Feature request: browsing filesystem in gnome "computer" menu

Christian Luijten christian at luijten.org
Thu Nov 18 05:09:41 CST 2004

On 18 Nov 2004, at 8:53, Peter Damoc wrote:

> The main problem is that people don't get it. A lot of people come 
> from Windows and they are used with a certain behaviour, some of them 
> are willing to give the new way a try but soon succumb to usability 
> issues. Maybe they

I find it funny to read that "all" Windows people expect certain 
behaviour. The only argument against Spatial seems to be that it is not 
like how Windows does it!

Well, let me turn the whole thing 180 degrees around. If someone with 
OS X wants to give Ubuntu with file browsing set as default a try. He 
or she is used with a certain behaviour, i.e. spatial windows, some of 
them are willing to give the new way a try but soon succumb to 
usability issues... Hmm...

Spatial encourages users to have shallow directory structures, because 
they will have many windows open on their desktops if they don't. 
Shallow directories result in being able to easily find your files 
back. Furthermore it is a much better metaphor for file browsing than 
the original browser since it abstracts the whole concept of a 
filesystem. There is no need for the user to know how a filesystem is 
built up with spatial views.

With browsing that is a different case, the user has to have a 
tree-view of (part of) the filesystem open to be able to navigate. Such 
there is way too much information in the window and the user is 
confused very easily (seen it happen).

Web browsing and file browsing are two completely different (and 
incomparable) things (Microsoft seems to think different on this). 
While web browsing is like reading a book, file browsing is like 
searching a file cabinet.

Now, back to our Windows switchers which expect a certain behaviour:

I just switched a family from Windows XP to Ubuntu with no problems at 
all. They were so irritated by the spyware and viruses that they almost 
ditched their internet connection in an attempt to keep their computer 
clean. They are completely non-technical users who want their computer 
to 'just work'. I installed Ubuntu and they're happy now, starting 
Windows only every now and then to do some DVD burning etc. They 
understand that Ubuntu is not Windows and that it is possible that 
something which works one way in Windows works in another way in 

Maybe it is a good idea to look at the facts, is spatial indeed 
confusing for Windows users, instead of deciding for them that it is? 
One of the key factors I think is not to look upon Windows users as 
stupid users. The larger part of the Windows using population is not 
interested in technology and just want a computer that works.

I believe many opponents of spatial windows use Windows as an argument 
because they cannot adapt to the "new" way of doing things. Come on 
people, give your real reasons for rejecting spatial Nautilus.

Christian Luijten

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