[ubuntu-uk] Ubuntu - Wrong Direction?

Tony Pursell ajp at princeswalk.fsnet.co.uk
Sat Dec 3 16:33:49 UTC 2011

On 3 December 2011 13:59, Liam Proven <lproven at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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
> angry.
> 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.
Well said, Liam.

I had thought Unity bashing was a thing of the past (ie back in 11.04).  I
suspect there is a sizeable silent majority (me included) that just got on
with it and have grown to love Unity.  In Unity, for instance, I
effortlessly use multiple windows but ever used them in Gnome.

I think the big failing was not to prepare people for Unity and to give
little help when it hit them.  There was a lot of discussion about
providing some transitional help by way of default Unity Help on the
desktop or a Tip of the Day facility, but nothing came of it.  So now we
are facing the next big migration to Unity, when people upgrade from
10.04LTS to 12.04LTS, this is going to happen all over again.  Shame.

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