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48 Hours Enduring Ubuntu 5.04

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the dog-food-is-imperfect-and-brown dept.

GUI 127

ceswiedler writes "Matthew Thomas lists 69 interface issues he has with the new Ubuntu release "Hoary Hedgehog", ranging from desktop and Nautilius behavior to Firefox and Evolution. They're serious interface issues, he claims, but he also says that Ubuntu 5.04 "is the first Linux-based system I have encountered that is tolerable enough for me to use for everyday work." That's a rather backhanded compliment...the suprising thing is that he's an interface designer working for Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu." As Thomas mentions, "Many of these flaws probably exist in other Gnome-based systems, and some of them also exist in Microsoft Windows and/or Mac OS."

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wtf (0)

Gherikill (825515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226348)

This guy has too much time on his hands!

Usernames (4, Interesting)

SouperIan (831676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226397)

Apparently, usernames are design flaws: "The login screen uses the term "username"." As is rebooting the computer: "The login screen uses the term "reboot". (My shoes are fine as they are, thanks.)"

Re:Usernames (1)

Spacelem (189863) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227774)

I'm not exactly sure what alternative he would prefer, other than "Restart Computer". "Reboot" makes perfect sense, and I know exactly what to expect.

Re:Usernames (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228977)

Yes, but you're a geek. Normal people don't say "I've gotta reboot the microwave now." I remember when saying "power cycle" was cool. Face it, we can't even tell when we're using jargon anymore.

Re:Usernames (1)

Dougie Cool (848942) | more than 9 years ago | (#12232032)

If you don't know the term "to reboot the computer" you don't deserve to be using the computer, and even if you were to use the computer it would probably not have Linux on it, and if it did have Linux on it there is zero chance that you would have installed it yourself, meaning that you probably wouldn't need to reboot the computer in the first place.

Re:Usernames (2, Interesting)

eraserewind (446891) | more than 9 years ago | (#12229048)

The problem is that they (and many other things) are technical jargon that shouldn't appear in an end user oriented product if at all possible. Now, I agree that for a developer it's hard and annoying to replace everything that is the correct technical name for something with some newbified baby words, but it is apparently necesssary, and that's why companies are supposed to employ usability and localization experts (including localization from Computereze to English).

Re:Usernames (2, Insightful)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12230597)

A brake is a technical term for this thing that you step on to stop a car. My point is that sometimes you have to use a technical term.

Re:Usernames (1)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231680)

Hes coming from the "average user"'s point of view. Something that a *lot* of developers can't grasp. The average user could become confused with these terms, as they are not "english" and intuitive.

Suggestable alternatives could be "Sign in name:", "Restart computer".

Or at least some kind of popup or information to help the user and explain briefly what a username is.

Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12226398)

Now I understand which Mac users people are making fun of when they say bad things about Apple.

Obviously this guy is an extreme case but has he used computers for a total of 96 hours or are all people from NZ like this?

Wow, this is almost funny (1)

Pinefresh (866806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226424)

This guy is unbelievably picky. I haven't noticed ANY of this, and even now that he's pointed it out I still don't get why it's an issue.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226776)

It reads like an opinion piece passed off as fact. Sure, the specific things he describes may be there, but whether they're good, bad is a matter of what a user's accustomed to.

For instance, he complains about having a menu bar on every window, instead of one menu bar for all applications, the way Macs have. Personally, I hated the Mac method in this case. I'm accustomed to only being able to access visible windows' menues, so it's disconcerting when I find myself looking at, say, a text editor's menu when I'm trying to shut down the machine.

The same thing happened in the migration from Windows 3.x's window layout style to Windows 95's. ("Why the hell does the program close every time I try to maximize it?") And, to a lesser extent, 98/ME to XP. (WTH did "Programs" go? Or "Shut down" or "Log Out", for that matter?)

If someone were to "fix" every single item on that list, people will still complain, because you've eliminated their "GUI givens," the things that are a "given" when considering interacting with their GUI.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

WarPresident (754535) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227259)

It reads like an opinion piece passed off as fact.

He's an interface designer. It's his job to point out weaknesses in flawed GUIs and so forth. Yes, it's opinion. And one based on some experience in the subject of human-computer interface design.

Sure, the specific things he describes may be there, but whether they're good, bad is a matter of what a user's accustomed to.

Indeed. You can become "accustomed to" a lot of stupid, or even bad things. Wouldn't it be better to correct flaws before it's too late?

If someone were to "fix" every single item on that list, people will still complain, because you've eliminated their "GUI givens," the things that are a "given" when considering interacting with their GUI.

It's already too late, I guess.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227761)

He's an interface designer. It's his job to point out weaknesses in flawed GUIs and so forth. Yes, it's opinion. And one based on some experience in the subject of human-computer interface design.

So he deserves some respect. However, I still think he's wrong.

Indeed. You can become "accustomed to" a lot of stupid, or even bad things. Wouldn't it be better to correct flaws before it's too late?

What I've become accustomed to is a system that I've learned to be efficient with. Changing my system would require reaclimation and result in lost productivity. Unless you keep a user base continually unfamiliar with a UI, the more capable ones will become efficient with it. And once they're efficient, by the arguments you present, it's "too late."

Granted, GNOME has been working towards catering exclusively to the less capable. And by that, I don't mean "handicapped." Rather, I mean the least-common-denominator users like my grandparents, who only use the computer for email and scanning old slides. I don't mind that they're making it easier for me to get my grandparents to use Linux...I mind that they're making it harder for me to use it myself.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228416)

What I've become accustomed to is a system that I've learned to be efficient with. Changing my system would require reaclimation and result in lost productivity. Unless you keep a user base continually unfamiliar with a UI, the more capable ones will become efficient with it. And once they're efficient, by the arguments you present, it's "too late."

Out of curiousity, if you're comfortable with what you have now, why would you even upgrade at all? Why not let this guy improve the interface for new users, and you can just keep using the version you already have? Wouldn't that be more constructive than saying he's wrong about everything?

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12229200)

I didn't mean to say he's wrong about everything. A cleaner interface built to his specifications may very well be beneficial to new users, and their efficiency would grow with their ability to use the tools. I won't. however, make any judgement on what interfaces would prove to be more efficient if given a fresh batch of users.

As for holding my packages at a current version, there's a variety of reasons, but the biggest reason can be summed up in a question: Who wants to maintain a software package set that's been left behind? Sure, versions 2.2 and 2.4 of the Linux kernel have maintainers, but all the interesting stuff is going on in the 2.6 tree.

What I'd really like is for them to continue on their current line of development, but leave in the ability to customize the experience. When GNOME went spatial, they didn't include easily-accessed settings to go back to the old behavior. I hear it can be done with gconf, but I don't want to spend time sifting through the root GNOME configuration. I'd rather be coding, recording, writing, or whatever task it is I'm working on.

Like I said, I don't mind that the GNOME people are making it easier for new people, I mind that they're making it more difficult for me. Keeping configuration options accessible without resorting to the GNOME equivalent of regedit would go quite a ways to maintaining its usability for established users.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

j.blechert (726395) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227345)

For instance, he complains about having a menu bar on every window, instead of one menu bar for all applications, the way Macs have. Personally, I hated the Mac method in this case. I'm accustomed to only being able to access visible windows' menues, so it's disconcerting when I find myself looking at, say, a text editor's menu when I'm trying to shut down the machine
That you are accustomed to it doesn't mean it is a good way of doing things.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (4, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227674)

That you are accustomed to it doesn't mean it is a good way of doing things.

Unless someone can convince me I'll be more productive with the new system, I'm going to do things exactly the way I am. Forcing a new system on me will force me to find a way around it. I'm efficient the way I'm doing things now. Requiring me to learn a new system will result in lost productivity.

For example: Remember when GNOME switched Nautilus from tree-based to "spatial", or whatever it is that they call it? I still use GNOME, but I've stopped using Nautilus to browse with. Instead, I use gnome-terminal. It's faster and more efficient for me to have presences in multiple locations on my filesystem via a tabbed terminal than multiple windows.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231965)

Why do we have to convince you? Can you just read the wealth of research that supports these basic usability choices for yourself? Oh, I see, you're not a usability expert. You have no training in usability, but you're unwilling to take the advice of people who are experts. Guess there's just no helping you. Continue using your shit environment.

Of course, all of this is completely irrelevant to Ubuntu, which should be making the right choices so others don't fall into the same trap as you have.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12232228)

Why should I catagorically adopt the opinion of anyone? The fact that it's difficult to prove anything they say right or wrong merely coumpounds the problem.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12232703)

It's not difficult to show that what he says is sensible based on straight forward usability theory, testing and experience. Many people just happen to be ignorant of all three and yet still believe they are qualified to disagree. It's like me telling Steven Hawking that this whole black hole thing is bunk cause light's gotta go somewhere. It's a silly ignorant objection to an otherwise superb expert analysis. Simply put, you ignore expert advice at your own peril.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

silicon not in the v (669585) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228146)

If you can convince me that one all-inclusive menu for my 5 very different open applications is a good (and not confusing) way of doing things, I will be thoroughly impressed.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228388)

In OS X, the menu changes based on the frontmost application. (You know, the one the user is actually using.) Except for the system menu for things like "restart" (nullifying the grandparent's point, BTW.)

Try it before you knock it.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12229788)

I have tried it and I think it sucks. If I have a small application window open in the lower right of my screen I don't want to have to be clicking on menus on the upper left of the screen to control it.

Re:Wow, this is almost funny (1)

Examancer2 (606336) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231015)

I agree that an unified menu bar is confusing and not any more efficient. This, comming from a long time mac user. It makes more sense to have the menu attached to the window... then if you have two or more tiled windows on your screen, or have an applications open that has no windows opened, you don't have to try fiddle around trying to figure out how to access the appropriate menu for the appropriate window. It seems to me this is more logical and easier to figure out, even if it does take a little more screen space.

Definitely Pedantic (0, Flamebait)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226458)

I'm a strong proponent of making a system as easy to use as possible, but it seems to me this guy is going by the book and needs to, well, to get a life.

Every UI can be imrpoved, but it seems he's more interested in finding things that don't meet certain technical spects than considering whether or not a system is actually comfortable and usable for the users.

Re:Definitely Pedantic (4, Informative)

FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227111)

He does have a few good points though, such as:

  • Caps Lock: Please include a way to easily disable this useless key. Nothing like accidently going into caps lock mode when you're working in Vi..
  • Gnome "Save Session": Please fix it or lose it. This feature is broken since forever, and even once it's disabled it still tries to restore the session from the "last save."

Re:Definitely Pedantic (1)

nickos (91443) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227225)

"Caps Lock: Please include a way to easily disable this useless key."

I always do this on whatever OS I'm using. This page [anticapslock.com] is pretty useful...

Re:Definitely Pedantic (1)

FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12229144)

Interesting, thanks..

Re:Definitely Pedantic (2, Insightful)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 9 years ago | (#12229610)

"Caps Lock: Please include a way to easily disable this useless key. Nothing like accidently going into caps lock mode when you're working in Vi.. "

Ummm.
System > Preferences > Keyboard
Choose "Layout Options"
Choose "Control Key Position"
Choose "Make CapsLock an additional Control"

Not exactly easy, but at least it's GUI based.

"Gnome "Save Session": Please fix it or lose it. This feature is broken since forever, and even once it's disabled it still tries to restore the session from the "last save."

Yeah. It's pretty useless.

Re:Definitely Pedantic (1)

FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12230151)

Actually, I make use of that feature myself. But as they say, the setting is down in the basement, at the bottom of a filing cabinet in a disused lavatory, with a sign on the door saying "beware of the leopard." In my opinion, it should either be disabled by default or on the main "keyboard config" screen.

Re:Definitely Pedantic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12231654)

Ah, yes. Save session. One of the reasons why I don't use Gnome.

Re:Definitely Pedantic (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227444)

Since he is an interface designer for Ubuntu I hope he fixes his list. This level of pickiness is a GREAT thing in his job. So get to work :)

I guess you need to be Matthew Thomas (1)

xbsd (814561) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227484)


I guess you need to be Matthew Thomas to appear on Slashdot's main page whining about stuff like:

10. ... A foot icon? What's that about, anyway? Ubuntu's logo isn't a foot.
36. Items can't be renamed by clicking on their names and typing!

Seriously, life must be a total nightmare for this guy. Apparently he spends his first 48 hours with any OS enduring it. My favorite quote: "I have encountered that is tolerable enough for me to use for everyday work. That is a great achievement". No sh*t!

Re:I guess you need to be Matthew Thomas (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12229039)

Sigh. I tried to rename a desktop icon by typing on it too. My keystrokes went no-where. That's so braindead. If I'm pressing keys on the keyboard obviously I want the computer to do something with them.

Re:I guess you need to be Matthew Thomas (1)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 9 years ago | (#12230609)

If I'm pressing keys on the keyboard obviously I want the computer to do something with them.

it did. it ignored them.

Matthew Thomas is a lunatic (1, Informative)

alecf (2079) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226504)

He was the scourge of the mozilla project until he finally left in a huff.

He's a whiner and a complainer who thinks that the concept of compromise is an exercise for the weak. Put simply, he doesn't live in the real world.

I could write 69 reasons that any software sucks, that doesn't mean I'm someone who deserves a story on slashdot.

Re:Matthew Thomas is a lunatic (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12229067)

As evidenced here on Slashdot, he's an expert in his field who is ignored because he doesn't care to explain to all you non-experts why what you are doing is shit. Instead he says here's my professional opinion: fix this, this and this, and here are my credentials, to which people say nah, I'm just going to ignore your expert opinion because I think my uninformed gut feeling is better. How could you not leave in a huff?

wow (2, Insightful)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226569)

I hope Canonical isn't paying him much, seeing how the vast majority (all?) of the stuff he's bitching about is either GNOME or other specific apps and has nothing to do with Ubuntu.

And even if it were Ubuntu, I'm more worried about hardware detection than about 'shut down' being mispelled as shutdown'.

Re:wow (2, Insightful)

burns210 (572621) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226959)

So what if a gnome setting is wrong, Ubuntu (and all the other major distros) patch and modify Gnome and the kernel all the time to make them customized to their system. Make a patch to fix stupid spelling mistakes that shouldn't have been made. Simple enough.

Re:wow (0)

cpeterso (19082) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226975)


the vast majority (all?) of the stuff he's bitching about is either GNOME or other specific apps and has nothing to do with Ubuntu.

good point. Ubuntu does not use GNOME, after all, so GNOME problems would not affect Ubuntu's user experience.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12229366)

I hope Canonical isn't paying him much, seeing how the vast majority (all?) of the stuff he's bitching about is either GNOME or other specific apps and has nothing to do with Ubuntu.

Huh? Ubuntu almost entirely consists of software from other sources. That's the very nature of a Linux distribution. If you can ignore bugs because they didn't originate with the distro, then practically every Linux distribution can be considered to have zero bugs.

Re:wow (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231715)

The purpose of a desktop Linux distro is to take a bunch of separate, unpolished, applications and make a complete desktop out of them. I would have thought that was obvious.

Excellent basis for improvements (4, Interesting)

thsths (31372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226612)

The guy is a genius. Sometimes I feel like compiling a list like this myself, but I rarely install a system from scratch, so it is difficult to point them back to a single source.

But Linux needs more people like. Interface bugs are bugs, because the confuse the user, and (thus) the software does not work for them. Calling the user "stupid" wont help either, because you are still stuck with the same user :-).

The most obvious UI bug I remember is the GNOME pop up box when you exit a program without saving. They keep changing it, but it still makes me hesitate every time. It is just extremely nonintuitive. (Yes, and MacOS also took many revisions before they got it right. Microsoft this didn't get it...) Openoffice is a lot better, as is KDE.

Now if the developer would take these issues serious and fix them, Desktop Linux would be a lot closer already.

An indication of the flaws in the F/OSS community (4, Insightful)

offline (94346) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226629)

Judging from the complaints I'm seeing so far in the postings to this story, the issues that have been brought up over and over again with respect to usability in F/OSS software are still alive and well here.

Which is, of course, not a surprise to anyone literate.

The thing with this list, and I'll agree that TFA is pretty picky, is that they are all little things that, much like the Uncanny Valley, are the key to making the step from half-baked to user-friendly. Bear in mind, please, that I am writing this from a 96-hour old installation of Hoary, myself, and I'm quite pleased with it. However, the issues he has mentioned overlap rather thoroughly with issues that I've had.

I'd like to see more open source software make it in the real world -- I've tried to get my girlfriend to use this laptop, but, well, I've lost that battle from the first time she had to ask me how to make movies play (and we're not talking about someone clueless here, either!). So, something with a bit more polish is going on here this weekend, and I'm back to using the laptop for only web surfing and movie watching.

Anyway...

Seriously, guys. Yes, he's a nitpicker. But he's also right. Polish is everything, and polish means picking at every little thing.

Re:An indication of the flaws in the F/OSS communi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12228086)

Yes, he's a nitpicker. But he's also right.

No, he's not. Well, not all the time. Some (but far from the majority) of his examples are just wrong, intended to dumb things down to suit newbies and newbies only (and sometimes the overzealos Apple fan, but why would one use Linux anyway?). In fact, you change users when switching to root. The user is an important concept in unix, and although it seems quaint, people should learn about it.

Actually, if he bothered to learn things, the "deep design flaw in Unix-derived systems" he speaks of in #27 would go away. You have to know how to fix stuff if you want to fix it no matter what OS you run. Personally, I wouldn't dare to delete a file used by the login process, no matter how intuitive it looks.

Some of his points are just meaningless, like complaining that xscreensaver shows a clock for no apparent reason. He also laughs off security warnings. This is reason enough to shoot the guy.

But yes, Nautilus is garbage. It was even worse.

Re:An indication of the flaws in the F/OSS communi (2, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228197)

In fact, you change users when switching to root.

No, it's like Apple's permission dialog or using "Run As..." in Windows XP. You don't change users, you just give the computer the authorization it needs to perform a specific task. Changing users imply that you logged out (or are using fast-user-switching.)

If Ubuntu's "Change User" dialog *actually changed users*, he'd see his desktop icons and backdrop change to the ones set by "root," he'd see all his settings for applications change to the ones set by "root," etc.

He's not complaining that the login screen in "xscreensaver" shows a clock, but that it's entirely different from the normal login screen in the system. Why should two screens that perform the exact same task look and behave differently? That's confusing to users, and it needs to be fixed.

(Even if you're coming from a pure "Unix hacker" point of view, you'd still say that it qualifies as duplication of effort and still say it needs to be fixed... why have two pieces of code that do the same task instead of having one piece of code that's called from bother locations?)

Now I agree that some of his complaints are off-base. For instance, menu capitalization is pretty arbitrary-- as long as it's consistant. Saying all menus must be in titlecase (although that's the standard in MacOS X and Windows) is wrong, but saying all menus must be in the *same* case is correct. But most of what he's saying are problems that actually need to be fixed, period, end of story.

Re:An indication of the flaws in the F/OSS communi (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228223)

Of course that paragraph should be:

(Even if you're coming from a pure "Unix hacker" point of view, you'd still say that it qualifies as duplication of effort and still say it needs to be fixed... why have two pieces of code that do the same task instead of having one piece of code that's called from both locations?)

Stupid Slashdot not having an edit button... that's a usability problem.

Re:An indication of the flaws in the F/OSS communi (1)

nickos (91443) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228278)

"Stupid Slashdot not having an edit button... that's a usability problem."

I know you were probably joking, but Slashdot does this to prevent you from completely changing a post after people have replied to it or moderated it. Just imagine what kinds of tricks the trolls would get up to...

Re:An indication of the flaws in the F/OSS communi (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228467)

I understand Slashdot's rationale behind it. (Joel from JoelOnSoftware.com actually uses the same philosophy on his web forums, as well, for the same reason.) The problem I have is that almost *every* other forum I use allows me to edit my posts after I make them. So my habit is to type the post, submit it, read it in context and proofread for typos, then go back and edit the post to fix things. So I guess the problem is that my workflow doesn't account for Slashdot's way of doing things.

It also would be nice if Slashdot supported bbcode, since that's another mistake I frequently see around here.

one point he does have (1)

Pinefresh (866806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226638)

"By default, when opening a folder window, the parent window closes automatically. This surprises the sort of people who will never be confident enough to investigate Nautilus's preferences, and who expect things on their own computer to stay where they left them. It is unfixably inconsistent -- it does not happen for the Computer window, or for the Desktop, or for opening documents rather than folders. And it dramatically reduces the usefulness of the file manager for managing files, as it is extremely difficult to get source and destination folders open simultaneously." this is annoying as hell. very easy to fix, but having that as the default behavior is just stupid.

That's funny... (5, Funny)

misfit13b (572861) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226682)

because for someone so keen on user interface, I can't seem to figure out where on that page I'm supposed to click to get to the home page of his own website...

Re:That's funny... (1)

rylin (688457) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226954)

Like all GUI masters, he uses frames!
DUH!!

(not) quite the journalist (1)

Yankel (770174) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226698)

Incorrect menu item capitalization is found throughout the top-level menus: "Four-in-a-row", "XSane Image scanning program", "Recording level monitor", "Volume monitor", "Run as different user", and "Shared folders".

I think this guy is a little over the top. With the exception of XSane, the capitalization is correct. At least it is in my writing styleguide.

He should also check a dictionary.
That alert has a button which misspells "Shut Down" as "Shutdown".
Shutdown [webster.com] is correct.

It's also unfortunate that he's not differentiating between a package standard (that would appear in most distributions) and a specific choice made by the Ubuntu team. For example, he's picking on the Gnome footprint logo by the Applications menu.

From other /. posters have commented so far, it looks like this guy is simply trolling.

Re:(not) quite the journalist (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227127)

Most of the time he means "inconsistent" where he writes "incorrect".

"XSane Image scanning program"

should be "XSane image scanning program" to match the other three. But I think what he's saying is that every Menu Item is capitalized in Title Case, except for these four.

misspells "Shut Down" as "Shutdown"

because every previous alert wrote "Shut Down." He's only complaining about consistency.

Gnome footprint logo

Ubuntu's designers can change this, right? I don't suppose the logo is hard-coded into GNOME (and even if it were, it's open source).

Re:(not) quite the journalist (1)

Yankel (770174) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228505)

You're absolutely right.

Gnome footprint logo

Ubuntu's designers can change this, right? I don't suppose the logo is hard-coded into GNOME (and even if it were, it's open source).


I've actually seen different themes in Ubuntu that change the footprint (I run Warty 4.10, Hoary 5.04 didn't sit well with my machine).

However, changing the logo itself vs. whether the footprint is part-and-parcel with the Applications menu (i.e. clickable as one) is a completly different thing. I understand he's talking about consistency. However, that would deviate from every other distribution's Gnome desktop -- which would be an even bigger usability problem than having the Applications menu active along with the icon.

Maybe a bug should be submitted to the Gnome team suggesting a computer icon and a folder icon be put next to the respective System and Places menus. This is something that would definitely need to come from upstream.

Clearly..... (1)

KingBahamut (615285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226716)

as previously stated by many, Ubuntu is still a child. A very well liked child, but still a child. Second release, Warty Warthog being the first of course, Id say they are doing a fairly well and good job. Good enough for http://distrowatch.com to top them on the list of per hits on that site. Clearly good enough to stray some Deb Maintainers to the project.

That be said, its true......
There are a number of issues in the mend that need to be corrected before you take an end-user and put them infront of it. Still, I think its a very respectable start.

This makes me want to give Ubuntu a shot... (2, Insightful)

afd8856 (700296) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226806)

Perhaps in the future.

But the thing is, he says at the end: """ My boss, by the way, is Mark Shuttleworth. I'm working for his company, Canonical, as an interface designer. """

After almost 60 issues on general interface design and usability issues, he says he works for the promoter of this project. In a way, he's telling that these issues will not be overlooked in the future and future Ubuntu releases will try to solve this problem. And this brings me some confidence in the Ubuntu projects (although I may try Kubuntu, as I am biased toward KDE).

Impossible to please. (1)

novakreo (598689) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226871)

26. The dialog for choosing a session similarly includes "Last" without telling me which that was, and "Default System Session" without telling me which that is. It also offers "GNOME" and "Failsafe Gnome"; failsafe behavior, apparently, is achieved partly by not SHOUTING.

Given that he's spent much of the previous 25 nitpickings whinging about capitalization, I can't help but wonder if GNOME was written as 'Gnome', would he complain that it was incorrectly capitalized, being an acronym and all?

Re:Impossible to please. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228327)

The point is that the capitalization has to be consistant. The word is either spelled "GNOME" or "Gnome," and they need to pick *one* spelling and stick with it throughout the entire product.

flaming assholes missing the point (4, Interesting)

snorklewacker (836663) | more than 9 years ago | (#12226973)

Defect reports are by and large nitpicks. Many of these are even bigger than nitpicks. But that's what UI polish is all about. You get your car detailed, you don't expect them to leave a few streaks and smudges here and there, do you?

And he wasn't exactly using multiple exclamation points or making comments on how this rendered the whole thing unusable or shoddy. He simply listed defects and sometimes the reason this constituted a defect.

It's pathetic, the way some people create this personal attachment to software like this. It's not like he whitegloved your damn homes. If the GNOME developers share the reaction of the slashdot crowd, then frankly I too think he should shut up -- because he's otherwise wasting time and effort on a project that doesn't deserve any.

Re:flaming assholes missing the point (1)

snorklewacker (836663) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227069)

Unfortunately I have to amend that ... towards the latter third of his list, his tone gradually becomes snarkier and more unprofessional. I don't necessarily fault him for having the attitude, but I do fault his lack of editing.

Still, his tone remains for the most part far more rational than the abuse that's come back his way here.

Re:flaming assholes missing the point (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12228527)

It's pathetic, the way some people create this personal attachment to software like this.

Isn't it? Some people become unduly attached to a piece of software, or to a weblog article, and the next thing you know they're calling everyone who criticizes it "flaming assholes"!

Re:flaming assholes missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12228689)

True. I do wonder why I care about what all the random assholes on slashdot think. Had to post this AC to lower the threshold to your level, hope you don't mind...

69 Reasons? (1)

ramos289 (234634) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227163)

This guy seems to have a strange fetish.

I knew Ubuntu was sexy but damn!

Debian installer/adduser bug (1)

netringer (319831) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227308)

My install got into a endless loop at the "Add users" part of the install. It kept coming back to the "Full Name," username, password dialogs no matter how I entered the info.

After rebooting, it complained that I didn't set up a non privileged user and prompted me to enter a root password.

When I tried running the adduser from the admin menus it did the same. Running adduser from the command line I saw it was giving an error when trying to chown and chgrp the user's new home directory.

I had made /home a vfat (fat32) file system because I wanted it to be a common area to share files with Windows. Permissions and ownership don't exist on fat. I unmounted /home and remounted the fat partition on a different mount point under a different name and all was well....after I spent another significant amount of time figuring put visudo and sudousers.

Yes, I will report the bug once I get a round tuit....I just went to report it and see it has already been reported as Bug 5374 for debian-installer [ubuntu.com] , which is good, because I was convinced these kinds of problems only happen to me.

Not a very good article...... (1)

espergreen (849246) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227494)

I like this comment:
Gaim displays my own AIM account in my buddy list. This is not very useful, as I don't send instant messages to myself.

Well then hotshot, try not adding your OWN name to your buddy list. GAIM just imports your aim buddy list, it doesn't add anything by itself.

Chat windows have a "Send" button, which will slow some people down by misleading them into thinking that they need to click the button every time they type something, instead of pressing Enter.

Uh..Ok. And I guess gaim shouldn't have buttons text formatting because you can use html tags. And web browsers shouldn't have a back button because you can use backspace

The login screen uses the term "reboot". (My shoes are fine as they are, thanks.)

Oh, your a clever one.

In Ubuntu, telling the computer to shut down takes me about 35 seconds: choose "Log Out", wait about 25 seconds for the logout process, then click "Shut Down" and confirm it in an alert.

Now this is just a flat out lie. Ubuntu has a shutdown option when you hit "log-out". You don't have to go back out to gdm at all.

Hmm... (5, Insightful)

nickos (91443) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227520)

"15. Dialogs themselves are not modal: they let you continue to use the parent window. This allows such nonsensical situations as a "Save as JPEG" dialog for a Gimp image that no longer exists, and a Print dialog for a Web page that is no longer open or even still in Firefox's cache."

Fair enough, but sometimes dialog boxes should be modeless (a find/replace dialog box in a text editor for instance). Remember [byte.com] Larry Tessler (from Apple and PARC) used to wear a t-shirt saying "DON'T MODE ME IN" - in general, modal interfaces (including dialog boxes) suck. They have their place but noone who knows anything about user interfaces should make such a blanket statement.

"16. The mouse pointer does not hide itself when it is stationary and I start using the keyboard. As a result, it frequently gets in the way of what I am typing or reading."

Hiding the mouse pointer completely is usually a pretty stupid idea. It's quicker for the user to move the pointer out of the way than it is to find a hidden pointer when they need to use the mouse again...

Re:Hmm... (1)

nickos (91443) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227820)

To elaborate, modeless dialog boxes are almost always preferable to modal dialog boxes, but they should close when the parent window closes.

Re:Hmm... (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227985)


"Hiding the mouse pointer completely is usually a pretty stupid idea. It's quicker for the user to move the pointer out of the way than it is to find a hidden pointer when they need to use the mouse again..."

I agree with you on that; when I read his list, this was one of the several that I disagreed with.

HOWEVER, imagine this: a mouse pointer that both *grows* (bear with me for a second) and fades to transparent, but acts (very slightly) as a lens, like a drop of water or a magnifying glass. That way you could a) keep track of where it was b) see through it, clearly enough to read / modify text. Move the mouse, it shrinks and darkens again to "normal use" mode.

Maybe this is silly, but I'd certainly like to try out a pointer that acts like that :)

timothy

Re:Hmm... (1)

nickos (91443) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228207)

Not quite the same, but some interfaces change the pointer to a thin "I" shape when it passes over text. This way the text can still be read but the mouse pointer is not completely hidden (it can be hard to see sometimes IMHO).

A normal sized semi-transparent or inverse pointer is probably the best solution, although your idea sounds like more fun :)

Re:Hmm... (1)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231736)

The "pointer turns into a caret" idea makes it difficult to distinguish between the mouse pointer and the real caret (insertion point). A transparent or opaque pointer when you pass over a text entry or editor widget sounds like a great idea though.

Re:Hmm... (4, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228279)

Hiding the mouse pointer completely is usually a pretty stupid idea. It's quicker for the user to move the pointer out of the way than it is to find a hidden pointer when they need to use the mouse again...

Try it in MacOS. Seriously, hiding the mouse cursor should be done when:

1) The user is typing text and the insertion point is nearing where the cursor is. (Say, within 25-50 pixels or so.)

2) The mouse is over a scrollable window and the user scrolls it with the keyboard. (If the user scrolls it with the mouse, the cursor is likely already out of the way.)

MacOS does this right. I'm constantly annoyed in Windows when I'm reading a web page and I scroll to the bottom (with the keyboard) and the mouse cursor is sitting right atop some crucial letter in a sentence, so I have to move my hands away from the keyboard and tap the mouse to move it out of the way, interrupting the flow of my reading.

As for locating the mouse, you can't find the position of the cursor by looking for it on the screen anyway, so it's not like hiding it makes much of a difference.

(Seriously, try it. Look away from your screen, have somebody else reposition the cursor, then look back and see how quickly you can find it without touching the mouse, then with touching the mouse. Hint: You'll find that without touching the mouse it takes several seconds to find, but by moving the cursor you can find it almost instantly-- eyes track motion, not stationary objects. The reason you can normally find your cursor quickly isn't because it's highly visible, but because your brain remembers where you left it. Apple did a *ton* of psychological research on issues like this while they were designing their GUI, and it shows.)

Re:Hiding the mouse (2)

spitzak (4019) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228488)

Nonsense. The mouse cursor reappears when you move the mouse, which is how you find the mouse even if it is not invisible (do you really think people look all over the screen for the image of the arrow, rather than jiggle the mouse and look for the moving thing?).

His modal dialog comment is stupid, though. Getting rid of modal dialogs has been one of the big deals in improving the user interface experience. A real fix would be to avoid the inconsistent states, rather than the simple fix of going back to modal boxes. In his Gimp example, closing the image should maybe pop up a question "you were trying to save this to a file, are you sure you want to close it" and if they still close it, get rid of the dialog as well.

Re:Hmm... (3, Interesting)

scotlewis (45960) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228926)

Hiding the mouse pointer completely is usually a pretty stupid idea. It's quicker for the user to move the pointer out of the way than it is to find a hidden pointer when they need to use the mouse again...

Reacquiring the pointer after it's been hidden is actually quite easy: either you have some idea of where you left it, or you just move it around quickly to spot it.

Having to move it is is incredibly annoying. Because you leave the mouse, move to the keyboard, begin typing, realize you have to move the pointer, move back to the mouse, move the pointer, then go back to the keyboard and finish typing. Which is very disruptive.

Either way, the user has to do something about the pointer: either reacquire it or move it out of the way. It's better to make the user do this in-between tasks (i.e. between typing and mousing) than to interrupt a task with another one.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Phleg (523632) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228964)

Hiding the mouse pointer completely is usually a pretty stupid idea. It's quicker for the user to move the pointer out of the way than it is to find a hidden pointer when they need to use the mouse again...

This is something I've thought, as well. User interface enthusiasts always refer to widgets directly on the screen border (*especially* in corners) as having near-infinite size. And rightly so--all you have to do is flick the mouse in that direction with enough magnitude, and you can click blindly.

But shouldn't this be an argument against having the mouse pointer disappear? If it's in the way, all you have to do is flick the mouse to any corner of the screen (the easiest thing to do, in terms of user interfaces), and it's not a problem. On the other hand, if your mouse cursor disappears when typing, it's always been difficult for me to remember where the cursor was. This results in a net loss of time as I have to then rediscover its location to proceed with my next task.

List of issues I have with Matthew Thomas' List (1)

vrunt (830476) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227680)

1. Some of his complaints are well-explained. Others assume the reader has a background in interface design. For example, what is wrong with using "username" and "Reboot"? Feel free to add your own.

Re:List of issues I have with Matthew Thomas' List (1)

overbom (461949) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228153)

Here's my guess: the problem with these words are that they're technical vocabulary.

How does the person that sits down in front of a computer know what a username is? They don't. It's a technical term that you and I know well, but the average user may not know. I don't know what the big nit is here; windows uses 'username' too. Maybe it should be two words... maybe he prefers 'account' instead. I dunno.

I'm guessing he would prefer the word 'restart' instead of 'reboot', since the average user will understand what 'restarting' something is, though they might not have technical knowledge of the boot process where the BIOS bootstraps the bootloader etc. It's a word that means the same thing but is more common to the average user.

Re:List of issues I have with Matthew Thomas' List (2, Informative)

Siniset (615925) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228294)

reboot is a term that refers to "booting" a computer, and is not entirely clear to all people, especially people who started using computers in the last 3 or 4 years. Restart would probably be clearer for most users, and since you or I would always know what both mean, it makes more sense to use restart than reboot.

And to the other word, username is not really a word. I mean, it is, but I would agree with him that it would look better if it was written as "User Name" or something like that.

Yes, some of his complaints do boil down to a matter of him just becoming comfortable with the software (the send button on gaim complaint comes to mind...) but i think a lot of people agree that there is a lack of consistency in Linux Distros, but not a ton of effort has been put into the discussion of it, as far as it applies to specific "bugs". I think this is the next step for linux. Linux has most of the software and hardware support it needs, now it needs distro makers to help create distros that have ironed out the inconsistencies in the user interfaces and software.

Re:List of issues I have with Matthew Thomas' List (1)

snorklewacker (836663) | more than 9 years ago | (#12229619)

> it makes more sense to use restart than reboot.

Yes, but "restart" could be thought of as simply logging out of one's X session. "reboot" is fairly unambiguous, and yes it's jargon, but frankly it's very common jargon that's well understood by most to mean a cold boot (i.e. as if from powering up). I don't think it's wrong of him to point it out, and in fact he's correct to say it's technical jargon. I would just disagree on changing it to "restart". It should in any case be used consistently.

Re:List of issues I have with Matthew Thomas' List (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12229113)

So what you're saying is that rather than us just accepting that someone who is a Usability Expert has told us that it is wrong we should demand that he teach us his entire discipline before we accept his advice.

Re:List of issues I have with Matthew Thomas' List (1)

vrunt (830476) | more than 9 years ago | (#12229617)

I'm saying that it would be nice to know why those things are frowned upon, as I'm genuinely curious. It's something he could change to possibly improve his article. Just like his list is things that could make Ubuntu better.

Re:List of issues I have with Matthew Thomas' List (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12230766)

and what I'm saying is that you could go to school and study for 3 years to learn why these things are frowned upon. He shouldn't have to educate you. Either you've done the required reading and understand what he's talking about (in which case you have a leg to stand on when you argue) or you take his word for it.

it's good enough, and the analysis is misguided (3, Insightful)

cahiha (873942) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227798)

1. Every window that has menus puts them in a separate menu bar inside the window. [...] Ubuntu is not entirely ignorant of Fitt's Law

What he neglects in his analysis is that (1) that's where most users expect menu bars to be, and familiarity usually trumps Fitt's law, and (2) Fitt's law is a red herring anyway. Designing a UI based on Fitt's law is like picking a car based on the size of its spoiler or picking a girlfriend based on the size of her boobs--someone may have enough of a fetish with it to do it, but that doesn't make it a good idea.

While a few of the comments suggest minor useful improvements (e.g., multiple new windows should be cascaded, not stacked), much of rest of the analysis is filled with many more similarly irrelevant comments. And many (most?) of those comments apply to proprietary desktops as well.

The question isn't how many nits one can pick with Ubuntu, the question is whether it is good enough for regular users, and I think it is. In fact, one can even argue that it is easier to use and more consistent than the proprietary alternatives.

Re:it's good enough, and the analysis is misguided (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228345)

To be a sexist ass,

If you have two women who are equally intelligent and beautiful, wouldn't you prefer the one with the bigger boobs?

Re:it's good enough, and the analysis is misguided (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12229639)

Naw, they'll just get saggy when she gets old. If you're not sticking around, who cares about intelligent?

Re:it's good enough, and the analysis is misguided (1)

thm76 (718345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231533)

I prefer the menus inside the windows, because I like to use the sloppy mouse (is it called like that?), that is, activating the window by moving the mouse over it.

Re:it's good enough, and the analysis is misguided (1)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231697)

And many (most?) of those comments apply to proprietary desktops as well.

True, but thats not a reason to stop us giving the polish to Ubuntu/Gnome now is it.

The question isn't how many nits one can pick with Ubuntu, the question is whether it is good enough for regular users, and I think it is.

Again, true. But the question now is "How can we improve it further?"

Wha?? Has he ever used Linux? (2, Insightful)

DoubleDangerClub (855480) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228306)

"... A foot icon? What's that about, anyway? Ubuntu's logo isn't a foot."

It's the Gnome foot. He logged in using gnome. Does this mean if he had been using Kubuntu, he would have said, "What's with the K?"
He is obviously outside of his territory and discredits most of what he presents from his lack of common knowledge.
This is what Linux is all about, choosing what you want to use, gnome, kde, xfce, whatever. I think he missed this key point.

Re:Wha?? Has he ever used Linux? (2, Insightful)

etnoy (664495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231488)

The key point is not about choice between gnome/kde etc. It's about the strange feeling for a new user to click a foot to start programs, he or she doesn't care about the logotype of the DE, as long as it lets him/her do what he/she wants to do.

He got one right (1)

silicon not in the v (669585) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228374)

OK, he is admittedly a nitpicking ass, but he did get a few good ones in there. One of them has bothered me ever since I first discovered it. It isn't an Ubuntu thing. It's aparently a Unix web browser interface thing. Here's his quote:
"Clicking once in the address field does not do what people want 99 percent of the time, which is selecting the address so it can be replaced by typing a new one."

Exactly! So why did *whoever* come up with such an irritating default behavior. Does the OS X interface do this too? We use Mozilla on our Solaris systems at work, and it has that same annoying problem. He's exactly right that the huge majority of the time, you want the whole address selected so you can type in a new URL, so that should be the single click action.

Re:He got one right (1)

silicon not in the v (669585) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228567)

I did find one other nitpick of his that I really agree with--the help menu complaints(#66). I do think there is a lot of improvement needed in that area. In particular, the "Ubuntu Quick Guide" could be a lot better. His suggestion is pretty much right on.

What new users are looking for in a quick guide is a match of function-->program name. When users want to do something, like open a picture or rip songs from a CD, how can they find out the name of the program that does that? The quick help guide could cover some of those basics and be a lot more useful.

Re:He got one right (1)

sydb (176695) | more than 9 years ago | (#12228679)

Because everywhere else you find text you double-click to select and single click to position the cursor. Interfaces are supposed to be consistent.

Re:He got one right (2, Insightful)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 9 years ago | (#12230662)

To someone not familiar with X11 programs, this might seem like a bug, but it certainly is not. As anyone who is familar with X11 programs knows, to copy something, all you need to do is highlight it. This means that if Firefox did auto-highlight the url every time you type in an address, you'd have your clipboard contents stolen from you. This is the reason that Konqueror [konqueror.org] includes a "Clear Location Bar" [kde.org] widget beside the location bar which does exactly what you want: clears the location bar, sets focus to it, and doesn't mangle your clipboard. There is a similar feature [hardcore.lt] for Firefox if you install the extension [mozilla.org] for it.

Re:He got one right (1)

sydb (176695) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231392)

It's easier than that, press CTRL+L in Firefox and the URL is highlighted ready to overtype, without overwriting your clipboard contents (well that's not the right wording really. To use the correct terminology, it's your primary selection, as opposed to your clipboard selection.)

Re:He got one right (1)

ewen (218843) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231039)

Actually 99% of the time when I click into the address bar I want to delete some of the text -- usually at the right of where I click -- and leave the rest. If the whole field isn't selected, then I click, type ctrl-k, and type in the rest of the URL I want. If the whole field is selected then I have to do something to cause it not to be selected, then select/delete the bit I want, then type in the replacement for the rest of the URL.

I really do prefer the unix behaviour, although of course I wouldn't object if it wasn't the default providing there was some way for me to turn my preferred behaviour back on.

Ewen

The best error message (3, Funny)

Phleg (523632) | more than 9 years ago | (#12229130)

Actually, he missed out on one UI bug in Evolution that makes me laugh. I wish I had a screenshot, but on fairly regular occasion, Evolution gives me an error message with a label saying, "Error: Success." Gets me every time :)

Google cache (1)

baeksu (715271) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231706)

Bandwidth exceeded.
Use this [216.239.59.104] instead.

Slashdotted (2, Funny)

Vulturo (867840) | more than 9 years ago | (#12231923)

Stop hitting on the guy now. Slashdot (read Ubuntu/Linux Lovers) have already had their revenge by getting Mathhews site /.ed

Poor fella ;) Picked on Ubuntu Did Ya?

Oops we um... er... (1)

Dougie Cool (848942) | more than 9 years ago | (#12232060)

It's out of bandwidth. We really need a term for this sort of thing. Maybe something like "excess consumption of hyperlinks from popular news internet sites" or something.

My point? Did anyone grab a copy before it died? Thanks much.

Re:Oops we um... er... (1)

Dougie Cool (848942) | more than 9 years ago | (#12232070)

Oh, never mind. While I was being witty someone mirrored it. Ta.
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