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Gnome 2.6 Usability Review

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the depends-which-five dept.


TuringTest writes ""The user-centric UI webzine" UserInstinct has published a usability overview of the latest version of the GNOME desktop. While their conclusions and recommendations are not mind-blowing, it includes two interesting appendices with a survey of new users (and their reactions to the system) and a list of common tasks of modern computer users with a commentary on how Gnome performs in each one. Note that usually You Only Need to Test With 5 Users (this report tests 4), you need to test additional users when an interface has several highly distinct groups of users and thus the conclusions in this review should not be taken as definitive."

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Only 4? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755720)

Not 5? Well, this is worthless then. Listen to useability/web design guru Nielsen!

Re:Only 4? (0, Offtopic)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755868)

The fact that Nielsen's web usage numbers disagre with Alexa whose numbers disagre with other sources, etc. just shows how hard measuring an audience really is.

Most TV networks don't particularly care how many people watch any given program. The program's just a honeypot to try to attract you into watching the ads. That's the key, that's what they get paid for, who is in the audience watching the ads. The key exception are the networks like HBO and Showtime, because they have no sponsors and they get paid by people who subscribe. Still, even they don't directly care how many people watch each show, they care how many people are willing to subscribe as a result of each show. How many people watched is a nice proxy for those numbers, but they're not the true money stats that the decision makers really want to know.

Since web business models vary, so is the metric that needs to be driven up so that the site makes money. Sometimes it's page views, sometimes it's ad clicks, sometimes it's sales... etc.

I don't think there's ever going to be a universially accepted metric for "most popular" website... nor will that ever be an important title to have money-wise. :)

Re:Only 4? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755888)

Wrong Nielsen. [] mentioned in the blurb is Jakob Nielsen.

Re:Only 4? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755956)

How do I modify Gnome to be Like Red Hat's version with the "start" button on the bottom?

Can I install Red Hat's Gnome theme?

FP? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755722)

Fristage postage by rookass

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755723)

AHAHHAA first post bitches!

Project GoneME (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755729)


I have started a little project which is intended to get the GNOME Desktop into a different direction. It's not aimed for people who love GNOME as it is now - No, it's more aimed to those who are experts to Unix and who like and wish so many times that some of the changes that went into GNOME never happened. The project was started yesterday and the first patches to *fix* the buttonorder (as one of many ideas and points) were created already. I plan to create the outstanding *fixes* for correcting the buttonorder in the upcoming days (as I have time) and then like to head over to other things that I personally like to have fixed. The project is not aimed to be a cooperation with the core GNOME it's more private work that I started for my own needs.

In case someone is interested then feel free to read more about it on the Project GoneME [] page. Please do not expect huge wonders, it's just a test to see if people might be interested or not. As said it mainly covers my own interests at the moment. Please also don't put to much value in my brought up project description, they need to be reworked and altered anyways. I wrote the stuff as they came into my mind.

yea, computers for ignoramises (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755805)

Hurray! Let's hear it for people who don't
have the competence to use vim!

Re:yea, computers for ignoramises (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755942)

I use Emacs, you insensitive clod! ;-)

Re:Project GoneME (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755832)

Simple and worthy ideas. Hail to you. I do wish the newer gnome offerings subscribed to the ideas of least suprise. "i'll just mouse over here and click ok.. eh, its cancel, wheres ok gone, oh - its over there. wtf?!"

gconf is a terrible idea. Actually most of the lets reinvent everything glib stuff is a bad idea. As if the ridiculous type casting requirements in gtk+, and the over complicated signal mechanism. Hey you can connect anything to anything - fine, but make the simple callback case work, and don't just remarshall the bloody arguments behind my back! Gosh, that feels better... cheers.

Re:Project GoneME (1, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755945)

I agree! Putting the cancel on the left and the okay on the right is WEIRD! Most of us read left-to-right, and would expect the action we want to take (which should also be the default action) to be the first one.

Every time I go into gnome I'm reminded why I prefer either the KDE or a black screen tty. It's just fucked up!

Of course, this "study" is also 86ed. The "it's better because it looks and works more like windows" and "we can improve it by making it look even more like windows" crap fails to consider that most people who leave windows WANT something different.

It's not like they can't learn to do stuff differently. They have to with every version of windows anyway. Sheesh. Slow news day, I guess.

Re:Project GoneME (4, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755976)

Of course, Gnome does not have "Cancel" and "OK" - if you find a dialogue that does, it is a bug, and should be reported.

Re:Project GoneME (5, Insightful)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755843)

I plan to create the outstanding *fixes* for correcting the buttonorder in the upcoming days

Since when does being an "expert to Unix" imply that you want your buttons in Microsoft order rather than Apple order?

Re:Project GoneME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755882)

The text needs a bit of rework but it's not easy writing a technical perfect thought through proposal in an foreign language (english) for a project that exits for just 48 hours. It need some more time until things get settled, people found and the project description get reworked. Being an 'expert to Unix' was meant that there are people outside who dislike being put on the same level as joe clueless user. They might feel offended by such sentences. Simplyification in GNOME is for sure a good thing but GNOME should still follow the good old Unix fashion it should clearly FIT into the Unix world and not trying to grab everything they can touch and work on it and then leave the stuff half finished and later people come up complaining the hell out of the things because a lot of the stuff doesn't work. The KDE people are doing it nice they have their own cleanroom implementation without touching stuff from outside. They concentrate on improving their Desktop and have both parties (the average Joe User) as well as the Unix experts in mind. After all people who use Linux or any Unix like operating system do this because they want to learn something.

Re:Project GoneME (0, Flamebait)

thenextpresident (559469) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755918)

You have spammed this message on OSNews, and now you are spamming it here, and God knows where else. This is called spam.

Project GoneME: Spamming my Gnome Project.

Re:Project GoneME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755954)

It has been placed on exactly 4 places to say the truth. This can't be seen as spam as you like to make the people believe. It was placed on well chosen Threads with the hope that the one or other could be interested:

- It was first introduced on Moo Bunny,
- It then was post on GnomeSupport within the Development thread,
- It was post on OSNews within the same Article,
- It finally got post here on /. because the situation was just to perfect to be left out.

No spamming nothing. It's also important for a community to make some noise to be heard without being offensive by plastering it in own Articles and then not being able to offer what they promise. Project GoneME doesn't promise anything. It's just an information for people who might be interested and like to participate. It's your choice to participate or not and that's almost all.

Be proud of who you are. Post as yourself. (4, Insightful)

Ilan Volow (539597) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756031)


While I completeley disagree with your feelings about where the GNOME project has taken things (I think they should have gone much further and totally flipped off the unix geeks and shouldn't have blindly copied so many of microsoft's mistakes), I do respect you for your decision to fork, as the GNOME guys have been complete and utter jackasses about many things (such as usability, or lack thereof). I have had the same idea as you, albeit to fork GNOME in a completely opposite direction with the Clarux project and making GNOME far more mac-like. While I totally disagree with what you're doing, I'm glad at least someone had the same idea, even if it does run counter to mine.

One piece of advice to the opposition: the Free Software community says they promote freedom, but often, that's not the case. A while back, I created a fork of KDE that removed some really stupid usability problems the project had refused to deal with for years. I provided all my changes as source code people could download, I complied with the GPL, but Freshmeat refused to post the project because they considered it "only a patch". If you do something considered "significant" like modify someone else's code, it can be considered a distribution. But if you modify something that the Free Software community considers "insignificant", like the user experience, it's only considered "a patch". People in the Free Software development community might tell you "if you think you can do better, make your own version"; the thing is, they don't really mean it. So I'm warning you now, if you are really planning on forking a major desktop environment, you won't be able to rely on traditional community outlets for promoting it.

Last piece of advice--post as yourself. Stop this silly oGaLaxYo/Anonymous Coward crap. Post as Ali Agaa, be proud of your opinion, and be proud of what you're trying to stand up for and accomplish (even if it is rather silly).

Re:Be proud of who you are. Post as yourself. (4, Insightful)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756053)

LOL dude,
Since when does Freshmeat = the open source community?
They are a 'unix program website' with every type of license included like proprietary stuff.
If anything you should have tried sourceforge first right?

Awesome (2, Insightful)

Nailer (69468) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756067)

I want the Gnome guys to understand two things:

  • It doesn't matter if spatial nautilus is good or bad. Overriding people's existing preferences without asking them is always bad.

  • If you're being paid to work on Gnome for a business, do more of what that businesses clients want. Not less. Currently, most Red Hat staff/customers (who aren't Gnome developers) don't like spatial nautilus. A challenge for the Gnome devs is to either convince those people otherwise (by making it better or explaining its usefullness, not overriding people preferences). If they can't, it shouldn't be the default for EL4.

WTF (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755730)

My UI reviews...

OS X:100000000000000

gramer correction (-1, Offtopic)

io333 (574963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755737)

It's "a", not "an."

(I've always wanted to be modded down by an anti-grammer-nazi nazi.)

I bet you didn't know you were a NAZI.


Gramer? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755757)

How do you feel about spelling Nazis?

Re:Gramer? (1)

starnix (636547) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755864)

Humorous that in a post where you are correcting someones grammer that you spell grammer incorrectly.

Re:Gramer? (1)

starnix (636547) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755877) did I. Damn. My bad.... {embarassed}

Re:Gramer? (1)

maskedbishounen (772174) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755988)

Don't worry, this is only /., and we are all very understanding geeks! No one will ridicule you here. ;)

why is this "off topic" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755761)

the people who get paid to run this site
need a bit more experience with... ENGLISH!

Re:gramer correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755762)

Live from the spelling nazi: it's grammar. Two 'A's. Weird, but that's life in the English-speaking world for you...

Re:gramer correction (1)

io333 (574963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755859)

Well, it happened. My life's dream is now fulfilled; as special bonus, I was stabbed by a spelling nazi too!

I'm Slashdotted out, so I'm going out.


Oh, that's not going to work until voice recognition in Longhorn. Darn.

KDE Rocks ... Gnome Sucks (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755741)

The proof is here []

Re:KDE Rocks ... Gnome Sucks (1)

bach37 (602070) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755780)

And with that above post, I hereby say: let the KDE vs. Gnome flame wars begin!!!!!

I use ion2 with gnome _and _ kde applications (2, Interesting)

ClarkEvans (102211) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755828)

ion2 []

For those with FreeBSD who hate the mouse...
# cd /usr/ports/x11-wm/ion-2
# make install

Re:I use ion2 with gnome _and _ kde applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755874)

Screw the KDS vs. Gnome flamewar!

Let the ion2 vs ion3 flamewar begin!

Re:I use ion2 with gnome _and _ kde applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755990)

you mean the ratpoison vs ion flame war!

Oh my god (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755752)

Why do Linux desktops try to mimic Windows so much?
Programers have no sense of aesthetics.

Re:Oh my god (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755880)

Why do Linux desktops try to mimic Windows so much?

They don't. Only the few that do do.


Re:Oh my god (2, Insightful)

frankthechicken (607647) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755915)

I feel it is mainly because in an open source world there is less of an ability to strictly test usability and functionality, as this requires a different set of abilities than purely that of programming expertise.

Indeed, when there are already a couple of tried and tested UI's on the market (i.e. Windows and OS-X). And with the money having already been spent on user testing the interfaces, the question is why re-invent the wheel?

Build on what has already been developed.

Once the underlying core has been built then experimentation can begin, with the many eyes approach hopefully leading to an even more intuitive OS and GUI.

Re:Oh my god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755948)

Yeah, great plan. Working out great...

Re:Oh my god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755928)

Why do Linux desktops try to mimic Windows so much? Because that's what the lusers are used to. It would confused poor Windows users if their Linux desktop looked different...

Re:Oh my god (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755968)

The problem is that most major desktops try to imitate both Windows and OSX and end up with a severely fucked version of neither. Then again, what do I know? I use Fluxbox.

Gnome Usability? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755755)

What usability?

The tunnel of mirrors file browsing is from Satan.


I found the "Hesitant User" study most interesting (2, Funny)

James A. V. Joyce (798462) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755763)

Task #1 - Email

* Clicked Applications right away
* Discovered "Internet"
* Discovered "Web Browser"

(The above happened in less than 10 seconds)

* Ignored "Start Here"
* User admitted to not being used to clicking on Start Here and decided to go looking after the desktop did not have an internet icon
* Clicked URL bar
* Typed in URL
* Logged in
* "Fuck no I don't want to do that" referring to saving passwords, never saves passwords at home
* Read mail

Guess GNOME really IS a terrible user interface, haha. (Before you mod me as a troll, RTFA [] , they actually say this.)

Re:I found the "Hesitant User" study most interest (0, Troll)

netsharc (195805) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755837)

* Didn't know how to use Ximian Open Office, so the user closed it immediately and sat frustrated

Oh man, poor girl (my instincts say it's a girl, because guys just don't sit there being frustated), I somehow feel bad for her, perhaps ready to cry because the computer isn't working "right".

Anyway, being accostumed to Windows, I find the quirks of Linux frustating as well, for example sounds never work 100% for me, without tweaking. Sure, I can read the HOWTOs and tweak it till it's perfect, but sometimes I don't feel like it, especially when there's so many other quirks that need tweaking..

Re:I found the "Hesitant User" study most interest (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755910)

What I found interesting was the expectations people had and that the results a) don't necessarily show Gnome only - font handling, system setup, etc. Also, the test subjects? I mean, you're given a system to test, and "experienced Unix user" is all set to download and install Mozilla? FFS. Finally, recommendation 5 appears to be written by someone with no clue about how the software industry works.

Finally, a scientific review (5, Insightful)

Iesus_Christus (798052) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755782)

It's good to see a fairly unbaised, objective look at an open source product on Slashdot. Many times, we see either a "OMG Open Source = good" or a "I couldn't even get it installed, this sucks!" in place of an actual review. In this instance, it seems as though the reviewers actually tried to make this a fair review. They used users with different experience levels to get an overall picture of the usability of Gnome 2.6. While they could have used more than one user for each stereotype for statistical reasons, it seems at though they have done a decent job in their review. It is reviews like this that show us what to work on.

Re:Finally, a scientific review (3, Insightful)

HFShadow (530449) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755824)

It seems to me they were reviewing the tools more then gnome itself. If trillian, winamp or windows media player have confusing controls, I don't blame that on Windows, I blame it on the respective products. So why do so many linux review sites do the opposite? Totem being unstable has nothing to do with gnome 2.6. Rythmbox not having easy to find radio stations has nothing to do with gnome 2.6. The crappy file browsing window DOES have to do with gnome 2.6 and they apparently didn't even review deeply enough into it to see it.

Look at it THIS way. (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756077)

The Linux kernel and the GNOME desktop did NOT GET IN THE WAY of the applications for those users.

You're correct about too much time being spent on the applications. But that's how most users operate. They spend the MINIMUM time possible interacting with the desktop and the MAXIMUM time interacting with the applications. (Aside from playing with backgrounds and sounds. I hate webshots.)

Personally, I think that a tiny bit of work on that study and the NEXT study would show Linux being incredibly easy to use even for novices.

#1. Get rid of the unstable apps. Each icon that they click on MUST launch an application and that application MUST be the most stable of the bunch.

#2. Populate the desktop with the apps they'll be trying to find (nothing like making it easy for them). This is what I do at work. And remove any other icons. They can put other ones there when they are more comfortable with the system.

#3. Put the controls for changing the background and the sounds in a very visible location and name them something like "Cool effects". Then give them lots of pictures and sounds to choose from.

So, the desktop would have the "My Computer" (or whatever) icon.

The "My Network Places" (or whatever) icon.

The "Recycle Bin" (or whatever) icon.

The "Work applications" folder/link icon.

The "Cool effects" folder/link icon.

The "Games" folder/link icon.

The "Help" icon (context searchable, etc).

Also, once you've run through with each of the testers the first time, have them form small groups and run through the test again. In the workplace, they will talk to each other and share tips/hints/ways to install spyware crap/etc.

Does the desktop facilitate or hinder that kind of human interaction?

And toss in a screensave as a background option just to give them something that Windows doesn't do. :)

Re:Finally, a scientific review (1)

pdxaaron (777522) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755825)

I attempted to check out some of their other reviews to see exactly how unbiased their reviews are. Suprise, Suprise... There aren't any. If fact it appears that the content list on the main page is all that exists on the site.

It looks like they just started adding content July 6th!?! You can take their review as gospel all you want, I'll continue to read reviews from people that have withstood the test of time and had a bit more scrutiny.

I choose to value post count less than you (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756070)

You can take their review as gospel all you want, I'll continue to read reviews from people that have withstood the test of time and had a bit more scrutiny.

You can choose your reviews based on ad hominem criteria involving post counts; I'll choose my reviews based on the abstract and then weigh each conclusion based on the evidence that the review presents.

Mod me down - but you gotta see this: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755802)

Re:Mod parent up! Lol! (1)

bach37 (602070) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755841)

Ha! Oh my that's crazy!

Mod Parent Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755853)

Best off topic post EVER.

MOD UP!! (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755908)

That was awsome...
Now if I could just get an evaluation version of thier stuff for free, I would be happy.

your Sig (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756025)

the plural for Ninja, is Ninja.
You must now sing the Ninja song!

Re:Mod me down - but you gotta see this: (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755965)

Hey, it's on topic enough... Add more marketing glitz and your get a smoother user presentation, but you've gotta pay more for it. Glitz is the enemy of the geek, but it does attract the mass public dependably...

Re:Mod me down - but you gotta see this: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755997)

That ad is WAY too long.

It was like getting a blow job from my father.

Why would you say that? (1)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756069)

Every time I get a blowjob from your father time goes by WAY too fast.

Re:Mod me down - but you gotta see this: (1)

MikeXpop (614167) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756064)

Anyone have a link for the now old Lindows Rock? I thought that was funnier*

*not funnier, but stupider. In a funny way.

Eeeewwww! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9756072)

That's sick. Moderate down, please.

The mass public is the ultimate test... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755829)

6, 7 or 8 users might not get you that much more information than you'll get from a 5 user test... but it's when the public at large gets ahold of your program that it's really put to the test.

Like the article says, you need to hold a second testing group when there's a second classification of user who uses your program. And when you release you program to the public, if it's a truely good program than somebody will think of a situation in which to use the tool you made that you didn't antisipate.

Re:The mass public is the ultimate test... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755857)

shut up nerd

Re:The mass public is the ultimate test... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9756055)

yea, yer fuck'n wanker

Needs one more user... (1)

riptide_dot (759229) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755852)

Good review - it's especially funny because its raw (unedited) format. I especially liked the part in the Mac/Systems Architect User's notes that said:

"Task #4 - ICQ/Chat

* Loaded Gaim

* "Holy crap" at the number of protocols


I didn't know I was being recorded when I said that! :)
I thought the review could have used just one more user though - the Beginner who is NOT "hesitant" (as the article puts it).

Re:Needs one more user... (2, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755972)

I'm not sure that I've ever seen a beginner who isn't "hesitant".

When users become more accustom to computers and they are intermediate, some users will charge head on into things and get them selves into trouble. Some don't. It just depends.

But I've observed MANY people in my short career of helping neighbors and friends and such with their computers. When they are beginners, they fall into one of three categories. The first is those who hate the comptuer and fight it all the way. They learn how to do a thing or two and use that, and that's it. They won't do anything more because they could break something, etc. It's more than being hesitant.

The second group would include my little sister. They learn what they're doing and will explore a tiny bit, but by and large stick to what they know how to do and programs they know. In those programs, they may explore and they'll become very familiar and comfortable with them. But when it comes to doing something new, they are hesitant.

The third group is hesitant about everything. They are like the first group in that they never branch out into new things (group two will over time, very slowly). They just stick to what they know. That said, they don't feel like they are fighting the computer and are comfortable using the program. But they do no exploring like group two. They only learn things when they need them, and ignore them the rest of the time.

Thinking about it the only group I can think of who ISN'T hesitant is the very little kid. I'm talking 2 or 3 years old. They don't know to be scared of the computer (or even consider being scared of it). They'll plow into the computer head on and they may break it. But I wouldn't consider these kids "users"; at least in the normal sense. They may use a program or two (Putt Putt Goes to the Moon, The Busy World of Richard Scarey, whatever) but they don't use the computer, you know what I mean?

So in conclusion, there really aren't many "non-hesitant" users out there. They would be a rare bird (in my expiriance).

An interesting article though.

Window focus (1)

pjpII (191291) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755855)

My biggest problem with the version of Gnome that I use(2.4.?) is that window focus is handled extremely poorly - if I click on any part of the window EXCEPT the task bar, the window doesn't gain focus, whereas in Windows and KDE, the default is to give a window focus no matter where you click, which is much more reasonable. I'm open to suggestions to fix this problem- I'm forced to use Gnome if I want to play music, since Xmms inexplicably doesn't work in KDE. If its not a user configurable option, I think it would be nice if this was fixed in the newer versions of Gnome.

Also, regarding the debates about the spacial mode file browsing, I wonder why nobody has entered the idea of tree based browsers into the debate. I don't use the "My Computer" style of file browsing- the "Explorer" program, with a panel for a tree based view, works much better for me, and seems like a more reasonable standard than either the classic or the spacial style browsers.

Re:Window focus (1)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755899)

KDE application for listening to music: Noatun. Lighter and better (imho) than xmms.

Re:Window focus (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755921)

if I click on any part of the window EXCEPT the task bar, the window doesn't gain focus, whereas in Windows and KDE, the default is to give a window focus no matter where you click, which is much more reasonable.

Um, something is broken for you - giving focus no matter where you click is the default behaviour for Gnome. Without more info, I have no idea what could be wrong, though.

best part (4, Funny)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755862)

'What the hell is "GNOME-gegl2.png [] "? "That's disgusting!"'

Just Fucking Kill Gnome Off (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755863)

Do the desktop Linux effort a major boost by just fucking killing Gnome off. Yes KDE sucks with their idiotic K-everything crap and the lameass Win98 desktop ripoff.

Just do it, please. Send a message to that dimwit miguel that he's no longer welcome in th Linux world.

Re:Just Fucking Kill Gnome Off (1)

sn0wman3030 (618319) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755925)

Send a message to that dimwit miguel that he's no longer welcome in th Linux world.

I'm sure that would terrify him.

Am I the only one ... (1)

hayden (9724) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755867)

Who detests this drive towards "task based" interfaces? I find that it takes significantly longer to do anything that isn't explicitly spelled out by the interface. I always find myself searching through the options systematically because the task I want to do is something that's buried three screens deep, behind four hidden advanced option buttons and a moat of dire warning dialogs that promise all sorts of horrible things that'll happen to me if I dare continue. Then, in the next release, all the searching for what I want to change is now useless because the usability people tested a dozen people and decided that that option belongs in an entirely different task.

I would prefer it if they'd have all the task based crap and then an advanced option for those people who can look for stuff on their own. Rather than having all the new fangled task based stuff and a two finger salute to the rest of us with an explaination of "it's easier". Not for me it bloody isn't.

Maybe I'm just one of these oldies who believe you actually have to think (*gasp*) when using a computer.

Re:Am I the only one ... (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755906)

In any menuing system, there is no rule that says that the menu has to be a true tree. There's nothing stopping you from having a main menu of "What are you here to do today?", and having the most popular functions being placed in more than one position on the interface.

Doing it that way might lead to a more confusing set of decisions at design time, but the user will more often than not find themselves one click away from what they want to do next if you do it right. Afterall, it's easier to find any given option if it's "hidden" in three places instead of just one.

Why emulate windows and not mac? (4, Insightful)

io333 (574963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755876)

Why isn't there an open source attempt to model what the folks in Cuppertino are doing? KDE and Gnome are both Windows copies. I think folks would switch in droves if they could get an open-source Mac copy to run on their PC hardware.

I can't think of any incentive for switching from an XP interface to one that is almost as good as XP.

Re:Why emulate windows and not mac? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755924)

Apple has since the begining of time brought in design consultants to work on every aspect of the user interface... meanwhile the geeks who design OSS projects absolutely want nothing to do with the design consultants. (The irony is that the stereotypical geek would love to date the stereotypical design consultant, but she won't go anywhere near him...)

Re:Why emulate windows and not mac? (1)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755961)

I think folks would switch in droves if they could get an open-source Mac copy to run on their PC hardware.

Yes, droves -- cuz there's such a huge demand for the proprietary Mac OS. That's why they outnumber Windows users twenty times over, right? ...oh sorry, it's actually the other way around, isn't it...

I'm sorry, I really don't intend this as a Mac flame (honest!) -- but the reality is, the vast majority of desktops use Windows, and if you want your free desktop to have mass appeal, making it familiar to Windows users is the name of the game. Expecting a huge market for a free Mac-type OS when the original holds such a small share of the market (compared to Windows) just seems unrealistic to me.

Re:Why emulate windows and not mac? (1)

MoronGames (632186) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756006)

Actually, you can set up GNOME to have a dock similar to OS X's, and the menu bar also. GNOME gives a lot of freedom as to how you can use it. Of course, GNOME isn't as pretty as OS X.

Re:Why emulate windows and not mac? (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756016)

Gnome and KDE have both felt like a "not either one" amalgamation of lame Windows and Mac ripoffs to me. I don't see why they have to copy either interface style. It makes more sense, at least to me, to give Linux a look and feel of its own. I don't WANT my Linux and Windows boxes to behave the exact same. There are things about one that just don't work with the other's interface.

Re:Why emulate windows and not mac? (5, Insightful)

aixou (756713) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756085)

This reminds me of when a friend proclaimed that he hated Linux (KDE to be specific), because it "feels like a shoddy copy of Windows"... It's funny for me to hear that from a Windows user, because that's how Mac users have felt for the past 10+ years in regard to Windows (shoddy copy).

Seriously though, I really don't believe an OSS project could have the focus or resources to take on the task of keeping up with Apple's design. They might get the "look" right, but the "feel" is something much much harder to grasp. In the end all you'd have would be a dock clone, and a clunky interface. The Mac OS has always thrived on having the best UI consistency and a very intuitive feel, which is something that Linux just can't really compete with.

Unix and Windows are much more similar to eachother than they are to the Mac OS. For one, both Win and *nix hide programs down deep in an arcane directory structure that you aren't expected to learn (you can, but most don't). On a Mac, you are expected to navigate the file system to access what you need (if you want to open an App for example, you open the Finder, go to the Applications folder and then open your app). Win and *nix don't really expect you to have to move to where you want ago, hence the usage of the Start menu and Shell PATHs which give quick access to what you need.

An OSS project that copied the Mac would really be copying the Finder and the directory structure. In order to get the Mac feel down pat, you'd have to make the directory structure much more browse-friendly than it is. You can't expect grandma to navigate to usr, bin, and then select from a long list of programs what she wants. Unless a developer/distro with some major clout (i.e. one that wouldn't be completely shunned by the Unix world) decided to revamp the directory structure (or hide the standard tree in favor of a simpler user oriented one), I would recommend that *nix Desktop Environment developers stick the Windows-esque start bar clones that they already have.

For now, if you want the Mac look and feel in a Unix environment, your only and best option is OS X.

Couple things I do not Like, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755887)

First off they reccommend "a higher level of abstractation", which is sort of BS. You see it in 2 examples:

1. They should hide the terminal.

-- Nobody has to use it if they don't want. However a user interface can't be designed just for newbies. In order to be efficient you have to make it usefull. Terminals are very usefull. You need it still, and hiding it isn't a good idea.

Lots of directions you face will, even for newbies , especially with troubleshooting would be like:
type ifconfig in the terminal.
type dmesg in the terminal.
type ps aux in the terminal.

This isn't difficult stuff. You open up the terminal and type it in.

--2. This one realy showed me that some of their advice is completely worthless.

They want to make the level of abstraction of error messages to be higher?

HELL NO. You want the error messages to tell you almost exactly what is going on, you want to have even MORE information aviable. Ever use "mplayer"?

The goal isn't to scare a user, it's to make it actually USEFULL.

New users need help. They come to me, first thing I ask? "What was the error message?", if it's very abstract it's also very worthless.

The guys who wrote this article obviously have quite a bit break from reality, and want to have computers be freindly, happy, and virtually useless.

Will gnome die? (3, Interesting)

omar_armas (633987) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755897)

I tried hard to use Gnome 2.6 as my primary desktop, but I gave up in favor of KDE.
Some reasons:

-Too slow
-not so well integrated
-doesn't feel a unified system(shortcuts, menus, etc)
-Again, too slow. Every release it gets slower.

The have changed enlightenment for sawfish, then for the actual wm.
The same happened for the file manager: gmc, then nautilus
And for the browser: galeon, nautilus, epiphany, now mozilla?
A very poor control center. Example: try to add virtual desktops from the control center. It's impossible, it's hidden in the desktops applets.
It's a mess, since the people funding the project dedicated to other things, Gnome seems to have lost direction.
To me, Gnome is just a desktop bar, all the enviroment and other apps doesn't feel really integrated.


Re:Will gnome die? (0, Flamebait)

Roguelazer (606927) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756005)

Wow. You think back a long way. Lemme see... Sawfish was the default WM in Gnome 1.4, and enlightenment was an option. Therefore, enlightenment must have been the default before that. Metacity has been the default WM since earrly in the 2.0 series.

And are forgetting something about KDE? You complain about gmc (which hasn't been the filemanager for Gnome for several years. Around the same time, kde changed from KFM to Konqueror...

And Epiphany is still thedefault browser. The progression was this, actually: Galeon->Ephiphany. Mozilla was never official, and nautilus isn't even a browser.

And if I hear one more KDE user complaining about Gnome's slowness, I'm gonna be confused. Wait, I'm confused already. EVERYTHING about KDE and Qt is slow. One of Gnome's plusses is that Gtk is very snappy- and so therefore is Gnome.

As for integration, I'll take the fact that I can use my Gnome apps in other WM's without waiting for a 10 minute *_init startup procedure, whereas KDE with its KParts and DCOP makes all KDE apps useless anywhere else.

Finally, as for the Control Center, well, at least I can find applets. I mean, heck, KDE has what, a hundred control center applets? A new user (I upgraded from KDE 1.2 to 3.0- big step) needs to use the Search function to do ANYTHING.

PS: Right-click on pager, hit Preferences. Pretty simple...

PPS: Yes, I understand that this will be modded -1 Troll. Oh well. :/

Interested in knowing (2, Interesting)

timmyd (108567) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755902)

Has anyone done usability tests on GNOME (or KDE for that matter) with respect to internationalization? Last time I checked, most applications are written just for the English speaker and typer. It seems like to get a good setup with all the programs in the appropriate language, you need to restrict yourself to a specialized distribution..which isn't a great option if you need to support more than one language.

With gtk2's new input module support, it has made it easier to input languages which require a more complex method, but that is only limited to those gtk2 programs. So if you were using KDE, I think you would have to use input methods that talk through X, which are very unfriendly. On the other hand, it seems like windows has the advantage here of everything using the same toolkit which has pretty good internationalization support.

er, we've got a gnome hacker here... spouting FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9756084)

Spewing anti-KDE nonsense. KDE is and has always been better at internationalization... it was written by Germans for heaven sakes! Stop spouting FUD, please?

Tests with five users (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755904)

This is off-topic so you can moderate accordingly, but is there a similar limit for governments? For example, in science fiction there is often the assumption that a single world government is the most efficient, but perhaps some other number would actually be better. Competing economic systems and philosophies might actually be beneficial, so the fall of communism might not have been the unalloyed good fortune it seems -- after all, the space race is what actually pushed us to the moon.

It seems to me this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they created the United States, to have several groups of people not only in cooperation but in competition with each other so new ideas would be continually generated and tried, but I'd be curious to see other's ideas if this comment is still visible.

Recommend to get rid of (useful) error messages? (1)

ruckerz2k (653900) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755911)

Less common cases like the error message shown above should also be abstracted if possible. Knowing that the operation is not permitted offers little help to the unaccustomed user. GNOME already does an outstanding job in catching many of these types of errors and translating them into something users can understand. It is the hope of the reviewers that the developers continue in this regard. I dunno I prefer to have rather verbose error messages. Though it may not mean much to the common user, it can be quite helpful if they seek help from a more knowledgeable user. Besides, why change it? all you can (usually) do is click ok anyways.

Verbose error messages (1)

sbszine (633428) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755966)

I like giving the user a simple message, then adding a 'Details' button for the stack trace etc.

Re:Verbose error messages (1)

multriha (206019) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756060)

So you're the guy that made me spend an hour trying to explain to my father what a stack trace was!

I was thinking of ditching XP... (1)

danharan (714822) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755927)

At the risk of starting a flame-war (please, I know this is /., but there's no need for that), can anyone tell me if Gnome is more usable than KDE? Are they both putting the same amount of effort in making their desktops user-friendly?

One of the more interesting things in that study was their list of tasks... Now that the problem is broken down in smaller pieces, it might be fun to test several designs in rapid iterations (tweak, test on 5 users, repeat) concentrating only on 2-3 tasks at a time. Oh- perhaps the most important question: how easy is it for people interested in usability to get involved in either project?

Err, too late troll! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9756011)

I already started the flame war
here []

get quicker to the draw dude.

Re:I was thinking of ditching XP... (4, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756015)

Are they both putting the same amount of effort in making their desktops user-friendly?

I would say that Gnome has had it as an explicit focus for a lot longer than KDE, and has been working a lot more on various aspects of usability. One example is the (always ongoing) effort to make the desktop fully accessible to people with disabilities - an effort that pays off for the rest of us as well, in the form of a more consistent desktop and some fun toys (like screen readers) to play with :)

As to which desktop is actually the better one for you - well, that's up to you, really. Try both for a time, and select the one you are more comfortable with. Or don't choose; alternate between both as the mood strikes you. Either desktop's applications work fine under both, after all, and interoperability between them is steadily improving.

What you absolutely should do is to ignore all the flamewars and sniping on places like /. - most people dissing one or the other desktop are pretty clueless fanboys that only embarrass the mature users and developers of their chosen desktop.

Re:I was thinking of ditching XP... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9756038)

What you absolutely should do is to ignore all the flamewars and sniping on places like /. - most people dissing one or the other desktop are pretty clueless fanboys that only embarrass the mature users and developers of their chosen desktop.

Wha! Clueless? Fanboys? I am a KDE fan and everyone knows Gnome sucks. For proof I only provide you the stupid 'styles' people dream up. WE only need one style, one way!

Re:I was thinking of ditching XP... (1)

RedPhoenix (124662) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756029)

Caveat: I'm primarlly a gnome user.

If you were a new computer user I'd suggest trying gnome. Of the several computer newbies I've introduced to Linux thus far, Gnome seems to be 'easier' for them to get around.

Although both the Gnome and KDE teams seem to be equally interested in usability, Gnome has been lucky enough to snare some external companies who put a fair bit of time, money and effort into the task (most notably, Sun & Redhat).

As you're a XP user though, I suspect KDE might be closer to what you're used to, and might be worth trying first. Perhaps, grab knoppix (which is KDE), and have a play.


Certification (3, Interesting)

IceFox (18179) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755937)

I like the idea of creating a HIG certification program of sort, but not for Gnome, but for all of the Unix/Linux desktop. Why? If you have a Gnome certification then of course core Gnome gnome apps will strive to be compliant and so will some others, but it wont really go farther than that.

Maybe start a project. This way open office, KDE, Gnome, SDL, wine (hehe), and other applications will be interested in making sure that their applications are compliant. It will probably be harder, but the payoff will be a hundred times better. Not only will you get Gnome apps all interacting with each other, but you will have all the rest of the Linux/BSD/Unix apps working alone side nicely.

Another reason why this would be a good project is because all of the other work that is being done there. Stuff like making sure your application uses the standard desktop icon names when referencing icons (so either Gnome or KDE icon sets work in both KDE and Gnome apps).

Having a little list of current compliment HIG applications would be a major incentive for apps to get on that list too. Maybe it would even spawn a little compitition about keeping/getting all of their apps (kde/gnome/etc) compliant.

-Benjamin Meyer

"An usability"? That makes my fucking eyes bleed. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755953)

Only precede words with the "an" article if the word in question starts with a vowel SOUND. Merely having a vowel as the first letter of the word is not a sufficient qualifier.

The hard "y" sound, as in usability (yoosability) does NOT require the "an" article.

For fuck's sake, just say it aloud, and you'll quickly realize it's stupid as hell. Fucking damned pedants who can't even get it right - that's all this world needs.

The most anoying usability-quirk in gnome.. (1, Interesting)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755955)

They put buttons in the 'wrong' order.. Normally it's Ok/Cancel, with Gnome it's Cancel/OK!


Re:The most anoying usability-quirk in gnome.. (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9755983)

I don't know if either is more correct, but since most of the world is conditioned into expecting OK to come first, you'd better have a good reason for changing up the order or a lot of people are going to get annoyed, and having a reputation for annoying people is not a good thing.

Re:The most anoying usability-quirk in gnome.. (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756040)

Exactly, it's like driving on the left/right side of the road. It's so banal you would expect no problem in reaching a standard. Yet in both cases it is proven wrong.

For driving I can accept historical reasons, but Gnome is much younger than the 'OK goes to the left'-consensus.

Re:The most anoying usability-quirk in gnome.. (3, Informative)

JanneM (7445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756028)

Nope, it isn't. Gnome does not use "Cancel" or "OK". If you find a dialogue that uses those, please file a bug report.

What you have is: the safe choice to the left; the unsafe choice to the right; and other, less frequent choices in between.

Re:The most anoying usability-quirk in gnome.. (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9756045)

OK, I will buy a red and a green sock to remind me which is left and which is right. You'd think I'd know it after 35 years... It is the other way around, of course.

I'm sorry... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9755969)

ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz... Ka-snork.....

Need more than 5 users... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9756050)

Too many of the users were familiar with Microsoft software. Are they testing usability or similarity to their previous experience. If they are testing similarity then by having most users familiar with Microsoft, they will get a pre-ordained answer -- the more it looks like Microsoft the better.

Also, how about Chinese user, Hebrew user, Arabic user, to test language differences in the interface. How about blind user, disabled user? Even illiterate user? I am not joking. Check out the Simputer. []

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