Linked by Howard Fosdick on Tue 2nd Jul 2013 21:04 UTC
Editorial Like many of you, I've been watching the big changes in user interfaces over the past few years, trying to make sense of them all. Is there a common explanation for the controversies surrounding the Windows 8 UI and Unity? Where do GNOME 3, KDE, Cinnamon, and MATE fit in? This article offers one view.
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Ubuntu Unity
by reduz on Tue 2nd Jul 2013 21:47 UTC
reduz
Member since:
2006-02-25

I honestly don't think Ubuntu Unity is that bad, and not really understand all the backslash against it.

Gnome was going to discontinue 2.x anyway so they really had no choice.

Unity is almost identical to OSX and Win7, save for two main differences, the global menu (which is horrible and you can disable), and the fact that tasks are laid out vertically instead of horizontally, (which to this day I simply don't understand why you can't move to the bottom, but got used to it anyway).

Gnome3, in contrast, is way more different. You even need to go to a separate screen to switch tasks.

So, what's wrong exactly with Ubuntu Unity?

Edited 2013-07-02 21:48 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Ubuntu Unity
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 2nd Jul 2013 22:06 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu Unity"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

The whole built in amazon advertisements thing was kind of a put off for me. But I really don't use Ubuntu for two reasons:

1) It didn't like my desktop's dvd drive.

2) KDE 4 is too awesome to give up*.


*kubuntu always had a reputation for not being very good for kde desktops. Plus it may die off in the not too future distance because of mir.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Ubuntu Unity
by dusanyu on Tue 2nd Jul 2013 22:11 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu Unity"
dusanyu Member since:
2006-01-21

Unity has a couple major sins that makes me say no to it.

1 While I do not mind global menu fits law bad all that jazz I hate the fact that it vanishes do not remove vital controls from the screen it is off putting.

2 said menus consistancy most apps have the standard file edit tools layout the new nautilus and a couple othe apps it is now all filed as a single menu when you click the applications name this also stinks

3 the Ubuntu dictatorship at one time unity's launcher was able to dodge windows the poweres that be decided they did not like that behavior so they removed it completely and said F you to users that liked it.

Lastly the dash is inconsistent and now riddled with spyware.


Lastly to vent my spleen at "modern UI" in general it is all too large by default with the tools removed so you have to rely on a third party tool or a configurations file hack to set it to a decent size.

sorry butt thesis silly on a desktop computer I want my screen real estate to display information not oversized widget cruft.

Edited 2013-07-02 22:19 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Ubuntu Unity
by Drumhellar on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 00:15 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu Unity"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

What bugs me most about Unity is being unable to move the dock bar to the right side of the screen, or any where else for that matter.

Well, that, and the global menu bar makes focus-follows-mouse worthless, since my apps lose focus when I go to the bar.

So, I use KDE, which has none of these issues.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Ubuntu Unity
by reduz on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 00:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Ubuntu Unity"
reduz Member since:
2006-02-25

Yeah, honestly I think kind of stupid to not allow users to move the dock around. At this point I haven't heard one single argument favoring it.

I do recognize that you can get used to it on the left side fine and it works fine, but it's probably far more important to make users that come from another OS feel at home instead of alienating them.

At this point, Shuttleworth seems more focused on the product than on it's user base, but that can't last forever and at some point he will have to start worrying about pleasing it's supporters again to get more of a following, or Ubuntu will fade to irrelevance.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Ubuntu Unity
by ndrw on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 07:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Ubuntu Unity"
ndrw Member since:
2009-06-30

It's not just about convenience or user's habits, although they are also important.

My laptop has a numeric keyboard and the main keyboard and touchpad are shifted to the left. Because of that there is only one sensible place for the panel/dock - on the right side of the screen. Otherwise I would have to look at the panel all the time.

I am currently using Xfce with a fairly wide panel (plenty of space on the right anyway) configured in a "deskbar" mode.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Ubuntu Unity
by Naomi on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 11:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Ubuntu Unity"
Naomi Member since:
2013-05-27

This. This is the reason I use GNOME 3. The asymmetry of Unity drives me nuts. Every time I think I've gotten used to it, I try a more symmetrical DE, and it feels like such a relief.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Ubuntu Unity
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 02:33 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu Unity"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

I originally hated Unity--and I'll make it clear, I don't use it or have any intention of using it and I'm still not pleased with it--but these days it seems tolerable. And by tolerable, I just mean that after the GNOME project and Microsoft managed to drop something even worse upon us, it's hard for Unity to be much worse (those guys really set the bar low...).

Canonical has really improved it a lot since its early days as well; that was another problem, they released it before it was done and actually ready. Now, if they'd just remove (or even just disable) the spyware/adware lens(es) by default... that's its major problem now from what I can tell. I'm still not too fond of Unity's resource usage though... it's a hog.

Anyway... I've actually been experimenting with the i3 window manager for the last few days. And actually... it's pretty nice. Took a bit of getting used to, though.

Edited 2013-07-03 02:35 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Ubuntu Unity
by M.Onty on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 11:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Ubuntu Unity"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

... It's hard for Unity to be much worse (those guys really set the bar low...)


According to the above comments, they made it impossible to set the bar low ...

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Ubuntu Unity
by Morgan on Thu 4th Jul 2013 13:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Ubuntu Unity"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I get the pun, but you're right. The immobile taskbar goes against what most people have come to expect from a GNU/Linux based OS: An extremely customizable interface. Unity's "do it our way or not at all" paradigm is extremely anti-user. Even the two most popular commercial OSes, Windows 7 and Mac OS X, allow you to move and alter desktop elements to a degree. While it's not as much freedom as you get with, say, Xfce, it's far more than what Unity (and Gnome 3) offer the user.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Ubuntu Unity
by intangible on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 04:30 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu Unity"
intangible Member since:
2005-07-06

Unity was forced into a release too early, had a lot of rough edges, ESPECIALLY multi-monitor setups...
I went with Xfce for about a year afterwards.

I recently went back to Unity though, most of the rough edges have been ironed out since the early iterations and I quite like it now.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Ubuntu Unity
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 04:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Ubuntu Unity"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Unity was forced into a release too early, had a lot of rough edges, ESPECIALLY multi-monitor setups...

Totally agree. That seems to be a common problem with Ubuntu and Fedora; to quick to jump on untested software for actual releases. It's understandable for Fedora given its role as a test bed for Red Hat, but it's inexcusable for Ubuntu and is only done because Canonical is so hell-bent on reinventing wheels and doing things differently than everyone else, while trying to capture the most users. Oh well... at least Ubuntu's *.04 releases, especially the LTS ones, are usually decent. Usually. Every other release (typically versioned/dated *.10) is usually crap and highly experimental in my experience.

Edited 2013-07-03 04:55 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Ubuntu Unity
by intangible on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 04:57 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Ubuntu Unity"
intangible Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah, and I'm afraid they're doing the same thing with Mir and XMir... ugh...

It's unfortunate, because I really like the Debian base of Ubuntu with support and pragmatism and a decent release schedule to solve the Debian difficulties, but then they can't seem to help themselves with pushing giant changes too soon, even if they are a good option in the long term...
Gstreamer, Pulseaudio, Unity, and now Mir.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Ubuntu Unity
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 05:10 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Ubuntu Unity"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Yep. Agreed 100%. But that's not the end of it; apparently there's already talks of ditching Debian's standard package format and package management system for something of their own creation. And it will bring more wasted disk space through redundancy to eliminate supposed dependency problems. Supposedly it is intended to accompany the standard system as a second method to install packages, but let's be serious, this is Canonical here... it can automatically be assumed that they will eventually force their special vision of package management upon their users. By that point, the distribution will barely even resemble Debian.

Edited 2013-07-03 05:13 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: Ubuntu Unity
by intangible on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 05:33 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Ubuntu Unity"
intangible Member since:
2005-07-06

I wish I could upvote you on that one ;)
Totally agree.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Ubuntu Unity
by Delgarde on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 04:49 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu Unity"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

Gnome3, in contrast, is way more different. You even need to go to a separate screen to switch tasks.


It's not as big a deal as people make it sounds. For starters, if you tend to use the keyboard a lot, there's little difference - alt-tab to switch tasks, C+A+arrows to move between virtual desktops, etc.

If you use the mouse, you can click on other windows if they're visible - otherwise you just flick the mouse to the corner, the windows shrink and re-arrange to show you what's there, and you click on the one you want. It's not really a separate screen - it's like an animation view on the existing one.

Really, launching apps is the only thing that's really different, and then, only for apps you don't pinned to the sidebar.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Ubuntu Unity
by reduz on Sun 7th Jul 2013 09:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Ubuntu Unity"
reduz Member since:
2006-02-25


If you use the mouse, you can click on other windows if they're visible - otherwise you just flick the mouse to the corner, the windows shrink and re-arrange to show you what's there, and you click on the one you want.


I'm counting about 10 apps open at the moment, many look similar (pidgin/xchat/terminal). Sometimes I just go do something quick in the terminal and go back to the IDE, or check irc briefly.

In a regular desktop, you can automate this task mentally very easilly, just go click the app icon.

On Gnome 3, you need to think and figure out which of the windows that look similar is the one you want, each time. It is clearly more bothersome, without any need for it. I can understand some users might be fine and fit their workflow to it, but it is clearly not for everyone.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Ubuntu Unity
by tkeith on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 10:20 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu Unity"
tkeith Member since:
2010-09-01

I'm right there with you. I originally hated Unity, mainly because they rolled it out over netbook remix which I loved so much. But over time I grew to like it, and have even moved my Windows taskbar to the left at work. It's a better use of screen space and Windows 7s button style task switcher is better suited to the side of the screen IMO.

On a similar note I used KDE 4.0 from the start and loved it. I switched to Unity because Kubuntu had various issues.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Ubuntu Unity
by Soulbender on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 18:01 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu Unity"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

So, what's wrong exactly with Ubuntu Unity?


Nothing or everything, depending on if you like it or not. It's highly subjective really even though some people like to think otherwise.
Me? Despite some minor niggles I really like it.

I can't say I'm that fond of gnome3 but it's an interesting development.

Can't say anything about Windows 8 because I haven't used it. Probably won't use it either for some time, not because I have something against the interface but because I have no use for Windows (other than to play the occasional game).

Reply Score: 3

RE: Ubuntu Unity
by bassbeast on Thu 4th Jul 2013 15:58 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu Unity"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

Meh while I almost never agree with SJVN this is one place where he and I agree 100% in that they ALL suck nowadays and I also agree on the why...cellphones.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/new-desktop-interface-flops/9...

It seems like all these OSes are trying to be jacks of all trades and as we have seen time and time again what works on a 7 inch tablet does NOT work equally well on a 27 inch widescreen, but as long as these "pundits" (personally I call them professional idiots) keep screaming "ZOMG its all gonna be cellphones and appstores ZOMG" you'll continue to see these UI designers make giant ugly messes because "Its gotta look and act like a smartphone dammit!".

Call me weird but I want a desktop that behaves like a desktop and a smartphone that behaves like a smartphone, i DO NOT WANT "one device to rule them all" and all this jamming cellphone appstores and UIs into non cellphones just turns me right off the product.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Ubuntu Unity
by eco2geek on Sun 7th Jul 2013 05:18 UTC in reply to "Ubuntu Unity"
eco2geek Member since:
2009-09-23

> Unity is almost identical to OSX and Win7

I can't speak to OS X, but Unity is in no way identical to Win7. Win7 has no global menu. It has nothing even close to resembling the dash (which, IMO, is the clunkiest part of Unity). It has no "HUD." Its minimize, maximize, and close buttons are where they've always been. Its bottom bar is much closer to KDE's in layout and in functionality than Unity's. It has a hierarchical, searchable "Start" menu.

And that's a good thing. If Win7 were like Unity, I would never have bought it. Actually, Win8 is more like Unity, and I have no plans to upgrade.

What's so bad about Unity? It's clunky and it gets in your way.

I've been trying for some time to think of a real-world mechanical object that has a UI that's as clunky as Unity's, but have been unable to. Anyone have any suggestions?

Reply Score: 1

Devices Shipments vs Devices Sold
by themwagency on Tue 2nd Jul 2013 21:48 UTC
themwagency
Member since:
2013-03-06

The stats seemed off to me (not OS News' fault this time) and then I saw the misleading metric (devises shipped rather than devises sold) used by some companies to inflate their numbers (or in this case dramatically inflate) them.

Considering how often this site takes issue with this misleading metric in the past, I wonder why it wouldn't automatically raise an alarm bell this time.

Edited 2013-07-02 21:51 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

Do you have any evidence that it was? It was in open development prior to the iphone release.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KDE_Software_Compilation_4#Pre-release...

Form my now memory of the time, the motivation behind 4.0 was to increase the flexibility and customization of the work space.

Reply Score: 4

benali72 Member since:
2008-05-03

I agree. Many of the open source developers were seized by the idea that "We have to re-invent the way people interact with computers!" It wasn't just about handhelds. KDE comes to my mind first when I think of it this way. Too bad they didn't extensively user-test many of their new ideas. (Although I suppose you could say that KDE 4.0 and 4.1 were the "user test".)

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I may be blind by what I think is an awesome design, but I don't see exactly why kde 4 was a radical departure into the UI design wilderness. If anything I think it was a radical design to empower a user to figure out how best to make a UI work for them.

Reply Score: 3

eco2geek Member since:
2009-09-23

No, IIRC they developed KDE4 because of the development and release of QT4, the underlying toolkit. Mobile devices had little or nothing to do with it -- I think KDE4 was released even before the big netbook wave.

There's a big difference between KDE4's evolution and GNOME3's evolution. KDE's developers knew v4.0 wasn't ready for prime time, but they released it anyway, because they wanted app developers to use it and write software for it. (Boy, did they get grief for that.) And, while KDE can take several guises, a desktop user who was used to KDE3 would be right at home with KDE4. Its evolution has been one of adding feature after feature.

Compare that with GNOME shell, which wasn't released until it was ready; hid so-called "classic mode" in a hard-to-find corner of system settings, up through v3.6; which, unlike KDE, made radical changes to the UI; and whose developers have made parts of it much less powerful than they used to be (e.g. Nautilus). GNOME shell's saving grace is that its developers allowed its interface to be extensible through scripting, so you don't have to put up with its developers' UI choices.

Reply Score: 1

No puzzle
by hhas on Tue 2nd Jul 2013 23:03 UTC
hhas
Member since:
2006-11-28

"The puzzler here is why Microsoft decided on one OS with a single interface for both desktops/laptops and its Surface handhelds. The winners in the handheld OS competition, after all, have decided on a two-OS approach."

Because there is already an very good and extremely popular mobile OS for Windows users. It's called "Android".

Reply Score: 5

RE: No puzzle
by WorknMan on Tue 2nd Jul 2013 23:47 UTC in reply to "No puzzle"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Because there is already an very good and extremely popular mobile OS for Windows users. It's called "Android".


The problem with Android though is that you can't run the same apps on mobile, tablet, and desktop. For those of us that still live mostly on the desktop, this is a big deal. If you're lucky, you'll get a nice web front-end for the Android app you're using. If you're unlucky, you get a shitty web front-end. And if you're REALLY unlucky, you get nothing at all.

'But why would you want to run the same apps on phone/tablet/desktop'? Well, why the f**k not? For example, Doggcatcher... awesome podcatcher app for Android, but when I go to my desktop, I can't run it, unless I use Bluestacks or something. I don't want to be tethered to a damn tablet when I have a PC right in front of my face. And as it stands, there are no good podcatchers for Windows, or at least none that I can find. (And anyone who says 'iTunes' is getting stabbed in the eye ;) ) Same with the Android grocery app I use... would love to input a list into that app on my desktop and then have it auto sync on my phone. And I would like this functionality with most apps on my phone/tablet.

The article here insinuates that running the same app on all 3 platforms could never work because of differences in interfaces and input methods. But if we can change the UI of a phone app somewhat to make it look nice on a tablet, why can't we alter the UI of a tablet app somewhat so that it works on a desktop? For example, if it's running on a desktop, maybe it has menus and toolbars to access, and if it runs on a phone or tablet, it doesn't. But otherwise, has pretty much the same functionality. I don't think this is too far-fetched. Maybe you have three separate apps with different UI layers running the same code base, but you know what I mean. 'Wouldn't this be confusing to end users though?' No more confusing than making them have to access a f**king web app on their desktop ;)

Despite the predictions of many pundits (probably since the 80's), the desktop is not going away any time soon.

Edited 2013-07-02 23:47 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: No puzzle
by Drumhellar on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 00:26 UTC in reply to "RE: No puzzle"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

I've been using Windows Phone for about a year and a half now, and have purchased several apps. Probably my biggest surprise was for some of the WinPhone apps I bought, when a Metro version was released for Windows 8, they were already credited to my account, and I didn't have to re-purchase them for my laptop. I'm not sure if this happens in Apple or Google's stores, but it sure is cool.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: No puzzle
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 02:04 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: No puzzle"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I have multiple android devices at this point, I only need purchase an app once, and it can be installed on all of them without any extra charge.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: No puzzle
by dpJudas on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 00:29 UTC in reply to "RE: No puzzle"
dpJudas Member since:
2009-12-10

The article here insinuates that running the same app on all 3 platforms could never work because of differences in interfaces and input methods. But if we can change the UI of a phone app somewhat to make it look nice on a tablet, why can't we alter the UI of a tablet app somewhat so that it works on a desktop? For example, if it's running on a desktop, maybe it has menus and toolbars to access, and if it runs on a phone or tablet, it doesn't. But otherwise, has pretty much the same functionality. I don't think this is too far-fetched


The thing is that the UI element sizes and locations are indirectly determined by the input method and the expected screen size. You literally have to reconsider every UI element location even when just moving from phone to tablet. The move from tablet to notebook + mouse is even greater.

The key difference between Apple iOS/OSX thinking and Windows 8 is that Microsoft makes the assumption that you can make one common UI cover all three usage scenarios. Contrast this with Apple where they have different UI toolkits for different input methods, and strongly recommends that you design two independent designs (storyboards + view controllers) for tablet and mobile, if your app is meant to run both places.

Apple could easily have used the OS X toolkit (NSWindow and friends) for iOS, but deliberately chose not to do so because while the abstract concept of i.e. scrolling is common for both input methods, the means you utilize to achieve the goal differs so greatly that trying to cover both use cases with the same control becomes increasingly pointless.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: No puzzle
by hhas on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 00:41 UTC in reply to "RE: No puzzle"
hhas Member since:
2006-11-28

"Because there is already an very good and extremely popular mobile OS for Windows users. It's called "Android".


The problem with Android though is that you can't run the same apps on mobile, tablet, and desktop. For those of us that still live mostly on the desktop, this is a big deal.
"

Hence MS's retooling of Windows 8+ in order to offer something that neither the Win7/Android not OSX/iOS combos can. If they pull it off, it will be a major USP for them indeed.



Despite the predictions of many pundits (probably since the 80's), the desktop is not going away any time soon.


No, but it will evolve, and it will also become much more of a niche product, just one of many task-specific tools available to users to mix and match as needed. Most folks who bought Windows PCs in the past didn't do so because it was the best tool for them, but only because it was the least awful option out of a tiny undistinguished choice.

But hardware has now crossed into the post-scarcity era, breaking the back of the jack-of-all-trades PC as the one-size-fits-all answer. And as you say the next great challenge for vendors - and huge potential market win for whoever first pulls it off - is getting all these different devices to talk seamlessly to one another.

So don't count MS out: there is some method in their current madness (albeit belatedly compensating for the lack of method in their method), and they do have a record of bringing their best game when coming from the back. Given they usually start hitting their stride/scaring the competition around their V3, I'd say Win9 will be the one to watch for in determining whether they've pulled it off once again.


Apple building in from two sides, Google up from the bottom, MS out from the center. And each determined to eat the other two's lunch for breakfast. Interesting interesting times indeed. ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: No puzzle
by Verenkeitin on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 09:37 UTC in reply to "RE: No puzzle"
Verenkeitin Member since:
2007-07-01

Here's why same app on multiple platforms and form-factors is far-fetched:
Something like 70-90% of the code in your usual app is for user interface and unreusable on all other platforms. Then there is usually a good chuck platform specific code (data access etc.) that is also unreusable. That means; creating the same app for Android, iOS and Windows is three times the work of creating an app for just one platform.

One platform + customization for multiple form-factors is doable, but quickly gets complicated and time consuming. Count yourself lucky if the developer of your app had the time and skills to create one nice interface.

Qt and other "platform wrappers" could make it possible to use same interface implementation on all platforms, but I suspect Google, Microsoft and Apple all want to kill those efforts to keep same apps from appearing in competing app stores.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: No puzzle
by WorknMan on Thu 4th Jul 2013 18:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: No puzzle"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Something like 70-90% of the code in your usual app is for user interface and unreusable on all other platforms. Then there is usually a good chuck platform specific code (data access etc.) that is also unreusable. That means; creating the same app for Android, iOS and Windows is three times the work of creating an app for just one platform.


We're talking about one OS running on multiple devices, not completely separate platforms.

One platform + customization for multiple form-factors is doable, but quickly gets complicated and time consuming. Count yourself lucky if the developer of your app had the time and skills to create one nice interface.


Right, so everyone should be writing web apps instead, which have to account for multiple form factors..... er, wait... aren't we right back where we started?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: No puzzle
by 3arn0wl on Thu 4th Jul 2013 20:10 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: No puzzle"
3arn0wl Member since:
2013-07-03

I preface this by admitting that I don't know anything - I came across this article because I'm interested in Ubuntu's possibilities.

I followed the link and read thesunnyk's fascinating article about ideas for Gnome 4 http://blog.quaddmg.com/2013/6/14/ideas-for-gnome-4/ which made sense: if, as Verenkeitin says, a relatively small percentage of the app's algorhythm is the function and the rest is form, then arguably the function should be common, and the form customisable by the usability on a particular machine. Surely that means different flavours of the same milkshake for different computers?

Edited 2013-07-04 20:18 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: No puzzle
by 3arn0wl on Fri 5th Jul 2013 08:57 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: No puzzle"
3arn0wl Member since:
2013-07-03

I preface this by admitting that I don't know anything - I came across this article because I'm interested in Ubuntu's possibilities.

I followed the link and read thesunnyk's fascinating article about ideas for Gnome 4 http://blog.quaddmg.com/2013/6/14/ideas-for-gnome-4/ which made sense: if, as Verenkeitin says, a relatively small percentage of the app's algorhythm is the function and the rest is form, then arguably the function should be common, and the form customisable by the needs of the machine (a different common). Surely that means different flavours of the same milkshake for different computers?

Edited 2013-07-05 08:57 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: No puzzle
by hhas on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 00:21 UTC in reply to "No puzzle"
hhas Member since:
2006-11-28

To expand...

The nearest MS came to a dedicated mobile platform was with Courier, and Ballmer canceled that because he didn't understand it at the time. Had MS got in early with its own dedicated mobile OS, they might have established a commanding presence in the mobile sector as well. However, two decades of impregnable Windows supremacy made them lazy and complacent, and so were caught napping when iOS followed by Android suddenly pulled their audacious end run right around them.

Still, credit where due: at least MS did finally wake to the tsunami now bearing down on them; unlike the likes of Kodak who stayed firmly head in sand right to the bitter end. However, MS are now coming at it from way at the back of the field and need to play every advantage they have if they've even to have a hope of catching up.

iOS succeeded in mobile because it was first (the trendsetter). Android succeeded because it went everywhere (the new 'Windows 95'). The only asset MS has available is its large, established customer base in Windows. And the only things they can do with that lumpen resource is either sit and watch as it slowly erodes under them, or else attempt to use it to bootstrap their entire mobile presence. Offering two different OSes for desktop and mobile is a complete waste of time for MS: like I said, that option already exists: traditional Windows desktop and modern Android mobile - and it's that already-entrenched combination which MS now has to beat.

Offering a single unified OS that stretches across both desktop and mobile is really the only logical choice left: the goal being to persuade existing Windows users that one OS and ecosystem that looks and works exactly the same across all of their devices is a far better choice than a disjointed clutter of disparate OSes and incompatible ecosystems. In theory, it could be a fantastic Unique Selling Point for MS: something that none of the other vendors could ever hope to match.


In practice, well, it is a more risky strategy than Apple's or Google's since it requires disrupting the lazy and complacent Windows desktop and its comfortably entrenched user base, and as we've seen neither much likes dealing with change and tends to create an enormous amount of noise over even minor alteration. But that can't be helped: those folks are already buying Android devices, and as their Android use increases their Windows use will decrease and in a lot of cases eventually fizzle out altogether as Android takes on ever more tasks they once would've had to use Windows for.

It's an aspect of human nature MS will now unfortunately just have to tough out: the vast majority of people plain hate change. Once users have mastered a particular tool, they would rather continue using that tool in exactly the same way right up until the day they finally toss it away in favor of something completely new. For them, once they clear the initial learning curve that becomes's a sunk cost; everything they do thereafter is about maximizing return on that original investment. For them, it's often cheaper and easier just to work that tool to destruction and then replace it outright, rather than constantly revise and upgrade that existing tool with all the recurring periods of obsoleted skills, reduced productivity and required relearning that entails.

This is why MS are basically right not to listen to the users that want to retain their beloved Win7 experience as-is and do not want to see it subsumed by the hated Metro8. Sure, they say now that they'll love it forever, and never, ever leave. But ten or fifteen years from now, when their other, ever more vigorous-looking amour, Android, has expanded onto every single device around them (including mainstream 2025 'desktops', i.e. PCs-on-sticks plugged into keyboards and monitors with huge honking network servers to back them up), and meanwhile that homely Win7-esque box is looking ever more aged and flabby with liver spots and crows feet now showing, what do you think's really going to happen? Those beraters claim MS is betraying their undying loyalty and love for no reason at all, but truth is MS is just getting the boot in first. ;p


So, MS are effectively burning their existing product platform in order to fuel their bootstrapping of their new one. Simple on paper, and if they do pull it off then eventually all the pain and stroppery will be forgiven and forgotten, and MS will once more rule supreme and unchallenged over all others. Though as Kodak (inventor of the digital camera), Adam Osborne (inventor of the Osborne Effect), Stephen Elop ("Osborne What?"), and many, many others have proven across the years, there's no end of original and exciting ways in which to balls up. So we shall see.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: No puzzle
by bassbeast on Thu 4th Jul 2013 16:33 UTC in reply to "RE: No puzzle"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

Windows desktops/laptops sell around 300 MILLION units a year, any idiot that burns a 300 million unit a year business to the ground to get a CHANCE, and a slim chance at that, to force their way into a market where there are already two major entrenched players? i'm sorry but they are morons and deserve to fail.

And there was NO REASON to burn the desktop users, the antitrust is over so they could have integrated plenty of features to make a WinPhone + Windows desktop more appealing than a Windows desktop and Android but at the end of the day its NOT about mobile as you think friend., just watch any of the recent Ballmer talks and you'll see what the REAL goal is....appstores.

At the end of the day the fact that you can download a program from the web and install it without giving the sweaty one a 30% slice of the pie really burns Ballmer up and like so many badly run US companies he cares more about the stock price than he does his customers which is an attitude that just begs for failure. See the whole "just deal with it" Xbone debacle, windows 8 becoming the new windows ME, burning what few loyal customers they had of WinPhone 7 by not making winPhone 8 backwards compatible (and thus insuring NOBODY is gonna want a WinPhone, since most iOS devices are good for at least 2 upgrades and depending on the device Android can go even farther) and finally the billions they flushed buying devices like Zune and soon to flush another couple billion for Nook, it ALL in the end comes down to Ballmer's obsession with appstores.

I have a feeling in less than 10 years we are gonna talk about "The Ballmer Effect" where a successful company destroys itself because of a CEO's single minded obsession, because with MSFT we are seeing them burn all their bridges while they are still standing on them.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by linux-lover
by linux-lover on Tue 2nd Jul 2013 23:18 UTC
linux-lover
Member since:
2011-04-25

Curious to see iOS and mac osx figures combined.

Anyways KDE 4 did not have a huge influence from mobile, the complaints were about missing features, bugs, instability, and piss poor performance. Release after 4.0 got better. From 4.6 and onwards kde4 has been fantastic (IMO one of the best on linux).


As for gnome, I like the gnome3 UX a lot. Its clean, efficient, and a joy to use (imo). But the developers are jerks. They butchered nautilus in 3.6 (had to fix it up a bit in 3.8 due to complaints). They don't care about 3rd party themes at all, and themes for gtk3 or shell break on every release.

https://mail.gnome.org/archives/gnome-shell-list/2011-June/msg00110....

https://mail.gnome.org/archives/gnome-shell-list/2011-June/msg00112....

https://mail.gnome.org/archives/gnome-shell-list/2011-June/msg00116....

Allan Day comes off as a real jerk.
The comments in the last link about how gnome needs to maintain a brand and every install have similar look in feel are especially annoying. Funny because I love the UX in gnome shell, but need themes since stock is butt ugly. the icons are the worst, but unlike gtk3 and shell themes those themes don't break (thank god, default gnome icons will make your eyes bleed).

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by linux-lover
by Soulbender on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 18:14 UTC in reply to "Comment by linux-lover"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Allan Day comes off as a real jerk.


I don't think he comes off as a jerk at all. I don't necessarily agree with everything he says but he sure isn't a jerk.
Design is not necessarily about giving people unlimited choices and customizations. Apparently the gnome3 design ethos is to provide a consistent and recognizable interface at the expense of customization. That's fine, it's a design choice. They want to focus on on making GNOME3 instantly recognizable and giving it a unique look (or brand, if you will). That certainly makes a lot of sense from some perspectives.

Edited 2013-07-03 18:25 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by linux-lover
by linux-lover on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 20:08 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by linux-lover"
linux-lover Member since:
2011-04-25

But do they have to hamper customization? Every shell theme is broken every 6 months with a new release. Sometimes even going from 3.6.0 -> 3.6.1 can break a theme. Gnome doesn't care, and I find it quite annoying.

Maybe I'm just no longer the target demographic since they seem to be focusing on new users, but I don't think much of gnome's target demographic uses Linux.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Nelson
by Nelson on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 00:07 UTC
Nelson
Member since:
2005-11-29

The issue I see here is conflating the rough edges of a product with an outright rejection of the paradigm shift.

Windows 8 had some things about it that were understandably shocking and off putting to traditional PC users. Full screen apps, hidden UI elements, and some other things.

That's fine. But in the grand scheme of the radical shift that Windows 8 undertook, they are relatively minor gripes. You can make a case that Windows 8 is uncomfortable to mildly annoying to use -- but it is not unusable.

As a result of the aforementioned issues, along with colorful commentary by the tech blogosphere which didn't help with perception, and tonedeaf, timid OEMs there was a feeling that Windows 8 was underperforming.

This wasn't helped by the fact that the PC market was slowing and that PCs have longer upgrade cycles than mobile phones. When the growth in the market tapers off, the churn of hardware depreciation is the only renewable source of income.

So here we are, 100 million Windows 8 licenses later, 100 thousand Windows 8 apps later, and some how Windows 8 is labeled a failure.

Windows 8 tablets captured 7.5% of the market, Surface sales boosted Microsoft's PC revenues amid a softening of OEM sales.

Some people will always doubt Microsoft's license numbers (As they have done for every Client version of Windows ever) but even if you take usage share into account with the size of the PC market you can easily arrive north of 60 million copies sold. This is not a failure.

With 8.1 a lot of the issues with Windows 8 are fixed. Desktop power users are thrown a bone, general Metro usability and performance fixes are incoming, and the WinRT platform as a whole became more capable.

Relatively minor fixes which will have broad implications for the product. If Windows 8.1 is able to clear the air surrounding Windows 8. Then it will go some way towards proving that the softening of PC sales does not necessarily indicate a rejection of the paradigm changes that took place in Windows 8.

Helping them are the more power efficient and powerful Haswell chips by Intel as well as new generation ARM chips.

Expanding to more form factors (sub 10 inches for tablets, and supporting higher resolutions with improved DPI scaling) should help broaden the Windows ecosystem.

Joint marketing with Xbox, Windows Phone, and Windows pushing a common UI is the apex of Microsoft's multi year alignment strategy.

The upcoming reorg (where Windows Phone is rumored to be folded into Windows Division) should also boost the company effort behind Windows Phone (which has been half hearted at best) and help get them into high growth markets.

I'm bullish on Windows 8 because it is an inevitability. The enterprise clout of Windows will vault Microsoft's tablet efforts in that area. Surfaces are just now being given to authorized resellers. There's an obvious internal company push to be more aggressive in their efforts.

Android will likely always consume the wafer thin margins of the low end junk tablet white box market, but I don't think their tablet fortunes are in any way guaranteed to continue.

The tablet market is about to heat up in a major way though, and time will tell who is right in the long run.

Reply Score: 3

why jump for a desktop?
by stabbyjones on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 00:28 UTC
stabbyjones
Member since:
2008-04-15

One thing i don't understand is why people leave distros because of desktops. Debian has most major desktops available from the installer so if you like one over the other you can change.

If you want to change later everything is in the repos; and as far as I know Ubuntu is the same. (When I last used it) So why use Kubuntu over regular Ubuntu with KDE installed?

If you hate Unity but still like Ubuntu why wouldn't you just use another desktop?

Reply Score: 3

RE: why jump for a desktop?
by tupp on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 21:04 UTC in reply to "why jump for a desktop?"
tupp Member since:
2006-11-12

Indeed.

I never understood the excessive butt-hurt over a default de/wm.

To acquire a new de/wm, one usually only has to check one or two boxes in a package manager and click "Apply." Then, one merely logs-out; chooses the desired de/wm; and logs-in.

On some systems, one can merely comment and uncomment entries in the .xinitrc file in the home directory, and then restart X.

I can understand how an undesired default desktop might be a slight problem for a newbie at distro install, but most of the newbie distros offer a selection of versions with various newbie desktops and newbie window managers.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: why jump for a desktop?
by eco2geek on Sun 7th Jul 2013 06:10 UTC in reply to "RE: why jump for a desktop?"
eco2geek Member since:
2009-09-23

When KDE switched from 3 to 4, I switched from KDE to GNOME. And when GNOME switched from 2 to 3, I switched from GNOME back to KDE.

(Actually, I never really left KDE, but it's now my UI of choice again.)

And you're right, most major distros come with GNOME, KDE, Xfce, and LXDE versions. Many even include Cinnamon and MATE. There's no need to learn a new package manager or configuration utility if you don't like a certain DE.

I may not like Unity, but I do like the fact that Ubuntu powers so many different desktop environments, and I really hope they don't screw that up in their push for "Unity everywhere".

Reply Score: 1

Gnome 3
by sprag on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 01:11 UTC
sprag
Member since:
2010-08-13

As I understand it, the Gnome 3 devs didn't add classic mode because they listened to the users...they added it because RedHat made them.

A lot of the Gnome developers are RedHat employees and when they started getting feedback for RHEL7 it was very obvious that most RHEL users didn't want Gnome 3.

Reply Score: 5

No one is liking the phone uis
by SithLord on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 09:50 UTC
SithLord
Member since:
2013-06-03

No one is liking that dumbed down phone uis.
People are running away from one platform to another to avoid that abhomination, and now that the picture is complete they will simply run away from computing hobbies.
The market will shrink to babies playing with phone games, and adult people using websites strictly for the essential tasks.
No more.
Droves of people will stop loving and spending hours on computers, because you know, if you do something even an id1ot can use, only idio7s will use it.
IT will return to be strictly working, e-gov, and a new framework for passive traditional media, IT-TV will be day after day more similar to old day TV.
The market no longer follows competition for users, but for monetization only.
IT is ready for a major crackdown like videogames industry in '80s, as it will shrink down to be the next cable tv.
Profitable, but no one will love it like yesterday.

Reply Score: 2

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Droves of people will stop loving and spending hours on computers, because you know if you do something even an id1ot can use, only idio7s will use it.


So I guess only idiots use stuff bicycles, stoves and books, right? Oh come off the elitist mountain. Just because it's easier to use doesn't mean it will only attract idiots. Not everyone has the time and interest to screw around endlessly with their desktop adn computer and that's ok. It's also ok to screw around with it endlessly, if that's what you like. Just don't think that makes you better or smarter.

Profitable, but no one will love it like yesterday.


Sure, if you say so.

Reply Score: 3

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

So I guess only idiots use stuff bicycles, stoves and books, right? Oh come off the elitist mountain. Just because it's easier to use doesn't mean it will only attract idiots. Not everyone has the time and interest to screw around endlessly with their desktop adn computer and that's ok. It's also ok to screw around with it endlessly, if that's what you like. Just don't think that makes you better or smarter.


The smartest thing said on this website in quite a while.

Reply Score: 2

There's a transition going on.
by 3arn0wl on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 11:39 UTC
3arn0wl
Member since:
2013-07-03

The tables at the top of your article say it all: in personal computing terms, the desktop is a dinosaur facing extinction.

I tried Ubuntu on my MacBook recently. I think it's great. And I'm certainly interested in a Smartphone running Touch, mostly for the potential of integration. Though I do worry that some programs I run occasionally aren't available.

It's actually beginning to look like Apple are behind in their thinking. People do want to be able to jot a .docx down on the fly, or put together the bones of a .pptx to save in the cloud. I can't see the point in buying a toy, pretty and shiny as they undoubtedly are. I know that Apple have got a massive appstore, but even that's beginning to feel a bit Heath Robinson - "you've got to download an app to do this" or "this is the way around that problem".

There's a transition going on, and in general I think Microsofting (and Linuxing) the tablet is a good thing.

Reply Score: 2

thesunnyk
Member since:
2010-05-21

I think Gnome 3 started as one idea and changed into another. I remember the initial ideas for Gnome 3 all heavily involved things like Zeitgeist. You would have a "history" and a "future" (TODOs), and everything would be set up for a GTD-style environment -- literally the entire desktop would be geared, as applications, for a getting things done workflow.

If you wanted to remember to write an email to someone later, you would literally begin writing that email and then shove it into a date or time when you needed to write it, and it would show up as a reminder at that time for writing. You could get a list of "tasks" you completed at the end of the day, etc. These were the kinds of ideas that were being thrown around: computing for professionals.

I actually agree with Microsoft on this: There's one OS for all form factors, whether it's phones or tablets or PCs. However, the focus needs to be different on each platform. A phone is like a swiss army knife -- you wouldn't choose to use one in a kitchen where a regular knife is available, but man is it convenient for camping.

I think everyone is searching for a natural abstraction which fits all three form factors. Everyone is taking it from differing perspectives, none of which are wrong, but they are all *attempts* at a solution, none are really cohesive yet. I don't doubt that we'll see a more cohesive environment emerge in the future.

I wrote a little about what the "natural" UI is for a free-as-in-speech OS here: http://blog.quaddmg.com/2013/6/14/ideas-for-gnome-4/

Reply Score: 2

KDE and GNOME have moved on
by kateline on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 15:38 UTC
kateline
Member since:
2011-05-19

Good insight on why Microsoft messed up with Win 8. But as others have commented, the same doesn't apply to KDE 4.0.

Regarding Win 8, KDE 4.0, GNOME 3.0, it's like a mania seized them all. KDE and GNOME have moved on to become good systems for mobile and laptop both, but Win 8 is still in the throes of this change. Sure hope 8.1 gets them through it, would hate to see Win 8.x continue down this destructive path.I think they'll make it.

Reply Score: 2

They're changing
by Soulbender on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 17:38 UTC
Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

...and evolving. Just like they always have.

Reply Score: 3

Unity was not influenced by Windows 8
by tupp on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 20:43 UTC
tupp
Member since:
2006-11-12

FROM THE ARTICLE:

Microsoft's bold interface gamble very much influenced Canonical in switching Ubuntu's interface to Unity. Mark Shuttleworth shed light on this in his talk at OSCON 2012:

Huh? Unity was already out a couple of years (and causing turmoil) before Windows 8 was released.

Shuttleworth was merely referencing Windows 8 in that recent speech.

If anything, I think that his motivation for Unity was more Apple inspired. As I recall, Shuttleworth proclaimed his adoration for Apple UIs around the time of the first backlash to Unity (and to Gnome 3). It seemed to me that he (and the Gnome folks) were trying "out-tard" Apple.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 21:42 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

what's happening is the most popular and growing OS has the macintosh interface. android proves all the false innovators wrong

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Luminair
by zima on Fri 5th Jul 2013 22:15 UTC in reply to "Comment by Luminair"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

the most popular and growing OS has the macintosh interface

What?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Sat 6th Jul 2013 07:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Luminair"
Luminair Member since:
2007-03-30

sorry, I should have said lisa interface. I mean parc interface. or WIMP interface?

android is icons on a desktop. it's all the same story

Reply Score: 2

They don't know what they're doing
by Darkmage on Thu 4th Jul 2013 08:21 UTC
Darkmage
Member since:
2006-10-20

The problem is none of these clowns have any idea what they're doing and what people want. The Linux developers are especially bad with this. If gnome just continued on it's way from the 2.x series Microsoft would be bleeding worse than they are. Instead all this energy and developer talent is going into retardation. No conservative business is rushing into tablets. Not one. Linux's competitive advantage is low cost software licensing. That's it. If they really want to score more users they need to fix up what they're doing. Ironically Linux gets the games it needs, right at the moment they decide to derp up the UI.

Touch/Mobile are NOT replacements for desktop computers. They are alternatives to casual web browsing and extremely light net users, they also have new applications as menus and viewers. They are not going to take off for anyone who has to write 30 page reports, or who has to create and edit lots of content. The content creation experience on an iPad is horrible, and Android tablets are not significant enough to be meaningful.

Android phones are making a dent but that's because youtube in your pocket with decent GPS and mp3 was going to takeoff from whoever gave it cheapest.

We already have a Mobile version of Linux, it's name is Android. Desktop Linux needs to get back on track. It should be trying to provide a viable alternative to Windows and Mac OSX on Desktops and Laptops. Touch is going to be an experiment on desktops, because frankly your arms get sore and your screen gets smudged. Once the 50-70 year olds die, noone is going to use touch on home desktop PCs, and the oldies won't use it well while it exists. It's a solution searching for a problem that doesn't exist. People who can't use keyboards and mice shouldn't be using computers, or should be getting training in using them. Even Steve Jobs is on record with this.

I'm yet to see a decent laptop with a rotatable tablet style touchscreen so I think we're a ways from anything reasonable in touch based laptops.

Reply Score: 2

Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

The problem is none of these clowns have any idea what they're doing and what people want. The Linux developers are especially bad with this. If gnome just continued on it's way from the 2.x series Microsoft would be bleeding worse than they are.


Please. Microsoft has the desktop market completely and utterly dominated. Microsoft is bleeding overall computing share, which is PC share plus all of mobile. When viewed as a whole, that's where Microsoft has seen a precipitous decline.

Gnome 2.x wasn't going to change anything, that's just ridiculous wishful thinking on your part.


Instead all this energy and developer talent is going into retardation. No conservative business is rushing into tablets.


The tablet market is still terribly nascent, but it is where the high growth is now that PC sales are winding down.

Microsoft putting Windows on a tablet with enterprise management capabilities will likely move this further along than one might think.

The fact of the matter is that as tablets grow in popularity, so will the demand for them in the enterprise by employees. This is already evident if you look at the BYOD movement in IT.

Ignoring this as a reality is just gifting the market to competitors. Microsoft is set to get very aggressive here, so the window of opportunity for competing platforms is closing.

On top of that though, Microsoft's enterprise push is broader than Windows devices. They have management tools out for consumer devices running iOS as well (Android incoming iirc).

So this "energy and developer talent" is going to a high growth market which brings in revenues in the billions of dollars.


Not one. Linux's competitive advantage is low cost software licensing. That's it. If they really want to score more users they need to fix up what they're doing. Ironically Linux gets the games it needs, right at the moment they decide to derp up the UI.


That's not an advantage. How much of an advantage was it for netbooks? As soon as Microsoft dropped the price on XP they snuffed out Linux.

The conclusion to be drawn is that when you rely on price as your main advantage, you become extremely vulnerable to competitor price drops. All things equal its obvious where OEMs opted to go.


Touch/Mobile are NOT replacements for desktop computers. They are alternatives to casual web browsing and extremely light net users, they also have new applications as menus and viewers. They are not going to take off for anyone who has to write 30 page reports, or who has to create and edit lots of content.


Windows tablets are full blown desktop computers capable of running traditional desktop applications and a wide array of peripherals. Simply pair with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard and that "casual" device becomes a productivity work horse.

Especially given that Intel's Haswell chips will push the Surface Pro into the 7-8 hour battery life range.

Lower power chips in entry level x86 Tablets will likely push their battery life into the 10-12 hour range. This comes along with improved graphics.

So the tablets will have all day battery life, crazy good performance, and compatibility with the entire Windows ecosystem.

And I can write a paper on my Surface tablet using Office. I can develop using Visual Studio on my tablet. Today. Really there are no limitations.


We already have a Mobile version of Linux, it's name is Android. Desktop Linux needs to get back on track. It should be trying to provide a viable alternative to Windows and Mac OSX on Desktops and Laptops.


You want to talk about a waste of time and energy? This is it. You're never going to displace Windows on the Desktop. The Linux collective argues in circles half the time about feature X or technology Y, so there's no real coherent effort to actively attack Windows.


Touch is going to be an experiment on desktops, because frankly your arms get sore and your screen gets smudged.


Touch is an additional input method. In addition to the mouse and keyboard. There are times I use a mouse, other times I reach out and touch.

A lot of these newer hybrids have swiveling screens, and the all in ones can certainly be adjusted to be closer to your arm.


People who can't use keyboards and mice shouldn't be using computers, or should be getting training in using them. Even Steve Jobs is on record with this.


I don't think touch is exclusively being pushed to replace mouse and keyboards. Only to work along side them. Remember, it was once just the keyboard. Mice didn't replace them either.


I'm yet to see a decent laptop with a rotatable tablet style touchscreen so I think we're a ways from anything reasonable in touch based laptops.


Thankfully the merits of an idea are not contingent upon what you've seen.

Reply Score: 2

Your Reality Check Bounced
by Gaius_Maximus on Sun 7th Jul 2013 02:11 UTC
Gaius_Maximus
Member since:
2012-08-31

All that writing, but the main point never even gets addressed: It's the keyboard, stupid!

Decades of trial and error honed desktop UIs into the wonderful tools the are ... well ... were. And the keyboard reigned supreme.

I had to admire Windows from the start: On my old laptops (back in the 1990s, before touchpads and isopointers) I could leave the mouse at home, and use everything in Windows with only the keyboard. And that carried over to just about all the applications, too. Even today, I hardly ever have to reach for the pointer other than to move it out of my way. They keyboard is just that much faster, not to mention easier on my joints. Unity was giving me tennis elbow. And the HUD was a step back to the old command-prompt computers of my youth (Commodore 64, Atari XL, DOS, etc.) What were they thinking?

I mean, you'd think, wouldn't you, that these smart people would have noticed that the Chinese use the Roman alphabet to teach Chinese to their young because of its superiority to things like logograms, or their modern, western iteration, the 'icon', which was, by the way, only ever meant as a way to let the myriad software providers push their logos into our faces in order to get them on board Windows, and give up on DOS.

But the devices scaring desktop OS makers so badly today are still evolving a UI model to work on their necessarily hobbled devices as well as one can reasonably expect. And that should have been the major clue to Ballmer, Shuttleworth, et al.: They sell in spite of the UI, not because of it. And that points directly to their form-factor. That's why they sell. What moron would ever think that any of us would want such a crippled UI on our PCs?

This is where you did get it right. Having seen how their dominance on the desktop paved the way for them into the server-room, and desperate to make inroads into the pocket, M$ thought they could go the other way, too, if only they started by getting PC users accustomed to M$'s phone UI. They were wrong, for the reason detailed above, plus one more: Microsoft is hated for its reputation as a bad actor. Even casual users are well aware of it. If people have any reasonable alternative, they will choose it over Microsoft. Besides, it really doesn't matter to anyone that their phone has the same OS or UI as their PC. It's not like they're going to want to work on the same spreadsheets on both their phones and their desktops.

So, now, we have just about all our OS providers jumping on the finger-pointer bandwagon, even as they ostensibly retain the 'traditional' desktop because they've all lost their minds, along with any sense of perspective, as they chase marketshare (or mindshare). Gnome, for example, started adding finger UI elements to its once useful gedit text editor. A TEXT EDITOR! Just about the last place on earth that anyone would want or need a finger UI, and just about the last application anyone would want to run on a phone.

And all these players think themselves so smart that they don't even need to test the waters first before they drop bombs like this on us, their users. And if you try to tell them what you want, you get the run-around, the okidoke, or even ridicule that you must be some kind of Philistine for failing to recognize the superiority of their way over yours.

They get what they deserve.

And you can tell them for me, that I will never touch my PC's screen. And any OS and/or its bundled utilities, programs, etc., that too often force me to reach for my mouse for want of a reasonably usable keyboard shortcut will be off my machine as soon as there's any better alternative, including simply not upgrading.

In fact, so outraged am I at all this insanity, as well as their arrogant refusal to take corrective action (Don't be fooled. Their 'improvements' are nothing more than pacifiers to keep you engaged until you get used to the new way they want you to work.), that I'm on the brink of a permanent career change.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Your Reality Check Bounced
by 3arn0wl on Sun 7th Jul 2013 08:41 UTC in reply to "Your Reality Check Bounced"
3arn0wl Member since:
2013-07-03

I have to say I've always used a mouse or trackpad and clicked on icons, but even in the week that Douglas Engelbart died, I think you have a point(er!) - there is something to be said for keeping sticky, greasy mits well away from a screen. A physical keyboard (of the correct size) is preferable to an on-screen version too, which reduces the size of the window you're using. It's hard to deny that when a screen acts as both Input and Output device, it compromises both functions. Even with regard to smartphones, I guess that's the reason their optimum proportions appears to've been difficult to determine.

The more natural Input option for a phone is surely aural, but although there're good apps for that, it doesn't seem popular - at least not yet...

Reply Score: 1

RE: Your Reality Check Bounced
by zima on Tue 9th Jul 2013 22:11 UTC in reply to "Your Reality Check Bounced"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Have you even used Unity? It's quite search- hence keyboard-oriented...

BTW, it's largely an illusion that the keyboard is faster: http://plan9.bell-labs.com/wiki/plan9/mouse_vs._keyboard/

Reply Score: 2

Belated reply to "What Users Want"
by eco2geek on Sun 7th Jul 2013 06:49 UTC
eco2geek
Member since:
2009-09-23

This is a belated reply to the story posted on June 24th, "What Users Want", since one can no longer post a comment to it after 5 days.

There's an organization named Free Geek ( http://www.freegeek.org ) in my town; they sell pre-owned laptops in their thrift store. They, too, have moved to Xubuntu from gnome-fallback.

As to the switch from GRUB to GRUB2: You're not supposed to have to edit any menu.lst; the beauty of GRUB2 is that it does a good job of finding all the OSs on your hard drive and making sensible entries for them automagically. However, if you really want to, you can still edit /boot/grub/grub.cfg by hand (the actual name/location of its configuration file varies slightly by distribution); it'll just lose your changes the next time you run "update-grub".

Also, you can add your own distros to /etc/grub.d/40_custom if you want to chainload them. You can also modify the way GRUB acts by modifying /etc/default/grub (which is a plain-text config file). Finally, Ubuntu has excellent, comprehensive GRUB2 documentation available at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Grub2 .

As far as xorg.conf goes, if you miss it, just create one and it will (mostly) override Xorg's defaults. (For example, use the command "Xorg -configure" when X isn't running to create one in root's home.)

These days, xorg.conf's been broken up into parts; those parts usually live in /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d. So you can also create your configuration files there.

If you have a GPU with an nvidia chipset and install the proprietary nvidia driver along with the "nvidia-xconfig" utility, guess what that utility will do? Create an /etc/X11/xorg.conf file.

So, as you can see, there's no reason to worry about the loss of "xorg.conf". And it wasn't just Canonical that switched to GRUB2 and did away with xorg.conf; most major distros did at the same time.

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