Monday, October 31, 2011

Shuttleworth Misses the Point Yet Again

I caught an article on entitled:

"Shuttleworth: Linux Power Users Aren't too Cool for Unity"

There are a number of quotes in the article from the originator of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, Mark Shuttleworth, that clearly attest to the fact he is completely missing what so many people find wrong with Unity. He starts with an completely misplaced "fact" for which he does not provide any backing:

"There is a bit of a myth that power users don't like and aren't interested in usability and ease-of use," 

Who ever said this? I've been using Linux for more than a few years now. I read many a different FOSS news wires and never before have I seen this idea thrown around. Perhaps there was an article or two I missed on this topic... At any rate Shuttleworth is going to continue digging a hole for himself:

"There is going to be a crowd that is just too cool to use something that looks really slick and there is nothing we can do for them,"

I can't speak for everyone, but I can at least speak for myself. I am not "too cool" to use something that looks "slick" (I mean comon, have you seen Enlightenment). 

What I'm not about to use though is something that was clearly designed for a touch screen on my computer that has a 15+inch monitor driven by a keyboard and mouse. I'm not about to use something that is resource greedy. And I most certainly not about to use something that makes most all the choices for me about how my desktop should be laid out. I'm the one that is going to be using my computer - so how about I get to choose how the GUI works best for me?

I know everyone is bound to have one of those "open mouth insert foot" moments at one point or another, but Shuttleworth's blatant disregard for why users dislike Unity is just shocking to me. 

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. For me, the real drawback of Unity is its resource-greediness. (That's one of the reasons I stay away from Windows, the fact that it takes half of my computing resources just to run the desktop/OS.)

  2. I'm a power user and love Unity. Unfortunately it's extremely buggy and that is a shame, but it has a lot of potential and will be awesome once the bugs are sorted. And I don't feel like it's sluggish on any of my machines, even older hardware, quite impressed how quick it is. Don't really care that the desktop is rigid and you can't change a lot cos it's already fast functional and logical. I always found custom docks unstable and not consistent. I would prefer to run on something that Canonical will activity develop for and make as functional and stable as possible. yes it will take time but I can wait.

    I really don't see what the big problem is with making the desktop look a little like a tablet, yet I don't think it looks anything like a tablet and with all the keyboard shortcuts cannot see how you think it's just for a touch screen. And why not save screen space, I like my screen uncluttered.

    I am extremely happy canonical is spending more time on bug fixes for 12.04. I really feel that the only thing Unity is missing is polish. Polish it well for LTS and then add more features later. There are some serious rough eges that annoy the crap out of me, but still I get where it's going and I dig it.

    Don't like Unity, just go to a different distro or load a diffrent window manager, it's all about choice in the end. Why can't Ubuntu have it's own niche, whether there are people who hate it or not?

    Just my opinion.

  3. Yep, it's the resource hogging and the lack of customizability that make people hate Unity. Though, to be fair, the default GNOME 3 shell is even worse (at least in terms of usability and customizability; not sure about resources).

  4. I don't think the examples you linked to display amazing design sense. They look a bit World of Warcraft IMHO.

    I use a xfce at home (nice and clean looking) and Gnome 3 at work. I haven't experienced any problems with either.

    The linux admins where I work use Unity and don't seem to have any complaints. I think generalising about any group is a bad idea, because those who shout the loudest are not necessarily the most representative. Some people just quietly get on, and don't always have time to be constantly pimping their desktop!

  5. "There is a bit of a myth that power users don't like and aren't interested in usability and ease-of use,"

    --he's trying to imply that his UI "design" is easy to use and even usable, and that this is a "fact" that cannot be disputed. those who don't like "unity" just like to suffer while computing, they're crazies, says mark.

    "There is going to be a crowd that is just too cool to use something that looks really slick and there is nothing we can do for them,"

    --again, he's trying to present "slick" as one thing to all, and that his idea of "slick" is what "slick" means to everyone. he's disputing about tastes. and if you disagree with his taste, you're a big meanie and one of the cool crowd. umm. okay.

    anyway the new ubuntu is targeting new-to-linux, FB-YT-dwelling, computer unsavvy users anyway, and that's been crystal clear for a while now. so what's this sudden talk about "power users". is ubuntu losing the bug-fixers? the promoters? folk serving as help desk *and* google to their family members and friends trying to run ubuntu?

  6. It's exactly because I am interested in usability and ease-of use that I don't use Unity.

  7. It is funny: this news and article comes at an interesting time. Currently there is the debate on Launchpad that Mark (and his team) are not communicating with the community and that he is missing the mark when it comes to seeing what (power)users want.
    Additionally, this all was triggered by two bugs.
    The first was about an option to change the launchers default position:
    and the other was about a patch somebody wrote to offer an OPTION to modify the behaviour of launcher icons when they are clicked.

    The community discussion was started when 160 "affects me" voters on the one bug and 135 on the other one were seemingly not enough to restart a discussion about those topics.

    So have a look at those bugs and decide for yourself.

  8. I don't get all the fuss: sudo apt-get install lxde etc ..........

  9. Is also my opinion regarding Gnome3, the other resource hungry DE environment. Amd64 machine UP processor with 4Gb ram starts to swap when I have open a few applications.

  10. I wonder what these comments mean for the other Ubuntu editions (Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Lubuntu); it seems like Mark Shuttleworth is purposely trying to marginalize those who choose to move away from Unity to some other DE. Also, have you noticed that it's the GNOME 3 Shell and Unity developers that have exhibited this kind of arrogance, but not many other DE developers? I mean, when KDE 4.0 was released, it was super-buggy, and the developers essentially admitted that it was not meant to be a final stable release, and they kept saying that regressed features (from KDE 3.5) would be reimplemented in time. Well, they did in fact listen to user complaints (because the main complaints were not so much about usability but rather were more about stability & bugs), and now look at KDE: it is an absolutely beautiful, easy-to-use, yet very powerful DE suitable for practically any user with any level of experience. The same goes for Xfce and Enlightenment. (LXDE is too new, and in my opinion, a little too bare-bones to be easy-to-use for newbies, with exceptions like Lubuntu). Yet the GNOME and Unity developers, instead of truly addressing users' concerns, have essentially spat in everyone's faces.
    a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

  11. "--he's trying to imply that his UI "design" is easy to use and even usable, and that this is a "fact" that cannot be disputed."

    I'm disputing it. I've used nearly 100 different Linux distros, and dozens of Linux UIs. Ubuntu Unity is the only single UI that I've used (including Windows CE!) that I find to be unusable. Now if Shuttleworth's definition of "easy" is "masochistic", then I would have to at least agree with him on that front!

  12. i've been using linux for 5+ years now, exclusively at home... and that mostly because ubuntu, but not only. now, gnome 2 was working perfectly for me, i cannot begin to understand why, when somebody has something working so well, why in the world they would discard it, so they can create a mess??? has anybody forked gnome 2? will it still be available in future debian stable branches?

  13. ok, jeff your all points are valid, but your views make your posts less authentic, what you are pushing bodhi and enlightenment? b'coz you are SABDFL of Bodhi,He(Mark) wants to be "cool steve jobs" of FOSS ,which is *not* gonna happen,He is a buisnessman masquerading as FOSS leader,but you should not be an oppurtunist to endorse your project while criticising others. you know what if enlightenment was so *awesome* why it isn't as half popular as LXDE or XFCE (it's competetitors), b'coz of the same reasons Unity suffers now, Oh common Enlightenment 17 when will it be released, after my death? FYI: I hate Unity from core of my heart.Bodhi masquerades as Ubuntu made better which it is *not*.I wish you could adress my concerns,but alas i know you won't, you just spill your opinions ,which most of the times *are* close to reality and appreciate that, but other time they are off-target but you don't have to be an oppurtunist.

  14. @Cipherfusionist: It's nice that you like Unity, and don't want to customize it. Good for you. But while many of us are complaining about the lack of customization possible in Unity, you should be considering how you are going to feel, and what you are going to do, when Shuttleworth unilaterally decides to change the desktop, again, into something else completely new and different, with absolutely no customization possible.

    Will you still think that he hangs the moon in the sky every night after that happens - and it will, as sure as his own purported "facts" about power users?


  15. I have been using Linux since Red Hat 5.1 (pre fedora) Am I a power user?
    "There is a bit of a myth that power users don't like and aren't interested in usability and ease-of use,"
    Sadly I find the opposite. I just want to get work done. It seems we are changing the desktop just for the sake of change. I used KDE 2 and 3 but now never use 4. First it will not run on my hyper-threaded Pentium 4 but the biggest reason I don't use it is that I just can't seem to figure it out. I don't think you should need a manual to run a desktop environment. I come back to it every now and then just because I am curious but I find it no longer usable.
    Now I do run Ubuntu on my netbook but I waste so much time looking for the app for a given situation. We seem to be heading into an era of cloning the way Windows and iPad do thing and that is to have all the icons/apps available in one big display/folder. We are moving away from the "Assessories/Games/Internet/System/..." categories. Debian has over 30,000 apps. Can you imagine looking at 30,000 icons and trying to figure what it does? By having an unknown icon situated in "internet" for example I get a heads up as to it's purpose. If I am looking for a developer tools I skip that category. That is the biggest complaint I have with Ubuntu's Unity. If you don't know the name of the app you are hooped and wasting so much time!
    I can and do use Gnome 2 mostly and like LXDE quite a bit. The good news is we have a choice. The Windows and iPad users don't.

  16. Unity whiners are never gonna be satisfied, no matter what would have come out of Shuttleworth's mouth. "I don't like being told how to compute"..."I wanna put a hundred applets on my Gnome panel"..."I want to be able to do this or that, I might not do it that way but I just wanna be able to do it". I've been hearing nothing but gripes for years. When everyone one used Gnome 2, a lot of people were crying that it was outdated and bloated. "We need something new." Gnome came up with something new too and the b$#%chin' keeps rolling on. If I could, I would jump through your screen with clippers hand and shave your neck beard. Unity FTW

  17. Always love the people that post that post comments with little to no merit and then are too spineless to put their name on said comment.

    Yes, I posted one link to Enlightenment screenshots in this post in an effort to show what I think is "slick". Did I tell people to start using it or really promote it in any other way? No. I also take offense at being called a "Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life". Bodhi is very much a team project that takes LOTS of input from the community.

    Beyond that nowhere have we stated we are "Ubuntu made better". In fact I believe our slogan is: "A minimalistic, enlightened Linux distribution"

  18. @Cipherfusionist

    First of all Canonical has a very bad track record with accomplishing it's initiatives. Ubuntu will crow very loudly and do some work in one release and it will be pretty broke. Hey the next release will be better, and it is. However it will still need work which it will get for 1 or 2 more releases and by that time Canonical will move onto another initiative.

    Lets take a quick peek at past winners. Sound with Pulse Audio. Graphical Boot from Grub to login. Ten second boot times. Improving Desktop Notifications. Making the desktop look better than a Mac. And improved desktop experience with Unity.

    None of those are perfect. All better since Canonical has worked on them but I wound not call any of those goals accomplished. The older the goal, the less work Canonical is putting in on it. In a years time Unity will be what it will be. Their flagship product that gets minor tweaks but will still have many bugs.

    It is not just that the desktop looks like a tablet. There are not many linux WM or DE's where you cant move your launchers and panels. In that alone Unity is a FAIL. It is very brittle. Everything about the user interface is designed to be right where it is at and things will break as you start to move them.

    As a tablet interface you can touch where you want and never move your finger more than 4 or 5 inches. On a 15 inch display, you are making wide sweeps back and forth. On Gnome 2, to change desktops, go to the pager, and you have a square with all 2, or 4 desktops, click on the desktop you want, and you change to it. With unity you travel that far to get to the desktop swither. But then you get 4 desktop previews. Now you have to travel more than half a screen to change to 3 of the 4 desktops shown.

    Yes shortcut keys help to mitigate the damage. However the need for these keys are a step back from how useable Gnome 2 was with a mouse. Also IceWM, Fluxbox, OpenBox, OpenStep, Enlightenment, and fvwmm are all as usable as Unity is once you start using shortcut keys. One of the big sells of DE's over WM's is that you can get your work done more efficiently with just a mouse AND YOU DON"T HAVE TO MEMORIZE SHORTCUT KEYS.

    Some like you may find Unity very cool looking and easy to use. They will take the time to pick up all the nuances of the desktop and learn all of its shortcut keys and load whatever utilities it takes to make it work.

    But please. those people should not preach to XFCE, KDE, Fluxbox, LXDE users that their desktop is better. At least not till they have spent as much time and effort learning shortcut keys and finding the right utility apps to make those desktops super productive.

    Mark Shuttleworth should give us all a break. "Some users are too cool to use this" sounds like a scene out of a Fat Albert episode where the local drug dealer offers the gang durgs, "I am sure to you too cool to use drugs." I was running E16 back in 2003. I know what a cool and functional desktop looks like.

  19. What is cool is giving the user a choice of what and how they want. This is why I use Linux. M$ takes away that freedom that I cherish. Why would I want to support a person or company that pursues Microsoft's methods? I still use Ubuntu's server releases. For my desktop, I switched to Arch Linux and Awesome for WM.

    History teaches us that freedom always comes with a cost but in the end it is well worth it.

  20. are you bundling snapshots of E17 with bodhi? it does look slick.

  21. I tried using Unity and my biggest problem is that the bar can't be moved. This causes huge problems when you have multiple monitors. You have to scroll all the way across all your screens to get the dock.

    This is the same stupidity of the Mac. It is quite obvious Ubuntu wants to be a Mac, yet they aren't and thus it just shows a real lack of creativity.

    What is even worse is trying to use the Gnome 3 GUI which is doing the same thing but much more disorganized than the Unity interface.

    Finally we are having to deal with the really big problem of homogenization of the GUI for multiple devices. This is creating minimalistic, uncreative, uncustomizable, GUIs designed for small screens.

    The Mac has already gone this way with ios5 and Windows 8 the abomination of this. Gnome & Ubuntu are trying to do the same thing.

    What we have is a desktop crisis. This is why so many people are moving over to Linux Mint in my opinion.

  22. A lot of people who hate Unity do so because it doesn't work like Gnome 2. If you want Gnome 2 follow the MATE Project. Gnome 2 isn't even supported by the official Gnome group. Unity isn't supposed to be Gnome 2 or even like it. It's a totally different animal and should be treated thus.

    Ubuntu is taking away choices??? If that was true then there would no longer be a Kubuntu or Lubuntu or Xubuntu nor all the other *buntu's supported by Canonical. Community distro or Commercially suported distro. It's still all freaking Free. If you don't like Unity then choose another variant.

    You really do have options. I for one love Unity. I am a tech-savvy power user, but I don't come from old-skool Linux. Just changing transparencies and wallpapers on my desktop...maybe changing my Login Greeter (thanks LightDM Manager) too, is good enough for me. I just want to get work done. Ubuntu 11.10 does that just great for me.

  23. A large number of existing users hate Unity, and with good reason: a desktop computer is not a smartphone or a tablet, and shouldn't look/act like one. That's why we're leaving in droves (usually to Xfce, it seems).

    Shuttleworth simply doesn't care, and is pretty much openly mocking us at this point. Well, guess what, Mark: the "we know best and you're going to go here with us" tactic may be something Steve Jobs could pull off, but you can't.

    After five years as a happy Ubuntu user, I'm bailing out to stock Debian. After all, without that desktop that was, until this year, really good ... what's the point?

    Ubuntu has jumped the shark. It's been a good run but it's time to say goodbye to both Ubuntu and Canonical.

  24. Unity is too far ahead of its time. When human mutates enough to have only one finger per hand. This kind of GUI would be indeed quite convenient.

  25. I appreciate your posts. But. (There is no "but" - hah!) I appreciate your posts. (Period. Full stop.) Thank you.

    This is both the worst of times and the best of times. I was insanely happy with Kubuntu 8.04. Until I had to "upgrade" because I needed newer versions of software that I used everyday.

    So then what?

    Kubuntu 9.10 was acceptable, not great or even good, but wonderful applications like KPDF and the OK Gwenview were rewritten, and lousy. Scratch that.

    XFCE (Mint and Xubuntu) didn't work. Literally. On two separate hardware platforms.

    Surprisingly, I finally tried Ubuntu 10.04, and it is light and quick and too-simple but works.

    But finally here we are. I need something up to date for a netbook, and am trying Mint LXDE, which might work. Lubuntu? Still feels a bit unfinished, maybe. Bodhi...ah, again, we'll see...a bit new yet? Don't know.

    But stress drives evolution. Enough people are hopping mad and looking desperately, and thinking so hard I can hear the hum all the way out here.

    So let's hope. Improvement is likely, and soon.

    Systems that need 800MB to 1+GB at idle won't get my vote. I want to turn the key and skip along. Shut down when I'm done. Know that everything works. And that my data will be there next time.

    And as I said, among other options, Bodhi looks good. It is a potential choice. Let's have more choices all around. Thank you.

  26. It would be a major disaster if Gnome 2 goes away within 5-10 years. What about choice?

  27. There has been a significant influx of new Fuduntu users after the release of 11.10.

    Mark, thanks, without your helping hand they would still be using your distribution.


  28. Unity nearly killed my interest in Ubuntu. I really like Enlightenment and I liek what Bodhi has done with the combination of the 2. I can say from being on the discussion boards There definitely isn't a dictator feeling behind the project and any help is welcome, I literally jumped in and started helping day one. I've had to cut back both my Linux usage and Bodhi help because of school and work, but this has kept me energized about Linux.

  29. I have for my first build what is pretty a desktop computer using some pretty good components. The specs are as follows:AMD 3.2 gHz Athlon II processor, Biostar N68S3B motherboard, 4gb Patriot DDR3 1333 Ram, NVIDIA GeForce 7025 / nForce 630 a chipset, and a 500 gb Seagate barracuda hard drive.
    Unity will not run or even install on my computer. That right there says to me that it is, as people have said, power and resource hungry. Yet Ubuntu touts it as not. So I am in complete agreement with any one who says Mark Shuttleworth just does not get it. He really does not-one of the many reasons I use Bodhi linux.

  30. I'm another power user that likes Unity. What I don't like is that it removes too much of the control that I like. Why do I need to install a new package to change something as simple as OSD notifications? Why does opening links in Thunderbird cause the program to change focus without the actual unity bar focus changing focus with it. Lots of little bugs and blocks have really ruined the experience.

    Unity is a nice idea. It's essentially the Windows 7 taskbar permanently aligned to the left and set to auto-hide with an arguably inferior version of the start menu. Even on a tablet we should still retain a moderate amount of control. Even Apple allows us to change the dock settings without much of a hassle.

  31. Canonical has now stated at the UDS that Unity will be customizable and was never their intention not to allow it to be customizable. They just had to get the groundwork laid:

  32. From all of Mark's ignorant statements though it feels like he means Unity is a finish product already. If this is not the case they shouldn't advertise it as such.

  33. Taking potshots about Mark Shuttleworth isn't necessary. You are a lead developer for Bodhi Linux. That's great! Continue making that project better and better. Bodhi is a beautiful piece of work. It adds to our ever-growing list of options. Unity is another great option for us too. I prefer Unity myself. Does that make your choice better than mine? Of course not. I don't hate on your choices, so don't hate on mine.

  34. How is this a popshot? I'm simply stating an opinion about something (not unlike Mark has done). Because I also work on free software I'm not allowed to discuss what other projects are doing and what I think of them?

    Where did I say "X is better than Unity"? I clearly stated what I BELIEVE to be true. Are my opinions facts? Hardly.

  35. Wow! What a war we have on our hands!
    Anyway, I've been an Ubuntu user from thee beginning of 2010 and was really happy with it until Unity became the default desktop environment. I've tried using Unity and found it to be very buggy, it's the small small issues. The other issue is the lack of customizability. I loved gnome 2 for that, Unity and Gnome 3, it's not there. When I moved to Bodhi I had my concern about the lack of applications installed by default but once I started using it I found this approach to be better and I absolutely love Bodhi and E17, customizable, minimalistic, lightweight and beautiful, screenshots don't do it justice.
    Fully agree with Jeff and Elder Geek

  36. Do i like Unity? Not at all. I have spent more time with it than i think it deserved and tried to like it and i still don't. But really there is a bit too much fuss about it all from those who don't like Unity or the way Mark Shuttleworth is handling things in my opinion. Why do i think that? Because its not like Ubuntu ships with Unity and eliminates you from using anything else. The first thing i did after i installed Oneiric Ocelot was to install XFCE from Synaptic and then built Enlightenment on it from SVN and i am as happy as can be with my Ubuntu core and my environments of choice. Nothing wrong with having problems with Unity and Shuttleworth over it all. But i think there is a bit of mountain being made out of a molehill when we still have the freedoms to easily use our desktop environments of choice in Ubuntu.

  37. Perhaps Mark Shuttleworth has had his fill of all the broohaha from old-skool "power-users" that a little of it surfaced during his keynote speach at UDS. Even Ubuntu developers have said that it was never their intention to make Unity as locked down as it is now.

    In all reality we are dealing with two 1.0 versions of Unity, right now. With 11.04, Unity was written from scratch and with 11.10, there was the port to Gnome 3 and GTK3. 12.04 will become a better realization of what they had originally planned with more options.

    That's what the regular 6 month releases are for. To try newer and bleeding edge ideas before their LTS versions. Nevertheless, some people will never like Unity and that's ok, but don't say that Ubuntu or Canonical are limiting your choices. We have tons of excellent choices to enjoy.

    *** @JeffHoogland....I respect your work and opinion. I apologize if my thoughts came off a bit trollish. That was never my intention. Thank you.