Properly identifying applications

Patrick Goetz pgoetz at
Tue Jun 9 14:50:26 UTC 2009

It looks like no one responded to the concern raised below.  It makes 
sense to me that all applications should be identified by their name as 
well as their function in gnome GUI menus.  Furthermore, not doing so 
frequently increases confusion for naive users.  For example, due to 
ongoing bugs with the linux acrobat reader postscript rendering engine, 
users frequently come to our office because they couldn't print a pdf 
file.  We tell them to use evince instead of acrobat reader.  They look 
for a program called evince in the menus, and can't find anything.  No 
one knows to look for "Document Viewer" -- in fact, what does this even 
mean?  What kind of documents?  In 9.04 Document Viewer appears to have 
disappeared from the menu, but "Image Viewer" is still there.  The 
default image viewer used to be Eye of Gnome, but this appears to be 
something different  -- since the menu is non-standard, one can't tell 
from the application itself; the only way to find out is to dig through 

When the command line is more user friendly than the GUI, this should 
set off those little alarm bells that something needs to be done 

Of course the complication in the linux world is the plethora of choices 
which exist for each application type, especially on larger networks 
like ours where users are strongly opinionated about which {editor, 
compiler, pdf viewer, image viewer, browser, etc.} is the best one and 
must be installed.  How to create a manageable user experience for the 
less knowledgeable user in the presence of dozens of choices for each 
task?  I'm not sure what the answer is at the moment, but a no-brainer 
choice is to clearly identify WHAT application is being invoked from the 

> Date: Sat, 6 Jun 2009 13:41:43 +0100
> From: Peter Berry <pwberry at>
> Subject: Using functional descriptions for default applications' menu
> 	entries
> To: ubuntu-devel-discuss at
> Bug 105685 (
> was recently rejected again, on the grounds that "it's not a bug",
> despite apparent consensus (from my and another's admittedly biased
> perspective) that it is. See previous thread:
> I have four media players installed: MPlayer, Xine, Totem and VLC. I
> find all of them wanting from time to time and if one doesn't work,
> it's useful to be able to try another. So on my system clearly "Movie
> Player" is ambiguous and makes it more difficult to find Totem. (It's
> also an Americanism and imprecise since it also plays pure audio - IMO
> "video player" or "media player" would be better.) I also find it
> galling that GNOME devs apparently think it is OK to say Movie Player
> = Totem, as if nothing else in the world deserved the name.

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