On 12/29/2011 02:09 AM, Sean McNamara wrote:
On Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 6:55 PM, Nenad<email@example.com> wrote:
well, I'm using Ubuntu 11.10 and found really annoying to use Unity.
Open several windows (e.g. Netbeans, firefox, nautilus and gitk and try to
work efficiently with menus of each application, minimize/maximize window,
etc., Unity is just driving me crazy. It is simply unnatural. In case the
Unity is just one application that is seldom used, and not the central one,
you won't get my comments for sure.
Please remember that the definition of "natural" depends on what each
user is expecting, what they're used to in prior computing experience,
In case the user find the interface non-intuitive, or clumsy, the user
interface is broken for sure. You may try to convince people that they
need to upgrade their brain to be able to use your application. Good
luck in doing so. In other words, if you need to train people to use
your software, chances are that you still have potential to improve the
application user interface.
Unfortunately, Canonical and other organizations have done user
studies on the Gnome2 interface with people who aren't familiar with
computers _at all_, and found that Gnome2 is extremely
counter-intuitive for them, and takes a long time to learn. So as you
Most of us could probably agree that Linux distros were never known for
great user experience. Ubuntu was (before Unity :-) ) very good in
comparison to others Linux distros, but far behind the user experience
Apple under Steve Jobs delivered. Linux was for long time considered as
OS for nerds, IT experts, skilled software engineers, IT students and
similar audience. I agree that gnome panel is not really ready for
general usage. But this is still not the reason to remove it almost
can see, every desktop you could possibly design will be unnatural for
_someone_. Not even the most intelligent User Interface researchers
have found a way to objectively define "natural" in a way that it's
true for all human beings. Your own words serve to prove the point:
although Canonical made their best effort to make Unity natural for a
lot of people, and at least tolerable for almost everyone else, there
are still going to be people who absolutely abhor it. (Self included.)
You do not need that much intelligent User Interface researchers, you
need user interface designer(s) with very good taste, intelligence and
experience (e.g. Steve Jobs really pushed in that direction and Linux
distros could learn a lot from his work. Linux UIs have still a long way
Although I just admitted that I hate Unity in terms of its actual
usability from *my* personal point of view, you might be surprised to
hear that I don't think it should be replaced as the default desktop
on Ubuntu! I think it should stay for the following reasons:
1. It makes Ubuntu unique. A distro that doesn't stand out is far less
likely to receive user loyalty and an above-average level of users,
because users will be able to have an equivalent experience elsewhere.
Sure, you run the risk of alienating users for being different; but
that's OK as long as the number of alienated users is very low.
This approach forces people to learn your design philosophy. My
experience shows that almost never worked out (exception is Apple, of
course). E.g. on Windows you have media player as an example of
different user interface design, which simply sucks. And many more
examples of failures coming from branding, skinning, etc.
2. I'm fairly confident that Canonical has done extensive usability
studies on new users (their main target market) and found that people
in the poor computer literacy category find it better than Gnome 2, if
not downright enjoyable. New users are the best opportunity for
Canonical, because they don't already have a ton of programs that only
run on Windows or Mac that a more experienced user would naturally
refuse to part with.
Canonical did quite good job with previous releases of Ubuntu, respect
for that, and personally I wish them to succeed in attracting the bigger
user base. But they should not neglect existing users, by pushing them
changes they do not need or even want. I started this thread just
because at the time of Ubuntu 11.10 announcement I read that Gnome
desktop is not anymore available for Ubuntu and the users are forced to
use Unity. And lost my nerves with Unity yesterday evening. From
replies, I've got, I know now that is still possible to get Gnome Panel
running with Ubuntu 11.10. Thank you for being supportive.
3. It's already there. Going back to Gnome would make Canonical the
laughing stock of the internet, for investing tons of money in a new
desktop, and then giving up on it and going back to the primarily Red
Hat and Novell-funded GNOME panel. Being "wishy-washy" is NOT a good
way to inspire confidence among the technically elite, who you
absolutely must have on your side to be successful (as some criminal
once said, "Developers, developers, developers...").
It is OK to promote new ideas but is less OK to force them. In my circle
I don't know any experienced IT professional who would recommend using
this new user interface. BTW, it doesn't look very original too.
4. It makes the distro choice completely obvious for those accustomed
to Gnome2. I have to thank Unity for making me try other Linux distros
instead of being satisfied with Ubuntu. I am completely happy with
Fedora, and have no intention of looking back. If Ubuntu had made it
blindingly easy for me to click a "Gnome Panel" radio button at
install-time, I might have never consciously thought that Ubuntu's
ability to satisfy my needs has reached unacceptable levels, and I
might not have discovered the awesome that is Fedora 16. I consider
that as Unity being helpful in its own way.
These thoughts to change distro I had yesterday before starting this
thread, but then decided that is better to provide some input for
improvements of Ubuntu than to silently leave.
5. Everyone at Canonical uses it to do development every day, so
clearly it is very productive for developers and power users.
I also use some applications at work my boss requested me to use and
therefore cannot publicly express my opinion about them.
OK, so some of those are expressing my own frustrations in a
satirical, tongue-in-cheek manner. Sorry if I stepped on any toes. I
really actually like Canonical as a company, and have pleasantly done
commercial business with them in the past. In fact, I think LaunchPad
is an amazing piece of software, and I use it regularly for my own
open source projects. I prefer Bazaar over almost any other version
control system (except Git, but there's no shame in losing out to
Linus Torvalds!). PPAs are a remarkable and easy to handle way for
distributing binaries. Canonical has had lots of great ideas and has
executed some of them extremely well!
No doubt, Canonical does really good work with Ubuntu. I'm criticizing
only decision to change to new user interface (Unity), without leaving
the choice to easy replace it with Gnome Panel.
But not Unity -- not for me. So because I didn't have the patience to
go back and fix Ubuntu to work like I expect a distro to
out-of-the-box, I simply installed a distro that _does_ work precisely
as I expect out of the box. And suddenly I felt at peace and didn't
need to complain to Canonical or anything.
My goal was to contribute to future version of Ubuntu by sending the
comment what is broken and could be improved. It is up to Canonical to
evaluate comment, prioritize and decide what they want to do with Ubuntu.
BTW, there is an alternative gnome2 menu extension for GNOME Panel
(not sure if it's been ported to Gnome3 yet, though) which lets you
search for programs and files, similarly to Unity or KDE4. OpenSUSE
has it installed by default, and I think so does Mageia. Fedora
doesn't, but I didn't need it so it doesn't bother me. I'm sure you
can dig up how to obtain it if you google.
As far as actually constructive suggestions for Canonical / "the Unity
team" (let's face it, they are>= 85% one in the same), I think these
features would help users like Nenad who try Ubuntu in the future:
1. In the desktop Live CD installer, sneak in a checkbox hidden under
an "Advanced" arrow at the bottom of a window, or something like that,
to enable classic gnome-panel mode as the default shell, regardless of
whether the user has 3d acceleration or not. Then, at least, you could
silence comments of "Unity can't be removed!" by retorting, "You
missed the Advanced menu in the installer, silly!" -- users are simply
much more likely to react with an "Oh.... sorry" to that, rather than
the current method for replacing Unity with gnome-classic. Also, if
that classic checkbox in the installer IS checked, be sure to disable
global menus and restore classic scrollbars instead of the pop-up
hovering outside the window! The reason to perform all of these
actions in response to a single checkbox is that>99.99999% of the
users who will check that checkbox are the same ones who DON'T want
global menus, and DO want classic scrollbars.
Of course, I'm expecting the reason for being unable to do this would
be some subset of the following counter-arguments:
1(a). Live CD space limitations. Can't fit gnome-panel in 700MB, or
can't fit the code for the added functionality, or both.
1(b). UI "clutter". Also takes the form of the following: Asking
questions is bad; giving users a choice is bad; letting users know
that there is possibly some reason why not everyone would want to use
Unity is bad; every user wants to feel like THEY are "advanced" so
users who have no idea will click the checkbox; etc. Yeah, yeah. I
can't argue against these kinds of backwards design philosophy; I can
only express my disagreement.
1(c). Lack of developer manpower. Also takes the form of: more
complexity adds more bugs; too late to add features to this release;
and so on. I can kind of understand this one, but if this is the only
counter-argument, I'd fully expect the feature to be implemented in
the following release, or at least scheduled for implementation at
some point in the future.
Old story says: there is a good reason and a real reason.
2. Hmm... there is no 2! At least, I can't think of one right now.
Adding a front-and-center option at install-time for going back to the
classic UI (basically how it was in 10.04 LTS) would be most
excellent, and would address the larger portion of gray-beard
objections to Unity.
I don't think I really answered your question, and I kind of wavered
from the main topic, but hopefully you'll take away from this the
following TL;DR points:
1. Gnome2 (don't know about Gnome3) already has a third-party
extension for adding a search bar to the menu. Google it.
2. It's already easy to revert to classic gnome UI in Ubuntu, and you
can find the information posted prominently on ubuntu forums (among
other places). But it could be easier if they'd make an option at
3. They probably *won't* make an option for the reasons I cited. Yes,
I'm a bit cynical, especially when it comes to asking Canonical to add
complexity to end-user screens
4. Don't want the hassle of undoing Unity? I'm 99% sure that one of
OpenSUSE | Fedora | Ubuntu 10.04 | RHEL 6 | Debian Stable would suit
you extremely well.
Actually, after reading answers in this thread, I googled for details
and managed to switch back to Gnome Panel + removed global menu. So, now
is everything fine again. I'm happy again. Nevertheless, switching
procedure could be simpler and supported by distro directly. Thank you
guys for answers!!!
And that's about it. So from one Unity-hater to another, I wish you
the best of luck, Nenad. And Canonical, I earnestly hope you guys are
successful at targeting the end-user segment, because Launchpad is too
useful to lose. I just hope you guys know what you're doing...
P.S. -- I continue to support the software I develop on Ubuntu, even
though I don't use it personally. It installs well enough in a virtual
machine. So from my perspective, you haven't totally lost the
"developers, developers, developers" war, although having me use
another desktop day-to-day is certainly at least a lost _battle_...
Sean, many thanks for your comments and suggestions.
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