitting Alt-F2 and just typing--with command completion)? And sure Compiz and such are pretty, but they're certainly not stable enough to be MANDATORY (in Unity, at least)! My desktop environment must crash at least twice every time I log on, now, and much more than that unless the settings are "just so."

Sometimes, I think that the biggest flaw in "Linux on the Desktop" is that the community is overly enthusiastic about trying new stuff, rather than refining stuff that already works pretty well (but so far, none of it as well as certain proprietary GUIs). Can't we, for once, "KISS?" (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

Caveat: X needs to be replaced. It was really well-suited for typical use-cases of the 1970s.


I'm done. You're now free to flame me for being heretical.

Blender 2.6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38805407)

It looks like they want to make it like Blender 2.6 interface, there you can press SPACE and type any menu command, like to DUPLICATE, INSERT SPHERE or something

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