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Thread: My take on Ubuntu after a few days of using

  1. #1
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    My take on Ubuntu after a few days of using

    There are a lot of desktop usability issues in Ubuntu IMO. I do feel this is the best Linux end-user distro, but is a far cry from e.g. Windows or MacOs.

    Here are a few issues, both usability, aesthetics and general linux issues:

    1. Unity launchpad placement is awkward on the left. No possibility of moving the launchpad to bottom or customizing it in any manner.
    2. Not possible rearrange the order of the icons in the Unity launchpad.
    3. All instances of same application are stacked together, so it's not possible to select directly from the unity launchpad the instance you want.
    4. Alt-tab disables the mouse.
    5. Alt-tab stacks multiple instances of same application, so you need to first stop on the application for it to expand it...and even then the presentation is awkward.
    6. Alt-tab does only show icons, but not live window capture.
    7. Almost no possibility of customizing the look n' feel of the GUI. There are no alternative themes to select from, nor any way of modifying the theme easily.
    8. Showing menu of an active application in the topmost bar makes no sense. I'd rather use that area for launch icons and move application menu to the application window.
    9. Ubuntu does not help you install correct video card drivers after install.
    10. Difficult to resize a application window, the border is too small. The resize cursor icons ugly.
    11. The compact scrollbar is bad.
    12. The toggle button is confusing.
    13. Filesystem structure is confusing. You have no idea where an application is installed or things are.
    14. Defaults fonts are not good enough. I switched to OpenSans. Some text on web pages looks awful, and I see lot of "clipping" and overflowing.
    15. Not possible to minimize all windows except current, e.g. window-shaking like in Windows.
    16. Inconsistencies in the UI. Try right-clicking in the web browser window, see how the context menu looks like. Then right-click on the desktop, and then right-click on a icon in the launchpad. 3 different look n' feels!
    17. I feel like the UI is bulky, and that I have more space to work with in Windows.
    18. Ubuntu does not help you discover nice tools to install, you need to know exactly what you want. There's also a lot of garbage in the software center.

    Some can be fixed with tweak tools, but if I want to change anything more I feel like I need to spend a lot of time researching it, and do something I feel "hacky".

  2. #2
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    Re: My take on Ubuntu after a few days of using

    Since this doesn't appear to be a support request, moving to Ubuntu, Linux and OS Chat.

  3. #3
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    Re: My take on Ubuntu after a few days of using

    Eh. A lot of this is just familiarity with Windows, and I imagine you'd have similar feelings trying OSX for the first time. Ubuntu is its own thing, and you can't expect it to work and think like Windows. Some of the complaints are warranted, and others are things that I personally don't really see as valid but that I've seen complaints about before even from long-time users.

    Quote Originally Posted by argvar
    1. Unity launchpad placement is awkward on the left. No possibility of moving the launchpad to bottom or customizing it in any manner.
    Eh, you get used to it. Your mouse spends a lot of time over there anyway, so it's actually quicker to get to than the bottom bar. It does have the potential to get in the way, for the same reason.

    2. Not possible rearrange the order of the icons in the Unity launchpad.
    Drag the icon outward, away from the launcher, then back in where you want it.

    3. All instances of same application are stacked together, so it's not possible to select directly from the unity launchpad the instance you want.
    The Windows method, with the window previews, is so damned cluttered ... but there's no question that it's faster. I don't honestly use the Launcher for window switching - just Alt Tab and Compiz Scale, which is a plugin that works like Mac's Exposé.

    4. Alt-tab disables the mouse.
    5. Alt-tab stacks multiple instances of same application, so you need to first stop on the application for it to expand it...and even then the presentation is awkward.
    6. Alt-tab does only show icons, but not live window capture.
    One thing I really like about the 13.04 release is that they finally got the Alt+Tab switcher working properly. There are alternative switchers (more Windows-like) available in the settings, but this one finally at least does what I expect it to. Previously, it would switch applications outright, even if the previous window was another window in the same application, which made it useless to me. Now, just tapping Alt+Tab takes you back to the previous window regardless of whether it's in the same app or another. The grouped windows take a bit of time to get used to, but they certainly make for a cleaner, simpler presentation, and previews wouldn't make sense with grouped applications.

    If you want to switch directly between windows in the same application, you can hit the key above Tab instead.

    7. Almost no possibility of customizing the look n' feel of the GUI. There are no alternative themes to select from, nor any way of modifying the theme easily.
    There's a light theme in Appearance settings. There are also, of course, hundreds of themes available online. Modifying themes is trickier, although I'm just finicky enough to have to "fix" one or two things about any theme I install. I do still think the default theme is a little ugly, which is a very, very old complaint (and the theme is so iconic now that it would probably be a brand identity problem to make any major changes.)

    8. Showing menu of an active application in the topmost bar makes no sense. I'd rather use that area for launch icons and move application menu to the application window.
    17. I feel like the UI is bulky, and that I have more space to work with in Windows.
    Which is a subjective effect - you don't - but an important one, I guess. The Launcher takes up as much space as the Windows taskbar if the taskbar is moved to one side, and the menu in the panel means that a maximized window is effectively full-screen, while the content areas of non-maximized windows are still as tall as they would be without a panel at all. Honestly, I think the damned theme has an effect here - that dark panel just seems so heavy.

    The Launcher can be set to hide itself, again from Appearance settings, and that certainly helps the "boxed in" feeling.

    16. Inconsistencies in the UI. Try right-clicking in the web browser window, see how the context menu looks like. Then right-click on the desktop, and then right-click on a icon in the launchpad. 3 different look n' feels!
    The contrast between the Launcher menus and application menus is intentional and matches the contrast between the Launcher and the menu panel (along with the applications themselves.) It's a visual cue to distinguish between the application and the OS shell. The contrast between the smooth menus in some apps (including the file manager, which is the menu you see when you right-click the desktop) and the flat ugly ones in others is la-la-la technical BS as a result of recent changes to how windows are actually drawn - changes that started rolling in around 2011 and depend on application developers supporting the new standards.

    9. Ubuntu does not help you install correct video card drivers after install.
    18. Ubuntu does not help you discover nice tools to install, you need to know exactly what you want. There's also a lot of garbage in the software center.
    It actually should prompt you about installing non-free video drivers. I don't have a lot of experience with this, but it worked the one time I had a non-Intel video card. (Intel cards just mostly work.)

    10. Difficult to resize a application window, the border is too small. The resize cursor icons ugly.
    11. The compact scrollbar is bad.
    Eh, it led to a lot of arguments when it was introduced, but I think the hidden scrollbar is enough for those cases where you actually need a scrollbar, like jumping to a particular point in a document. It pains me to see Windows users pecking at the little arrow buttons on the scrollbar. I think the idea is that any pointing device made in the last five years has either a scroll wheel, a scroll region, or two-finger scrolling, so it's less important to have a scrollbar (at least until you need it) and more important to have an indication of where you are in the document. Personally, I like the edge-to-edge content.

    It's also not remotely as fiddly as those damned resize areas. For about two glorious releases, Ubuntu used Mac OSX Aqua's neat little triangular grab handle superimposed onto the bottom right corner of all windows for resizing and no borders at all. No fat borders, nice, big click target; everyone's happy. It was ugly and functional in one release, pretty and functional in the next, and then inexplicably disappeared. The decision to switch back is one of my least favorite things about the current UI. I'll take the fiddliness over fat borders like the ones in Windows, but I know what I'm missing in Aqua.

    15. Not possible to minimize all windows except current, e.g. window-shaking like in Windows.
    A very neat little feature I'd love to have, but like the Mac OSX grab handles, just an odd little thing another OS does. It's not a common enough feature to expect it in a random OS. So far as I know, only Windows does this. You can do it in two steps with the window switcher - Alt+Tab to the desktop, then tap Alt+Tab once more. A workaround, but if you're going for "focus mode," it's probably worth the extra step.

    More to the point, in Linux broadly, it's more common to move to a fresh workspace (desktop) when you want to focus on something. If you haven't tried workspace switching, try it out - it's the weird little button with the "cross" in it on the Launcher. Hit that, drag your window to an empty space, and then click that workspace to follow it. Very nice for getting away from the clutter, and it also means you don't have to dig back through minimized windows later to pick up where you left off.

    13. Filesystem structure is confusing. You have no idea where an application is installed or things are.
    Also true of an iPhone or Android, and for the same reasons. There's no reason to need to know where applications store their files in Ubuntu. They're usually spread out over a bunch of system folders, but you don't interact directly with that stuff anyway. That's what the package manager (Software Center) is for. In Windows, it sometimes makes sense to just download an executable file (the program itself) and run it from wherever you put it, but that's not how Linux works. All applications are handled through the package manager, which means that they won't leave files around when you remove them and always stay updated.

    14. Defaults fonts are not good enough. I switched to OpenSans. Some text on web pages looks awful, and I see lot of "clipping" and overflowing.
    Weird. What browser?

    12. The toggle button is confusing.
    The toggle button widget in some of the settings screens, or something else?
    ~ I know I shouldn't use tildes for decoration, but they always make me feel at home. ~

  4. #4
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    Re: My take on Ubuntu after a few days of using

    Have you tried Xubuntu, Kubuntu or Lubuntu? Their layouts might suit you, or look at changing to perhaps Mate or Cinammon DEs, you might be more comfortable with them.

  5. #5
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    Re: My take on Ubuntu after a few days of using

    Thanks for a great reply Copper Bezel!


    Eh, you get used to it. Your mouse spends a lot of time over there anyway, so it's actually quicker to get to than the bottom bar. It does have the potential to get in the way, for the same reason.
    Perhaps.
    I find the answer "you get used to it" really not satisfactory, but seems to be the default here. I can't believe this important issue is perceived as a trivial usability issue that does not really matter... this is the biggest most visible usability feature of the OS, the launchpad, and they don't think users don't want to customize this any differently than they WANT?
    It's really frustrating in two ways, first the placement itself and then the ignoring of the issue by ubuntu like it's trivial and doesn't matter. The only trivial thing here is allowing users to place it at bottom! This reminds me of arguing with a unix troll, who does not care about end users needs, like arguing with a rock trying to convince it that people are different and have different perceptions and needs, the unix troll always refuses and says nothing can be changed. This is putting some pre-determined design above the needs of the end user. This simple thing just proves how far Linux still has to go before being considered a proper end-user consumer desktop OS.

    Frankly I see more emphasize put on useless visual features, that serve no usability purpose.

    Drag the icon outward, away from the launcher, then back in where you want it.
    Great! Thanks

    There's a light theme in Appearance settings. There are also, of course, hundreds of themes available online. Modifying themes is trickier, although I'm just finicky enough to have to "fix" one or two things about any theme I install. I do still think the default theme is a little ugly, which is a very, very old complaint (and the theme is so iconic now that it would probably be a brand identity problem to make any major changes.)
    I'd like to try out more themes, but I don't know how to get them. Ubuntu doesn't help with that, although it's probably one of the few things new users start to tinker with.

    Which is a subjective effect - you don't - but an important one, I guess. The Launcher takes up as much space as the Windows taskbar if the taskbar is moved to one side, and the menu in the panel means that a maximized window is effectively full-screen, while the content areas of non-maximized windows are still as tall as they would be without a panel at all. Honestly, I think the damned theme has an effect here - that dark panel just seems so heavy.

    The Launcher can be set to hide itself, again from Appearance settings, and that certainly helps the "boxed in" feeling.
    Usually the bar at the top is 90% blank, with a few icons at the right and the title at the left. This is a total waste of space. The windows taskbar almost fits in that area, and has much more options than the unity launcher. The windows taskbar shows you start button, application shortcuts, current application tabs, icons and date. Much more variety, much more compact.
    How ubuntu has it cuts both into your vertical screen real estate and horizontal screen real estate, effectively reducing your desktop size. Having two windows side by side is not possible with the unity launchbar. Either the windows are too small or the left window goes under the unity bar.
    Anyway, I have a lot of opinion about this. I just feel Ubuntu doesn't give you any choice... when it should!

    Also true of an iPhone or Android, and for the same reasons. There's no reason to need to know where applications store their files in Ubuntu. They're usually spread out over a bunch of system folders, but you don't interact directly with that stuff anyway. That's what the package manager (Software Center) is for. In Windows, it sometimes makes sense to just download an executable file (the program itself) and run it from wherever you put it, but that's not how Linux works. All applications are handled through the package manager, which means that they won't leave files around when you remove them and always stay updated.
    I hated how files were managed by Windows, they were scattered everywhere, program files, appdata, roaming, local files, users, registry stuff etc. etc. I want applications to be contained in one place. You never knew where to find your files.
    But the linux file structure is just strange. You have so many directories in the root. I have used linux for a long time and I still don't know what the difference is between /var and /opt or /lib and /sbin or whatever. Why don't they just put everything os related into /system and application related into /apps... oh well whatever. This is like fighting with a unix troll Change is always bad in their mind.


    Anyways, thanks for the feedback.

  6. #6
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    Re: My take on Ubuntu after a few days of using

    You need to use Ubuntu for longer. Most of your points are completely inaccurate, or demonstrate that you haven't explored your operating system yet.

  7. #7
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    Re: My take on Ubuntu after a few days of using

    I suspect you might be using firefox...i use Google Chrome and have the microsoft fonts installed (in the software center if you didn't have them installed with ubuntu restricted extras...
    also, as a personal preference, i go into font settings and kick the 3 tabs up to 18 pts (from 16 pts which is the default) looks fabulous to me
    Could not get Firefox to look as good (when the fonts default is turned off and you set your own)...

    While it might be nice if ubuntu had the option of putting the unity dock on the bottom, because of it's large size and the very common wide screens today, it kind of makes sense to have it on the left side and "auto-hidden"...i also reduce the size of icon's pixels to 38 as i like them smaller on my home (laptop) 17" screen...of course, when a small screen is used it's probably better to keep them at the default...

    Hey, my friend has an IMAC and he puts his mac's dock on the left side....
    Last edited by craig10x; June 25th, 2013 at 06:29 AM.

  8. #8
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    Re: My take on Ubuntu after a few days of using

    Quote Originally Posted by 3rdalbum View Post
    You need to use Ubuntu for longer. Most of your points are completely inaccurate, or demonstrate that you haven't explored your operating system yet.
    Bravo! Well said.

  9. #9
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    Re: My take on Ubuntu after a few days of using

    I certainly don't mean to seem argumentative. There are reasons behind some of the things you're complaining about, though.

    I find the answer "you get used to it" really not satisfactory, but seems to be the default here. I can't believe this important issue is perceived as a trivial usability issue that does not really matter... this is the biggest most visible usability feature of the OS, the launchpad, and they don't think users don't want to customize this any differently than they WANT?
    It's not non-controversial - a lot of long-time users have problems with it, too, and there have been many rants and bug reports and feature requests. I kinda thought while I was typing it that "you get used to it" probably wasn't the best way of putting that, as well - I guess I mean that there's a logic to it, once you get the hang of it.

    I honestly think that the decision to make it fixed to the side like that is a brand identity consideration, based on that same "visibility" and centrality you're referring to.

    Frankly I see more emphasize put on useless visual features, that serve no usability purpose.
    Arguably, moving the Launcher is just that.

    For more visual themes, though, see here:

    http://gnome-look.org/index.php?xcontentmode=167

    Most of them require a couple of steps to install. After you download the theme archive, you'll create a folder in your home directory called .themes (the dot makes it a hidden folder, which you can see by hitting Control+H) and copy what's inside the archive into that folder. Then, you'll need to install Tweak Tool from the software center to switch between themes. Notice that they come in two parts - normally, the theme will include everything you need, but there are two separate settings in Tweak Tool, "Current Theme" and "GTK+ Theme," that both need to be set.

    Icon themes work similarly, in a folder called .icons. Might play around with those, as well.

    Usually the bar at the top is 90% blank, with a few icons at the right and the title at the left. This is a total waste of space. The windows taskbar almost fits in that area, and has much more options than the unity launcher. The windows taskbar shows you start button, application shortcuts, current application tabs, icons and date. Much more variety, much more compact.
    Eh ... what version of Windows are you talking about here? The application shortcuts have been folded into the running applications for quite some time now, and the Start menu just left. The last version that worked the way you're describing is Vista. = / Change is not always bad, as you say.

    Variety is not really a good thing here. The idea is to keep related things together.

    The right side of the Unity panel has all the same stuff as the right side of the Windows taskbar. The left side is the application menus instead. If the menu wasn't up there, the application window would have the menubar inside it, which would be the same 20-pixel cost in vertical screen real estate. So, again, when a window isn't maximized, it can display exactly as much vertical content as if the panel wasn't there, and when it is maximized, the vertical screen space is the same as if it didn't have a titlebar. In Windows, the taskbar, menu bar, and titlebar are all separate, so in absolute terms, there is more space available in Ubuntu, by about sixty pixels. Again, it can subjectively feel "cramped", especially if the Launcher isn't set to hide, but that's separate from the objective description of the actual space used.

    How ubuntu has it cuts both into your vertical screen real estate and horizontal screen real estate, effectively reducing your desktop size. Having two windows side by side is not possible with the unity launchbar. Either the windows are too small or the left window goes under the unity bar.
    Anyway, I have a lot of opinion about this. I just feel Ubuntu doesn't give any choice... when it should!
    Well, again, you do have the choice of making the Launcher hide, and then it doesn't take up any screen space at all. I can't stand having the Launcher visible at all times. To be fair, the compact scroll bars help, too.

    I hated how files were managed by Windows, they were scattered everywhere, program files, appdata, roaming, local files, users, registry stuff etc. etc. I want applications to be contained in one place. You never knew where to find your files.
    But the linux file structure is just strange. You have so many directories in the root. I have used linux for a long time and I still don't know what the difference is between /var and /opt or /lib and /sbin or whatever. Why don't they just put everything os related into /system and application related into /apps... oh well whatever. This is like fighting with a unix troll Change is always bad in their mind.
    File paths for Windows applications weird me, no question. I'm used to Linux, where there's a system, and it's totally arbitrary, but the apps at least follow it, as opposed to just doing their own damned thing. At least the executables and their configuration data are kept properly separate.

    I'm not claiming that the Linux directory structure out in root makes sense in a human-usable way, certainly from a user's standpoint. There's just no reason to go out there. = ) There have actually been some attempts to propose a better system, but it stays the way it is for compatibility. Should point out that there's not a strict line between apps and system components, though, especially on Linux.
    Last edited by Copper Bezel; June 25th, 2013 at 06:48 AM.
    ~ I know I shouldn't use tildes for decoration, but they always make me feel at home. ~

  10. #10
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    Re: My take on Ubuntu after a few days of using

    if you want to find a programs files you have a few options.
    Code:
    whereis <package>
    dpkg -L <package>
    or to search for a specific file
    Code:
    locate <regex>
    find / -type f -iname <regex>
    as for what the folder names mean
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filesys...tory_structure

    if you don't like the layout of Unity, you should give GnomeShell, LXDE, XFCE, Cinnamon, MATE, Gnome-Fallback, etc a go. there are more than enough DEs with different design philosophies in mind. better still, you could skip a DE and design a 'you' desktop from the ground up starting with just a window manager. with Linux, your possibilities are limited only to your willingness to learn and experiment.
    Last edited by HiImTye; June 25th, 2013 at 06:50 AM.

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