Monday, October 15, 2012


     Still recovering from the disasters of September.
     I installed Ubuntu 9.10 from a CD. As part of the installation, it partitioned my harddrive, left Windows XP in the lower partition, and installed Ubuntu Linux (UbLinux) in the upper partition.
     I immediately upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx. I chose not to upgrade to Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin. (What is a pangolin, anyway? Some kind of anteater? Who is the short-bus genius who came up with that name?)
     Why did I not choose 12.04?
     Because I had chosen it before and did not like it. Let me tell you why.
     The most important thing about any computer program is not what it does. The most important thing about any computer program is the user interface. That is, can you navigate to and use what it does?*

     Here is a screenshot of 10.04:

     It has a task bar at the top. From left to right, the first three positions are drop-down menus. The Sound & Video menu is open.
     Next comes a group of shortcuts to fire off applications like Firefox. You can unlock any of these from the Task Bar and move it to another place on the bar.
     On the far right is the date-time display and the off switch.
     In the bottom bar, displays tell you what is running. At the far right is Trash.
     Simple. Elegant. Intuitive.

     Here is a screenshot for 12.04:
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
     Note the absence of drop-down menus. Instead 12.04 gives me a side-bar filled with icons. I recognize the Firefox icon but no others. The top task bar is bare of shortcuts. The only things on it that I recognize are the date-time display and the off button.
     12.04 seems to be driven by a tie-in to Ubuntu One, some kind of Linux Cloud. I have heard about Cloud computing. As I understand it, the Cloud lets me store my files off my computer on someone else's drive space. Where the sheriff does not need a warrant to access them.
     No thanks.
     But leaving Ubuntu One to one side -- and I shall -- everything I want to use, everything I want to navigate to is now hidden. 12.04 forces me to play Hide-and-Seek with all the applications, files, and games I want to access. Not gonna do it.
     I come from Texas. We have a saying: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. 10.04 was not broke. 12.04 does not fix it.
     Okay, geeks -- yeah, you guys who designed 12.04. IMO Ubuntu 12.04 is a monstrous
     Go back to the basement. Throw out the 12.04 screen design. Return to the 10.04 screen design. And next time you short-bus geniuses decide to change the Ubuntu interface, ask me for permission first.
* Who am I to make such statements? Well, I am a writer now, but I used to be a computer systems analyst specializing in the man-machine interface. That is, I have some experience with interface design and layout.
     There may be something to 12.04 that I don't get, but if I have to use that verfluchte interface to get to it, it is effectively not there.
     I keep thinking of this, wondering what I missed. I conclude that if I missed anything, it is not my fault. It is the designer's fault for cobbling together an interface that diverged so radically from Ubuntu's historical interface as to render all users' previous experience with the Ubuntu interface obsolete and thus make the interface unusable.
     I stand by my statement. 12.04 is a FAIL. Shoot the designers pour encourager les autres.

1 comment:

  1. Hey H! I've never been an Ubuntu fan. For a start, their drivers are never the latest, so I've always had to curse and swear when trying to marry up my various hardware components.

    If you're jack of Ubuntu, may I suggest Mageia? It's based on Mandriva (that has now gone loopy somewhere in Siberia) and the MCC (Mageia Control Center [sic]) alone is worth the price of admission. Another plus is that it runs KDE, which is a very beautiful desktop environment. Read up on some reviews and give it a shot.