User Interface of the X Configuration Tool

Sebastian Heinlein glatzor at
Mon Jun 4 12:15:10 BST 2007

Am Montag, den 04.06.2007, 22:43 +1200 schrieb Matthew Paul Thomas:
> On May 30, 2007, at 6:12 AM, Sebastian Heinlein wrote:
> > ...
> > the new and shiny GTK frontend to displayconfig (the x configuration
> > part of the KDE admin suite named guidance) has got some usability
> > issues. I would like to start a discussion about this to get your input
> > and comments.
> So here's what the competition does:
> <>

How does the MacOS dialog allow to change the resolution of each

> > ...
> >
> According to this specification, there will be one UI 
> (gnome-display-properties) for people who have one display, another UI 
> (display-config-gtk) for people who have two displays, and yet another 
> UI (hacking the X config files yourself) for people who have three or 
> more displays. I think this is unfortunate and unnecessary.
> Having discussed this with you on IRC, I understand that the current 
> situation is:
> *   we can't auto-detect the existence of displays, because of
>      limitations in X;
> *   we can't put a separate settings dialog on each display (like Mac OS
>      X does), because we can't rely on the config on any given display
>      being non-broken.
> These make the interface more complex than it could be, but I still 
> think we could have a single interface for any number of displays.

gnome-display-properties will not do the job completely for a one
monitor setup. On many systems it does not provide the wanted
resolutions. Furthermore it only allows to change the resolution of the
corresponding user and not to do any system wide changes.

So I am also clearly against providing multiple tools. The basic idea of
displayconfig was to use xrand for instant applying as far as possible
but still base the configuration on the xorg.conf. The user at the front
of the computer should always have got the right to change the
xorg.conf, e.g. see network manager.

> At the top center of the window could be an option menu listing the 
> available displays (defaulting to the primary display), followed by a 
> separator, then items for managing multiple displays. The rest of the 
> window would show settings for the current display. For example:
>                ________________________________________
>               |(x)             Displays             (-)|
>               |         ______________________         |
>               |        |__LCD (Primary)_____:^|        |
>               |________________________________________|
>               |                                        |
>               |     (display-specific settings here)   |
>               :                                        :
> The menu when opened:
>                ________________________________________
>               |(x)            Displays              (-)|
>               |         ______________________         |
>               |        |/:LCD:(Primary):::::::|        |
>               |________|  Canon LV-7575       |________|
>               |        |  Unknown             |        |
>               |        |----------------------|        |
>               |        |  Graphics Card...    |        |
>               |        |  Arrange Displays... |        |
>               :         """"""""""""""""""""""         :
> "Graphics Card..." and "Arrange Displays..." would both open separate 
> dialogs, and would not be actual choices.
> I agree with Corey and Mikko that the arrangement UI should use 
> draggable thumbnails of each display. For accessibility, each thumbnail 
> could be focusable and movable using the arrow keys.

In GNOME we use a notebook with tabs or a left sided list view. It would
not be consistent.

I am against using the combobox for such a central element of the
dialog, since it hides all other information at the first time.

Especially there is no indication to find the arrangement and graphics
card action in the combobox. At the first time it will only show the
name of a display - in the worst case even "Unknown".

Additionally you have to think of systems with multiple cards.

Please see my previous mails about the bad workflow of setting up a dual
screen setup if the configuration is scattered on different dialogs or



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