Re: [Usability] GNOME 2.6+ usability: points of critique

On Mon, 11 Oct 2004, Robert Fendt wrote:

> Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2004 13:36:14 +0200
> From: Robert Fendt <rmfendt web de>
> To: usability gnome org
> Subject: [Usability] GNOME 2.6+ usability: points of critique
> Hi,
> I am a longtime GNOME user (since 1.2.x), albeit not a GNOME developer
> (mainly due to lack of time, sorry). While unfortunately I cannot really
> participate in the development of GNOME, I can (and feel I should at
> this point) give some feedback on usability. To make a long story short:

There are many project that would benefit from extensive testing and being
put through severe use cases and tracking down obscure bugs or helping a
project to manage bugzilla reports (oh so many duplicates!).
There is always plenty of development work to be done that does not
require programming if you really want to get involved.

Thanks for you feedback though always good to hear feedback.

> I am on the verge of switching. Where to? Anything. Essentially just
> away from GNOME. Why? Well that is what this mail is about; just
> silently switching away from the desktop environment I have been using
> for many years just does not feel right.

If you can afford a Macintosh you can always run a lot of Gnome
applications there too, or even run a Linux distribution.  I still use
windows a lot myself, dual boot with Gnome.  I hear KDE is quite nice and
I use it occassionaly (k3b, konqueror sometimes, kde-games has a much
smarter reverisi than iagno) but I find the range of options overwhelming
and cluttered at times.

I mean I love pizza but I dont think I'd want to eat it every day, and
using other Desktops gives me a better feeling of what I do and do not
like about Gnome and hopefully helps me to suggest ways to improve it.

> It mainly boils down to two essential points: flexibility and arrogance.
> GNOME has been "simplified" more and more for some time now, almost
> always at the expense of flexibility and configurability. And when
> someone complains, the reactions often are along the lines of "we know
> better than you, we will not change it back, so get used to it or get
> lost". Want examples? Sure.

I had that feeling during the change from 1.4 to 2.0 and I although I was
overjoyed at the simplification and streamlining of Gnome I too was
dismayed that much of the functionality and configurability was apparently
gone too.  (And although many of these extras are available \somewhere\ it
is not always easy to discover where they might be if at all.)  Gnome has
its flaws but I like where we are going and the flawas are being worked
on and on balance I like it.

> 1) I use a focus scheme usually known as "focus on mouse contact", and
> am used to being able to trigger mouse events in a window (i.e.,
> 'click') _without_ raising it. While Metacity fortunately still can do
> this (so the wm itself is not to blame here), why on earth do I have to
> set this in a lousy 'regedit' rip-off (which of all things pops up a
> window telling me I am not supposed to use it anyway)?

As far as I remember you dont have to use gconf-editor, and you are just
asking for trouble by calling it a "'regedit' rip-off".

You could just as easily use a text editor and there are text files
corresponding to the metacity sections shown in gconf-editor (I'm not sure
where exactly but I'm pretty sure they are there)

The extra warning in gconf-editor may be excessive and unnecessary but if
you file a bug report and give more context it might be possible to make
it less annoying but still give enough warning that users wont shoot
themselves in the foot.

> 2) I am used to and can productively work with browse-mode file managers
> like Nautilus used to be until GNOME 2.4. In GNOME 2.6 spatial mode was
> added. Fair enough. But why does the upgrade simply change the default
> behaviour without asking me, seemingly expecting me to re-learn before I
> can get any work done? That is quite arrogant.

It would have been nice to have been able to upgrade cleanly without
changing your existing setup and that is an unfortunate but it is too late
to do anything about now.

> Again: the possibility to switch off spatial mode was first hidden in
> the GNOME configuration editor and only added into the GUI of 2.8
> (AFAIK). And yes, I have tried spatial mode, albeit not for very long.
> Desktop environments should help me improve my productivity, not force
> me to re-learn all the time.

Spatial is pretty good but I also still prefer browser mode and for now
I'm doing a lot of right clicking and choosing "browse" from the context
menu, and any day know I'll get around to changing it to the default.

(It would be convenient if spatial nautilus and nautilus browser were
represented as two different applications and I could change it as easily
as I can modify the default application I want to use to open my text
files or image files.  hrrmm bug report forming)

> 3) Somewhere along the way from 2.4 to 2.8 (I am not exactly sure when
> since my reference installations are 2.4 and 2.8) the possibility to
> dock views into Nautilus was either dropped or hidden so well that I
> could not find it again. Up to 2.4, I usually configured Nautilus that
> HTML and text documents are shown inside the browser window. In 2.8 that
> does not seem to be possible anymore.

Sorry I dont know anything about this one, asking a question on a nautilus
mailing list might be productive though.

> 4) Simple details of themes, like the size of icons in applications
> cannot be modified. The icon size and arrangement of most themes is
> almost ridiculous. At least on a 1024x768 laptop screen. Simple
> possibility to reduze size and space between icons? Not that I know of.

If I recall correctly you can choose to use a larger verison of a theme
from the details section of theme manager.

> 5) Every directory having its own view settings in Nautilus is nice, but
> absolute nonsense without a "set this view for all" function. If it does
> exist, I did not find it. And manually changing the settings for every
> directory I ever visited is quite tedious.

Would be an improvement.  Anyone seen a similar request in bugzilla?

> Those points are mostly minor annoyances, treated separately.

I try not to let annoyances fester for very long, best to treat them with
a dose of bugzilla and messages to developers.

> But they are only the most prominent examples, given time I am sure I
> could still extend that list quite a bit. Their combination has reached
> a point where using GNOME has become one big annoyance. I will
> definitely retry GNOME at some future time,

glad that you haven't given up entirely on Gnome

> but when I extrapolate the
> current development, I am not very confident.

I hope you understand that was not a very nice way of putting it, and not
likely to encourage the kind of responses you really want to your message.
I'm hoping others have kept their responses polite though, this list is
usually very good about that kind of thing.

Anyway, stick around try and get some changes made see if you can get some
of your annoyances dealt with during the next release cycle or two before
you give up entirely.


Alan Horkan
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