Installing 18.04 desktop trip-up points

I’m a longstanding Ubuntu user - currently on 16.04, so Unity - and was asked by my daughter to install 18.04 as a dual boot on her new laptop for university. The install was easy, but there were three gotcha points along the way that would immediately put someone off Ubuntu.

The first was the Grub boot order which at the end of installation was Ubuntu first, Windows 3rd. She sees her laptop as mostly Windows now, Ubuntu down the road, so the boot order is important. There’s no dialogue during installation on boot order. And, to some extent worse, there’s no easy graphical tool to change the boot order - it requires some fiddly command line wrangling. It’s such an important primary fix after installation, this doesn’t make for a good first experience.

Secondly, on 18.04, we discovered the right touchpad button was turned off. UX designers had chosen that a two finger click would be used instead and right button click on the touchpad was treated just like a left-button click. This is just bad UI decision - right clicks are always right clicks; two finger click is an addition, not an alternative. The options for the click behaviour are also pretty badly described so it wasn’t clear what we had to do to turn it back on. This has an immediate issue because you can’t right click on the application bar to change or add applications until you’ve discovered how to make the right click ‘proper’ again.

Thirdly, coming to 18.04 from 16.04, the first stage I want to do is make the desktop feel more comfortable - more like I’m used to. Standard settings don’t have too many options to make changes, so the ‘tweak’ package is needed. It would be really good if this was installed as standard. It used to be ‘Unity Tweak’ - it wasn’t clear that I should be searching for ‘Gnome Tweak’ this time. Everytime the UI changes I feel I have to tweak it back to get something familiar and usable, so again this is pretty fundamental.

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Hi Saul,

Regarding “right” click, we have intentionally moved to a more modern (and many would say preferable) default where you right click using two fingers. As I’m sure you have already found, you need to install gnome-tweaks to be able to switch back to the old behaviour. I completely agree this is not obvious enough and have already documented a plan to make it more discoverable for people.

Unfortunately what you call a right button actually does not exist. So we can’t detect it in software. The “right” button is usually just paint on top of the clickpad, which itself is a single microswitch underneath. So clickpads are really single button devices and a “right” click needs to be emulated in software. That software can’t detect if there’s a line of paint on top, or where it is.

This is not something we plan on changing, because we feel most users prefer the more modern approach of right clicking with two fingers. This avoids creating a (usually invisible) line on the touchpad where clicks suddenly stop working. And it’s faster too – since you no longer have to pay attention to where on the touchpad you are clicking. I think you will find the same default behaviour in Macbooks, Chromebooks and many Windows laptops too.

The reason for my post, was because of how difficult it makes Ubuntu look to a new user. The brand new laptop that we were installing Ubuntu on had a trackpad with the right click area marked - so that’s still a pretty contemporary build standard. Turning off the expected behaviour of that right button is then bad practice. Worse still was that we had to install some software to get the right button to work.

Users aren’t going to unlearn a practice that has been around for 30+ years just because it isn’t ‘modern’. Even it if is just a line painted on the pad, it reflects an expected behaviour demarcated on the hardware. By not working as expected, makes it look like Ubuntu is faulty and hard for new users, at precisely the moment you want to show off the system. By contrast right click worked correctly on the Windows 10 side directly, as expected with no issues. ‘Modern’ is not an excuse if users are expecting something different.

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I understand your perspective and at least eleven other people have reported the same issue. Although I suspect there are more people than that who prefer the new default.

However, even if we assume for a moment that the old behaviour was preferable then the solution would be to maintain a list of all laptops with clickpads that ever existed and note in that list which ones come with lines painted on the clickpad (and the dimensions of those lines). Then default to the old behaviour for those laptops. It’s certainly possible, but not very practical to build a list of all laptop models.

Windows doesn’t really get around the problem itself. Instead the manufacturers modify Windows and impose their own software defaults according to each model of laptop, in the manufacturing process. So that’s equivalent to the “list” solution mentioned above.

This is my last post on the matter. Thank you for responding as I can see from all the replies on the various bug threads on launchpad that you’re probably the main contributor/defender of the change. But the complaints aren’t just on launchpad (multiple times). Even experienced users are struggling to work out how to fix the problem on other sites and forums - we had to look through a number of articles to discover it’s a ‘feature’ not a bug. It’s not a small issue. It kills Ubuntu on first use for a new user because it seems a big chuck of functionality is missing, or that Ubuntu is not working and they head back to Windows.

Sorry, but I think you have the wrong call on this - a non-visible, non-discoverable and non-intuitive behaviour does not make for a good UI particularly if it breaks expected behaviour - it was a kludgy fix for Macs in its time, and not a sound UI decision. If it’s important to you, as it seems, do both (I presume you can detect the location of one or both touches), until the user turns the non-preferred option off, or make it a set up option for the user to decide.

By the way, this behavior change was mentioned in both the GNOME and Ubuntu Release Notes.

Also, @vanvugt wants to move the setting from Tweaks to the default Settings app which should significantly improve discoverability of how to change this setting. I think the intent is to try to backport this change to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS once it’s done. This may take a few months though.

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I strongly disagree.
The two and three (if your touchpad supports this) finger click is far superior to right clicking as soon as you get used to it.

It first looks super dramatic but on the second look it’s just 1 line a textfile. Really easy. However if you want a gui you could try this one:

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Hi Frederik. I was pointing out how a brand new install looks to a new user - particularly one from a Windows background having done one over the weekend. For them the computer stops working as you expect because some basic things don’t work (and I’m pretty sure a Windows user wouldn’t be reading Ubuntu release notes just in case).

That same Windows user who would prefer Windows first boot order has to get there by firing off strange runes and incantations to a terminal, or perhaps worse downloading from a non-official repository for software of unknown provenance (Windows users having been burnt by viruses from bad downloads) just to get the computer booting as they prefer.

Both have simple fixes if you’re used to Ubuntu - I know I’ve done it enough. But a first time user doesn’t even have any simple front-end software in the standard configuration to solve these problems - nothing in settings. So ten minutes after installing they’re left in a state of serious frustration and possible panic. It encourages abandonment at precisely the time Ubuntu should be showing its superiority, yet it should be so easy to fix.


Warning to everybody from the moderators:

When you disagree, do so politely and with respect for other folks’ point of view.

This thread must remain in constructive territory, or it will be closed.

What are you going on about Ian? My reading of this entire thread, and I just went over it, everything said was polite. Was there some ignorant post that I missed and was deleted?

I agree with and understand Saul’s frustration. I was similarly frustrated for years that the first thing I had to do after installing Ubuntu was to disable the virtual right click corner. Or else some one-finger clicks would be misinterpreted as the secondary button instead of the primary button. It’s the same problem, from a different perspective.

I also agree that we should be more open and willing to make strong statements like:

It encourages abandonment at precisely the time Ubuntu should be showing its superiority, yet it should be so easy to fix.

I have felt the same about many Ubuntu features over the years and have been trying to fix such abandonment potential where I can. We need to be realistic that some new users will find some things frustrating or undiscoverable and give up. Those users are hard to measure or ever talk to. But I am trying every day to reduce such potential and to improve the user experience.

If you care deeply about a product and its future then your criticism of it is likely to be quite strong. But polite constructive criticism is helpful and should not be seen as negative.


With all e respect :slight_smile: this is a bit exaggerated.
It also depends where the user comes from.
You write this from a users point of view who was a Windows user before or still uses Windows.
But when you are coming from the Mac world, two finger click is what you are looking for and the eventual annoyance would come up when it’s not enabled. I don’t know if it’s possible to have both but this also depends on the hardware I think.

It is/was at least possible with xserver-xorg-input-synaptics to enable both at once (tweaked using synclient). But whether or not the same is true for libinput is irrelevant. It’s irrelevant because enabling both the right click “area” and two-finger clicks simultaneously does not solve the main problem of the right click area being an annoyance when you accidentally click with one finger in the wrong region.

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My impression, and it’s only an impression, is that Mac users are pretty loyal to Mac (except the price), so I’ve no idea how many would be switching, but I would have expected the majority of migrations to come from Windows.

And that’s the group I’m supporting, and generally Windows users seem to get more frustrated and are more numerous than Mac users. But it’s small steps at a time gently taking someone into a new world, and a change where they’ve been told by ‘experts’ that things don’t work, or that everything is more difficult or more complex. So the first impressions are really important, as it’s either “that was easy - what was all the fuss, let’s use Ubuntu” - or it just reinforces negative pre-conceptions and they run away from trying for another year or two until Windows frustration bites again.

Categorizing “Windows users” as a certain class of touchpad behaviour I think is inaccurate.

The default touchpad behaviour in Windows 10 varies according to laptop model and manufacturer. Certainly plenty of laptops with clickpads (and no line painted on them) already ship with the default behaviour of two-fingers to right click.

Other laptops (with a line painted on the clickpad) do ship with the default behaviour of bottom-right corner for secondary click. But it’s a software setting customized by the manufacturer and not something that makes sense to all “Windows” laptops.

On the boot order thing, you can use Grub Customizer. Much easier than mucking about with the config files: