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Implementation of fixes for most common usability issues in Ubiquity, and issues raised in Celeste Lyn Paul's usability study.

Release Note

The Ubuntu installer is now much easier to use and navigate, thanks to a major usability overhaul.


There are a number of issues with the visual design of Ubiquity that continuously crop up in bug reports, complaints, and usability studies.

Use Cases

  • John would like to install Ubuntu, but his screen resolution is too low and he has to move the window around using the alt + left mouse button trick to even see the navigation buttons.
  • Bob was completely unaware that he could click on the time zone map, and found selecting a small unlabled dot to be unintuitive.


  • fixes for auto-resize text
  • general autopartitioner revamp
  • UTC/local question
  • allow use of smaller screen size
  • migration-assistant simplification
  • better time estimates
  • keyboard selection revamp


fixes for auto-resize text

We will work to mitigate the issues of labels not expanding properly in the interface.

general autopartitioner revamp (ue-partitioning-tool)

  • A list of detected partitions will be added to the top of the interface on the autopartitioner page, giving the user a better idea of what they're working with.
  • The resize option will be modified to use boxes representing each partition with their os-prober data and size as labels and will be separated by a movable divisor.
  • The buttons for performing actions on the manual partitioner page will not disappear and reappear, but rather be always present and greyed out when necessary.

UTC/local question

Historically, users have found the UTC/local question to be confusing and the time zone map to be unintuitive. The time zone map will be turned into a automatically scrolling viewport, rather than using a click-and-zoom approach:


Pygtk widget implementation is available at https://code.launchpad.net/~ubuntu-installer/ubiquity/zoom-map-widget that now provides full-zoom mode (as in the picture above, by setting the full_zoom flag in the code) and partial-zoom mode. A third mode could be provided whereby the zoomed map pans only when the pointer is on the edge of the widget.

The time zone drop down list will be modified to branch out from geographic areas, rather than scroll.

If time permits, and a free data source is found, we will add timezone lines to the map.

allow use of smaller screen size

The installer has never fit well on the screen when the resolution is too low (#38442). Fixing this will involve

oem-config has much the same UI and may benefit from the same reviews.

migration-assistant simplification

Historically the code for adding users in migration-assistant has been complicated and prone to error. As the installer does not otherwise support creating multiple users at install time and the common case involves a single user, the multiuser support in Ubiquity's migration-assistant code will be removed, greatly reducing the interface complexity, allowing it to fit in a much smaller space, and killing off the origin of many common migration-assistant bugs. [Done]

better time estimates

The user needs some feedback as to the progress of the install. Historically it has been difficult to give a time estimate, so we will instead add a two-level progress with overall progress and individual step progress. The countdown will be tied to the individual step progress bar.

This will be tried to see if works reasonably well.

keyboard selection revamp

Radio buttons for "suggested option" and "choose your own" will be added to the keyboard selection page to ease the confusion of selecting a keyboard when there are many variants.

Test/Demo Plan

We will solicit input from known usability experts, namely Celeste Lyn Paul and Matthew Paul Thomas.

BoF agenda and discussion

The notes appear to have been left in the meeting room. I have the marker board diagrams and will post photos of those soon for added context.

Ubiquity Explanation


HardyUbiquityUsability (last edited 2008-08-06 16:39:03 by localhost)