Friday, March 12, 2010

2 reasons not to use when claiming Lucid changes are bad

This blog is in response to http://humphreybc.wordpress.com/2010/03/11/its-the-little-things-that-count/

1: Ubuntu users aren't used to the change
I'm getting pretty sick and tired of the Ubuntu users out there that revert to saying that all changes that canonical has made to Ubuntu for 10.04 are bad "because Ubuntu users aren't used to them".  I don't really see how you can consider anything change unless something has ... well ... changed.  Yes, these same people that are making those claims are the same people that are out there complaining about there being no changes.

What's wrong with there being change for the sake of change?  I learned Ubuntu not by someone telling where every little button is, but by playing around with the UI and seeing where everything is for myself.  Even the typical egghead when it comes to computers knows that there will be a close/maximimize/minimize button somewhere in the top of a window.  Just because it's magically been moved to the other side doesn't mean Ubuntu's gone to the crapper.

2: Windows users will get confused if they want to switch
I'm kind of expanding on my last statement here, but it's not exactly rocket science here trying to find out where things are on the Desktop GUI.  I would imagine that most people that want to make the switch to Ubuntu aren't going to go crazy and get depressed because things "aren't where they should be".

I don't see the macintosh users out there going "hmm, I'm not sure if the windows users who switch over to macintosh are going to like that the title bar menu options are now right next to the window title" or "oh gosh, windows users are going to spontaneously combust when they see the close/maximize/minimize buttons on the left hand side".

The ability for the new Ubuntu user to use their common sense is something that too many people are ignorant of.  There is no reason that a single change made so far by the team at Canonical should be seen as something any new Ubuntu user can't get a grasp of with the use of a little common sense.

I for one am happy that Canonical has finally decided to make some decent UI changes to Ubuntu, because thats something that I get to look forward to on a constant basis as I test of the newest versions of Ubuntu.  There are too many lazy users out there that just aren't willing to accept the changes because IMO they have gotten into such a routine with their daily computer lifestyles that any and all changes are the straw that broke the camels back.

43 comments:

  1. The main problem (at least for me) is that these changes have been developed in secrecy and have only been made public a day before the freeze. Why didn't they publish it before so that the community was able to comment on it? Moreover, there is no customize button to revert back to buttons on the right hand side, it's only possible to change it via an obscure gconf setting.

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  2. Good post, to true. Valid complaints would be the changes are half baked. Ubuntu is unwilling to accept feedback from the community, as evidenced by the late debut. There are bugs that are 3 releases old. And when it suits Ubuntu they fix/change gnome, but more often then not they pass the buck upstream ie: icons in menus.

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  3. Hi,
    I don't have anything against changes, especially the branding ones. I really thing the new theme looks great. But, there should always be a way to revert back to what you liked at the old version, like the ability to configure the new version to be like the one you just switched from and got used to.

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  4. "What's wrong with there being change for the sake of change?"

    Seriously? Changing something just to change it is probably the _worst_ reason to do it.

    I could support this change if it actually bought us something, but as the post you are supposedly responding to points out, there are a lot of bad consequences of this change, and no (obvious, mentioned, discussed) good ones.

    And yeah, it making Windows users uncomfortable is probably not a good argument against it, but surprising and alienating your existing userbase is almost always a bad idea. Especially if it's for something that is a change for change's sake. And what about all the other points that were brought up? Those are all valid reasons not to do this, which I've seen no response to.

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  5. I really only brought up those two because its a lot of people that use those two statements in their defense of why they think changes are bad. There are some good logical statements in that blog as a whole but I didn't want to get involved as there a lot of personal opinions and I don't debate with personal opinions because I don't think there's anything wrong with having them.

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  6. @snkiz: icons in menus? are you talking about the change that was made by GNOME developers themselves?

    I completely agree with you, Brian. Claiming that (1) users are not used to changes and that (2) we should make sure that Windows users aren't confused are the worst two arguments I've heard in this discussion. It's like people who say that don't believe that Ubuntu can be a choice good enough to attract people without it looking similar to Windows. Really, if we don't believe that Ubuntu and Linux in general is a good alternative than we can stop working on making it friendly to new users and just go back to slackware, debian or gentoo.

    @Robbert: This is probably a matter of preference but I for one love the fact that there is a single, strong entity that may push changes to Ubuntu without having to ask community for help. That's actually why I prefer contributing to Ubuntu and not to Debian - because I believe that this is a good thing.
    wrt having a button to change it back - do you have a button to change it in Windows or Mac OS X? Some things aren't supposed to be changed and should be consistent - but this is only mine personal believe and I'm a guy who use default theme for years so it probably doesn't count ;).

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  7. (it may be duplicated comment but the first I've sent doesn't show up)

    @snkiz: icons in menus? are you talking about the change that was made by GNOME developers themselves?

    I completely agree with you, Brian. Claiming that (1) users are not used to changes and that (2) we should make sure that Windows users aren't confused are the worst two arguments I've heard in this discussion. It's like people who say that don't believe that Ubuntu can be a choice good enough to attract people without it looking similar to Windows. Really, if we don't believe that Ubuntu and Linux in general is a good alternative than we can stop working on making it friendly to new users and just go back to slackware, debian or gentoo.

    @Robbert: This is probably a matter of preference but I for one love the fact that there is a single, strong entity that may push changes to Ubuntu without having to ask community for help. That's actually why I prefer contributing to Ubuntu and not to Debian - because I believe that this is a good thing.
    wrt having a button to change it back - do you have a button to change it in Windows or Mac OS X? Some things aren't supposed to be changed and should be consistent - but this is only mine personal believe and I'm a guy who use default theme for years so it probably doesn't count ;).

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  8. @kklimonda: I don't think it's asking for community's help, but it's asking for their opinions. Without the community Ubuntu wouldn't be as it's now hence I don't think it's fair to push such changes through one day before the freeze.

    Moreover, there are many things you cannot change in Windows which you can change in Linux/Ubuntu/Debian, this is on of the reasons why I'm using Linux in the first place. Therefore I don't see why this should be an exception.

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  9. Change is good.

    I found a quarter in the parking lot today.

    Pays to keep your head down!

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  10. Little changes do make a big difference. That's why I'm so pleased with the 100 paper cuts project: the tiniest of bugs can end up ruining your experience. Likewise, the tiniest of features can make you love a product or program. (For me, that would be scrolling with the mouse wheel on windows which don't have focus.) Joel Spolsky talks about this.

    When it comes to this specific change, have you seen this summary of the 15 complaints about it?

    In any case, what I really want to hear is why this change is good.

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  11. I'm sick and tired of "there being change for the sake of change". Do really have to ask "what's wrong with that"? You're kidding, aren't you?
    If you're not kidding, then why stop half-way? Make windows elliptical instead of rectangular! That would be brain-dead, but since it would be a change, it would be good, wouldn't it?

    Change is good if, and only if, the new way is an improvement over the old. If you are not able to explain what benefit a change brings, don't make the change. Especially if it's something the vast majority of users is accustomed to for years.
    WRT the buttons moved to the left, I still have to see an explanation why this should be an improvement over them being on the right.

    Bottom line: instead of making a long blog post about which arguments you don't want to hear, it would have been a much, much better idea if you had made a blog post that explains the benefit of moving the window buttons to the left.

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  12. Because users aren't used to it is a perfect reason NOT do do something.
    Here's why....
    I use windows at work and have been using windows for 20+ years.
    I use MAC and Linux at home, I continually try to close,minimize windows on my MAC by moving my mouse up to the RIGHT.
    It is very annoying that I keep forgetting that the buttons are not on the right, but this is HUMAN NATURE and isn't the whole Ubuntu theme "Human"?
    So "because users aren't used to it" is a perfectly valid argument if you bother to stop and think about what that really means.

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  13. If Ubuntu (both the OS and philosophy) is about humanity to others; then Canonical needs to follow suit and be humane to its users by not f***ing with one of the cornerstones in the foundation of the fundamentals of desktop work flow and work space.

    Not even Microsoft has done anything this stupid because while they may have created the "Ribbon" interface (which everyone hates), at least the minimize, maximize and restore buttons ARE IN THE SAME ORDER AND IN THE SAME PLACE....

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  14. "Bottom line: instead of making a long blog post about which arguments you don't want to hear, it would have been a much, much better idea if you had made a blog post that explains the benefit of moving the window buttons to the left."

    Peter, Peter, Peter, such demands! Look, there is a perfectly valid reason for moving the buttons to the left. It is a CHANGE. And it is about danged time Ubuntu started differentiating itself from other operating systems. HOW LONG MUST WE CONTINUE with the buttons on the right?

    Now think about it, every other OS has them on the right (mostly). So when someone uses Ubuntu they will move their mouse to the right and say "Where are the &*&*^@# buttons!?" Eventually they will find them on the left. This will irritate them. Then they are BOUND to REMEMBER Ubuntu. Then they will ask how to CHANGE IT BACK and they will be pointed to edit a config file. THEN they will muck it up, make their system unuseable and require a reinstall. Then they will REALLY remember Ubuntu.

    Don't we WANT users to remember Ubuntu? Remember BAD press is better than NO press. So please stop your griping, as you can see they had a perfectly good reasons for ignoring all of their users and creating CHANGE BECAUSE OF CHANGE.

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  15. I am just going to say my piece and be done here. The workers at Ubuntu are becoming less and less of what they used to be. Not saying that change is bad entirely, but they used to be as free as it gets. The deal they did with Yahoo! to make it the default engine was a sell out move. The move as a whole is what I'm talking about because I have nothing against yahoo but the move was specifically for money and money only. I don't want to be on a distro that will do things for money (even if they are good things), I just don't want that type of distro.

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  16. @Robert: Well, my point is I like the fact that Canonical doesn't ask the whole community (and by extension rest of the world) about their opinion. Actually a small part of community (people we have choosen as liaison officers) were asked for their opinion afair.

    Every setting available to users comes with the price. It clutters interface, make people more confused and add code that has to be audited for bugs.

    Also don't forget that people who really love to tinker with their system can use one of a hundred different window managers that are out there. So it's not really taking something away completely.

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  17. Getting annoyed by people that moan about change is just as bad as moaning about change :)

    I think what people really resent is there seems to be a select few who control the direction and style of Ubuntu, the rest of us have to put up or shut up.. or in Open Source parlance, "you can change it yourself, the source is there..."

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  18. I think that if you tried to tell that to my Mum, you'd be hit with a handbag.

    It's all well and good for us to be like "oh well it's easy to see the window controls" because we use computers every day, we work on them, we're computer geeks.

    But computers to a crapload of people in the world are a new concept. My Mum has spent ages learning how to email on Windows for her business, and now I try to convince her to change, she won't because Ubuntu is "different."

    I know that we don't want to emulate Windows, or Mac, just to please the people that don't want to make the switch for this very reason.

    But when things are changed, there has to be a good reason behind the decision - if there isn't then there is no point in making the change to complicate a whole bunch of stuff. The design team still haven't given us a reason - it would be nice if they did.

    As far as I can tell, there are more bad reasons than good ones, breaking other themes, inconsistent with third party programs like OpenOffice and Chrome, inconsistent with upstream etc.

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  19. As a long time Ubuntu user, the changes don't really come as a surprise. Despite the focus on "Humanity", each release has come with major regressions, so another one is really just more of the same. The biggest regressions also tend to come with LTS releases (remember the PulseAudio debacle with Hardy?)

    That said, this last one, really feels like a "last straw". I'll probably continue using Ubuntu, but would no longer recommend it to people who aren't geeks who could cope with the changes.

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  20. Robbert, you don't let the community decide because the community will talk it to death and kill it. The "community" is too full of divergent views on things. The best thing for Ubuntu is to just make the changes and let the community learn to work with them.

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  21. You, sir, have failed to show a single positive argument.
    "Change for the sake change" is no point at all.

    The things you described aren't the only people are complaining. Some people actually have arguments with technical and usability reasoning.
    http://yokozar.org/blog/archives/194

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  22. At first I didn't like the fact that the controls were moved to the left and set them back to the right, but then decided "Why not give it a try for a few days and see how it goes". It didn't take a lot of time to get used to them and now I like them on the left, the button order also feels "right" ;)

    It makes windows seem a bit "friendlier" because of the space (blended window title + menu bar) on the right hand side and fits in there quite nicely. I was concerned (and still am a bit) that people might accidently hit the close-button when they want to open the menu, but it hasn't happened to me yet. That's probably the reason why Ivanka Majic would prefer the close button to be on the right hand side.

    Although I like this change, it would still be nice to know the reasons for it.

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  23. "What's wrong with there being change for the sake of change?"

    Hey, if you're seriously asking that question, I'm frightened for Ubuntu. And no amount of rationality can answer it.

    As a non-programmer/developer user, who just feckin' LOVES Ubuntu, this point essentially treats users like rubbish.

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  24. Wow. There are about thousands of actual valid complains made against the design-joke of Lucid.

    And you choose to respond to the 2 that aren't very fair.

    How about you post about the other 999 points that are being made that are valid?

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  25. I find your post interesting.

    I want my Athena style scrollbars back. I want left click to stop being yet another menu and to go back to being a selection terminator for mouse cut-n-paste. I want want to use the hardware mixing in my sound card and free up more of my CPU in exchange for the features pulseaudio provides but my computer can't use. I want the window system to place my windows intelligently from the very first window I open like it used to.

    But, I've been told to shut up, get used to the changes because they are more Windows friendly and they might bring about that utopian dream of the Year of Linux on the desktop. I've been called egocentric for disliking how I keep having my work flow broken in the name of growing the user base of non-geek users. I guess this is all just cathartic for me.

    Now we have a blatantly unintuitive change that deviated from Windows, Linux and pretty much every other operting system in common use and folks are to shut up and get used to in spite of Windows. It's comic to me.

    The fact is you can fix it in the registry. I know that sucks. I know it sucks to have to dig through the registry. I have to edit the gnome registry with each new install to make Gnome feel a little more like Linux. Makes me less sympathetic however to the people complaining. At least there is a choice in this case that doesn't involve a recompile.

    I honestly don't have a horse in this race. The buttons look nice. I'd rather have the kill button on an outer edge personally. But I've experimented with similar things in the days of Enlightenment and other window managers that favored choice.

    That's what I think the real failure here is. I miss the days that a desktop gave you its best guess at what was a reasonable, intuitive and easy environment but still gave you the choice to easily modify its behavior and interface to better fit your personal work flow. I'm ok with editing a file and restarting but I like it better when I can change things on the fly. My preferences don't have to be the default. I just want the choice. You can even hide think in the registry, but accept that people will critize it the way they do Windows.

    The simple fact is that choice is king. Choice is what made Linux and Open Source more powerful. In the case of the window buttons, you still have the choice to correct/revert it if you like with gnome registry editor. That is unnecessarily complicated, but at least that's still possible. Besides, if you want something different then the default, then you are not the average user. (That's what's I keep hearing anyhow.)

    To the folks complaining about making a change (back) to help windows user, please think of those of us who keep getting broken in the name of Windows users. If you are complaining because of some arbitrary change breaking your work flow and years of muscle memory, please think of those of use with years of muscle memory that's been broken for your benefit. The answer is more complicated than "Accept something new!" or "Change it back!" The answer is "Let me to more easily change things so they work!" for more definitions of "me" and "work". Pick an easy default and let the more advanced folk tailor things.

    Edd

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  26. lmao spontaneous combustion. That was a good one.

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  27. It appears as if I need to clear up what I meant by "What's wrong with change for the sake of change?". I admit the biggest mistake there was not pointing out that there should be common sense as to where the change it. I don't think that going and changing windows from rectangles to triangles would apply, but changing the location of the close menu, or making some icon bigger here or there, or colors can be change for the sake of change.

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  28. If a decision truly has no consequences, then it should be given a sane default and exposed as a user preference.

    Even minute things like a change in the size of an icon or a change in color must be done for a reason. "Aesthetic consistency" is a good justification for such things, provided that is in fact the result of the change. "Change for the sake of change" may be adequate justification for a user, but it is never acceptable for a designer.

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  29. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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  30. pls explain the benefits (if there are any, at all)

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  31. The only problem for Ubuntu is because we are a family, every change has to be agreed between the 30 million members of the family. Windows and Apple, does not ask anything and they just change what they feel like. My idea is that canonical could accept 5 totally distinct themes as default, to be easily interchanged (eg like one button in appearance). This could be a great idea to satisfy most users and display the flexibility of the system. Again the desktop appearance could be controlled totally in the control center, so everybody could easily adapt the OS to his/hers preferences.

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  32. First thing's first, this is not an improvement, all I read everyday by fanboys(term used to describe people who agree on things without really thinking about it) is that "stop whining about it's not good, and it's bad to change this". But what fanboys never explain is what are the benefits? Why is is this better? what reasons do you have for doing this? I mean you should have good reasons for not giving a damn about our opinions... the user's opinions.
    Here are some reasons I have against this:
    - it fixes/improves nothing
    - it makes(literally millions) users used to the old design uncomfortable, and if you'd know anything about them you'd know that they are not used to changes
    - it looks idiotic, especially when you maximize your window:
    Applications Places System
    Window Buttons
    File... Hep

    You get the idea...

    - only Ubuntu will have this by default....

    This makes as much sense as moving the title bar to the bottom so that it would be closer to the window list.

    So my recommendation, stop being hypocrites by calling the users ignorant and listen to them, and explain your actions.

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  33. One thing is "change something" and other very different is "breaking something".

    I think that moving the buttons to the left BROKE a few things.
    * The know-how of a lot of people, specially of the "non gigs".
    * All the other themes
    * Consistency with the other *buntu flavores
    * Willing to roll it out in enterprise environments
    And a few more.

    I agree that the change is good, but not every change is good.

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  34. Please do this simple experiment and come back and tell me how you cope with this kind of little change.

    I hope you are a righthander person. If so, try to find a pair of scissors made for left hander, and use it with your right hand.

    Or the other way around, use a pair of scissors for righthander (the most usual) and use them with your left hands.

    try to use for a few hours and you will understand that a benign change can have big impact.

    Change is good, granted. But a change that brings no advantage, just for the sake of change is waste of energy.

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  35. What sort of sycophantic, yes-man drivel is this? Why do people feel the need to 'defend' Linux (and Ubuntu) so much against criticism.

    This whole post is a massive straw-man argument, picking two dubious complaints out of a sea of hundreds and saying 'the moaners are unjustified'. It's a totally pointless exercise in politics and spin - this is the sort of rubbish I expect to be posted by paid members of MS' PR department. It's weasel words.

    There are probably thousands of arguments out there on why this is a bad change (with concrete, scientific reasons) and not a single justification from the Ubuntu camp (or anyone else) about why it is a good idea.

    In truth the two arguments that you picked on are actually valid. What if you configured it to put the window controls on a random side each time you started your computer - as according to you that's just as defensible. The de-facto standard in OS's these days is decorations on the RHS. Just a light switches are all oriented the same way it enables an easy transition from device to device. Building a house with the switches the wrong way up for changes sake wouldn't fly - so why should this?

    Linux is like the tale of the Emperors New Clothes, where a core of yes-men praise everything and fail to ever be critical. Either man up and admit that this change is a step back usability wise, counter the aforementioned claim (I've yet to actually see anyone do this) or say nothing. This sort of vague praise and a refusal to see issues is what is choking Linux to death.

    P.S. I am all for change, provided there is an actual reason and it actually improved things.

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