Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 28th Dec 2006 22:24 UTC
Red Hat Red Hat plans to ship the next version of its premium Linux product on February 28, debuting major virtualization technology but missing an earlier deadline by about two months. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 had been scheduled to ship by the end of 2006. However, the company gave itself scheduling wiggle room in September, when Red Hat released the first RHEL 5 beta; a second beta arrived in November.
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RE[2]: screenshots of this beta
by h3rman on Fri 29th Dec 2006 11:11 UTC in reply to "RE: screenshots of this beta"
h3rman
Member since:
2006-08-09

... a pity that they didn't wait for the next Gnome version that will contain some of the usability enhancements that was introduced by Novell. I'm thinking of things like the new "slab" gnome menu.

Novell's Gnome menu is not more usable than the present default Gnome menu.
The former actually needs more mouse clicks.
Plus, why sacrifice one window thumbnail/virtual desktop bar? Because virtual desktops are confusing; however it's nice once you know it. Why not explain the nice 'secret' features of Gnome in a KDE style "tip of the day" way?
I may be ostracised for saying this, but if anything, Novell's Gnome menu is an attempt to make Gnome look more like Windows, which is not by definition more usable. It may be good for people that get scared by anything remotely different from Windows, though, if you want to have them use another OS.

Not that the current Gnome menu is that bad, but nothing beats things that have been tested on real non geek users.

Ergonomists know, for starters, that a menu on top of the screen is better. For your neck, for example. So here Novell is making a first, untested I assume, mistake. If these 'tests' on 'non geek users' didn't take efficiency (number of mouse clicks) and ergonomics (menu bar down by default, not smart) into account, and presumed that users should not be told of anything they could not discover for themselves, then this 'test' is already compromised by the fact that most people sort of know how the Windows interface works.

Reply Parent Score: 4

g2devi Member since:
2005-07-09

Couldn't agree more. I'm not sure who they tested on because:

1) The "Computer" menu doesn't mean anything to me. Why would I look for applications in the computer section? An "Applications" or "Programs" menu is more intuitive. Even the much maligned "Start" button is more obvious (just make sure you place the logout/shutdown button outside of this menu;-]).

2) It doesn't obey Fitt's Law. It's easy to get to the "Computer" menu, but once there, you have to hunt, in two dimensions for what you need to look for. Two dimensional mouse hunting is something frowned upon in the accessibility community.

3) Novell KDE's SLAB solves the "two dimensional hunting" issue a bit better:
http://www.desktoplinux.com/files/article106/sled102-new_menu.jpg
But it still suffers from a number of problems (shared with the GNOME version in some form). For instance, if we're going to have tabs, why not just make them separate menu items (a la GNOME Applications/Places/System) to conform with Fitt's Law and expose the options. And it's not at all obvious how to add something to your favourite's list (I assume it's possible). If it's not possible and it's autogenerated, them the "Favourite's List" can confuse people since items will pop in to or out of that menu and move around in that menu as you use it. Anyone who has had to support windows users who turn on "Personalized menus" has heard the common complaint "It was there yesterday, I swear, but now it's gone." Anyone who has used it know you can't rely on "muscle memory" to quickly find items because they keep moving around.

This isn't to say that the GNOME menu couldn't do with some improvement. The (KDE) SLAB, does have some good ideas, and so does Gimmie ( http://beatnik.infogami.com/Gimmie ). But blindly following what Windows won't help GNOME (or KDE) become more usable or intuitive or easily learned.

Edited 2006-12-29 15:47

Reply Parent Score: 4

unoengborg Member since:
2005-07-06

Novell's Gnome menu is not more usable than the present default Gnome menu.
The former actually needs more mouse clicks.


That would be true only every program was used at the same frequency by all users. In reality most users only use a few programs on a daily basis. By having these on shortcut, lots and lots of mouse clicks are saved.

Plus, why sacrifice one window thumbnail/virtual desktop bar? Because virtual desktops are confusing;


I agree with you, that the Novell finding that one panel should be better than two is somewhat odd. If we apply Fitt's law, two panels should present a much larger target to interact with.

However, there are also advantages. For one thing most documents we create have portrait layout. Removing the top menu would create more screen space for the document you are working on. This would be especially important on small screens such as laptops.

The main reason for users to prefer one panel at the bottom layout is probably, as you suspect, that they are used to having it that way from windows.

Allowing to users make use of knowledge gained elsewhere is part of being usable. E.g. we could probably make a car easier to control by using a joystick, but any benefits from doing so would be undone by the fact that people already are used to having a steering wheel, a clutch, a brake and an accelerator. This way of thinking also applies to desktop environments.

I also doubt that having the panel on top or at the bottom makes much real difference with respect to muscle tension related problems. The reason is that you use it too seldom. How you arrange your monitor, and what chair you use will have much bigger impact on this.

BTW,the menus you use the most will be the menus of your applications, and they are likely to be closer to the top than the bottom.


Novell is making a first, untested I assume, mistake. If these 'tests' on 'non geek users' didn't take efficiency (number of mouse clicks) and ergonomics (menu bar down by default, not smart) into account, and presumed that users should not be told of anything they could not discover for themselves, then this 'test' is already compromised by the fact that most people sort of know how the Windows interface works.


Usability is more than counting number of clicks. Theory is good, but when theory and reality differs, it is usually the reality that is right. That 90% of potential Linux users have experience with windows is part of that reality, and whatever tests we do will be influenced by this. What good would it be to design systems that would be usable for users that are not likely to use the system.

Reply Parent Score: 2

gregorlowski Member since:
2006-03-20

Some truths to the above, especially:

That would be true only every program was used at the same frequency by all users. In reality most users only use a few programs on a daily basis. By having these on shortcut, lots and lots of mouse clicks are saved.

But the following is short sighted:

That 90% of potential Linux users have experience with windows is part of that reality, and whatever tests we do will be influenced by this.

From what I've read of Novell's usability testing, it seems that most of it is done on people in the USA or Europe (maybe all USA, I don't know for sure) who have experience with computers. But 90% of potential future linux users are probably in Africa, China, South America, South Asia, etc. In the next 20 years, school districts, community centers, hospitals, and offices in these countries will begin to adopt linux more and more.

Sure, maybe this is not where Novell's revenue will come from primarily, which is why they do testing in areas where they think they can sell licenses and support contracts. But don't think that new users to commercial linux and new users to linux in general are the same group of people.

I personally don't care whether Corporate USA wants to give their money to MS, Novell or IBM, but when it comes to public school systems in Bangladesh making decisions about software, I hope they choose freedom and free-as-in-beer products rather than giving money to MS.

Reply Parent Score: 2