Hello and good Monday to all!
I need to talk about some obvious problems in Ubuntu/Gnome and maybe solutions. And of course I know that some of them are already discussed, but till now they are still present. In addition, other distributions are far ahead in usability. So lets at least talk through some possible points, because an LTS release is in front of us and I have the feeling we have a lot of motivated people these days!
Since Ubuntu uses Gnome as the base, the Ubuntu/Canonical team is also on the Gnome board - so maybe we CAN also change some of the points coming from Gnome. And I hope this will not just bring us more discussions, but a to-do list followed by actions. Because the deeper I dive into the matter, the more I understand why the Linux desktop has not made it to this day. And that is also because nobody feels obliged to repair or improve some things (for years sometimes). This is often annoying and unpleasant work, but should not it still be worth it?
There is no particular rank, I simply collected them over time from personal use, but also from research and third-party testing. Quick info about me: I’m working on the 18.04 Communitytheme and I’m also experienced in design, usability and bringing the two things together in my work life.
Clean up the apps/programs:
Core message here is, that the ordinary user is confused by the apps delivered.
Having a look at the apps launcher is presenting a lot of apps/programs no user should see in the front row. And there is a folder named “Utilities”, so why not having another folder like “System”?
What to include in the “System” app folder?
- Input Method (move it into the settings and rework it? how important is that app overall?)
- Language Support (move it into the settings!)
- Power Statistics (move it into the settings!)
- Software and Updates (why is that still here anyway and not in settings?)
- Startup Applications (or into settings?)
- maybe even more…
What to include in the “Utilities” app folder?
- Make Startup Disk
- Remmina (why is that pre-installed?)
Or at least throw all of them into the “Utilities” app folder. And rethink if everything is really necessary (what is it about that “Image Magick” app? Please go away…). Thanks!
Gnome has system-wide gestures and multitouch for touchscreens and touchpads. But on my Acer V3 laptop from 2016 only two finger gestures work (Synaptics or ELANTECH with 4 points minimum in Win10). This is probably a manufacturer driver problem, but it is also a big usability problem on laptops and similar devices/inputs and throws the Linux Desktop even further backward, especially against the mighty competition. So, solutions?
Google Drive / Backup and Sync:
I, like a lot of people and companies, use Google in my daily life on my phone and my pc for work and private stuff. I collaborate a lot with other people via Google Drive and sync a lot of files with it. This is a common way of working for millions and it grows and grows.
The integration of Drive in Gnome Files is not working at all (only for me?), it just shows a blank loading page till I close it. So, why is Google using Linux, but is not contributing a “Backup and Sync” client? Since everything is heading into the web, this is and should be a big opportunity for Ubuntu.
- Maybe just one: One of the heads of Canonical / Ubuntu should get in touch directly with those responsible at Google. Maybe that’s really the only way. Take Linux seriously as a productive system! If even Chrome OS can do it better …
Files and NAS/Network folder:
As a professional user, I have to handle a lot of files and I separate them in different places. There is the internal hard drive, Google Drive, FTP folders and NAS folders. I can easy set them up to be in the bookmarks in the “Files” app, but one thing always destroys my workflow: That the connection must first be established. Start the pc and load the last file in LibreOffice on the NAS? No, first go to “Files” and click on the bookmark. Listen to music? No, first go to “Files” and click on the bookmark. A problem no Windows user has for a decade…
- Maybe separate network from web/FTP services and always connect network drives.
- Don’t handle it like a real drive. It is not. It is an always there network/web folder. There is no need anymore to handle this like back in 2005. Do we really have to mount/unmount them manually every time? Why?
Root Copy/Paste and open files with root:
Every time I have to paste something into a root only folder, I wonder why I just can’t do it and then be asked for the password. I have to use the terminal, or? And when I want to edit something in a root only folder? Open it via terminal… There ARE better ways. And maybe “Open in terminal” on right click in folders should only be visible when for example pressing “strong” or “alt” or “shift”. At least this is a problem just for a few people… and if there is a way to handle that without terminal, then he is obviously not obvious.
Did you find it? It is there, but well hidden. Like you need to be worthy to find it. This is one really obvious user experience flaw in Gnome, because most people will never find out on their own how this is working. Seems like a compromise to have three, not four buttons. Because it doesn’t look so neat.
- EDIT: Maybe this is because of the hardware manufacturer driver?
- Include at least a hibernate button to the “shutdown” window (when clicking on shutdown in status menu).
- Include a fourth button in the status menu next to settings, lock and shut down (and destroy the holy trinity, I know, or just put the settings somewhere else).
- FINALLY upgrade the status menu to be more helpful and offer more functions. Like making the user more present, having switches for example nightlight and maybe include the multi-monitor and so on and separate the “logout” button. And by the way, also put the language switch from the top panel in here.
Teach the system:
Like in other distributions and also like it was in Unity, maybe we could bring up a “First Start” screen with a quick visual (just pictures and text) introduction to the new system.
Just to explain the main points quickly:
- EDIT: Maye will come back as fork from other systems?
- How to open an app?
- How to use the “Activities”?
- How to use the status menu (and of course how to hibernate…)?
- How to make a screenshot?
- How to use touchpad gestures?
- Useful shortcuts
- Some more useful stuff…
Just a few pages to click thru and will show the user a certain maturity and teach some shortcuts. I can contribute input and help here.
Updates and Driver:
“Software Update” or “Ubuntu Software Center” for updates? Choose, don’t confuse. And rework the “Software Center” sometime. And what is it with “Software and Updates”? Why not implementing that into the settings and/or the software center? And of course: Nvidia. !?!?
Why open them with “Image Viewer”? The “Shotwell Image Viewer” is quite the same AND you can edit them. The “Image Viewer” is a nicer way to show you pictures, but as long as you can’t edit them it is just confusing and people have to click and search more to edit pictures.
Application menu in top bar:
Often just don’t make sense and confuses, should maybe be included in the settings/options button most apps have and/or into the right-click menu on the dock. This is an obvious Gnome 2 compromise we finally should get rid of.
Confusing at first, because you’re right in the “Frequent” and you need to click on “All” for all apps. That separation is too strict and so not very helpful. I would suggest something like the first line is always the “Frequent” apps and after a separation line, you find “All” apps. And if the app launcher is open in Ubuntu and you then press Esc, you end up in Activities.
Since having an Ubuntu Dock, I want a single important function: when an app is open and I left click on the icon in the Dock, the app should minimize. Please!
And: Can it be possible to have a trash icon (like an app) in the Dock - and it also works like the trash? And so get rid of the trash on the desktop. Yes, like macOS does it.
How / Yes / No??
And some people get upset because there is no “show desktop” button anymore.
This is just still not good at all. Copy with terminal and then what… NO regular user can or will do that. Maybe this problem will go away with the snap system, at least I hope. Also something we can learn from mac…
Like many others (~40%!) I use Chrome as my standard browser, but can you find it in the software center? This may is a Google problem, but why not taking care of that to be helpful…
I guess there are more points and problems and if it were up to me, I would like to work on every single point until we catch up to other major OS and distributions and then go further and improve the system more and more. I’m often tired of seeing others do it better, but the maybe biggest distribution can not? This can’t be right. So let’s start cleaning up and then we can start to improve.
Much has happened the last few months and new motivation has grown. Please let us use that and work together to go more than one step further. The first steps can be read above. And if someone just wants to scold or give useless comments, please go somewhere else. I’m serious and I want to make the system look nicer, be easier, and work better.
It’s hard to keep working on something that the community has sometimes spurned after all those years. But it is Ubuntu that forms the base for a lot of systems and that is precisely why the system should be further and further improved. And of course for us all!