That said, I'm glad to see that somebody likes Unity. Ubuntu's switch to Unity is one of the reasons that I left Ubuntu for another distro.
It seems like Canonical is targeting its product more towards people like the author of this post, in which case it seems that their strategy may be working.
People who haven't used Linux / Gnome before don't have those expectations and optimizations, so it's not surprising that they will have a more positive view of Unity. Also, Canonical is trying to make Unity emulate OS X to some extent, so the interface meets some expectations of Mac users. They will probably respond more positively.
One of the first things I did when I upgraded to 10.04 was to move the window controls back to the right side.
I use Xubuntu on my netbook as my students can work out how to get a wordprocessor going or load a youtube video in class.
On the desktop pc I use dwm (large widescreen monitor) and I'm loving the efficiency. In fact, I install dmenu on all the computers and bind it to Super-Space.
Agreed - it wouldn't have been a reason by itself, but it was an annoyance.
More broadly, Ubuntu seems to be moving towards focusing on providing a polished interface, out-of-the-box support, and all of the other things that would be necessary for luring users away from OS X. That's fine, but they're frankly very low on my list of requirements for an OS, so I used the opportunity to switch to a distro that better fit my needs.
As I said, if that's their intended userbase, I'm glad their goal is working. It just so happens that I'm not one of those users.
Ubuntu should be supporting its users before they all leave, not trying to woo people who prefer something else.
The thing that I'm worried about though, similar to what you're pointing out, is that it feels like they're not making Ubuntu for the previous users of Ubuntu anymore. I still run 11.10 with Unity, but it's getting to a point where I'm noticing an increase of time where I am turning off a bunch of annoying things that Ubuntu have added over time.
I have XFCE on all my other machines that need a desktop environment and it looks like this sole Ubuntu machine will head that way soon.
The kind of people who like the way it works now should also be able to change it back if they want. If not, we're talking about less than 1% of desktop users. I wouldn't spend much time worrying about them, personally.
It takes a bit more time to set up, since you're building your system from the ground up with exactly the applications you want. Once you do, though, you know your system inside and out, and you can customize it exactly the way you want it.
If you have a 'do-it-yourself' attitude, you'll love Arch. If not, you may be annoyed by having to set up things that Ubuntu sets up during the installation (major things like the DE/WM, and minor things like setting up international fonts). Personally, I appreciate knowing exactly what and where everything is on my system and not having the added bloat, hence the switch.
They are doing really cool (and actually usable stuff) with features like Switchboard+Plugs, Synapse, Pantheon, etc. so am really interested in switching.
Once again, UI design never fails to fascinate me. The first concrete reason I ever came across that explained the superiority of the Mac user interface was the application of Fitt's law to the menu items. This looks like another solid point in favor of the Mac.
In Apple's case, the angle is wider, making it -- in his description -- easier to move the pointer from the menu header, after triggering the menu, onto the menu items. In Ubuntu's case, the angle is narrower. Further, in the Ubuntu case, since the menu text is justified against the far side of the menu, the pointer has to travel further to hover over it and, for the top few items, that travel cannot be a straight line because a straight line would cross the neighboring menu header and so trigger the neighboring menu to drop down. At least, that's how I interpret his argument.
Looking further at his image, I notice that he is including some horizontal space between the Apple menu header and the screen edge as being part of the Apple menu; however, that area carries a different coloration. Not having a Mac at hand, I'm unable to test whether that area also functions are part of the Apple menu header. If not, then he's calculated the Apple "angle of escape" incorrectly.
Also, on my installation of Ubuntu 11.04, running Gnome Classic (aka 2.whatever), in the menu under discussion, one does not have to hover over the text in order to activate a menu entry. In my view, this makes the "angle of escape" argument somewhat less important -- at least, under Gnome 2.x -- in that one can use menu items by moving the pointer in more of a "straight down" direction. Although, the inclination may still be to move the pointer over the menu item text, thus requiring the user to learn to avoid attempting such a straight line pointer movement for the first few menu items on this menu. I don't know whether Unity -- the Ubuntu desktop environment he is actually describing -- handles these menu entries and their activation differently (my Ubuntu machine's old graphics processor can't handle Unity -- to which I sort of say, yay!).
I hadn't realized that while this was "fixed", it was not actually made identical with the older Mac OS behavior.
If the cursor is outside an area, the bigger and closer this area is the easier it is to purposefully hit.
If the cursor is inside an area, the bigger this area is and the farther away its borders are, the harder it is to accidentally leave.
"The steering law in human–computer interaction and ergonomics is a predictive model of human movement that describes the time required to navigate, or steer, through a 2-dimensional tunnel." -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steering_law
Every source in the wiki article is either not linked or an article at ACM. Pay wall is a pity. I wonder if ACM crawl wikipedia looking for articles hosted on other (free) sites and link them to the same ACM hosted article?
EDIT: I've now added all the real links I could find. I'll check back in a few weeks to see if they have all been removed.
- in oneiric, the global menu bar is contiguously either clickable or not-clickable: when you hover over it, only clickable items are displayed.
- immediately after install, the new software centre displays a button to launch that application, you don't have to browse the list anymore. also, the list of installed applications is now sorted into relevant categories rather than filled up with system packages.
- the 'updates are available' message in oneiric's system menu makes it much more clear how to get updates, but i don't think it's really possible to teach ubuntu's package-management update paradigm through UI. it's not something new windows or mac converts will ever get immediately.
- Ubuntu 11.04: 28 April 2011
- Firefox 5: 21 June 2011
- Firefox 7: 27 September 2011 (5 days ago)
Yes, that's a valid criticism: I used a 6-month-old official installer and didn't get last month's software without doing any form of update whatsoever! Clearly a failing of ubuntu!
I've been a Ubuntu user for a few years now, and it generally ranges from cumbersome to downright difficult to upgrade to the newest Firefox version. There's a reason hacks like Ubuntuzilla exist.
In any case, if you're the kind of person that knows what actual features you will gain from FF7 over FF4 (other than just "sweet, a higher numbah"), you're a power user and should know better than to make the complaint he did - you should be able to do the extremely mild googling required on your new, unfamiliar OS to make it happen.
On another tangent, this kind of comment in the article is one of the big problems with FF deciding to do away with minor numbers and make every release a major number. "But FF 4.0 is so old, we're up to 7.0 now!! Bad!!" when it was the current release a mere 103 days ago.
It took forever to find out function+backspace=real backspace not delete
Everything seems to be arranged around single clicks any right-clicking seems alien on a Mac.
It's very glossy and cartoons but you can tell the hardware and OS were made hand-in-hand or at least work very well with each other.
It's pretty but annoying at times it's has a hint of like Linux, I opened Terminal to feel at home, but it's like Linux out at its grandmothers on it's best behaviour.
I wouldn't say either is better than the other but different for sure although like I said very similar way more so than Windows and Linux or Mac and Windows.
Now if only I could stop that creepy "killer clowns on acid in a dark alley" start-up sound.
I have grown very accustomed to the control-click motion for 'right' clicking. I don't think right-clicking is very alien, at least in the programs I use.
Best of happiness in your new Mac!
Occasionally I plug in a two-button mouse, but that's limited to fairly specific occasions when I'm actually mousing around. Most of the time I am either scrolling or keyboarding.
It's like I tell people new to Linux that it's not Windows don't expect it to be like that so I should be telling myself Apple isn't like Linux even though they appear similar.
The applications seem to be made with single clicking in mind which would make sense considering Apple's fondness for single button mouses/mice and trackpads.
Overall the experience so far has been enjoyable, it's nice to learn new things.
Hold down CMD while clicking (or the Apple Key as its popularly known).
Apple seems to claim they're very customer oriented I wonder why they don't address this issue and make it something the user can easily change without downloading some third party beta app just to kill the start-up sound.
I'm assuming "Firefox V" was something like "Firefox Version 4", which isn't an unusually long name (especially for such a popular application and one that is a default application for Ubuntu). They shouldn't even include the version number in the application name. Joe User doesn't care.
The author's screenshot hides the fact that the menu bar is hidden when the mouse is not over the top bar. When your mouse is elsewhere, the entire window's name (In my case "Hacker news | Add Comment - Mozilla Firefox") takes up the top bar.
Without hover it displays the title of the window (unless you have many, non-fullscreen instances, it which case it is just the application title). When you hover, it truncate/fades the application title to show you the menu. They opted for truncation because they want the leftmost menu to appear in a consistent location.
No, not in the least.
It's technically possible (indeed, trivial using Interface Builder) to remove all these menus (the application menu is probably the only one whose removal may lead to your application crashing), and move or remove just about all of their content. Neither OSX nor Apple forces anything (at least outside the AppStore, I do not know if there are imposed standards there).
On the other hand:
1. Apple provides extensive application templates in IB, they're generally used unless there's a good reason not to
2. Apple publishes extensive Human Interface Guidelines, the latest revision of the "OSX Human Interface Guidelines" document (2011-07-26) is 276 pages (a low actually, in 2009 it was more than 350 pages), as a PDF it weighs 26MB. And much like the IB templates, it is followed unless there's a reason not to
3. users care about consistency, when guidelines are broken for no good reason users will generally make their displeasure known. And because OSX has a thriving "indie" development scene (paid, low-cost software by very small teams) this generates an environment where interface care and consistency is taken pretty seriously.
But, linux is about choice!
Give him a year and he'll be running a dev box with minimal Arch + Xmonad base and multiple Ubuntu Servers in KVM.
>... these impressions come from someone who’s used mostly Windows at work and Mac at home. Sure, there’s a sprinkling of Solaris, IRIX, and Linux mixed in there, but I’ve never used Ubuntu, haven’t used any distribution of Linux in quite some time ...
The author seems to be using it to prototype a research project as quickly as possible.
The article talks about how big the angle is, but this is not very relevant. In fact, if you throw the mouse in the upper right direction, it will hit the top right corner no matter which edge it hits first. Thus you actually can hit the corner spots without even aiming in a particular square.
Try this on a mac: throw your pointer into the top left or top right corners, and press the button. You WILL open the menu, even though it may not have been obvious that you would -- the highlighted region around the icon does not extend to the edge. So in fact, it's ok to make them smaller.
That's not what he means. The "angle of escape" referred to is the angle at which you can move your mouse out of the target icon to a menu item after the menu is open. If you go too far horizontally first, the menu will close in favor of a different menu.
Highlighting was done with Omnigraffle. It took some time find a good way to depict the angle of escape. I ended up rotating a quarter circle and cropping the edges off. Hacky but does the trick.
And yet he had the time to document the whole experience at the same time?