[ubuntu-uk] Unity is not working.

Kris Douglas krisdouglas at gmail.com
Wed Feb 22 13:43:15 UTC 2012


Linux Mint is higher in the rankings than Ubuntu.
I have just come off the phone with a customer, we write web
applications and we prefer they use Google Chrome because we're
planning to write a plugin and all sorts, but that is irrelevant.

This customer called in, asked if he could install chrome on his new
Ubuntu desktop. I thought, "Great, another Ubuntu user in the world".
I got him to open Firefox and download TeamViewer (we have a premium
license) so I could show him how to install Chrome. We went through
the stages, got it installed and working, but then, he asked where to
open TeamViewer. He said "It's not on the desktop icons down the left"
and I directed him to open the applications menu "What applications

This person is not stupid, however he did not know where the unity
menu (or whatever it's called) was located. We spent around 15 minutes
trying to get to the stage where he could open TeamViewer. It ended up
me asking to type "Ctrl+Alt+T" to which he replied "Oh a terminal,

We had TeamViewer running in seconds.

Now what is the problem with this? A user that doesn't know how to
open the applications menu must raise alarm bells somewhere. He has
has this machine for 6 weeks thinking it only had the icons down the
left installed on it. (i.e the Unity Dock). Now someone could say to
me "why didn't he read the manual?" The answer to that question is
"Why should he need to?". Not even my Nan when she got her new Windows
7 laptop (after previously never using windows 7) read a manual, or
needed to.

Why is it that Unity requires the user to be an expert. A picture of
the ubuntu logo means a lot to us, but to someone who goes and buys a
cheap computer it means jack all. They wouldn't think to click there
there is no hit that explains it's existence.

So the question, I ask, is why is Linux Mint higher in the rankings
than Ubuntu. The answer is simple, no joe average can use Ubuntu with
ease now! You login to mint, you have a menu that says, believe it or
not, "MENU" and when you click it, again, believe it or not, it shows
you the program categories you can choose from (e.g "Oh, I want the
Internet, oh look Firefox, I know what that is."). It makes sense to
the user, it is what they are used to and it is a very friendly and
comfortable environment.

The electrician I work with on this software has been telling me for
two years now, meaning NO offence to anyone at all, but "The user is
stupid". I know this is not the most tactful way to put it, but after
hearing this for two years I know what he means. Basically the
principle is, the programmer is able to use the software, because he
made it, he is an expert. If you give that to a user, who has no idea,
he will have no idea how to use it. I am now writing software that
explains itself, that has buttons that are obvious to the user, and it
works. The number of phone calls we get are severely reduced, and the
customer satisfaction is up massively. Us geeks who are writing this
software have no idea how users think most of the time, this is
because we are in theory "more intelligent" which is not necessarily
true, but when it comes to the software we are, we understand the

I could talk about this for hours, and I am going to write a blog post
about it, people will have a go at me because I'm bashing the "perfect
distribution". But seriously, think about what I have said, and test
it on people, and then tell me I am wrong. Turn of the "I am a geek I
know everything about Ubuntu" for a minute, and imagine you had no
idea what ubuntu was or how unity worked. You wouldn't have the
foggiest idea.

I would appreciate feedback, positive or negative on this. I don't
want another "Unity is better because it's better" or "gnome2 should
be brought back because it's what I like". That's not how it works.

Unity is honestly broken, someone must understand this, I will happily
speak to people in person or on email in more detail about this. I am
willing to help, but you have to understand first that Unity is not
quite there yet first.

Regards, Kris Douglas.

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