[Usability] Re: [Desktop_architects] Printing dialog and GNOME


my name is Andreas Tille. I'm a Linux user for more than 10 years and Debian
Developer since 1998.  My only reason for using a more complex GUI than fvwm,
ion or something like that is that I can't attract my family to these nice
tools. If I want to attract them I need some attractive user interface and
if I want to help them - I just need to use the same interface to get

I decided for Gnome instead of KDE for two not very strong reasons:
 1. I have done a little bit of GTK programming myself.
 2. I was free to choose my own WindowManager (SawFish).
So I'm the wrong person to become involved in a KDE-Gnome flamewar - I
consider both as quite similar.  Perhaps Gnome has an extra advantage
that I can get easily rid of all the Icons disturbing my desktop.  I
just want to help out now the Gnome project with some personal impressions
and hope that they are placed here for good and that people would be

I started with Gnome 1.2.  Applications that made heavy usage of Gnome
widgets (or perhaps GTK-Widgets that were also used in Gnome) were basically
Galeon and Gimp.  Now I want to mention the problems I became over the
time of several years with Gnome.

  1. Midnight and Nightmares

     I'm a big fan of the Midnight Commander and I can't imagine that any
     human beeing in the world is able to manage files without it - OK,
     a shell with good command line extension might do as well.  I have a
     big problem with what I would call "Explorer-like" file managers: I
     simply do not understand these beasts.  So gmc was a disaster that
     I killed faster than it was fired up and Nautilus is an apropriate
     successor of it.  So it is a nightmare for me, but I was willing
     to try it for educational purposes for my family members.

     But it became worse than I expected.  First I hate if a program just
     overrides my desktop background.  (Don't tell me, I could nautilus
     teach to stop this missbehaviour: If I can not find this feature after
     5 minutes of searching its configuration dialog im going to kill
     this process!)

     But it became even worse.  Not only that it draws my desktop where I
     do not want it to draw - a "nice usability feature" was added at some
     point:  Nautilus now bloats my desktop with lots of new windows if
     I want to switch (hey, switch!!! not add) folders.  Even when I
     had to use the evil explorer I was able to get rid of this missfeature
     after less than 5 minutes.  Same applies as above: If I can not ...
     I will kill the process.

     You seem to guess the end: If a Nautilus process is killed a new
     instance is started.  Well - this is one of the next boring missfeatures:
     If I want to kill a process I really want this.  Don't call me
     stupid.  And I do not want to search for a configuration option
     were I can tell that I *really* want to kill this beast.  So I
     just renamed /usr/bin/nautilus before killing the process and
     I'm waiting for the feature that you people start patching the
     Kernel that /usr/bin/nautilus can not be renamed ... :-(

     In short: One of your basic tools is a nightmare - for at least
     one very frustrated user.  It might be I'm the only one, but it
     might also by that other frustraded user just save their time to
     speak up (as I did for years).

  2. Dude, where is my tab extension

     Formerly Gnome had a really cute file selection dialog that was
     used for instance in Galeon:  The dialog had a line below the list
     of files.  WHen I typed a string into this line and pressed <tab>
     the list of files in the dialog was reduced to these files that
     matched the string.  A REALLY GREAT feature I was using so often
     and I was really addicted to.  But one day this nice feature vanished.
     Well, the URL line of Galeon is intelligent and has also some
     kind of tab extension so I do not really depend that much on the
     much less usable file load dialog.  At least Gimp featured the nice
     dialog ... hmmmm, fow a while.  In Gimp this was an even more
     convinient feature.  Just imagine a folder with 100 images and you
     want to load an image starting with letter 't'.  Two key sequence
     reduced the list of files to what you want.

     And yes, I think I can handle the new dialog and I just noticed that
     I can navigate with key-pressings.  But the reduction of the list
     of files was much more intuitive than it is now.  Moreover there
     is no conflict between the old and the new dialog.  Just bring up
     the nice tab extension line in addition to the current features and
     everybody will be happy.

  3. Am I a slave of usability? I'm not!

     If people believe that panels should stick on top of the screen -
     it's fine for me to have this as default.  I just want a single
     panel and I want it on the bottom and I was easily able to have
     this setting until I started using Gnome 2.10.  I just filed
     a bug report to the Debian BTS (http://bugs.debian.org/343167)
     that my panel is on top of the screen everytime I start a new
     session.  Please read the details there.

     The problem I have that I become the feeling that I have to
     accept whatever people decide who claim to be usability experts.
     OK, I'm happy if this is the default for new users.  But I do
     not want my settings I'm using for years disturbed by people
     who ignore my personal preferences.

I'm not subscribed to this list and do not really want an answer via mail.
It would be enough to answer via code that was just written and is brought
back to your users.  I would be happy if this mail would not be regarded
as some noise issued by a moron.  Please accept that many people just
loose time if they are missing features they are used to and they do not
want to loose even more time in finding out the best way how to contact
the people who are the source of the problem.  While there are bug tracking
systems that gather single problems it is hard to report these general
problems and so I was silent for years until I read about this thread
in two news tickers.  So you will not hear again from me: Either I'm
happy about the features that will come back in some future version or
because I found an alternative to Gnome.

Thanks for the good work in general anyway.  It's a known fact in
computer science that people often speak up about problems, but to
seldom if they are happy.  So Gnome is "not bad enought" ;-) that
I would leave it now, but please do not ignore that end users come
from two ends:  the newbees and the long term users.

Kind regards



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