Reviewer Comments

  • MarkShuttleworth: approved 5/11/2005, with one outstanding item which is MPT's comment on the notification panel. I think we should move ahead as discussed but get a


Changes to the default Ubuntu desktop configuration for Dapper will include improvements to GDM's language list; incorporating NetworkManager; changes to the logout/shutdown workflow, the update notifier, and the "Add to Panel" dialog; and tweaks to various applets.


  • Michael finds the list of language screen of the login screen pretty ugly. It doesn't match the nice default theme.
  • Scott thinks that the in/out activity of the default network applet is pretty disturbing.
  • Claire has just discovered how to change workspaces while clicking by error on the corresponding applet. She thinks that's a nice feature but it should be easier to figure what these squares on the bottom panel do.

Desktop Changes


See also GdmRoadmap.

The current language list is ugly and doesn't match the login screen theme.

We are going to:

  • add icons to the context menu (shutdown, restart, suspend, change language, session)
  • replace all the bottom/left actions with a single "Advanced" item that brings up the context menu
  • remove the language and session options, because they can be accessed through the "Advanced" menu
  • we may come up with a different string for the "Advanced" menu button
  • change the way to list the languages
  • give indications on how to add a new language in the language list selector.

The options for the list of languages are still to discuss:

  • list only the language (i.e. english) with a disclosure widget for the variants

  • sort the languages by region?

The session menu has a "Default System Session" item. What it does is not clear, so we are going to rename it.

network-applet vs. Network Manager

The in/out activity of network-applet is annoying. This will be fixed by moving to Network Manager. It should be pushed as soon as possible to get feedback on it.

"Log Out" is not easy enough to find

We are going to put a button in the top-right corner for this. This will bring up a new logout / shut down session dialog (see below), with no radio buttons, and "Cancel" as the default button.

The session dialog need to be reworked

The current dialog is quite ugly. We are going to design a new one, which:

  • uses different categories for logout/switch user and shutdown/reboot
  • doesn't use radio button, but has each option as a button instead
  • has "Cancel" as the default action.

Workspace switcher

We want to keep this applet on the default panel because it's a nice, powerful feature that users like and that Windows doesn't have. It's not obvious though, so we are going to add a tooltip for it (like the clock applet one). The tooltip will say "Switch between Workspaces" or "Switch to Workspace X".

battstat applet or gnome-power-manager

The battery-on-panel (whether implemented as battstat or gnome-power-manager) artwork needs to be reworked. Nokia has a nice icon for this. The icon should take no more space than the current battstat, and it needs to have the same basic style (battery when on battery, plug when on power), but it needs to show the battery charge level while the battery is charging too. The best proposal we have so far is a subtle but visible overlay of power plug over the current charge level battery icon.

update notifier

  • We will try to behave similarly to the Windows user experience
  • The notifier popup will just have an [x] to close it, to click on.
  • Clicking anywhere in the notifier popup will actually close it.
  • This means that the only way to activate the update manager is to click on the notifier icon itself, not on the popup.

"Add to Panel" dialog

We are going to rework the first category ("Launchers & Menus").

  • Make clear the difference between "Main Menu" and "Menu Bar" with icons that represent how they work: "1 menu opening up" and "3 menus opening down".
  • move the renamed "Main Menu" and "Menu Bar" items into "Utilities"
  • change the "Create launcher" and "Launcher from menu item" icons into buttons, so it is seperated from the rest of the applets, due it requiring further interaction by the user
  • having tooltips on mouseover would be nice but GnomeCanvas doesn't support this. This needs to be done upstream

    MatthewPaulThomas: Using menu direction to distinguish the kinds of menu will fail almost every time, since the Add to Panel dialog has been invoked from a particular panel, and any menu added to that panel will open in the same direction. How about "All-in-one Ubuntu Menu" and "Applications, Places, and System Menus"?


SebastienBacher and JeffWaugh are going to review all the applet icons, labels and default configurations and add the resulting actions to this spec after UbuntuBelowZero (it is not appropriate work for the conference).

Top panel icons

We will remove the Help icon, but keep the web browser and email icons.


Workrave should use the applet icon, not the status one, and show the time for micro/rest breaks next one to the other. We need to fix the icon for it which is not set at the moment.


The search entry is disabled if no contacts category exists in evolution-data-server. We're going to fix this bug for good.


These changes will be implemented early for user feedback, and possibly updated based on that feedback.

Future work (not for Dapper)

Recently used applications

  • menu item that shows the recently used applications
  • popup notification to tell users when it adds an application

Unresolved Issues

MarkShuttleworth: I've put this issue here, I agree with MPT it's worth considering and if we are able to make the notification floater more obviously dismissable then we should. However, I would rather than thing look classy, than that it look like a big button. So this is a "mock it up and reconsider" problem.

MatthewPaulThomas: The only thing I strongly disagree with in this spec is adding a placebo close button to the notification balloons. In the long term that will slow people down hugely (because they are being shepherded into a ~99%-smaller mouse target), and confuse them when they click somewhere other than the close button and nothing else happens. A better approach would be to make the whole balloon more obviously clickable, by editing a subtle relief effect to it.

  • RobePisc: I agree that the notification baloon shouldn't have a close button, but it should close if clicked everywhere within its area. A way to make it discoverable is using a different mouse cursor when over the baloons surface; for example an arrow with, beside it, a box with a big X inside (like the one used to close windows).

MatthewLange: After seeing one of the no-close-button popups come up, it looks like there's no way to close it. Maybe just an 'X' (not a button) in the top right of the bubble, so people can see something to click on, even though they're actually clicking on the bubble itself. I think i'm rambling, but what I mean to say is have something that looks like the standard, top-right close button, but keep the whole thing clickable to dismiss. Force of habit makes people look to the top right of something for a close option, and when you see something there, you click it. If there's nothing there, you immediately think there's no way to get rid of it. I think we should at least add a 'fake' close button (even with mouseover relief) for people (like myself) making the switch from XP, etc.



  • During breezy development, I made a comment in gnome's bugzilla about the dropped "run applications" menu item. A gnome developer told me that there are plans to make the gnome menus completely editable: http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=167090#c8. Could this be discussed to see if it's possible to include in dapper? Maybe help out with the implementation?

    SebastienBacher: that's probably not going to happen for the next GNOME or dapper and is not related to this spec, we already have a menu editor.

  • On another note, but related to this, as a user, I don't understand why I have a menu item to capture a screenshot but I don't have one to run any application, which it's even more frustating since I can create a menu item for the screenshot app since there's a command for it: gnome-screenshot, but I can't re-add the application launcher to the menu since it's a built-in command in the panel and therefore there's no command for it, just an keybinding or applet.

    SebastienBacher: The screenshot item will be moved to the applications menu. You may be interested by the MenusRevisited spec.

    • MatthewPaulThomas: Taking a screenshot isn't an application, it's an action.

      AlexanderDomanski: I agree with MPT. We should make the Mini-Cli a command and not move around other entries to hide the problem.

  • I think something cool could be to add the posibility of creating menu items out of applets, for example adding the run application dialog applet as a menu item, this would satisfy the previous comment.

OlafurArason: Doesn't deskbar solve the run applications usecase and also add a nifty search capibility if combined with beagle, plus loads of other cool features. I think it also replaces contact-lookup-applet.

  • Duffman25: Not exactly. While I agree that the deskbar is cool, the version provided in breezy doesn't let you launch applications with parameters. Try launching rhythmbox with --play

    HiddeBrugmans: Deskbar has been completely reinvented since, and the version living in gnome cvs is not comparable. It should be quite functional for Dapper.

    AlexanderDomanski: What if we use the Deskbar instead of the three icons on the left of the menu-bar?

ØivindHoel: How about using libnotify or similar to tell the user something like "You are currently working in workspace 1" ?

AlexanderDomanski: I think we are in the need of some nifty little thing to tell people about cool stuff from the repositories they can add to their desktop. Perhaps a button/window in the »Add to panel« dialogue to download cool new applets or a category in gnome-app-install doing so.

ÉtienneBersac :

  • user switching is not well handle. fast-user-switch-applet does a very good job. But it's not possible to select a user and just type the password. (This is right also for GTK+ login).

    PascalPotvin : the fast-user-switch-applet, in breezy, should be set with the Gconf option "/apps/fast-user-switch-applet/show_active_users_only" = yes. This is the real way it works intuitively. When users are logged on the computer, they're shown in the list. It's an easy way to switch screen, and you just have to unlock the screen w/ the password. If only you are logged in, then the only choice shown is "Login Screen", which returns you back to gdm, without logging you out (= Apps -> System tools -> New connection).

  • GDM has a lot of problem for writing theme that just fit the screen. like CSS does.
  • double-click on user face in GTK+ login face selector automatically ask password. This is not the current bevahiour with the greeter. it should.

StevenWagner Nov 13th, 2005: I would like to see the gnome application bar force the size of applications listed to roughly 1/8th of the total bar. That way we don't have the case where two applications are each 50% the size of the application bar. Also, applications should be shown in the order they were launched..also known as launch order.

MatthewLange: To add to the above, I think if the bar is tall enough (>35 px), you should be able to have two rows of apps, if only for the folks who aren't used to/don't want to use desktop switcher

RobePisc: I think the best position for the logout button in the panel is bottom-right (not top-right), for 2 reasons:

  • the top panel is already too crowded;

  • the top-right position is already taken by the opened windows dropdown menu applet (or whatever its name is...) which, to be useful, must be in that position (Fitts law) since it's supposed to be used to quickly switch between applications, a very frequent action. If it isn't in an easily reachable position, it becomes absolutely useless. (Note, however, that this feature is redundant since it's already implemented by the window list + desktop switcher applets in the bottom panel).

So I propose (in particular because of the first point) the logout button to be placed in the bottom-right position, beside the waste basket and, maybe, also the Lock screen button, in this order: Waste basket, Lock screen button (maybe), Logout button. If, instead, you think the top-right position is the right choice, the opened windows menu should be removed at all.

EvandroGiovanini: I don't like having a log out button on the panel. I think it would just add more clutter to the panel for a rarely used button (used only once for each session). Two possible ideas that could help solve the problem: 1) Instead of having one log out button with sub-options (like Windows XP), have a button for each action (like Mac OS X) in the system menu. Since we don't have a cluttered Start menu, doing this would make these actions easier to reach without over complicating the menu. I assume Microsoft does what they do because the Start menu is already cluttered as it is; our System menu, however, is not. (btw, I don't really remember what Windows XP does here, so I could be wrong...) 2) Change the order of the desktop menu to "System | Applications | Places (| Help)". This would make the menu more consistent with normal applications (for example, Calculator is the first menu item for the menu of the Calculator app; System is the first for the menu of the System). Another reason for this, the log out button is in the first menu item making it easier to find it and consistent with applications. Quit/Close is always in the File/Application menu, which is always the first one. The desktop menu currently doesn't follow this expected behaviour.


  • I second Evandro concerning the logout button. The system should show the user where to log out during a short introduction which e.g. could run the first time a user logs on.
  • The order of the desktop menu should remain as it is. The <Applications> menu is the most often used one (as far as i can judge) and consequently should be easiest to hit.

  • The icons for applets that mainly report status information should be significantly different from application or action icons and visually much more drawn back (and the keyboard layout indicator needs one, btw). Significantly reducing photorealistic detail, colour, etc. in favour of more (icono-)graphic clarity could help. I would also approve a more uniform colour palette. (I cannot promise currently, as i will be doing my MFA thesis during the next months, but i might contribute something here.)
  • I would like to have a magic menu item which would contain the most used applications (in configurable amount, maybe around 5 per default), ordered by frequency of access. Putting this at the top of the application menu should be able to save many mouse clicks. Similar magic menus could contain the most often used documents, folders, locations, etc.

PascalPotvin: I suggest that in the gnome-panel properties window (right click on the panel --> properties...), a button was added to reset the panels to the original layout. That button could then be programmed to erase all the panel configurations in gconf, and then put the original one instead. It would also be an excellent and more accessible way for dapper developpers to see what changes are being done in the panel layout, and give their advices and opinions on it faster. It would also provide an easy way for users who break their panel conf, or just did mess w/ it, to return to the orignal layout.


  • For the location of the Logout and Exit buttons, I suggest to split the Ubuntu Icon (Top Left) From the Applications menu item. This way, by clicking in the ubuntu sign, a menu or a dialog could be opened, with the 'Log Out', 'Exit' and 'Suspend' options.
    • PascalPotvin : That wouldn't be intuitive at all.

      • SRey: I don't know why. That's the first place to look if you don't know what to do. Look at the xp start menu. Maybe it could be better by adding a tooltip, and a quick howto in the first login.
        • SaschaBrossmann: I agree. The current visual association of the Ubuntu logo with only the applications might not be the best idea, it seems simply historically grown without further consideration, as it was the obvious place for branding GNOME. The Microsoft approach here is all-embracing (as usual ;-)), but you might also look to Mac OS X where the according menu only contains system-related actions.

  • I wouldn't like to see a close icon on the panel. I don't see why it shouldn't be in the system menu. I think that's its right place. Maybe the best thing to do is as Evandro and Sascha said, to show a quick how to in the first login, although I think most people hate that sort of thing. If finally a logout button is added, I'd like to have the option to remove it from the panel, and because of this I'd like the logout to remain in the system menu. (At least as a gconf option).

PhillipSusi: I like the way windows 2000 handles the shutdown option. It's one choice on the start menu that opens a dialog with a drop down list, and OK as the default button, and it remembers which choice you made last time. Most of the time users are going to use the same option each time, so it should remain selected. For instance, I usually hibernate at the end of the day, so it's nice to just be able to click shutdown and hit enter and have it hibernate. I don't mind the radio buttons too much but I do think that the drop down list looks nicer.

SaschaBrossmann: Both variants of the shutdown menu are bad interface design, actually. The shutdown menu item invokes an action which is considered potentially dangerous. The resulting dialogue thus should result in a question for confirmation. If the action wasn't dangerous there would be no need for confirmation (which applies e.g. to putting the system to sleep). OTOH, the choices provided do something completely different, i.e. select an action (which might even have very different effects in contrast to what was initially requested by the user!). This leads to confusion by surprise, complicating matters. A possible solution is to get all that stuff out of the confirmation (sic!) dialogue. There should be initially different menu items for

  • switching the active user
  • logging out (i.e. ending the session without further impact on the system; "dangerous" => confirmation needed)

  • sleep
  • hibernate (both of which don't end the session, but change the system's state -- no danger implied => no confirmation needed)

  • restart
  • shutdown (both ending the session and altering the system's state; "dangerous" => confirmation needed).

Yes, more menu items (mind you, less is not more, just enough is more). I think those actions are important enough to justify this. All of those preferrably divided into three groups with standard menu dividers (BTW, "log out" should be the last item in the menu: it is the most important of the upmentioned items to the average user, but normally gets only used once per session). Thus the user's selection of an action lies one step ahead the dialog and does not get mixed in with confirmation. BTW, rather than asking if to save the current session, it should be saved by default and an option provided, to not use the saved session when logging in. This would make consistence the default: The last time i looked, normal real world behaviour was that objects etc. stay as they are if you leave a place and return to it later. Wouldn't you be slightly surprised if your regular desk would be magically rearranged each time without your explicit request? Wink ;-)

JamesHall: I agree with EvandroGiovanini's previous post. The logout button should not be placed on the panel, its not such a common action and could easily be added by users if they wish. I dont like the idea of changing the order of the menus at the top tho. 'Applications' should always be top left and easiest to hit.

PhilipGanchev: I like SaschaBrossmann' last suggestion. The exit actions (Log out, switch user, hybernate, etc) should be menu entries directly under the System menu. There is no reason to put a log-out button on the panel, as it is not a commonly-used action. Also, it takes time for the dialog for selecting an exit action to open. It is somewhat annoying to wait for it to open just to tell the system to hibernate. Using a menu item would fix this.

VivekBhanuprakash: As part of fixing the usablity of the workspace switcher, please take into consideration bug #29835 in gnome-desktop. Thank you.

Joelbryan: In the DapperFlight4 page, the Screenshot 5: Example Content, displays Yasis theme with icons only, and without sidebar. Is this the default look-and-feel for Dapper? I've done some experiment with other settings, with and without sidebar, and concludes a vote that this should be the default look-and-feel for Dapper. I think it is somehow the evolution of Spatial.

Darek27: I think that Ubuntu should have only one gnome panel (bottom) like new Suse 10.1 Default Suse 10.1 has only one gnome panel with menu "Applications" "Places" "System". Similar to KDE and Windows. It's important for new users which like similarity to good known Windows and for businessmen who decide is linux good for company or not (because it hav'nt standard look and is different from good known Windows). Advanced users can switch on two panels. Screenshoots (Suse 10.1 desktop): screenshots If you want, you can change the long names of menus "Applications" "Places" "System" to shorter "Applications" "Actions" (like older Gnome) to save the space on bottom panel (but it's not necessary because people buy new monitors with higher resolutions, in future 16:9). See discussion (wiki): OnlyOneGnomePanel Specification: only-one-gnome-panel

  • PiotrUsewicz: I think that Ubuntu team should reconsider having two panels (top and bottom). While bottom panel is OK, the top one just seems a bit too much. The most annoying thing is that you can't simply move your mouse to the top right corner to close the applications, as there is no close button. What is more, this is not OS X where you can close a window using keyboard. Ubuntu Desktop should be redesigned to gain more working space and improve general system usability. Remember that vertical space of screen is smaller, much smaller than horizontal one, especially on 16:9 screens.

DapperDesktopPlan (last edited 2008-08-06 16:23:30 by localhost)