A Plea to Canonical: Ubuntu UI design - desktop icons and workspaces

Willem Ferguson willemferguson at zoology.up.ac.za
Mon Aug 3 12:09:37 UTC 2015

Dear Canonical,
There are two key areas in which the Ubuntu desktop is deficient:

1) The spacing between desktop icons is fixed (or at least, not openly 
and easily available via tools such as Unity Tweak). The spacing between 
icons is, in fact, extremely wide. Even Windows has a straight-forward 
facility to change this value. It affects the way in which one arranges 
icons on the desktop, and thus my productivity when I deal with several 
icons. Users need a facility to change the between-icon spacing in an 
arbitrary way while MAINTAINING the alignment, thus allowing grouping of 
icons and spatial placement of icons closer to the screen margins to 
facilitate workflow. With such a tool one would need an option that 
controls the caption below the icon in a sensible way, e.g. reflowing of 
long captions or only showing the first part of the caption.

2) I get the impression that the workspace concept is being phased out 
since workspaces are switched OFF by default on my latest installation 
(15.04). Not all users are so dumb as most Windows users who only use a 
single workspace. This is a facility that strongly promotes screen use 
and, consequently, productivity. A strong workspace facility is one of 
the things that helps to put Ubuntu ahead of competing UIs. Currently, I 
a) need to switch workspaces ON and then b) I need to click TWICE to 
perform a workspace change. This is a marked regression since Gnome 2 
which had a single task bar icon with on-icon area sensitivity with 
which a single click allowed the selection of a particular workspace. 
This disappeared with Unity. Now this requires a click of the workspace 
icon and a second click to select the particular workspace. The keyboard 
shortcut of CTL-ALT-arrow is useful but totally counterintuitive for the 
user that depends largely on the GUI to perform tasks. A single-click 
solution to change workspaces would materially facilitate the use of 
this facility.

Please help us to make Ubuntu so far superior to its desktop competitors 
that users will automatically prefer Ubuntu!

Kind regards,
Willem Ferguson, Pretoria, South Africa

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