Suggestions from a User

Dear GNOME Developers,

I am an end-user wishing to supply some feedback/suggestions on improving our 
Desktop Environment.  I have been using GNOME for quite a long time (first 
played with it in the 1.4 days and became a serious user with release 2.0/Red 
Hat 8).  I am however, just a user and have no development experience.  I am 
also new to this list, so if any of my comments or suggestions are ignorant 
or have already been discussed, please forgive me in advance.

I was prompted to write this after reading the article in the latest GNOME 
Journal about end users:

Hopefully, the following will provide some constructive and positive feedback 
on areas where the system can be improved.  As noted, this is from a high-end 
user's perspective, (not someone particularly interested in keybindings on 
Metacity or the like! :-))

Here is my wishlist:

1.  Evolution's spam filter is slow and not as efficient as that of 
Thunderbird.  Optimisation work in this area would be greatly appreciated.

2.  When importing a single mail file into Evolution, displaying a list of 
files to select from shows the file name and the date but not the file size.  
Displaying the file size would make it easier to determine which file is 
which, if there are a large number to choose from.

3.  I believe it has been discussed before but it would be more logical for 
deleted emails to be treated as higher level objects and go to system trash 
rather than a deleted mail folder.  This would make system trash a universal 
repository for deleted data.

4.  A mail preview so that incoming messages could be seen without switching 
from other applications to Evolution all of the time would be appreciated.  
Outlook 2003 has a function whereby a message momentarily pops-up on screen, 
allowing the user to see the name of the sender and the subject line.  Such a 
pop-up may be annoying to some users; however, Google Desktop has an even 
better solution whereby, in  "Sidebar" mode, it displays a list of recent 
mails on screen.  Clicking on one allows it to be opened out and previewed.  
From there, clicking on it again opens the actual message in Outlook.  A 
similar mail preview system for GNOME would therefore result in people being 
able to see new messages without constantly switching between applications 
and also enable them to determine if a message was particularly important.

5.  One feature I greatly miss from GEdit is a "block select" function to cut 
and past "blocks" of mono-spaced text.  KATE and gVIM have this functionality 
and, even for non-programmers, it is extremely handy.

6.  A spell checker would be much appreciated in Epiphany for when the user is 
entering data into online forms.  Konqueror is the only browser I know of 
with this functionality (not sure if Safari also has it.)

7.  One problem with all browsers, is that, to save individual images, the 
user must right-click on them and save. This is tiresome if a user wants to 
download multiple images from a page, without saving the whole thing.  IT 
also seems, from the usability studies I have read online that new and 
inexperienced users have a reticence towards right-clicking.  The various 
usability studies I have read by Sun and Novell seem to indicate that people 
often do not think to right-click to configure the clock or activate applets.  
Therefore, functions that are present in right-click menus only, such as that 
to save images in the browser, may not be such a good idea.  Perhaps an entry 
to "Save All Images On Page" under the file menu, would be appropriate.

8.  My biggest grief with GNOME relates to my dial-up USB modem.  I know that 
it is supported under my current system (Fedora Core 5)  because I can run it 
successfully under kppp.  However, attempting to configure it under GNOME 
results in failure as it cannot be detected.  This is annoying as, for one 
reason, it limits me from using a GNOME-only distribution such as Ubuntu.  
kppp is a more than adequate workaround but it would be great for GNOME to 
also support these.  I realise that dial-up is slowing giving way to 
broadband but in my (first-world) country there are still many home users 
with dial-up only.  We are also cutting ourselves off from the third world.

9.  Also related to this, it is difficult to locate hardware configuration 
data under GNOME, such as ports and interrupts.  KDE have a centralised 
hardware browser that provides detailed system information for those seeking 
it.  This seems to be another major hoe we need to plug sooner rather than 

10.  A font management system.  I did some research and found a short 
discussion here:

Indeed, lacking something even the equivalent of the Mac Suitcase is an 

11.  As that same message notes, DTP is a hole on Linux at the moment.  Whilst 
there are a few good applications, such as Scribus and KreetingKard, to 
appeal to two levels of developer, there are no GTK-based equivalents to 
promote healthy competition.  Such applications are rarely included on 
distributions. Even Inkscape and Bluefish are often relegated to "extras" 
repositories.  It would be great if more work on consumer level DTP 
applications could be undertaken.  This does not necessarily mean tools 
equivalent to the likes of Quark and Adobe but smaller programs such as those 
produced by Serif and Printshop.  I realise this would take much time and 
many resources though.

Also, promotion of the likes of Inkscape so that they are more visible to 
users and included in the "Core" disks of distributions like Fedora would 
raise the profile of such projects.  Perhaps you could lobby the Fedora 

12.  Whilst Nautilus is a fine file BROWSER(and I greatly like the spatial 
mode)  I tend to agree with a few people who have cited the need for a file 
MANIPULATION TOOL as well, for such tasks as renaming, printing lists of 
directory structures and so on.  Obviously such is readily done from within 
the Shell but it would be great if a GNOME tool could do the same.

13.  For those managing small networks, it would be great to have 
the /etc/MOTD file (Message of the Day) appear each time users log in.  For 
example, if I had a small school network, there may be a message I would like 
the users to see.  A small dialogue box displaying this file on login would 
be handy.  Obviously, an ability to disable it would be needed and it should 
not be activated by default or it would be intrusive to those people with 
single-user systems.

14.  Without any empirical evidence of improved usability, I do like the 
concept of circular menus mentioned here:

It seems likely that, by reducing mouse movements, they would improve system 
ergonomics.  Another advantage would be that, in their uniqueness, they would 
help to differentiate GNOME from the alternative desktops.  Such uniqueness 
is always positive marketing, which is why I rankle when I read of certain 
parties wanting to make GNOME more similar to Windows.  Whilst it may help 
users make a transition from WIndows, it does not help give them an incentive 
to move.  GNOME needs to be unique and the care to detail and usability is 
part of what has already attracted many people (myself included.)  By 
combining thoughtful ergonomics with eye-catching (but non-distracting) 
visual ideas, this should help gain an even greater user base.

15.  My final request is a purely personal indulgence.  It would be great to 
have a GNOME chess game.  With the Gnuchess engine available, I am surprised 
no one has included a GTK-based GNOME game due to this pasttime's enduring 
popularity, so I would like to lobby for this!

That is the sum of my input.  I hope that at least some of my ideas are 
helpful or generate constructive discussion.  I look forward to your 
feedback.  I am a newbie here, so do not be too cruel!  I realise that soe of 
these proposals would be huge work but they are simply ideas of things I 
would like to see.  Maybe next year, maybe in Topaz, maybe even beyond that.  
There is a lot of work but the GNOME community has already come a long way.  

Best wishes to everyone,


[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]