GNOME 2.0 feedback

For your delight and delectation, here are some usability comments from
a beta tester who's been using the GNOME 2 beta on Solaris.  I don't
necessarily agree with all of them, but many are certainly valid.

"Nautilus isn't a terribly good file manager. It's slow and hard to
use. It doesn't offer a tree view. Its visible appearance is dull, and
it's not especially quick. It doesn't have any real shortcuts or
accelerators. While it does have a couple of nifty features that look
good in demos, I think I'm going to have a hard time selling this to
our users, who are used to the (superior based on what I've seen so
far) CDE file manager.

"It mistakes Adobe-FontList files for postscript files.

"If it hasn't got a viewer application, it should ask you what you want
to use (just like windows does).

"Even when I get to the configuration by right-clicking on an icon, it's
an incomprehensible dialog box. But once you've configured an
application you still get the 'no application/viewer for filename.xls'
dialog box when you right-click.

"The whole mime-type registry thing needs a good going over.

"Nautilus doesn't appear to handle removable media (in dtfile, there are
entries under the File menu to go straight to them).

"In nautilus, how do you adjust the size of the text and icon for a file
independently? (So you get small icons but readable text.)

"Nautilus tells me it's searching my disks for Trash folders. It
shouldn't (either search, or pop the dialog to annoy me). And the
dialog doesn't go away when you hit the OK button.

"If I run nautilus as a standalone application, it gives an error when
trying to access the help. 'Failed to execute child process
"gnome-help" (No such file or directory)'. It appears to need your path
setting, which it shouldn't.

"Tooltips in the menus are below the cursor, so obscure the menu item
below. Especially irritating as the menu drops from the top of the

"The main application menu has changed from the bottom to the top
panel. This might please some Mac addicts, but is a poor choice for
everyone else. (The default should surely be to work like the Windows,
KDE, and old gnome - the start button is bottom left. And then have an
option to do it the other way.

"Dialogs have help and close buttons. This is daft. What happened to
cancel and OK? (If I hit close, does it apply the changes I've made or
not? What if I shut a window from the window manager? In fact, I tried
this and the behaviour is downright dangerous - closing via the window
manager applies the changes, which isn't at all what I would expect.)

"The window manager (metacity) really doen't work well. The titlebar style is hard
to use, the titlebar text is too small. Windows without focus have
titles in white on grey, which is hard to read.

"Also, there are no backdrop menus. These are essential as you don't
want to have to go hunting for the main menu in the corner every time.

"How do I push a window to the back?

"Eye of Gnome has close on the toolbar, which is odd. I would have liked
to see "save as..." there instead, if it did image format
conversion. (And it's really pointless if it doesn't, as ImageMagick
and a host of other tools are much better image display tools.)

"The screen lock is too slow. It's just about 3s on my machine. The
thing is, you really have to wait to be sure it's kicked in.

"In Terminal, the Home and End keys both scroll you to the bottom - as
opposed to the normal behaviour where Home scrolls up to the top.
The delete key doesn't work, either - I get a tilde instead.

"How to edit terminal preferences? You can't, because it refers to them
as "profiles" which will simply confuse users.

"The tabbed terminal feature I like, but the visual style of the tabs
isn't very good - they're pretty indistinct.

"Double-clicking on the title-bar rolls the window up. OK, so I'm used
to this, but the definition of double-click seems to have stretched a
bit. Many times I've done separate single-clicks on the title bar and
it rolls up.

"It won't let you push a window all the way to the top of the
screen. You permanently lose the area of the top panel.

"If you minimize a window it hides in the panel at the bottom. (This
paradigm is all very well for trivial task-based work. It's a nightmare
for those of us who work with hundreds of windows open.) Once
minimixed, you can click on it to bring it back. On the desktop, you
can click on it in the lower panel to bring it to the front. I *think*
I can minimize it by double-clicking in the panel, but I'm not sure, as
double-clicking often does nothing, and occasionaly single-clicking
will minimize it. This sort of inconsistent behaviour drives users mad.

"In the workspace switcher, you can drag windows between workspaces, but
dragging within a workspace doesn't cause the window to move (despite
it moving in the workspace switcher view).

"It doesn't handle multiple concurrent sessions properly. For example,
if I have two gnome sessions running, have the help browser running in
the first, and then go to the help of an application in the second
session, the help browser in the first session displays the help and
nothing happens in the second session.

"(Overall) the biggest problem I see is the poor useability. It drives me (a
patient and long-suffering beta tester) up the wall. I see no prospect
whatsoever of our scientists or secretaries ever getting to grips with

CALUM BENSON, Usability Engineer       Sun Microsystems Ireland
mailto:calum benson ireland sun com    Desktop Engineering Group                      +353 1 819 9771

Any opinions are personal and not necessarily those of Sun Microsystems

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