[ubuntu-uk] Ubuntu - Wrong Direction?

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Sat Dec 3 13:59:02 UTC 2011

On 3 December 2011 08:36, Barry Drake <ubuntu-advertising at gmx.com> wrote:
> On 03/12/11 04:15, Liam Proven wrote:
>> I think it is easier if you have Mac experience. If all someone knows is
>> Windows, they're lost.
> In a recent post, Paula said exactly the opposite - and she's working with
> Windows folk at FossBox on a day to day basis.

To quote Dr Ben "Bad Science" Goldacre, I think you'll find it's a bit
more complicated than that.

If someone is a reasonably expert "techie" and knows their way around
one type of computer fairly well, and then some major element of the
UI is suddenly changed, they seem liable to become lost and very

OTOH, if someone is an "ordinary user", who has never really
understood computers and doesn't know the difference between icons and
buttons, or what a "dialog box" is, then they just sort of feel their
way around. They don't really know what they are doing and have no
particular expectations of what the UI will do - they don't know what
a "UI" is. They just click buttons. Sometimes, stuff happens.
Sometimes, it doesn't, in which case, click again a few times and
failing that move on and do something else, or ask someone for help.

/That/ kind of user is fine with a change of UI. They didn't
understand the old one, they don't understand the new one, but so long
as it has big colourful buttons they can click and it does stuff in
response, they're happy.

This sort of user - and they are the majority of users - do not /do/
things like have multiple app windows open and switch between them.
They don't switch virtual desktops. They don't juggle multiple
instances of apps. They work in one app at a time. If it opens
fullscreen, they use it fullscreen; if it opens in a window, they use
it in a window. If it opens minimised, then to them, it didn't work.
They can't see it, can't find it and don't know to look for icons in
trays and things.

So there are 3 categories of user here:

[1] experts who use multiple OSs and multiple GUIs and are comfortable
in all of them.
[2] techies who only really know one UI and tend to be infuriated if it changes
[3] non-techies, who don't really *know* /any/ UI and barely notice changes

Unity is fine with groups 1 & 3 but infuriates group 2.

Now this is obviously a sweeping generalisation. For instance, I know
some highly-skilled experts who hate Unity, too! :¬)

But then, for instance, if someone is a highly-skilled expert and
really drives the UI hard, then small things like, say, the fact that
Unity's multiple-desktop support doesn't have window thumbnail
previews in it, when the GNOME one did, is a significant feature loss.
I routinely work with half a dozen windows open and Unity's window
management is fine for me - but I know people who claim to routinely
work with 30, 40, 50+ windows open and for them it's not good enough.

OTOH, very skilled people like that are entirely capable of switching
to a different desktop, and that's fine and good.

The problem is when they:
[a] bad-mouth Unity and tell others it's useless rubbish (i.e.,
projecting their experiences or preferences onto others)
[b] blame Ubuntu for removing GNOME 2, when it wasn't Ubuntu's fault
(i.e. misplace the blame & fail to realise that Ubuntu had no choice,
that the GNOME Project killed its own child in favour of the new baby)
[c] can't find a new desktop they like and complain that Ubuntu isn't
democratic (it never was, but if someone's a bit inflexible and can
only cope with a single UI, it's not the distributor's fault.)

The one that makes me particularly sad is when people try Unity, hate
it, switch to GNOME 3 Shell and like it and then use it to bad-mouth
Unity. I am sure GNOME Shell is fine - I can use it, I just don't like
it much. But Unity is more like GNOME 2 than GNOME Shell is. If Ubuntu
had gone with GNOME Shell, then it would have been an even bigger
change and I am absolutely certain that those people would have
complained about it even more! But, no, instead, they blame Ubuntu for
a UI that they just happen not to like and say that they are leaving
Ubuntu, that's it's turned to rubbish, etc. etc.

Liam Proven • Info & profile: http://www.google.com/profiles/lproven
Email: lproven at cix.co.uk • GMail/GoogleTalk/Orkut: lproven at gmail.com
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