Usability of the Gnome Clipboard Management

Markus Amersdorfer der.plusch.lists at
Sat Oct 15 20:32:28 UTC 2005

Hello everybody,

First of all thanks for yet another great Ubuntu release - "Breezy" is
definitely at least one of the best Linux distributions there are.

One feature I was very much looking forward to in Gnome 2.12 and Breezy
is the Gnome Clipboard Manager that comes with this release, which - as
you most certainly know - ensures that "CTRL+C" copied data is available
in the clipboard even after the source application has been closed.
While this works for GTK / Gnome applications such as "gedit", it does
not work for apps such as "OpenOffice.org2" or "Firefox".

I've been using "Linux only" on my personal machines for several years
now, and I've grown used to a different way of clipboard handling than
e.g. Windows has. I definitely do think, though, that any kind of data
should stay in the clipboard until it is replaced due to another
"CTRL+C" event. This seems to be technically possible, as can e.g. be
seen in Gnome 2.12 (and AFAIK also in KDE, please correct me if I'm

Linux has come a long way, and it has been my favorite platform for
quite a while now. I enjoy seeing the huge progress that has been
accomplished already, and which is still going on.
I do think, though, that these kind of "small" issues such as a
(non-)consistent clipboard behaviour are very important (if not even
crucial) to a wider success on the market. If you don't agree on their
importance, just think of the average working person out there or think
of your parents at home using the Linux system and reconsider the
(And, by the way: Especially due to its inconsistency, this behaviour
is not only "annoying", but can also lead to data loss if the text is
not just copied from but rather cut out of the source application. Once
the changes are then saved and the application is closed, the data is

There are lots of usability studies in the wild, covering especially
Ubuntu. It seems that, Ubuntu being one of the easiest to use Linux'es,
this has made it an even more interesting target for such discussions
as well as comparisons with other OS's such as Windows or Mac OS X.

I don't know the technical details about the implementation and thus
cannot judge whether a consitent clipboard behaviour is possible to
be done for any kind of X application, and at which cost this would have
to happen. Nevertheless, I do think that such usability issues should
become more important, and probably even outrank goals such as to
have the latest versions of the distribution's software packages.
This is especially true for Dapper Drake, which is to stay out there
for a long time and which will be up against Windows Vista, as Mark
Shuttleworth has already pointed out [1].

These are just my two pennies on how Ubuntu and the Linux desktop can
be improved even more. I'd be happy to see your comments on this - but
please don't just flame around.

In any case, keep up the great work, folks - and thanks for everything
so far!



Information is always to be treasured, Raul. It is behind only love
and honesty in a person's attempt to understand the universe.
                                            <Dan Simmons, Endymion>

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