This page is an extension to this forum thread: It was originally created shortly after Ubuntu 5.10 with Gnome 2.12, and many of these issues have been fixed by now; some of the entries were created at a later date though. The fixed things are left here for now, but may be removed at a later time. It is very interesting to see the great progress with each version, something that is easy to miss unless you pay attention to it.
Please add your ideas and comment on existing ones.


  1. Template for adding your own entries
    1. Name
  2. General
    1. Speed
    2. Media with Meta data library
    3. Raising Windows
    4. Drag & Drop + Alt + Tab
    5. Third Party Repository Interface
    6. Drag&Drop saving
    7. Closing windows
    8. Window Placement Issues
    9. Default ownership/permissions
    10. Language settings aren't joined up
  3. List view
    1. No Rubberband selection
    2. File selection with Mouse & Keyboard combination
  4. Nautilus:
    1. Bad navigation using left+right arrow keys
    2. Backgrounds
    3. "Open Location" Dialog
    4. Links break spatial
    5. Userfriendly filesystem
      1. Home folder dot-files
      2. Lots of strange folders in /
    6. Undo
    7. Middle click in browser mode (Fixed in Ubuntu 6.06)
    8. Not remembering selection breaks spatial
    9. No feedback for type-ahead search (Fixed in Ubuntu 6.06)
    10. Filename selection is not optimal
    11. Nautilus doesn't honor cursor position (Fixed?)
    12. Starting gThumb for printing images should be easier
    13. Nautilus windows with root permission should be avoided
    14. Nautilus using sudo
    15. Recursive permission Editing
    16. Permissions on copied files
    17. Copy queing
  5. Evolution
    1. Calendar applet (Fixed in Ubuntu 6.06)
    2. Calendar applet should do more
  6. gThumb
    1. Too many modes
    2. Browser behavior
    3. Nautilus duplication
  7. Eye of Gnome
    1. Previous/Next image functionality hidden Fixed in Ubuntu 6.06)
    2. Different usage from gThumb
  8. Gnome-Panel
    1. Cancel in "Add to panel" dialog does *not* cancel (Fixed in Ubuntu 6.06)
    2. Only One Gnome Panel
    3. Icons are to close together
  9. Gnome-Session
    1. Autostart programs
  10. Evince
    1. View Mode & Window Size
    2. Full featured Context menu (Fixed in Ubuntu 6.06
  11. Volume Management
    1. Long Volume Label
    2. DriveMount Applet
    3. Setting Volume Labels
    4. Icons on Desktop that *aren't* on Desktop
  12. System Preferences and Administration
    1. Mouse Preferences missing some features
    2. Samba Default Configuration
    3. Disks manager should be a frontend for fsck

Template for adding your own entries

The general template suggested is:


Problem: Short description of the problem

Use case: Example situation in which this problem occurs

Suggestion: Ideas on how to solve the problem

Discussion: Discussion about the Suggestions

Bugs: If a bug is already filed in a relevant BTS, post a link here



Problem: Ubuntu is becoming to slow and memory hungry compared to other GNOME based distros.

Use case: Ashley has been told about Linux by a friend who told her its much faster then her current Windows XP. She installs it and notices how slow its performing on her computer, Windows XP only needed 64mb of RAM to run while Ubuntu needs 386mb of RAM. She wonders why people complain about Windows being a memory hog and decides Ubuntu isn't at all faster.

Suggestion: The Mozilla team has undergone a lot of work to reduce memory fragmentation and the number of heap allocations in Firefox 3 and the results have been mind blowing. The GNOME team has recently decided to do this as well.

Discussion: Discussion about this.

Media with Meta data library

Problem: There is a need for open, coherent Media and Meta libraries(databases) or extensions to fileformats that can be imported, exported, synced and used in any application as a standardized way of storing media and meta data(mostly meta).

Use case:

Ashley has been told about Linux by a friend who told her its much easier then her current Windows XP. She installs it and notices how complicated it is to use diffrent music programs on her computer since her meta data doesn't follow her if she switches program, Windows media player has its own media\meta database and so does Apples Itunes they aren't the only ones and theres aren't perfect but many people use them so there is some kind of understanding\experience that others have to follow so they don't get to many usability\UI complaints.

David wants to use two or three libraries how can he sync the meta data in all of them.

Mia wants to use an open meta format for her ratings, times she has played her favorite song etc she wants to be able to export her data to both a windows and a mac computer since her mom has a windows xp desktop at home and Meas school uses only Macs.

Suggestion: Talk to upstream like Rythmbox, Banshee, Amarok and others. It is important to talk to many upstream projects at the same time and get some sort of concensus how this can be solved. It should be semanticly connected.

Example of XML tags:

  • Rating.
  • Comments.
  • Last played.
  • Number of times played.
  • Last synced.
  • etc...


  • Artist:Average artist rating.

  • Album:Average album rating.

  • Song:Song rating.


  • Artist: Artist comment and links to available album and song comments.
  • Album: Album comment and links to available artist or song comments.
  • Song: Song comments and links to album and artist comments.

Last Played:

  • Artist: A song from this artist was last played on "date" at "time".
  • Album: Last played song from this album was "song title" on "date" at "time".
  • Song: Last played on "date" at "time".

Number of times played:

  • Artist: Number of times a song from this artist has been played.
  • Album: Number of times a song from this album have been played.
  • Song: Number of times this particular song has been played.

Last date item was synced.

  • Artist: Last time the meta data for a song, album from this artist or the artist itself was synced.
  • Album: Last time the meta data for a song from this album was synced.
  • Song: Last date meta info for this song was synced.

Discussion: Discussion about this.

Raising Windows

Problem: Inactive window is raised as soon as the mouse button is pressed.

Use case: Adam is writing an email with Evolution and wants to add an attachment. He has an open Nautilus window containing the file, which is larger than the Evolution window (e.g. taking the whole screen). Adam now tries to drag&drop the file there, but cannot do this as the Nautilus window covers the Evolution window completely as soon as he tries. He has to move both windows halfway off the screen to do this.

Suggestion: Raise windows on mouse button up, not down. Maybe with additional refinements depending on the object you click. Alternative: raise window on mouse drag-into. Dragging an item into a covered window pops up the converning window (default behaviour e.g. on Mac OS X, works well).

Also dragging to the buttons in the location bar to switch folders.

Discussion: While this is only a workaround, often raising of the background window can be prevented by holding a modifier like ctrl, alt, shift or super.

Bugs:, and, probably some more relevant bugs. Ubuntu Spec here:

Drag & Drop + Alt + Tab

Problem: User cannot drag and drop onto a window that is completely covered (if taskbar is disabled).

Suggestion: Allow the user to drag a file and, with the mouse button still down, press Alt+Tab to select a window. Once a window is selected and brought onto the foregroud, the user can then release the mouse button to perform the "drop" action.

Third Party Repository Interface

Problem: Third parties do not have an acceptable and user friendly way of integrating their own packages and maintaince into the desktop.

Use case: Joe Bob heads to and buys VMware. After purchasing it, he is offered to download a .tar.gz. He clicks it and the Archive Manager opens. Joe Bob has absolutly no idea what to do with it as there is just one folder in it.

Suggestion: When Joe Bob clicks on the link to Install VMware (Ubuntu) he is prompted weither or not he wants to trust VMware, Inc. to install VMware on his system. He is also offered a choice about whether he wants to automatically track updates. This system integrates into his package management system, properly installing all dependencies. Updates are tracked in the standard Ubuntu update-manager if he opts in.


Drag&Drop saving

Problem: It is possible to open files by drag&dropping them into the application. It is not possible to save in a similar manner.

Use case: Berta is working on a long project that has a complex file structure. She has a Nautilus window open showing "~/Documents/Project/Version A/reallylong/butnecessary/path/texts/" She has a word processor window open with a text she wants to save into that folder. Despite having exactly that folder open, she has to navigate there again in the save dialog.


  1. Add an Icon to the save dialog. Dragging that icon into a file manager window will save the file there , using the specified file name. A similar thing already works with the screenshot app: You can drag&drop the little preview to a Nautilus window and it will save there. Doesn't use the filename you specify yet, though.

  2. Dragging the window icon to Nautilus prompts for a filename to save in the drop location.
  3. Save dialog opens a nautilus window of a temporary folder (or permanent staging folder) with a newly created file waiting for file name to be chosen. In essence the same behaviour as when selecting "Create Document" in nautilus today.

Bugs: Rejected here: Ubuntu Spec here:

Closing windows

Problem: It's not possible to close windows by doubleclicking the application icon placed in the title bar

Use case: Henry has used Windows for many years, and has getting used to this feature. When swithing to Linux, he think it's annoying a menu appears and hides.

Suggestion: Create a close action when doubleclicking an application icon.

Discussion: Are there issues with accidental activation? Every other menu closes if you click the button again, having a destructive action instead is perhaps not a good idea. Then again, the feature doesn't seem useless...

  • I would consider a button which changes behaviour without clue when it is clicked a severe violation of sane interface design. Even more so, when it results in a non-reversable destructive action. Not everything that people are used to is good. One has also to take into account the people who are not used to this insanity. >;-> [SaschaBrossmann]

  • After getting a chance to experience this on windows I retract my partial support and fully agree with Sascha. Too easy to activate unknowingly, and I don't see a reason why this is good behavior beside that windows does it the same way. [Wolki]

Bugs: Discussed ( and patch created ( Consensus was not to include this in standard Metacity. If anyone wants this they can apply the patch. It makes the behaviour optional according to a preference.

Window Placement Issues


  1. The placement and size of newly-launched application windows is seemingly random.
  2. On a dual-screen display, the placement, size, and target screen of newly-launched application windows is seemingly random.
  3. One a user re-sizes and re-locates an application's window, these settings are not stored after the application is closed.

This is a hotly debated topic ( The end result is an operating environment that appears to do what it wants to, when it wants to, causing repetative inconvenience to the user.

Use case 1: Rob launches gEdit. The window appears on the screen, not where he wants it or sized how he wants it, so he moves it and re-sizes it. Rob eventually closes gEdit. When Rob opens gEdit again, it is not sized where or how he wanted it to be, forcing him to re-apply his changes. Eventually this drives Rob crazy.

Use case 2: Rob has a dual-head display. Rob opens gEdit, and it appears on the wrong display. Later, Rob opens gCalc, and it appears on the display he wants it to, but when he re-opens it later, it appears on the other display. Eventually this drives Rob crazy.

Suggestion: Make Metacity always remember the last size and placement of all application windows. This will add much-requested functionality without adding a single toggle to any configuration GUI. It can still (randomly?) place application windows upon first launch of that app, but after that it should know what the last location and size of that app's windows were and act accordingly.


[gvaroquaux] I agree that there might be a usability problem here, but the solution (automatically remembering window position) seems to me a very bad option : it will lead to a lot of overlapping in windows. Especially if I work with a lot of windows with the same name. I suggest: first minimum overlapping, and second, in the free space, closest position to the last location. As far as size goes it might be an interesting option to remember last size.

[MikkoOhtamaa2] A simple solution: open windows on the screen where mouse cursor is. You know that user is staring this screen. Of course, applies to mouse users only, but that's 99% of use cases. Please see

Default ownership/permissions

Problem: The permissions of newly made files are decided by umask. This is very one-size-fits-all.

Use case: Sean has a set of shared folders in his home folder to allow easy sharing of files amongst local users. One is read only, one read-write, another only readable to users of a certain group. When Sean saves a file in one of these folders it gets the permission perscribed by umask.

Suggestion: A newly made file should get is permissions and ownership from its parent folder.

Discussion: This might require huge changes at many levels of the operating system.

  • [JasonRibeiro] How about just using eiciel and Access Control Lists to establish default permissions?

Language settings aren't joined up

Problem: you set the language for the interface in one place, and the language for the keyboard in another, and add keyboard layouts in yet another place

Use Case: Stephen likes to use his computer with either a French or an British keyboard layout, depending on which language he is typing in. he opens the Keyboard preferences tool, and adds a French keyboard layout. Now he does not know what to do next to enable it, or how to switch between the layouts later on.


  • 1. give the option of matching keyboard layout to interface language in the login screen
  • 2. the keyboard switcher should be a notification area applet, not a panel applet. Add it automatically as soon as more than one keyboard layout it present.


List view

No Rubberband selection

Problem: You can't select with a rubberband in list view

Use case: Rhonda has to select some files for copying. She's viewing the folder in list view. Some of the files she wants to select are consecutively, so she tries to rubberband them like she's used to from other file managers and icon view. But it doesn't work.

Suggestion: Allow rubberbanding in List view. Either have only the name part of list view select a file on clicking (will make it slightly harder to select things when file name is less important, like when selecting based on file size, but the two-colored background should make it easy to follow from size to name columns) or make it so space not used by text will not select but rubberband on click.


File selection with Mouse & Keyboard combination

Problem: Shift-clicking will select all files between the last selected one and crtl-clicking will add a new item to a selection. But you can't combine them.

Use Case: Thomas has to select a lot of files . He has a sequence of files already selected, and wants to add another sequence. He ctrl-clicks to add the first item of the new sequence to the selection, then tries to ctrl-shift-click the last file of the sequence, but this doesn't work: it only adds that file to the selection. If he shift-clicks it will select the new sequence, but lose the previously selected stuff. He then has to manually click all the files.

Suggestion: Allow ctrl-shift-clicking to add sequences to selections

Bugs: Filed for Evolution:


Bad navigation using left+right arrow keys

Problem: When an user reachs the last/first column in icon view, right/left arrow keys don't work.

Use case 1: Joe is watching his favorite series. He goes through every file (using the right key) in a directory and launch them. Each time the last column is reached, he must press left arrow multiple times (+down once).

Use case 2: Kathy uses keyboard to use her computer. When navigating in full-screen Nautilus window, she is often forced to use mouse or press arrow keys multiple times.

Suggestion: Make the right arrow key in the last column go to the next row (and left arrow - to the row before).




Problem: The current way of setting Nautilus folder backgrounds is not discoverable and lacks finer control.

Use Cases: Christopher wants his Nautilus not to have white backgrounds, as it can be blinding if working in a dark environment. He finds a Window where he can set the background color or even a pattern, but does not find a way to set the background for all folders. He looks at the help, but can't find anything there either. He then spends a lot of time setting each folder background manually.
Delia found by trial and error that you can do this by dragging the color with the middle mouse button, but wants to have different colors for types of folders, like having every folder under "~/Music" in a certain color to have a visual aid which folder is which.

Suggestion: Make usage of the "Backgrounds/Emblems" dialog more discoverable and add some finer controls like "Set color for this folder and all subfolders"

  • AFAIK there is a hidden option for Nautilus to set the main and sidebar background color (accessible with gconfed). An incremental improvement could make those settings accessible to the average user. [SaschaBrossmann]


Discussion I guess the new Customize colors in System > Preferences > Appearence > Customize > Color solves this user case. Not only does it fix Nautilus backgrounds, but also in xchat, gedit etc. [AndreasNilsson]

"Open Location" Dialog

Problem: If you enter a file into the "Open Location" dialog, you only get an error.

Use case: Ernst wants to open a text file. He uses the <crtl>-<l> dialog to enter the containing folders location, and accidentally starts typing the beginning of the file he wants to open. The dialog happily auto-completes, but as soon as he hits return he gets an error that the location is not a folder. If he tries again, he has to reenter the complete path.

Suggestion: Entering a file in the "Open Location" dialog should open it with the default application or open the "Open with" dialog. At least don't autocomplete to files, a user interface should not actively help users to make errors This behavior is also different from the "Open Location" in the file selector, where it will show that file if you enter a file.

Bugs: Being worked on. (

Problem: A folder is a window. Unless it's a symlink, then a folder is multiple windows.

Use case: Friederike has customized her spatial Nautilus to match her workflow. She later creates a link to one folder on her desktop for faster access. Now she has to set that folders' position and size again; and if she wants to change her setup for that folder she has to change both. She is also confused by having the same folder open in two different windows suddenly, which never happened to her before with Nautilus. And if she deletes a file in one, it's gone in both!

Suggestion: Treat links to folders like the original folder.

Discussion: The link and original folder have a different path. Which one to choose (e.g. for the path button in the lower left corner) for the window?

Bugs: Rejected here: Contains older patch.

Userfriendly filesystem

Home folder dot-files

Problem: A home directory can be cleaned up, but as soon as you show hidden files it becomes a big, big mess.

Use case: Sebastian wants to backup his settings and data for a reinstall. Luckily he knows that a lot of stuff is saved in hidden files so he takes a look at what he has to backup. He only finds a big mess of folders and files.

Suggestion: Create an infrastructure separating data, configuration and temporary/cache files. This will also allow to delete the gnome configuration if it becomes corrupted without data loss.

Discussion: Linux with tons of different programs, some no longer under active development, will probably never be standardized this way. Having as many projects as possible behind it would at least make the mess a little more cleaned up. Another way to solve the biggest problem would be a smart configuration/data backup tool; while that won't remove the big mess, it will keep users from having to deal with it unless they want to fiddle with special settings.

[jec] * begin : 25 oct 2005 : This would be nice to have 2 folders:

  • conf/* => config of progs

    • Example:
      • conf/vi
      • conf/gnome
      • conf/kde
      • conf/...
  • tmp/* => temp files

    • Example
      • tmp/vi => Temp files of vi

      • tmp/kde => Temp files of KDE

      • tmp/mozilla => Cache files

      • tmp/...

[jec] * end [
[wki] I think a folder for data would be important too. Like

  • data/* => user data

    • Example
      • data/evolution => Evolution Mail, Calendar, Adrssbook and todo list.

      • data/tomboy => Tomboy Notes

      • data/gaim => Gaim logs

      • data/...

Reasoning is that configs can - and temporary files probebly should - be created from scratch, but lost data is often gone forever. Unlike user-created (or downloaded) documents, they are spread over a lot of hidden directories though. [wki end]

Important: Also see discussion on page HideFilesystemStructure

Lots of strange folders in /

Problem: The Unix directory structure is great and useful, but very confusing to people new to Linux,

Use cases: Gustav has just installed ubuntu, his first Linux distribution. He goes to the top level of his file system, like he's used to, and finds a ton of cryptic things that confuse him. He tries to put stuff there, but it tells him he can't do that. After playing around some more and making everything worse with half-knowledge, he removes ubuntu again and proceeds to write "Why no sane person would ever use Linux" articles.
Henrietta is a Linux power user and system administrator and wants to be able to see every folder that's there, because she knows what it's for and what she can do there and how.

Suggestion: Nautilus will not show files that are listed in a text file called ".hidden". It is still accessible through the other methods, with the usual file name / path. Maybe this system could be used to hide system folders, Gustav won't see them (or nicely tucked away as links in a visible folder called "System Data", and Henrietta could the just delete the .hidden file and have everything work and look like she's used to.

Discussion: With the way .hidden works right now, the items are only hidden in nautilus, not the file selector. This is probably intended and useful behavior; but means that / would look completely different when viewed from the file selector compared to the file manager. This could end up being confusing. I think not too much since there is usually little need for novice users to go to / in the file selector; the file manager is highly visible and thus more likely to be used for exploring. Needs more thought.

[jec] * begin : 25 oct 2005 : If possible, it would be easy and nice to add a way of "renaming" folders with .hidden file. Style: /.hiddden =>

  • [hidden]
    • initrd.img
      • debootstrap
    • tmp = Temporary
      • opt = Optional
        • usr = System
          • etc = Config

What do you think? [jec] * end

[wki] I really like this idea... Sounds useful. And it doesn't have the problem of two different hierarchies you have with my idea (renamed symlinks to the hidden folders). Not sure whether it's hard to implement though. And maybe the name should change if it does more than hide things.

Bugs: about the fileselector showing files listed in ".hidden" Ubuntu Spec:

Important: Also see discussion on page HideFilesystemStructure


Problem: There is no undo.

Use cases: Kyosuke is renaming some files manually, when he makes a mistake and hits return instead of escape after accidentally deleting the file name. He now has a hard time finding the original name again. Lina deletes some important files, thank god they're still in the Trash folder. the problem is, so is a ton of other files, and she now has to look at each one manually and decide whether it's one of the important files or not.

Suggestion: Add undo functionality.

Discussion: How to deal with operations that are not possible to undo? A special confirmation dialog?

  • IMHO there should not be any non-undoable actions besides emptying the trash or edgy situations like when running out of disk space. Destructive actions which are initiated by the user should be confirmable (with default 'no'). Losing the undoability due to system limitations should result in something like a one-time information alert and a kind of warning flag which is visible/audible/... as long as the situation prevails. Take into account that the confirmation dialogues for destructive actions only make sense if undoable actions *never* require confirmation. Additionally, the user could be able to call up a kind of changelog/history, from which selected actions could be undone or which could be committed/purged in case of running out of resources or in certain intervals. There is no reason, why one e.g. should not be able to undo something from a former session if there are sufficient system resources available. The system's undo behaviour should be configurable into two to three default safety levels, one as-is, one with balanced resource-friendly safety settings and one for the paranoid Wink ;-) (finetuning not withheld). [SaschaBrossmann]


Middle click in browser mode (Fixed in Ubuntu 6.06)

Problem: Middle click in browser mode is the same as left click, which is different from the behavior of the default web browser as well as a large number of competitors (rox, konqueror, etc). It is also a difference from spatial view, where left- and middle clicking do very different things.

Suggestion: Have middle click on a folder open that folder in a new window.

Suggestion 2: Have middle click perform non-continuos selection, especially to aid users of single click mode.

Discussion: This was fixed for Gnome 2.14 / Ubuntu 6.06

Bugs: Patch by Christian Neumair on the Nautilus mailing list: Thanks!

Not remembering selection breaks spatial

Problem: When closing a folder window the selection is forgotten.

Usecase: John is regularly watching a tv-show, having a folder per season and each episode being a single file in one of those folders. When opening a folder to see the next episode he can't remember which episode he viewed the last time.

Suggestion: Remember selection when opening a folder.

No feedback for type-ahead search (Fixed in Ubuntu 6.06)

Problem: You can type the first few characters of a filename in a nautilus window to select the file, but there is no feedback other than the selection of the first file that matches.

Use case: Alfred is new to Gnome. He knows windows, though, so he types 'c' in a nautilus window to select the first file starting with "c". He notices that pressing 'c' again does not select the next file starting with "c". He does not know that this is because there is no file starting with "cc" in the directory. Later, he tries the same thing, but in this directory there is a file starting with "cc", so the selection moves. This appears to Alfred to be strange, inconsistent behaviour. Sam is experienced with Gnome. She types "account-2005" in her nautilus window, and looks through the files for the completion she wants. She continues, typing "-10-17", but the search has reset without feedback, and this does not select the file "account-2005-10-17".

Solution: Add a visual cue to names matching the current search. This could be as simple as using a bold font for the substrings that are currently matching. This also gives feedback of when a string is no longer being searched for.

Suggestion: Type-ahead could be worked from a timer set by keyups that gets checked on keydowns, used to differentiate between typing double-letters quickly or pausing between letters. If they are typed quickly, they are interpreted to mean double-letters. If the user pauses a moment between duplicated keypresses, then it could be interpreted to mean that the user wants the next similar item in the list. This is similar to differentiating double-clicks from two single-clicks in succession. Perhaps the timer could be a configuration option, too, so advanced users could "dial-in" the feel they want as they do with the mouse click timer. As for the example using "-10-17" added to a date: Why does the search reset? Is that on a timer? If so, can it be configured? What about backspace, or better yet something like shift-backspace to manually reset the search rather than it "timing out"? (That way backspace could be used to shorten the search string and go back to the previous selection.)

Suggestion: Maybe the type-ahead code used in the GTKFileChooser could be included in nautilus. In the file chooser, if you start typing, a small text box shows with the string that's been typed. This would make it easier for newbies to understand what's really happening.

Discussion: This was fixed for Gnome 2.14 / Ubuntu 6.06 and works much better now.

Filename selection is not optimal

Problem: File name prefix is not always the optimal way to differentiate files.

Usecase: Sam has a reports folder, containing files with names like "report-yyyymmdd.doc". She wants to select the file "report-20051017.doc", but many files in the directory share the same prefix.

Solution: Make the type-ahead search act on substrings of filenames, rather than prefixes.

  • Type-ahead could work even better, if it would not just result in a jump to the first file that partly matches but additionally actively filter the current view with real-time updates after a (configurable) short delay. The name-matching could further employ some better algorithms like e.g. levenshtein distance measuring to improve findability. In that case, also non-adjacent parts of a file name would result in a possible match (e.g. typing just "1017" in the example above or "fifo" for firefox, etc.). [SaschaBrossmann]

Nautilus doesn't honor cursor position (Fixed?)

Problem: When creating something, be it a file or a terminal window, by right clicking somwhere the newly created object is not placed under the cursor.

Usecase: John creates a folder by selecting "Create Folder" from the context menu by right clicking on a smal stripe of exposed desktop. The newly created folder is positioned behind a currently opened window so he doesn not see that it was in fact created. He dos not see that it's waiting for a name to be entered either. In the end he's required to rearange a bunch of windows to find it.

Suggestion: Place objects created from the context menu under the cursor.

Discussion: This seems to be largely fixed, it works for folders, copying files, and new creation of most files (interestingly excluding the empty file) for me. It does not for terminals, but it is disputable if it really should. Can someone confirm this is fixed?


Starting gThumb for printing images should be easier

Problem: Opening a folder in gThumb is awkward and perhaps nondiscoverable.

Usecase: Bob has a folder called "images" inside his home directory and he has his home directory open in nautilus. He right clicks the images folder and there is no way to open the folder in gThumb. Bob opens the folder in nautilus and right clicks on the folder background to see what actions he can do to the folder from here; no actions are listed.

Suggestion: It is pretty easy for the user to add gThumb as an alternative program to open a folder (appearing in the right click menu), but gThumb should set this up on installation. Nautilus should also show the alternative open actions when right clicking on the background of an open folder, when right clicking on the breadcrumb trail buttons at the top, and when right clicking on folder locations in the side pane. These things are all folders and should behave as such giving the user discoverable means to sensible actions upon folders.

Nautilus windows with root permission should be avoided

Problem: Nautilus windows that have root permission break drag and drop functioning and may lead to serious damage via user error

Use case: Joe brings his NTFS-formatted hard drive from his old Windows computer and plugs it into his Ubuntu machine. He goes to System->Administration->Disks, enters his password, and uses the tool to create a mount point for the drive in a new folder in his home directory. Unable to view the drive using Nautilus because it is mysteriously prohibited from being open, he instead tries the "browse" button in the disks management utility, which opens up the drive in a nautilus window with sudo. Now, however, he cannot drag and drop files from the drive such as his music into his other disks, nor can he view his movies there since Totem requires write permission. If he inadvertantly uses this window to browse the rest of his disk, he now can seriously damage his system, as this Nautilus window has root permission.

Suggestion: First, the disk management tool should make it a lot easier to allow users (especially when there's only one) to have read permission of the drive after it's mounted, along with the various other options in fstab such as read-only. Second, if the disk is NTFS, the software should make clear to the user why it must be mounted read-only. Thirdly, the "browse" button should not open up a nautilus window with root permission, but instead merely a window from the active user.


Nautilus using sudo

Problem: Nautilus will not allow an user in the admin group to exorsice his power in the file system. This encourages people to open nautilus as root.

Use case: Thom wants to manually edit a configuration file (eg /etc/sudoer (i picked this because only root has read access)), he opens nautilus, navigates to /etc and double clicks on sudoers. Currently he gets the message "couldn't display /etc/sudoers", so he opens up nautilus as root and does the task.

Suggestion: If nautilus was aware of the sudo system it could point out that Thom did not have read access to the file, and ask for his password (with a big scary warning of course). It could do this for all cases where a user try to exceed their current permissions.

This should probably be implemented at a lower layer than nautilus, probably gnome-vfs, so that the user would be asked for their password if they try to save a file into a folder they lack permission for.

Discussion: When this was disscused on the forums somepeople go the idea that this was akin to throwing away the linux permission model. In fact it does not enable the user to do anything they can't currently do on the command line. It just makes some tasks more convienient, no different from the GUI configuration tools in the administation menu.

Recursive permission Editing

Problem: currently its is not possible to recursivly edit permissons in nautilus.

Use case: Jeff wants to stop the other users on his system reading stuff in his home folder. He goes to the properties panel for /home/jeff, and unclicks the read box for others and group. Unfortunatly this only effects the readablity of that specific folder. other users can still guess the name of a file and read it.

Suggestions: An "apply recursively" button.

Discussion: Need to work out how this works. Do blanket apply permissions, or just changes. Must give files and folder different permissions.

Should recusive be the default? It would be best this case. in what common situations would you not want this to happen?

some gui mockups

new mockups for a proposed implementation:


Permissions on copied files

Problem: When files are copied from somewhere read only, the new files get the old permissions.

Use case: Fred has a CD-ROM with some photos. He drags them from the cd to his home folder. He finds that he can't edit or delete them until he changes their permissions. Its even worse if he has copied a folder with subfolders, as recusive permission editing is absent (see above (can a wikigod make a link to the above section)).

Solution: Change permission on files arriving in this and similar manners (a file copied from local directory where the user has restricted access)

Copy queing

Problem: When a user needs to copy multiple documents he is often bombared with a number of copying windows each trying to compete for system resources. The system gets slow, and the whole copying takes longer

Use case: John wants to copy some files on his hard drive. He starts to copy 1 file, then another, and then another one. All the copying is done simultanously, which takes much longer, and makes John angry.

Solution: Put files that user wants to copy in a queue, similar to Firefox' download manager. See copy_queing


Calendar applet (Fixed in Ubuntu 6.06)

Problem: Double clicking a date on the calendar applet will open the Evolution calendar(very good), but not with the selected date (bad).

Use case: Marvin gets a phone call asking for an appointment. He uses the calendar applet which shows everything he has scheduled for a certain day, and a date and time that fits both parties is found. he then double-clicks the day in the calendar, sees evolution opening and closes the applet. But what opens isn't the selected day, but the current day. Marvin is the easily distracted type, now did they agree on the 18th or 19th?

Suggestion: Open Evolution with the selected day.

Discussion: This was fixed for Gnome 2.14 / Ubuntu 6.06. My productivity increases. Thanks!

Bugs: and Ubuntu Spec for this one and the one below:

Calendar applet should do more

Problem: Double clicking a date on the calendar applet will open the Evolution calendar (very slow)

Use case: Gunnar likes to keep task lists for everything he should do. Traditionally, he has kept these on paper, because they are so easily accessible and a new note can be added in moments, when in a phone call or when remembering something on the way out of the office. Gunnar would like to keep his task lists in his computer instead, and if possible share them among several computers, but it must be as quick, accessible and easy as his old pen and paper, or he just knows it will not happen.

Suggestion: Make it possible to add tasks and meetings directly from the calendar applet. A context menu "Add new task" and "Add new meeting" opens simple dialogs (one text field and one text field with a time selector, respectively). Possibly really common settings such as alarm can be allowed here, but for any specialized editing, Evolution still needs to be opened.


Too many modes

Problem: gThumb has too many different view modes.

Use case: Nicole wants to look at some photos in different directories. gThumb seems to be the best program for the job, but she quickly gets annoyed by having to switch between folder and image modes. "Why can't I go to another directory from the image mode?"

Suggestions: Different modes are a confusing user interface. In itself offering a directory overview is not bad, but the way gThumb does it is not optimal. The browser sidebar should be possible in every view (with the possibility to hide of course), so Nicole only has to look at the overview if she wants to. It should also start in this mode if it has an image to display (ie is started from the menu)

Browser behavior

Problem: gThumb offers to follow Nautilus behavior regarding clicks (i.e. single or double click). This is not followed completely.

Use case: Otto likes single-click mode. He wants gThumb to behave like his Nautilus, so he chooses that option. And it works for the browser sidebar, but he still has to double-click on an image to get to the image mode.

Suggestion: Make the overview follow the setting in the preferences, too.

Nautilus duplication

Problem: Opening an image/folder in folder mode presents a window and functionality that is essentially a duplicate of Nautilus. This breaks the spatial mode of nautils.

Suggestion: Implement the required functionallity as a Nautilus extension to let Nautilus + Eye of GNOME replace gThumb entirely.

Discussion: I'm not sure if it breaks spatiality since gThumb is an application that looks notably different from spatial Nautilus. I fully agree that EoG should be usable for the most common actions, especially easy previous/next image functionality.

Eye of Gnome

Previous/Next image functionality hidden Fixed in Ubuntu 6.06)

Problem: Eye of Gnome lacks easy "Show next/previous image" action (fixed, see discussion)

Use Cases: Birgit is a very inexperienced user. She wants to view some photos of a family reunion and goes to the folder where they are stored. Activating one of the pictures opens it in Eye of Gnome, and with a little search she even finds the full screen mode. But none of the things she tries allows her to go to the next image, so she thinks she has to open each file manually.
Torsten has a local copy of one of his favorite web comics. During a break he wants to read some of them to relax a little. He has even found out about the "Open folder" functionality, but wonders whether it's really necessary to have to open images that way just be able to get to the next one.

Suggestion: Allow a user to switch to the next/previous image even when not the whole folder is opened.

Discussion: This functionality is easily available in gThumb, but that program is more advanced with lots of functionality. It's good to have the default image viewer as simple as possible; but the functionality that most people require from a image viewer have to be there, and easily switching to the next file is -in my opinion-one of them. EoG 2.13.2 fixes this problem, I leave this entry for people who have not yet tried the new version. It probably can be removed later. This was fixed for Gnome 2.14 / Ubuntu 6.06


Different usage from gThumb

Problem: Eye of Gnome and gThumb share a similar basic functionality, but the keaboard and mouse shortcuts are sometimes different. In gThumb (and Totem), <F11> or <f> will enable full-screen view, in eog only <F11>. In gThumb, it's possible to get to the next image in the collection/folder by pressing <space>, <n>, <PgDn>, or <left mouse button>; in eog (when a collection is opened) only <space> and <PgDn> will work of these, but it allows moving with the arrow keys. Similar case for 'previous image'.

Suggestion: Synchronize the behavior of Eye of Gnome and gThumb for functions that both offer.

Discussion: There is a point about not having too many keyboard shortcuts for the same operation. Also, eog and gthumb are programs with a quite different set of features. I still think that keeping the programs' usage as similar as possible is a good idea, so users have less problems switching from one application to the other as the task at hand demands it. There are probably a number of similar issues, so if you find one add it.


Cancel in "Add to panel" dialog does *not* cancel (Fixed in Ubuntu 6.06)

Problem: The "Add to panel" dialog features three buttons: back, cancel and add. It's not clear what back does (it seems to be always disabled?), but the cancel button is labeled wrong.

Use case: Paula wants to customize her panel. She opens the "Add to panel" dialog and drags some things on the panel. However, she does not like it and presses cancel to revert to the previous setup. But everything she added stays there.

Suggestion: If a button only closes the application, label it "Close" not "Cancel". I'm not sure undo for the panel is really needed, since you can just remove the ones you don't want.

Discussion: This was fixed for Gnome 2.14 / Ubuntu 6.06. I'm not usre the button order is correct here, as the affirmative button is not in the lower right (see HIG on Dialogs and Button order, Section 3.4.2). This is a very tricky dialog.

Bugs: and (with patch)

Only One Gnome Panel

Problem: 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): pic

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)

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 (bullshit: use ALT+F4 --AzraelNightwalker). 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.

Page: OnlyOneGnomePanel (and specification)

Discussion: On page OnlyOneGnomePanel

Icons are to close together

Problem: The Elements on the Gnome Panel are too close together. This is especially problematic if you use higher screen resolutions (+1280/1024).

Suggestions: Add a separator bar between the menus and the icons for the applications by default. In the preferences for the panel should be an option to activate a grid.


Autostart programs

Problem: No easily discoverable, uncomplicated way to autostart a program

Use case: Quax wants his feed reader to start automatically when he logs in. He even finds the "startup programs" tab in the session preferences, but he doesn't know what the "command" for the program is - isn't it in his menu? And what's this order thing?

Suggestions: Add a dialog similar to the one for adding an application from the menu to the panel, and try to automatically choose an order. Leave the old method somewhere for users who want more control over the startup process or add non-menu programs like devilspie.

Discussion: In Gnome 2.14 there is a method of auostarting using .desktop files. It reportedly has issues with session management though, and is not yet fully transparent to the user.

Bugs: Gnome-session seems to be redesigned for the next versions.


View Mode & Window Size

Problem: Evince doesn't remember the window size and whether the user wants the document to be fitted into the window or scaled to a particular percentage

Use case: Ulrike has to view a number of small PDFs from the Internet. Firefox offers her to view it in evince and this is a good program, but she has to set the window size and view mode each time she opens a document because the default is not well suited for actually reading documents in A4 size. This gets very annoying with a large number of 1-2 page documents.

Suggestion: Make Evince remember these settings, or at least the view mode.

Discussion: Seems to be at least partially fixed. Can someone confirm this?

Bugs: and seem to be both relevant. Fixed as of

Problem: Evince doesn't have a context menu

Use Case: Frederik wants to select all the text from a pdf he's reading and copy it to a text file. He tries to get the right-click menu to open, as he's used to having that functionality there in, for example, gEdit or Firefox. But no context menu appears, so he has to use the normal menu.

Suggestion: Create a context menu and fill it with at least the common actions: select all, copy, possibly full-screen and some other view options.

Discussion: Using a keyboard shortcut will usually be faster, but some people reject learning them. A context menu is something very common and widely-used in most modern programs. This was fixed for Gnome 2.14 / Ubuntu 6.06


Volume Management

Long Volume Label

Problem: Places (in Nautilus and in panel menu) and desktop only show short volume labels (tested with FAT16 usb drive).

Use Case: User has two USB drives with volume labels set by a knowlegeable friend using mlabel from mtools. These labels are "Bob's USB Drive" and "Bob's USB Drive (the new one)". With both plugged in, Bob expects to see the correct volume labels rather than ones that are hard to distinguish.

Suggestion: Support long volume labels in nautilus, places, and on the desktop.

DriveMount Applet

Problem: The drivemount applet displays only a manufacturer specified string, and does not display the volume label, making it difficult to identify which volume one is (un)mounting.

Use Case: Bob uses two USB drives with different labels but of the same model. He prefers to use the drivemount applet as it is always available. Bob wants to see which USB drive he is about to unmount if he has both plugged in at the same time.

Suggestion: Show the same volume label as places and the desktop in addition to the manufacturer specified string.

Discussion: For unmounted devices, the applet could attempt to guess the filesystem type and use a filesystem specific tool to find the volume label whenever the user brings up the menu.

Setting Volume Labels

Problem: It is non-obvious how to set the volume label of a filesystem on a removable device.

Use Case: Bob has many floppy disks and many USB drives but none of them has a meaningful volume label (since the manufacturer pre-formatted them). Bob didn't format them with volume labels before beginning to use them as he used them for ad-hoc purposes until he worked out how he would organise his data. Now Bob would like to set sensible volume labels so he can see at a glance what volumes are mounted, or plugged in.

Suggestion: Add a menu item for volume icons along with the existing mount/unmount items. This menu item should bring up a dialog where it is easy to change the volume label.

Discussion: Three great suggestions, Tristan. Want to add them to the spec linked below? I feel some of them would be appropriate there.

Bugs: I've put this in a separate spec as the one below is just about the relationship between desktop icons and real filesystem whilst this is about new interfaces to make tasks that are currently virtually impossible for new users easy. Ubuntu Spec here:

Icons on Desktop that *aren't* on Desktop

Problem: Ubuntu puts icons for removable media and additional hard drives on the desktop. This is very nice, but they aren't really there.

Use case: Jeanette has some mp3's in a folder on her desktop, and some on her usb drive. Both icons are directly next to each other. She uses the open dialog of xmms to add some music from the folder, then goes up and wants to add some from the usb, but doesn't find it. "If both are right next to each other, why can xmms only see one? Linux is so hard..." she thinks.

Suggestion: create a link to everything that is placed on the desktop in the desktop folder, if possible. Maybe not a good suggstion, as links have problems of their own :-/

Bugs: Ubuntu Spec here:

System Preferences and Administration

Mouse Preferences missing some features

Problem: By default Ubuntu configures to interpret simultaneously right and left clicking as a middle click, even on three button mice.

Use case: Joe Gamer plays a video game where he uses his right and left mouse buttons frequently. He discovers he's lost a significant amount of play control, as he keeps accidentally selecting the middle button.

Suggestion: Since third mouse buttons are so common now with scroll wheels, by default this behavior should be disabled. Additionally, it should be configurable from System->Preferences->Mouse, rather than having to edit's configuration file.


Samba Default Configuration

Problem: By default after installing Samba on Ubuntu it is not properly integrated into the system as most normal users attempting to interact with Windows would expect. There is configuration that has to be done. Users have to generated /etc/smbpasswd. They have to set up password synchronization.

Use case: My Dad wants to share files to his Windows computer in the other room. He sits down at Ubuntu, opens up Add Applications, and search for Windows. He finds Samba. He installs it. At this point, nothing should be shared until he sets it up. However, the installation has altered his configuration. /etc/smbpasswd is now auto updated everytime he changes his Unix password. After installation a post-install message informs him that to log in he first has to change his password (neccassary because of insurpassable technical limitations). He changes his password, and shares a file, and can now access it.

Disks manager should be a frontend for fsck

Problem: There is currently no way to run fsck on a disk short of jumping into the terminal and reading a bunch of man pages.

Use case: Joe User was mounting his secondary disks from an earlier install or from another computer, but he's not sure of their status. Perhaps when he booted previously it cryptically told him there were serious errors, so he got a new disk to install Ubuntu before he grabs data from his old disk. Now that he has a working system, however, he has no way of checking those secondary disks for errors without consulting google and a few man pages.

Suggestion: On the partitions tab of the disks manager applet there should be a button to check for errors. In the short term, this could simply launch a terminal running fsck, however an ideal replacement would be a graphical interface. The interface should also make clear that the disk needs to be unmounted to be properly checked.



DesktopTeam/UsabilityWishlist (last edited 2008-08-06 16:32:23 by localhost)