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Thread: Is Ubuntu finger friendly?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Vancouver, Canada
    Ubuntu Development Release

    Is Ubuntu finger friendly?

    I had the chance to play around with one of HP's "Touchsmart" all in one PCs today. Really neat setup there. The screen is indeed a glass screen with optical (infrared + cameras) touch, but it is not doing multitouch, pressure sensitivity or shape recognition. That rather confuses me, since the technology they are using should be well capable of all of those (at least pressure sensing) unless they have done something weird or I have forgotten something important.

    Conspiracy theory: Intentionally crippled software so that the next paid-for software update can have magical fairy dust that enable's the hardware's real potential.
    Still a really nice screen to work with. Since it is optical instead of using capacitance, it is possible to detect any object which reflects enough infra-red light.

    Okay, to my point! The HP touch-smart software they include is pretty cool. Finger friendly, no need to right click. Basically a little home screen for the computer with lots of widgets to play with, RSS feeds and a media player. However, it is by no means the centre of the system; one must enter 'real' windows even to stop the screen from blanking every 15 minutes. (Which I immediately did since it has a really cool calendar widget and partly because I can't go 10 minutes without looking at Planet Ubuntu).

    ...and that is where things fell apart. Even the Start button was hard to press, partly because of the screen being sunken and partly because it is just too darn small. (In retrospect, changing the task bar size would have worked wonders). Actually using Internet Explorer or anything like that was not cool. The demo I used had no keyboard or real mouse set up, so everything was done with the on-screen keyboard. (Vista's handwriting recognition continues to amaze me; its ability to decipher my berserk hand writing is remarkable).
    Opening the menu bar in IE requires that one find the Tools menu in the tab bar and enable "show menubar". (Simple from the sounds of it, but what is that doing in Tools?!). As for using the menu: Time for pinky fingers!
    I also had many face-palming moments, for example when I realized that the on-screen keyboard lacked Function keys or a way to do Ctrl-Alt-Delete, leaving me with no obvious means to open the system monitor and force quit a process.
    In short, normal Windows is not finger friendly.

    This led me to wonder: Is Ubuntu? Trouble is, I don't have a big touch screen to test it on.
    One thing that gives me hope is how GTK will happily scale; one can use a size 30 font and be able to click everything. Perhaps there could be a finger-friendly version of GTK with extra padding added by default inside menus and buttons. GNOME is also designed with clickable paths to everything, including the system monitor. Menu bars are not hidden, and right click is a bit less important. Still, there are probably a million things not obvious here.
    Anyone know where we are with touch-screen use on the desktop?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    North Las Vegas, Nevada

    Re: Is Ubuntu finger friendly?

    I've heard that Windows 7 is going to center around an environment that can be manipulated with the mouse or with multitouch.

    I'm wondering if Ubuntu will pick up on this as well.

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