Home > KDE > KDE 3.3 Usability Study and Review KDE 3.3 Usability Study and Review Submitted by Jonathan Turner 2004-09-21 KDE 83 Comments After a month of the KDE 3.3 release, userinstinct has put together a usability study with user testing. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 83 Comments 2004-09-21 12:57 am great test. Hope the KDE developers look at this 2004-09-21 1:24 am “”Looks more complicated than having you write your own regular expression”” 2004-09-21 1:40 am just sent the author an email thanking him for the article and asking some questions i had … it’s a fair amount of work he went through to do all that testing. while some of it is not strictly about KDE (evolution, “lost and found” folders), i’d rather have too much information to sort through than not enough. while some of the issues noted have already been fixed (e.g. a proper trash (ioslave), Enter sends by default in Kopete, the general attitude and acceptance of usability within KDE itself, etc) there are things noted therein that we can most definitely improve upon. and i’m sure we will for 3.4 (and beyond). it’s great to see people putting the software through its paces in useful (to those trying to improve it) ways. software is never (or at best very, very rarely) perfect, and these kinds of fact-based reviews (as opposed to “here’s my off-the-wall opinion” articles) are quite valuable… so, thanks to Jonathan for putting it together.. articles like these, the guidelines (re)write that is in progress, openusability.org, improved technologies (like KConfigXT) combined with all the tireless effort people are putting into KDE will help us make the coming releases that much better … =) 2004-09-21 1:51 am I have to say I’m a big fan of your work. I’m looking eagerly forward to the new HIG work, and hope everyone involved is successful in their goals. 2004-09-21 3:01 am KDE’s biggest problem is that it’s interface is a cluttered mess by default. That’s ridiculous. Buttons everywhere, and nary a way to remove half the buttongs (outside konq, which has it’s OWN horrid usability issues). 2004-09-21 3:07 am Finally! Someone writes what many people have been saying about KDE for years. It’s *overwhelming* to configure and use! Usability goes through the floor if your software is *too* configurable and feature packed. This is a wonderfully detailed review, which almost perfectly mirrors my view of KDE. Cluttered, overwhelming, and difficult to configure because it isn’t very obvious how to configure many things. To sum up: KDE: “A powerful (as long as you can figure out hwo to use it), high-performing (as long as you ignore the large inconsistencies between applications), and configurable (as long as you can figure out how) desktop.” 2004-09-21 3:12 am It is possible to be powerful but intuitive, and thus derived from this pair you get a wonderfully customizable but usable desktop. Cramming a ton of options into screen real-estate != powerful, just… uh… you know. 2004-09-21 3:18 am Sometimes it’s useful to take smaller features and bring them together in one larger tool. However, there are so many permutations, that you have to very carefully draw a line on doing this. Sometimes it’s useful to just have the individual smaller features and use them together “manually”, rather than having those same features, plus a bunch of others which simply wrap around sets of those features. 2004-09-21 3:23 am “KDE aint like Windows so I was scared and confused”. Reminds me of how I feel on a Mac. 2004-09-21 3:30 am Because it embodies all of the wrong philosophies that are a part of the desktop user interface. It’s a perfect example of what can and does go wrong if you persist in promoting widgets, menus, icons, windows everywhere.. Designers whom consider themselves also intelligent at usability are the first to join projects like KDE or GNOME because it gives them a level playing ground. As a result you get a canvas with a screenshot of what the designer thinks is pretty. Pretty = usable in their world. This is of course my opinion, but there are a good deal of nice usability articles to read at humane.sf.net if you can ignore Jef Raskin’s ego. This article was very good, and I’m amazed it still has a good review of kde. I guess people don’t want to get flogged by a community so they remain neutral/positive. A good idea also.. wish I followed it but I get pretty sad when I still see people trying to perpetuate the desktop ui concept. *nix has so much more to offer than this. 2004-09-21 3:35 am Um, if that’s what you got out of it, then you didn’t read hard enough. I’m a KDE user, and it seriously offends my asthetic sensibilities at times. The comments in the article were not only spot-on, but don’t go far enough. 2004-09-21 4:28 am Difficult to use? Difficult to configure? Please. It’s not hard, and if people persist in saying that KDE is too hard to configure then it’s not the right Desktop Environment for them i’m afraid. I don’t want to see KDE do what Gnome did around 1.4 and dumb it down so that stupid users can feel at home. If those stupids users don’t want to get off their lazy asses and learn then they can either use another Desktop Environment , use a Mac, or go back to Windows. It’s called choice. I don’t want KDE bastardised just to suit these whinging users. I remember Gnome circa 1.2 and I liked it. I preferred it to KDE. After that it went all down hill, and i’m not the only one who thinks that. KDE is a much more complete, better looking, functional Desktop Environment. It does lack consistency, it’s HIG is still in development, but it will get there. In many other areas it is so far ahead of Gnome it isn’t funny. I’m simply more productive KDE than I am in Gnome. Before Gnome lovers cry foul at my post, try this. Resize your desktop icons. Go on. Right click on them…where does it say resize? No where. Control panel, nada. I spent half an hour on this, thinking I was missing something obvious. I wasn’t. I resorted to using the online help finally as i’m generally very stubborn and patient and like to tinker, and behold found the answer. Whatever dimwit named the resizing option for Gnome should be shot, because quite frankly, the name that’s been given to it is not very obvious. Resize all of the desktop icons. Sure. Do them individually. One by one. I could find no other way quickly to do so. That’s pathetic. Gnome Nautilus? Anyone? Yup, it tries to ‘take control’ of your system. If you use KDE or another Desktop Environment and start up Nautilus as a file browser it hangs around…if you log out and log back in you’ll be presented with Gnome icons on a KDE etc Desktop environment. I haven’t tried to replicate this with Gnome 2.6 but it’s another example or poorly designed UI. The KDE interface is not ‘messy’. Featured yes, but I certainly wouldn’t call it messy. I’ve played with IceWM, XFCE, Fluxbox, Enlightenment, Gnome 1.2, 1.4 and 2.2.2 and 2.6 and I can’t say that either of them are better than KDE as an overall package. That said my second favourite is XFCE 4. Very nice. Dave W Pastern 2004-09-21 4:33 am To resize the desktop icons, go to Nautilus’ preferences box. It’s right there. As far as Nautilus taking over, run “nautilus –nodesktop” instead of just “nautilus”. Hope that helps. Please relax a bit. 2004-09-21 4:58 am I think the report’s titled is misleading. Seemed to be a report on “Windows users first impressions and reactions to KDE 3.3”. IMHO it would have been a more insightful and generally useful report if the users learnt to use it for a month or two. Btw what was with the PDF problems nearly all the users experienced?? What distro were they using?? Cheers rob 2004-09-21 4:58 am not messy? you’re on crack. It IS a fricken mess out of the box and every one of you kde lovers knows it. As far as gnome goes – those people seriously need to learn that there’s a reason for an advanced tab – FOR ADVANCED FEATURES 2004-09-21 5:00 am Oops I missed this bit Test System Configuration Operating System: Slackware 10.0 Desktop Software: KDE 3.3 Included Optional Software: GNOME 2.6, KOffice 1.3.2, Mozilla 1.7, the GIMP 2.0, Evolution 1.59 2004-09-21 5:06 am I’m sure KDE has some problems, but is it really advisable to make it emulate Windows just to please Windows users? This seemed to be what the testers wanted anyway. They should have tested people with very limited computer skills instead. 2004-09-21 5:39 am This is not a usability study. This is nothing. If you want to deliver a real usability study then find some KDE users who already got used to KDE desktop. If they still have troubles configuring their desktop then the desktop sucks. Why is that? Because everybody is in trouble when for the first time in his/her life faces a new strange desktop. I mean, seriously, userinstict chooses 8 persons who are used to do their tasks on defferent desktops and with different applications, give them 2-3 hours to performe some tasks on a totally strange desktop, and calls that an usability study. A desktop is usable as much as you are used to it. You have to spend some time to discover it, to learn it. A guy who has been using Windows and Internet Explorer for some time called me today and asked me where he could change his home page in Internet Explorer. He never ever explored menus in Internet Explorer. There is not any desktop environment usable enough for him. Or better: the desktop environment he uses is as much usable as he need it to be usable. Sure, KDE’s usability has to be improved, both on desktop and application level. Some things can be done easier even for experienced users. Userinstict’s conslucion is: ‘Easing new users into KDE, rather than throwing everyone into the deep end of the pool, would broaden its appeal to a wider range of users.’ And my conclusion is: If you never step into the deep end of the pool you will never learn to swim. 2004-09-21 5:42 am I doubt many people already used to one operating system would try a different operating system for a month or two if they found it too hard to get used to. 2004-09-21 5:42 am @Brad Griffith As far as Nautilus taking over, run “nautilus –nodesktop” instead of just “nautilus”. Hope that helps. Please relax a bit. Umm, how does that go with the strict Gnome HIG? In the end one has to resort to command line tricks to make Gnome work. I’ve tried every version of Gnome, and every time I swore I’d never touch it again. KDE is far from perfect, I hate how it’s getting integrated even more than Windows. But at least it has a lot of features that offset the damn integration. Anybody who makes a file manager and Internet browser in one (like Konqueror) should be shot. The only reason I tolerate KDE is because there is nothing better. And Gnome needs to add a lot of features to appeal to power users. I’d rather live with IceWM or one of the other WMs but for now I’m sticking with KDE. 2004-09-21 5:57 am KDE has some serious usability problems that go beyond just being confusing for new users. I’m a longtime KDE user. My first version was a beta of 1.0 from either a RedHat disk or a Boot magazine disk. I use it every day, but to this day, I have to scan Konqueror’s menus instead of just knowing where things are. KDE’s clutter hurts efficiency even for an experienced user. It takes the UI from being something that an experienced user can control from muscle memory, to something that requires conscious thought to control. 2004-09-21 5:59 am Konqueror is neither a web-browser nor a file manager. It’s a document viewer. The problems with Konqueror stem not from it’s fundemental design, but inadequate customization of the UI to particular documents. 2004-09-21 6:03 am What on earth does using nautilus in KDE have to do with making GNOME work? Nautilus by default draws the desktop in GNOME; that is how it is supposed to work. If you desire to change that, you need to look a little deeper. One of the principles behind GNOME’s design is sane defaults. 99% of people will never run nautilus from the commandline; they will never wonder “Hmm … what draws my desktop.”; they will just use the damned thing. And it will work for them. If GNOME is cutting out that 1% fringe part of the world who cares enough to use a file manager from another desktop environment, that’s fine by me; those users can continue using that other desktop environment. I for one am glad that I don’t have to see a “Have nautilus draw the desktop” option in preferences. Keep it simple and out of my way so I can get work done. 2004-09-21 6:04 am beggining with MacOS(X). Windows and Linux are nothing better. Modern computing has to abbandon the desktop paradigm. 2004-09-21 6:19 am Hopefully this article will serve as a wake-up call to some less enlightened KDE developers. Usability isn’t about “dumbing things down” or “making them for stupid users” – it’s about making the environment pleasant, straight-forward and easy. Would it really kill them to clean out the extreme geek features in menus and move them into menu that can be enabled through something like Gconf or Apple/GNUstep’s “defaults” system? They really need to clean up the clock too – I had to Google to figure out how to switch it to 12 hour since there were so many options. 2004-09-21 6:38 am I also wrote in my comment: ‘Sure, KDE’s usability has to be improved, both on desktop and application level. Some things can be done easier even for experienced users.’ But I’m not sure about the menus in Konqueror. A powerfull application has to have a ‘powerfull’ menus. Everybody is delighted about PhotoShop. Let’s look at its menus. I never heard anyone complaining about PhotoShop menus. And not to mention other complex applications. Konqueror is a file manager too. Can you create image gallery with Firefox? No. When you browse a ftp server with Firefox can you select some random files and download them at once? No. You have to download them one by one. Konqueror is more than Firefox and its menus are more complex. Take it or leave it. When I wrote the first comment I wanted to point out a few things: 1. There isn’t any desktop environment which is easy enough for anybody to get used to it in a couple of hours. 2. More complex desktop environment = more skills needed and more time spent to get used to it. 3. Painter (any kind is not the same as Blender or Studio Max. 4. And last one: don’t expect usability in complexity. Otherwise, every idiot would become a programmer. Cheers, 2004-09-21 6:40 am I was hoping at least one of the users would complain “But why does every menu item start with a K?” 2004-09-21 6:40 am Completely agree. The GUI desktop paradigm should have stayed at Xerox Parc in the first place. I can’t wait until we turn this UI corner and start developing/using more advanced, usable concepts. Actually, I’m not waiting.. 2004-09-21 6:48 am Konqueror defines bloat. There are SO many options and switches. They _really_ need to look at splitting _at least_ the web browser and the file manager aspects into seperate applications; currently it is the KDE equivalent of Emacs with the included kitchen sink. 2004-09-21 7:12 am I doubt many people already used to one operating system would try a different operating system for a month or two if they found it too hard to get used to. I understand it must be hard to get to the stage of feeling like a poweruser under Windows then discovering you’re just a novice in another OS. Guess it’s like learning to speak a foreign language. You feel dumb because you aren’t fluent but if you don’t give it a go .. your world remain a little narrower and inflexible. Cheers rob PS My 72 year old father is happily playing Mahjong and using email, digikam etc. under KDE. I tried to set him up with windows initially but the daily background upgrades, virus scans and definition downloads annoyed him. So installed KDE with a narrow panel containing large zooming icons of the programs he uses regularly. So his experience kind of confirms your viewpoint 2004-09-21 7:41 am If you’ve used KPDF you’d know the problem too, it has a serious bug that makes the fonts float together and in general being extremly ugly. Luckly it has been fixed in CVS. 2004-09-21 7:49 am As you’ve already been told if you’ve read this thread. Konqueror isn’t a web-browser nor is it a file-manager, it just uses plugins so it can act as both. Don’t like it as a web-browser use something, else no-one is forcing you. 2004-09-21 8:00 am Difficult to use? Difficult to configure? Please. It’s not hard, and if people persist in saying that KDE is too hard to configure then it’s not the right Desktop Environment for them i’m afraid. I would agree that, KDE is not all that difficult to use. However I think it is more difficult than it need to be. The reason for this is mostly badly chosen default values. One example, KDE uses single click to activate. This is probably OK once you get used to it, but I expect that 90% of all potential KDE users have previous windows experience and they will expect double click, so why not make that the default. Don’t piss of your users if you don’t have to. Another example, why use shadows on file names. It looks cool but it reduces readability. If the defaults were better most users would not need to do so much konfiguration. 2004-09-21 8:20 am I’m sure KDE has some problems, but is it really advisable to make it emulate Windows just to please Windows users? This seemed to be what the testers wanted anyway. I expect that 90% of all potential KDE users have experience of windows it is probably a good idea to emulate windows in most cases unless you have some compelling reason not to do so. That way we could take advantage of whatever skills they have gained on that other platform. Like it or not, Microsoft have set the standard for what a desktop environment should look like. We could have had a chance 10-15 years ago, but back then the macho attitude of free software developers was that if it could not be done with “vi” it was not worht doing. They should have tested people with very limited computer skills instead. Such users are very hard to come by. If you look at people in the ages 7-60, it is very hard to find people that have not used windows or MacOS. 2004-09-21 8:40 am The article basically sums up everything I’ve thought about KDE for a long time. I used it for years (from 3.0 onwards, IIRC) as it was the best around, but switched to GNOME recently. KDE is a fantastically powerful desktop with some great software (e.g. K3B, kontact) but it’s just so cluttered and requires so much mental energy to use that it is too hard to use all that power. I’m sure the self-proclaimed “hardcore-mega-power-users” will disagree vehemently, but KDE needs some serious tidying up. 2004-09-21 8:51 am > Finally! Someone writes what many people have been saying about KDE for years. Obviously you missed every previous KDE usability study. > high-performing (as long as you ignore the large inconsistencies between applications) There is no relation between performance and consistency. 2004-09-21 8:53 am > I don’t want to see KDE do what Gnome did around 1.4 > I remember Gnome circa 1.2 and I liked it I think this should read 2.0 in first and 1.4 in second line to make sense. 2004-09-21 8:55 am > Btw what was with the PDF problems nearly all the users experienced?? What do you mean (didn’t read every report)? KPDF rendering is pretty broken in KDE 3.3.0 but already fixed for KDE 3.3.1. 2004-09-21 8:58 am > I was hoping at least one of the users would complain “But why does every menu item start with a K?” Why should they complain about when it’s not the case? KDE defaults to menu items starting with generic names. 2004-09-21 9:02 am > One example, KDE uses single click to activate. This is probably OK once you get used to it, but I expect that 90% of all potential KDE users have previous windows experience Those 90% users only have to select “Windows preferences” in the first-time desktop settings wizard to get double click, windows style keybindings, style etc. Complain to your packager/distribution if this choice doesn’t get offered to you. 2004-09-21 9:42 am Woo. So much KDE hate here. KDE does require some configuration out of the box, but that’s a one-time task. Once it’s configured, it’s beautiful to use. I would prefer a standalone browser using KHTML, but I use Firefox anyway. I’ve tried GNOME, but it tries to hide too much away for anyone but the basic user. I’d rather have manu items which I don’t personally use, as opposed to not being able to find a menu item at all. There are some things which I simply cannot configure GNOME to do well at all. The most important point for me is that when I open an application, I like the menu bars and toolbars to be as small as possible. I like as much screen space as possible to be devoted to the application itself, not it’s options. I have Konqueror file manager set up so it looks just like Firefox, for example. I cannot find a way to do this in GNOME. No matter what I try, there aren’t enough options for configuring the toolbars. Nautilus, for example, is unuseably bad in this respect. 2004-09-21 9:47 am I hope a review is done on the Gnome system. It has some stunning wins and some horrible rough edges still to be worked out. Keep up the constructive criticism everyone. Logic shall save the day! 2004-09-21 9:57 am Wow they already did gnome 2.8 as well! http://www.userinstinct.com/viewpost.php?postid=gnome26review 2004-09-21 9:59 am 2.8!=2.6 2004-09-21 11:09 am Well I’m a kde lover but I hope you don’t mind me bitching about your rant. 1. I like Konqueror and I like how it is integrated into kde. Using both Konqueror and Firefox I haven’t observed any great speed differences between the two though. 2. Your rant against gnome is totally uncalled for. If you don’t like it and prefer kde simply use kde, that’s all there is to say about. Also imho you allegations against gnome are simply unfounded and false. (Mind, I do have my gripes with gnome and I prefer kde, but gnome is far from unusable, on the contrary.) 3. You obviously haven’t noticed it, but the whole point of freedesktop.org is being desktop agnostic. That way they can provide standards that both gnome and kde can agree upon. And frankly, I never had the impression freedesktop.org was pushing gnome (can you tell me how you got that impression) and seeing kde developers work happily along with the freedesktop.org guys I would think your allegations are simply totally unfounded. Finally a note on the discussion so far. Ignoring the usual gnome vs. kde flaming, I can’t understand why kde users feel the urge to defend kde against this study. This is simply silly, the purpose of this study is to improve kde and not bash it. But to improve something you first have to find out where it is lacking at the moment and the study does a good job at that. 2004-09-21 11:39 am Woah! You’ve got some serious issues. Did a GNOME developer kill your family or something? If you notice, a large fraction of the ‘anti’-KDE posts start off by saying “I use KDE all the time, but” or “KDE is great, but”. So this is their (semi-)informed opinion. For god’s sake, I’ve even had patches accepted to KDE and I still don’t use it any more. For many people, the logical, simple, design of GNOME is better *for them* than the ‘clutter’ of KDE. If that’s not true for you, fair enough. I think if you gave GNOME a try for a week you might be a little less vehement in your protests. I don’t think anyone can deny that KDE has some reasonably serious UI problems, and lashing out at GNOME won’t make them go away. 2004-09-21 12:30 pm Ralph: 1. I have 2. Yes it’s a rant, and it’s decidely deserved as the review was incredibly pro Gnomecentric it wasn’t funny…god I look at the titles these users have and I say i’d hate to have them working for me. It proves to me that titles and degrees are useless pieces of paper that do not show the true worth of an individual (argue that one please). KDE is not Gnome. Nor is it KDE. Nor is it Mac OS X. It’s KDE. It does it it’s way. It does it the way that the KDE developers feel is the best overall experience. People who use Windows are used to the Windows way. Same with Mac users. I’m highly proficient in Windows, Linux and Mac – having worked in support in all three arenas. When I started using computers back in 1997 my first taste was Windows 95. And you call KDE unintuitive or poorly designed or cluttered. I’d say biaised. When I started at Apple I’d never used a Mac before. I got the role based on my solid IT background. Mac OS 9 was a dogs mess. OS X was a lot lot better and more logical. I actually quite like OS X and I personally think it’s the best desktop environment out there. It’s not as configurable as i’d like, and I dislike Apple as a corporation, their ethics and morals leave a lot to be desired. That said I dislike their choice of licensing terms as well. That’s why I don’t use a Mac at home. But my point is, as a *new* user to a desktop environment, neither Windows, OS 9 or OS X were easy to use. Nor was everything ‘common-sense placed’. Certainly no easier than KDE, nor any more confusing. Gnome is simply poorly designed to my eyes and to many others. It’s been butchered now for quite a while in the attempt to please the ex Windows users who are generally too dumb to figure things out or do a bit of research. Further, to the actual review, the first test user, has a dummy spit about “it’s North America, not America, North”. WTF has that got to do with the Desktop Environment? Why does it even merit a comment? You don’t expect a user to just learn and like a desktop environment out of the box. That’s idiotic. It’s a moronic way of approaching the problem. You give them a good chance to settle in and play, 4-6 weeks minimum. The LAN browsing was a joke – that’s got to do with the kernel and bloody samba setup, not the desktop. And they take the mickey out of KDE for that! Well duh, if /etc/samba/smb.conf hasn’t been configured it isn’t going to do much is it? Likely nfs if it’s a nfs based network share. 3. Ahh yes I suggest you search about a bit, i’m too lazy to enlighten you and spend my time looking for particular articles. At one stage freedesktop.org had stated that it would not be accepting KDE but only Gnome. A year or so ago if memory serves me correct. If that isn’t biaised I don’t know what is. After an uproar from the KDE team freedesktop.org backed down. Several initial comments were made by freedesktop.org as to their choice of Gnome as the “default” and why KDE wasn’t included. This of course has all be swept under the carpet and everyone involved has kissed and made up. I simply cannot trust a organisation like freedesktop.org that clearly has ulterior motives or preferences. Everyone knows the two main desktops are Gnome and KDE, and everyone knows that users of both environments are heavily polarised and critical of the other. What one dislikes in Gnome, another user loves in KDE and vice versa. Oh and I used to use Gnome circa Redhat 5.2. Initially I disliked KDE (but for non usability reasons) but I have to say it’s great. It does what I want it to do, how I want it to do and it’s not particularly hard to learn how to use. Most of KDE is easy to configure and cleverly laid out. As i’m typing Konqueror has 15 icons up the top, my location bar and my bookmarks. That’s not overcrowded. I skimmed the Gnome 2.6 review and it was pretty clear to my eyes that this particular website is pro Gnome. Ben: No, lol, no Gnome developers killed my family. I’ve tried using Gnome 2.6 (as well as earlier versions, I do actually try something before making a decision), 3 or so days and found it plainly annoying and unintuitive. I simply did not like it. The human eye has a ability to zoom into things that ‘look’ good. Don’t believe me? Why do you look at the good looking girl as opposed to the ugly girl? KDE simply looks a lot better for starters. Functionally it’s better in my eyes. Sure, you are correct, what suits me may not suit others. And vice versa. So, each to their own. I personally do not believe that KDE has serious UI issues. Certainly not. A mate who’s dabbled a bit in Linux here and there, but not a great deal recently installed Linux. He’d never used KDE before, but had used Gnome before. He asked what KDE was like, and I said try it and see if you like it. Once he used KDE his comments were, “man this is cool”. He’s primarily a Windows guy, works in IT support, hasn’t really used Linux a super lot, hasn’t really used a Mac before. He didn’t have too many problems (unlike these test dummies in this review) figuring things out. Maybe it all comes down to the users having half a brain? I mean seriously, how hard is it to figure out that single click opens things in KDE (as opposed to double click). Once, maybe twice and any reasonable person would have figured it out and learnt. Kedutainment? What does that mean? Please….anyone who’s half intelligent would realise that it means education/entertainment. The 14 year old next to me figured that out in an instant. GIMP? Woah…Gnu Image Manipulation Project. Gnome is? Gnu Object Model Environment (if memory serves me correct). Gnome doesn’t seem to advertise that anymore, but i’m an old hand 😉 Both are GNU based projects. What has GIMP being hard to use/unintuitive got to do with KDE usability? The same thing would apply in both KDE and Gnome. The one test user didn’t like GIMP because he uses photoshop and it’s not similar enough…my oh me. That’s a personal preference there methinks. Doesn’t mean that GIMP is badly designed or has poor UI (in fact I think it’s UI is a lot better than Adobes half baked effort). Anyways i’ve wasted enough of my time on this thread… Dave 2004-09-21 12:30 pm @Rayiner: Fair enough, but isn’t KDE dearly missing a web browser and a file manager in that case? Actually I always wondered why nobody wrote a “real” web browser for KDE yet, it shouldn’t be too difficult inside the KDE framework. It seems that the current KDE users and developers don’t care too much about specialized applications and those who do, probably find what they want in GNOME. Personally I still think that it’s a good thing that both desktops are drifting into somewhat different directions, because this should allow us to fight less and concentrate more on what we enjoy (in theory…). @David Pastern: “Nautilus preferences” are what you get when you open a folder and select preferences, it makes perfect sense that you can configure the default size of the icons from this place. You can also access this very same preferences panel from Desktop Preferences -> File Managment. Maybe this should be more obvious, but it’s not trivial. The main issue is, that the Nautilus menu is only shown inside of folder windows, so you can’t easily access the preferences from the desktop (it creates other problems as well, forcing users to open a folder just to access the menu). Mac OS solves this nicely with their top menu bar, because this allows them to actually show the Finder menu when the desktop is focused. But I’m not sure if this would be a solution for GNOME. 2004-09-21 12:46 pm I think he’s confused UserLinux, which did have this fight, with freedesktop.org. 2004-09-21 1:02 pm Or LSB. The guys there are strongly in the GNOME camp, AFAIK. 2004-09-21 1:09 pm Just a short answer. This is not a review, this is a usability study. The whole point of such a study is to find the things people and especially new users have problems with and possibly make suggestions on how to solve these problems or solve them better. Again, this is needed to improve kde and if you followed the latest akademy a bit the kde developers agree. How you can call something not even mentioning gnome gnomecentric is beyond me. P.S.: You say you like OS X, quess what, it is as good as it is today because the OS X developers take usability seriously, acknowledge problems and constantly try to improve their product. (Same as the kde devs do imho, but you obviously don’t want them to…) And I agree with Ben, I think he simply confused UserLinux with freedesktop.org. Don’t ask me how such a thing can happen though. 2004-09-21 1:12 pm I don’t get the gripes about Konqueror being both a file manager and web browser. I love this. One of my gripes with Gnome is that these funtionalities are split into separate apps. Why? With tabs I can use the same app for separate functions. I use this feature ALOT. Additionally, why the complainst about single click? I HATE double click. It was the first thing I ditched when I left Windows years ago. It is the same with the desktop trash can. It is completely useless. I delete things ONCE, not TWICE. I have no probs with KDE ditching certain Windows paradigms. It was the ability to get such annoyances out of the way that got me hooked so quickly when I first jumped to Linux. I admit, KDE is not perfect, but for my uses, it is a d*mn good desktop. I also admit things like the control center has too many options, which could overwhelm someone new. However, having used it as long as I have, I have no problems at all changing any settings when needed, which isn’t that often. 2004-09-21 1:34 pm You said you need 4-6 weeks minimum to try a new DE, but you gave Gnome 3 days. Doesn’t look like you hit your own minimums? I find Gnome utterly usable, from the simplistic default options to the cool little things in gconf to change. My biggest issue with Gnome is simply all the background things it wants to do, it’s barely noticeably but it’s their. I like Gnome, it’s very good by default. I like KDE, it’s insanely customizable, but it’s averse to my abilities (I am unable to see options in GUI’s, it’s a disability I think). I love enlightenment and xfce4, both are wonderfully fast and have their own uniquely handy tools. These usability tests were crap though: Database manager Software VP Software lead designer One ordinary, but college educated, guy. Seriously, KDE just isn’t the *geek* DE on Linux and so they shouldn’t usability test with 90% geeks! Everyone knows that Developers are the least able to use software and the most critical about the way it works. 2004-09-21 2:10 pm “found icon after 20+ seconds” That’s the point! toolbard here, toolbars there, it’s juat bloated. There is rarely any task for which there’s only one application in KDE. There are always several programs doing the same thing slightly differently, but none do them without glitches. The menus are overloaded. Everythings’s overloaded. It doesn’t matter if Qt is faster than GTK+ when i always have to search 10+ seconds to find an item and always hace to paly around in the prefs to delete some icons. It would be such a powerful DE if they only started to clean up everything, uncluttered the interface, threw out a few programs and went for saner defaults. 2004-09-21 2:32 pm What programs are you talking about? 2004-09-21 2:35 pm I can only imagine what such a “study” would look like. Apps can cover the taskbar which takes, by default, roughly 150 pixels of screen space? Nope Users can change individual colors of any item on the desktop? Nope Users can change any setting at all without reading manpages for a f-ing month to find out what all the “settings” in the Windows registry rip-off mean? Nope. Users can change ANY setting on the desktop using the registry rip-off? Nope. — The point here is that all the KDE haters on this site keep pointing to GNOME like its achieved some sort of usability nirvana when, in reality, many people — myself included — find it to be completely UNusable. Keep in mind that this is coming from some who used to love GNOME! I used prefer it over everything else. The last few releases, however, left me cursing so much you’d think I have Tourettes. So I switched to KDE. Sure, it initially loads with a bit of clutter; but at least you can clean it up! The same can’t be said of GNOME (anymore). All you’re arguing for how the average stupid user can only understand the Great and Powerful Linux if we spoon-feed them from a Gerber’s bottle just doesn’t hold water. It’s an arogant argument that doesn’t give the average person near enough credit. Please try to keep this in mind when you all point to GNOME and ask me to kneel before the alter of de Icaza. 2004-09-21 2:49 pm <quote> I don’t think anyone can deny that KDE has some reasonably serious UI problems, and lashing out at GNOME won’t make them go away. </quote> Using KDE for about a year now I can’t say i’ve noticed any UI problems at all; in a way it feels rather refreshing to me as a change from Windows; in some small ways it’s even better… (I can’t really say anything about about Gnome more than that I tried it for 2 times but that it looked to me quite unpractical and somehow unstable, so I went back to KDE immediately.) Summary: I did not meet any great problems in the desktop environment I use, and which I chose for its simplicity in my eyes, which happens to be KDE – so maybe to a simple user like me, dual-booting windows/linux, maybe the issues are not so terrible… 2004-09-21 3:05 pm I’d like to see one of these for GNOME Obviously you didn’t read the comments in the story, or this site very often in the past. http://www.userinstinct.com/viewpost.php?postid=gnome26review 2004-09-21 3:07 pm Start menu > control centre > System Administration > date and time. How hard is that? WTF are the preferences for an applet doing under “System Administration”? That’s what is hard about it. And no, I don’t use KDE. I tried once, did not like it and it was _slow_, compared to i.e. Gnome on the very same HW. ATM, I use XFCE4, for the record. 2004-09-21 3:08 pm The menus are overloaded. Everythings’s overloaded. It doesn’t matter if Qt is faster than GTK+ when i always have to search 10+ seconds to find an item and always hace to paly [sic] around in the prefs to delete some icons. Well, it’s better than not finding the item because it doesn’t exist at all… That’s my main gripe against GNOME. I used it for about a year (2.2/2.6 a bit, mostly 2.4) but got a bit tired because of the general crawlness of GTK+ and because some options are deeply hidden or completely missing. And 2.4 and 2.6 were not stable on my PCs. However, I didn’t hated the interface. In fact, my KDE interface is laid out like the default one in GNOME. I also noticed something: while non-HIG compliant KDE applications are looking okay, most non-HIG compliant GTK/GNOME applications are UI disasters. Unfortunately, I needed some of these applications… In another message: I find Gnome utterly usable, from the simplistic default options to the cool little things in gconf to change. Well, I don’t consider switching my sinks from oss to alsa in gstreamer as a “cool little thing”. 2004-09-21 3:12 pm Coming from Windows, pretty much anything is going to seem good Earlier versions of GNOME were pretty poor (I didn’t switch until 2.6). Things I miss from KDE: – macos style application menu bar – Kate has some nice features over gedit – Some of the apps – K3b, kmail – KPilot had some good features (DOC syncing) Things I prefer in GNOME: – Nautilus – window selector menu – pager applet actually allows you to move windows – trash can implementation – fewer unnecessary dialogs (do I want to send this to the trash? Of course I do – that’s why I pressed delete.) KDE just needs to be tidied up a bit, IMHO. 2004-09-21 3:14 pm “WTF are the preferences for an applet doing under “System Administration”? That’s what is hard about it.” It’s in both locations, just as there is an item for it in the new gnome system tools and also preferences for it when you right click on the applet in the gnome panel. Stop your whining. 2004-09-21 3:16 pm Why are there so many conspiracy theorists that instantly point to a coalition against their desktop of choice whenever an article is linked that doesn’t agree with them? Too many close-minded, paranoid people. 2004-09-21 3:26 pm Kopete, send on enter as Default, I couldn’t disagree more. I really hate that, it’s so illogical that if I want multible lines (and I do), I can’t just push enter, insteed I’l send multible messages if I try, which I find even more annoying. Otherwise I think this studie hits the spot. 2004-09-21 3:51 pm so because you cant change some random colors you cant use the desktop wow, what a picky person you are. 2004-09-21 3:55 pm It’s not exactly an unreasonable thing to want to do, now, is it? 2004-09-21 4:34 pm The vast majority of IM apps (ICQ is the only exception) have this default. While it may be more “correct” to have ctrl+enter to send, the vast majority of people using IM clients only send single line messages and have the expectation . In fact, the only time I really use the multiline feauture is when I do artwork with smilies . In any case, the best defaults are the ones that most users will be comfortable with, while making it relatively easy to change the setting. The password thing befuddled me. In my gentoo install, KDM defaults to using single dots to represent single password characters. Does slackware have this default set differently or does it use a login manager other than KDM? As for the one guy who couldn’t find a graphical ftp client, this is a failing of how konqueror presents itself and the impatience of the user to figure something new and very powerful out. 2004-09-21 5:57 pm I’ve been struggling for the last year or so, jumping back and forth between both DE’s. Personally I find that they are both great alternatives to any windows setup I have ever used. Sure some things are easier to get working in windows, but that’s a different topic. (I only game in it ) Correct me if I’m wrong, but one thing I really like about KDE is for instance when I create a new folder in Konq, it will automatically refresh the folder and the file(folder) will just show up instantly after its made. I found that in Naut whenever I do that same I had to ctrl+r to refresh the folder to see the newly created folder. This is one thing I love about KDE. This goes the same for installing themes. I have to restart the theme selection screen in Gnome to see the newly installed themes on the list of selections. Sorry if this is just a setting that I dont have setup, but thats a point for KDE in the useabilitiy area. I shouldn’t have to set something like that, it should be setup by default. Gnome on the other hand just “feels” better to me. I find that most of the useful apps I use are written in GTK and they just look out of place under KDE. (though they work just fine under KDE, because GTK is different from Gnome) Its all about personal preference if you ask me and KDE is my choice at the moment. Though I’m waiting for the dropline gnome (todd) to release 2.8 packages to give it a try. I like em both . 2004-09-21 6:30 pm This article wasn’t comparing Gnome to Kde useability… These were mainly Windows/Mac users going to KDE. I don’t think its very fair to compare them in the first place. Windows isn’t exactly all that customizable in the first place, especially to the new comer. KDE and Gnome are in a whole different league of their own due to the customizabiliy (erm.. sorry for the spell mistakes) level vs the standard WinXP desktop for instance. Now, with that said, its hard to have “logical” defaults for a desktop that has no real default anything… I hope that makes sense. There are defaults, but thats just to aid in the process of making it easier to customize it as you go. I don’t know where I was going with this post, but it popped into my head and I thought I’d try and explain what I mean. Thanks for listen (reading) – David – S0no 2004-09-21 7:09 pm There is a serious problem with many KDE users who think power must compromise simplicity. At the edge of the design space, this is probably true, but KDE Isn’t at this edge. It’s somewhere in the interior, where it could be significantly simplified without impacting power. Let me give you some examples: – Konqueror’s toolbar has twice as many buttons as it needs. “Increase font size” doesn’t need to be in the default toolbar. Most people don’t use it that often. If you really do, then you can always use the toolbar configurator to add it yourself. Give the minimality of the Firefox interface (and it’s popularity), I’d posit that there are really only four or five browser buttons that people use on a regular basis. It makes much more sense to put those by default, and let users add any extra ones they use manually, then to force every user to remove all the buttons they don’t want. – Konqueror’s right-click menu is unscannable. A person can only hold a bit more than half a dozen items easily in memory at once. If your menus meet this limit, then the user can eventually memorize them and no longer have to read them to use them. For you CS-oriented people, this means O(1) access to the menu. If you exceed this limit, the user not only has to scan the menu each time to use it (O(n) access), but loses his concentration in the process. Sometimes, long menus are unavoidable in the main menu. That’s okay, because the main menu is intended to be scanned. However, the whole point of the right-click menu (and toolbar), is to offer *quick* access to features. If the user has to scan the menu, it defeats the purpose of the menu. This isn’t exactly rocket-science. People who argue for long context menus and toolbars (because it saves mousing distance to the main menu), do so out of ignorance. It’s just like those who think a menubar in the window is faster than a menubar at the top of the screen, because the former takes less mousing. In reality, voilation of Fitts law makes the former five times slower than the latter. There are hard compromises between usability and simplicity. Configuration options are one example. Removing little-used ones entirely would make things simpler than moving them to advanced tabs, but that’d comromise power. Those decisions are hard decisions, but there is a ton of low-hanging fruit to be had before they have to be made. 2004-09-21 7:38 pm It seems that importance of “less is more” and “let the users expectations provide the norm” is gradually gaining traction in KDE, which is great for everyone. My impression is that KDE needs an even more radical shift in perspective that what seems presently to be the case, and would just like to add that for someone to ponder about. The attitude seems still to be “we can cut options, but there is a limit to how much that is really needed”. I think this attitude is the wrong way to think about it – the battle of developer priorities is completly irrelevant to the task at hand. What is at issue is not really options at all, but rather a vision of simplicity and elegancy from a user perspective. The task should rather be: what should we put in, in order to make make something as natural, self explanatory and pleasing as possible? If KDE could substitue their present geekhood (with regard to the GUI part), to another kind of geekhood, the one that is obsessed with such things as style, communication, proportions, elegancy, they would beat GNOME easily. One example, IMHO, is the knaming convention. From the existing perspective the question is going to be “why should it matter whether we have it or not?”. From the other perspective I think it is clear that it would automatically be regarded with abhorrence. 2004-09-21 9:15 pm While articles like this are very useful, do not mistake them as “studies”. This one in particular is nothing more than a collection of soundbites from random users. It is helpful in that it demonstrates what *some* users have problems with, but it is completely silent about what the most important problems are. This study also limits itself to the newbie. Users were not given any acclimation time, as they would be in a professional usability study. Thus it focuses on familiarity to the exclusion of any real usability analysis. A far more important study would be to examine experienced KDE users. Give them a KDE desktop on Monday and come back on Friday to silently observe, then on Saturday to interview. 2004-09-21 10:16 pm Correct me if I’m wrong, but one thing I really like about KDE is for instance when I create a new folder in Konq, it will automatically refresh the folder and the file(folder) will just show up instantly after its made. I found that in Naut whenever I do that same I had to ctrl+r to refresh the folder to see the newly created folder. This is one thing I love about KDE. This goes the same for installing themes. I have to restart the theme selection screen in Gnome to see the newly installed themes on the list of selections. Sorry if this is just a setting that I dont have setup, but thats a point for KDE in the useabilitiy area. I shouldn’t have to set something like that, it should be setup by default. This _should_ work by default in GNOME, if it doesn’t, then your distribution is broken. The auto updating of changed files is handled by FAM, which is probably missing for you. 2004-09-21 10:57 pm Those 90% users only have to select “Windows preferences” in the first-time desktop settings wizard to get double click, windows style keybindings, style etc. Complain to your packager/distribution if this choice doesn’t get offered to you. True, but if you just select next in the wizard, as many unexperienced people do, you should get a behavior that most users would expect, i.e. double click to activate. The fact that you can configure something is good, but it is not an excuse for not providing good defaults if you chose not to. 2004-09-21 11:48 pm And they said KDE doesn’t need a HIG. 2004-09-22 2:43 am I’d like to thank everyone here that has voiced the opinion that KDE is too complicated. You’ve really made me feel smart, because it doesn’t seem incredibly difficult to use to me. 2004-09-22 4:01 am Quote: “I’d like to thank everyone here that has voiced the opinion that KDE is too complicated. You’ve really made me feel smart, because it doesn’t seem incredibly difficult to use to me.” ditto. I think the Gnome KDE bashers are having fun. Of course Eugenia must use Gnome and must find it fun as well. I make a most that fairly ‘bashes’ Gnome and it gets deleted (obviously some Gnome love objected to it and some Gnome lover removed it to appease them). This post will most probably get deleted as well to make others happy. A lot of the users are confusing a vast choice of configuration options as automatically making something difficult. If the configuration options are intuitive then it’s not difficult. Comprehensive yes, difficult no. Dave 2004-09-22 6:31 am > And they said KDE doesn’t need a HIG. Because KDE actually *has* a HIG. 2004-09-22 7:20 am > At one stage freedesktop.org had stated that it would not > be accepting KDE but only Gnome I have no idea what you’re talking about. This is a bizarre accusation that you should really back up with a URL or two. Freedesktop.org exists in order to help various projects to work together, and to create standards for interoperability. The projects are working together via freedesktop.org, whether or not you think that they shouldn’t. 2004-09-22 10:54 am My apologies guys, I was wrong. It was NOT freedesktop.org but userlinux (as another poster posted earlier). I admit to getting the two mixed up. So in that instance of course, i’ll retract my earlier comments about freedesktop.org (the post has been removed anyways by a moderator). Link for one of the articles is: http://www.linuxworld.com/story/38271.htm?DE=1 My comments to Gnome vs KDE still stand. As to resizing desktop icons – having those options in Gnomes Nautilus is still what I consider idiotic. It’s a desktop icon. Nautilus is the file manager. I’ll quote straight from the Debian archives: “Nautilus is an open-source file manager and graphical shell being developed by Eazel, Inc. and others.” What would the Gnome users say if Konqueror was used to set icon control? They’d be spitting their dummies badly at how bad KDE is. Manipulation of the desktop is logically placed in a control center. Someone else posted that Mac OS X is nice and has a good UI, and yes it does. To compare Gnome to Mac OS X though is like comparing chalk to cheese. OS X is much more elegant, much more easier to use, if dumbed down with configuration options. As to using it for 3 days or so, and someone else saying that I’m not adhering to my own ‘standards’, in part you can argue that you’re right. But i’ll still disagree – why? I’m not an average user, i’m familiar with previous versions of Gnome. My comments of 4-6 weeks were for someone who’s completely unfamiliar with Linux and Gnome etc (only used to Windows or Mac). Both Gnome & KDE do things differently to their proprietary bretheren, and in many ways better. To cut to the chase, I like KDE, I prefer it to Gnome and I found the user reviews biaised, innacurate and unnecessarily unkind to KDE. It made out that a users lack of knowledge of Linux (or preference for proprietary layouts in applications) was the sole fault of KDE and that’s total baloney. Dave 2004-09-22 1:31 pm Because KDE actually *has* a HIG. An obsolete made by volunters one. 2004-09-22 3:19 pm > An obsolete made by volunters one. Yes, it is quite old. Anyway, you’ll be happy to know that Novell employed a usability expert to join the KDE project, and currently he with the KDE team are working on the new HIG. 2004-09-22 6:43 pm > An obsolete made by volunters one You will be shocked to learn that whole KDE was created by volunteers.