User Interface of the X Configuration Tool

Sebastian Heinlein glatzor at
Tue Jun 5 15:41:23 BST 2007

Am Mittwoch, den 06.06.2007, 00:16 +1200 schrieb Matthew Paul Thomas:
> On Jun 5, 2007, at 7:01 PM, Sebastian Heinlein wrote:
> >
> > Am Dienstag, den 05.06.2007, 14:28 +1200 schrieb Matthew Paul
> Thomas:
> >>
> >> On Jun 4, 2007, at 11:15 PM, Sebastian Heinlein wrote:

> > Your widget would contain different entry types.
> I think the location menu should eventually behave the same way. (The 
> current scheme, of three unlabelled buttons to the right of the menu, 
> is unattractive and unreasonably difficult to understand.) It is not 
> common in Windows for dropdown listboxes to contain commands for 
> managing the list they contain, but that's because they're drawn as 
> listboxes rather than as menus, and it is much more obvious that a menu 
> item will perform a command than that a listbox item will. But this GUI 
> pattern is quite common for option menus in Mac OS, and I think the 
> only reason it's not common in Gnome is that there isn't nearly as much 
> Gnome software yet.

I attached a screenshot with all the combo-, option- and etc. boxes of
GTK. I think this should put an end to this confusion.

> > The graphics card entry would not even refer to another object type but
> > also launch a sub dialog, instead of modifying the current dialog.
> You might be right, the graphics card item might need to be a separate 
> button. I can't tell that until I understand how graphics cards relate 
> to displays.
> > Before you could reuse the locations from the network admin you would
> > have to introduce a meta concept of locations.
> That's what I'm suggesting. :-) I doubt there needs to be a separate 
> Location Manager, though. Probably it would be enough to have an 
> unobtrusive management interface in each tool that uses the locations.

I could only image a few setups where the network configuration would
correspond to the display configuration. Most networks are just DHCP
ones. E.g. although you are on your company's network (location at work)
you would still need different display configurations (e.g.
"presentation" or "workspace").

Just sharing exactly the same locations doesn't work.

> >> I think that the widget even on the Windows dialog looks very strange.
> You may be looking at screenshots and thinking that the Windows dialog 
> uses a combo box, but it doesn't. You've been misled by the Windows bug 
> I described above, where dropdown listboxes and combo boxes look 
> exactly the same. In Windows Vista, the default theme makes it much 
> more obvious that the monitor selector is a dropdown listbox that you 
> cannot type into. <>

Is this a mockup or the current Vista screen settings?

> > ...
> >> Sorry, I don't yet understand the ratio of graphics cards to displays
> >> and why they need to be configured separately. Enlighten me. :-)
> >
> > A visual connection between the card and the screens would make it
> > easier to identify "Unkown" devices on multiple card setups. But I
> > skipped this in my latest approach too.
> >
> > Some time ago I posted a mockup that used the graphics card as the main
> > object.
> >
> > You suggested to separate the graphics cards configuration by
> > introducing a sub dialog. :)
> Is there somewhere I can read about the relationship between cards and 
> displays? Is it 1:1? Is it 1:n? How friendly, and how long, are typical 
> detected names for cards? Approximately what proportion of people have 
> 1 card, what proportion have 2, and what proportion have 3?

Card names can differ quite a lot. I attached a quite large list of
graphics card names. So the names are quite unfriendly. Most (not linux)
users perhaps even don't know the exact model. That is the impression I
have got from the forums.

I cannot give you any proportions of the user groups. But the ones with
only one card seem to be the majority. There are also people who have
got a slow onboard card and an additional pci-e or agp card.

The group of people with three displays are really a minority. If there
is anybody using three monitors he or she should raise his or her voice!

I don't know many cards that have got three outputs. E.g. the T60 has
got an internal display, an external vga and an external dvi (in the
docking station). Most cards support one or two displays.

> > ...
> > If we get the locations chooser there would be two comboboxes. That
> > would result in a quite nested dialog.
> > ...
> That's a good point. But perhaps you don't actually need locations 
> after all. Instead, store all the detected identifying information for 
> up to (say) the 50 most recent unique displays the user configured, 
> together with how they configured each of them the last time they used 
> them. (This information wouldn't be shown anywhere in the GUI, it would 
> be used solely for making things Just Work.) Then the next time a 
> display is detected, compare it against the list of previous displays. 
> If there's a match, automatically set the display to the configuration 
> the user used for that display last time.

This feature was thought about for inclusion into XRandR. The main
problem is still, that you cannot trust the hardware (and we cannot
detect the second monitor using our infrastructure).

> Even if that approach requires better auto-detection of displays, maybe 
> you could hold off on including a locations menu, instead of adding it 
> now only to remove it later when auto-detection makes it unnecessary.

The location selector was highly requested from the support team at UDS.
And it was quite easy to implement. I chose to reuse the button order
from network-admin, although I don't like it. I would prefer removing
the apply button and making changes of the combobox to apply instantly.
Furthermore I would like to add a change indicator so that you have got
an idea if you have to re-save your location.

I made some feisty packages (with location support):

Perhaps you should just give it a try.


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