Launchpad Entry: https://launchpad.net/distros/ubuntu/+spec/only-one-gnome-panel
Created: 2006.05.31 by Darek27
I think that Ubuntu should have a only one gnome panel (bottom) like a new Suse 10.1
Default Suse 10.1 has the only one gnome panel with a menu "Applications" "Places" "System". Similar to a KDE and Windows.
It's important for a new users which like a similarity to a good known Windows and for businessmen who decide is linux good for his company or not (because it hav'nt a standard look and is different from good known Windows). Advanced user can easy switch on his favourite two panels (it takes 2 seconds). New user (a previous Windows user) CAN'T HIDE a top panel, because he is a beginner and don't know how (and he is confused in a strange looking system). When the default instalation has only one (bottom) Gnome panel ALL users (advanced and beginner) can have they favorite environment (advanced user switch on top panel in 2 seconds). Don't worry dear advanced users, this idea don't destroy your favourite two panels (with a hundred plugins). It's take care of new people (a previous Windows users).
Screenshoots (Suse 10.1 desktop): http://shots.osdir.com/slideshows/slideshow.php?release=637&slide=27
If you want, you can change the long names of menus "Applications" "Places" "System" to shorter "Applications" "Actions" (like older Gnome) and display only the time without the date to save the space on bottom panel (but it's not necessary because people buy new monitors with higher resolutions, in future 16:9)
In a Linux world we have a two popular graphics environment KDE and Gnome. If we want to have a one standard - the Gnome (the KDE and Xfce as additional environment) we must convince of Gnome a new users (a previous Windows users) who choose the KDE for a only one reason: a similarity to Windows. If the KDE will become a standard You don't get a new version of your favourite Gnome in 2009. You will have a real Only_One_KDE_Panel instead of my the Only_One_Gnome_Panel (where you can switch on two panels).
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"
AzraelNightwalker: "this is not OS X where you can close a window using keyboard" - Use ALT+F4, Luke.
Warbo: "I disagree with this idea. Firstly, the panel is a useful area for applets, such as battery and network monitors, and also I strongly believe that the Deskbar applet should be included by default. This would require a lot of horizontal room (my deskbar almost fills my top panel between the menus and the notification area). Secondly, if any panel is to go, surely it would be the bottom one? By having the top panel in place users who do not know about alt-click for moving windows cannot "lose" the titlebars for their apps (Often the UI gets confused/lags and Metacity thinks I am dragging a window, resulting in an inaccessible titlebar). A consistent feeling is created due to top-right of a window being close for that window, and top-right of GNOME being close (logout) for GNOME. The top panel also does much more than the bottom panel, and it keeps the system consistent since the menus are split into three, which are labelled with text. This is more similar to a "File Edit View..." style menu, meaning it should be put it into the top left and open downwards to keep an ergonomic UI, rather than a single graphical button (it is not the "start" which differentiates the menu in Windows XP, it is the green backing), for which there is no precedent in Ubuntu, making the top left as good a choice as any anyway. The bottom panel can easily be done away with now through the use of Alt-Tab (Compiz or otherwise), placing Trash on the desktop and moving what is left to the top panel (although I think it should stay), but the same cannot be said of the top panel.
KDE's use of a single panel fails miserably when it is reduced to the default width of the GNOME panels, as applets and launchers become a confusing mess. Therefore the "screen area" idea cannot be fixed with a single panel, as the panel would have to be double-thick like Kicker to accomodate the required features, and launchers would become twice as big, making the increase in size mostly useless. However, the current underuse of the panel would make this noticably inefficient as the double-thickness would be seen as an unneccesary intrusion into the screen area, whilst the top panel is seen as essential due to it's default applets (with the inclusion of a deskbar similar in size to the window-switcher there is no wasted space). Besides, having 2 smaller panels makes the perception of bloat on the screen much less acute than a large, Kicker-style panel.
The panels offer a border for the screen, which I find subconciously comforting. The Amiga Workbench uses a "backdrop" option by default which removes all borders except for the main menu (which is, coincidently, at the top), but I always disable this in favour of turning the whole Workbench screen into an Intuition window (Intuition is similar to a window manager), complete with scroll bars, widgets in the corner, etc. as I find that definition of my useable area much more comforting, and I have been doing this for 14 years.
I think that making a default out of anything which detracts from general users' experience in exchange for pleasing Windows converts is unacceptable. Windows compatibility should only be offered optionally as a part of the installation procedure (such as "import Windows settings and bookmarks"). Ubuntu is not Windows. If the vast majority of Windows users prefer Microsoft Office to OpenOffice, Outlook to Thunderbird and IE to Firefox then I doubt destroying the panel system to make them feel at home is going to be noticable (until, of couse, they have used Ubuntu for a while and find it annoying). It is trivially easy to reconfigure the panels (dragging them is similar to Windows) so any Windows user could reconfigure it to work in the same way as windows if they wanted to. About business and recognition, I have never seen any non-Microsoft praise of a Windows user interface. However, there is widespread respect for Apple's MacOSX which this article fails to mention at all. Apple have paid vast sums of money to professional designers for their interface, and it is emulated by Windows users, KDE (Baghira has had so much work put into it that SOMEONE must care enough), GNOME and others. How is the Apple interface configured? There is a panel across the top, with menus in the top left, a deskbar-style search box, etc. Across the bottom is a launcher area, essentially another panel (this effect can be achieved in GNOME using GDesklets). I have raised many points here, but after seeing this Wiki page being referenced by many people I knew I had to act to prevent a user interface disaster for GNOME.
Wolki: I'll side with Warbo here. Having two panels brings many benefits.
- The edges are the easiest (and thus fastest) place to reach with a mouse, followed by the sides. It thus seems to make sense having actions there that are as independent from the current state of the system as possible. Two panels gives us all four edges and the two lagest sides to put good things. (Piotr: I see the point about closing applications, but it it lagely dependent on the state of your windows - if the are not maximized or positioned very carefully, you can't close them that way anyway. Even more, this might lead to accidentally closing the wrong window if you habitualize it and the current window does not extend to the edge, but another window does. And if the cognitive overhead is already there, the time for pointing should not matter that much.)
- There are a lot of things that are useful to have on panels, as they are not covered by windows and are thus always accessible. Using only one panel would mean that many useful functionalities would have to be removed or cannot be added (like the deskbar, which really should be on the default panel). Also, more and more things get notification applets (Power monitor, network stuff, applications...). While many people see this as not a good thing, preferring proper panel applets, the panel needs to leave enough space for this.
- Some configurability for users is good. A lot of people love panel launchers, which admittedly has to do with the general uselesness of the application menu in Windows, but they are useful nonetheless. Users should have some space to add such things.
- The window list rapidly drops in usefulness if you decrease its size. Especially as the standard RAM size grows and thte number of programs people use, there are going to be more windows open at the same time. Virtual Workspaces will help, but a large window list will still be of great help. Take a look at that Suse screenshot: the both greatly reduce the size of the window list and remove the workspace switcher (the last thing is a decision I can somehow understand, but I still think it's wrong). Managing windows on this is going to be as bad on this (or even worse than) on Windows.
- What is our goal: Trying to make a desktop that's as much a cheaper drop-in replacement for other operating systems as possible, or trying to make a desktop that is so pleasurable, easy, and powerful to use that people will want to use it?
- While the vertical screen space thing holds, I feel losing 24 pixel to something useful is a price we can afford to pay. Especially as applications that really need more space all have a full screen mode (and you can force fullscreen for pretty much all gnome applications using metacity or devilspie) and resolutions continue to grow.
Darek27: Advanced user can easy switch on his favourite two panels (it takes 2 seconds). New user (a previous Windows user) CAN'T HIDE a top panel, because he is a beginner and don't know how (and he is confused in a strange looking system). When the default instalation has only one (bottom) Gnome panel ALL users (advanced and beginner) can have they favorite environment (advanced user switch on top panel in 2 seconds). Don't worry dear advanced users, this idea don't destroy your favourite two panels (with a hundred plugins). It's take care of new people (a previous Windows users).
- Wolki: I have installed Ubuntu on several machines, most of these are used by new users, including a small computer pool. None of them had a problem with two panels, and one who didn't like them dragged the upper panel to the bottom and was perfectly happy with that; he found out how to do this himself (surprise: it works like it works in windows). OTOH, many of them commented about how clean and uncluttered it was. This is one of our strengths, as well as the nice functionality we have. Do new users not want to easily search for stuff, or have their favorite programs on the panel so they don't have to go to the menu each time? Lets use these strengths. There are no doubt a lot of things that can be made easier, but I fell the panel in its basic usage is none of them.
scaine : Showing even a technical user the default gnome/ubuntu layout causes comparison to Macintosh (with theatrical spitting noises). I suspect that new, ex-windows users will want something more familiar. I suspect that new ex-mac users will want to lose the bottom panel. Can I suggest instead of making a decision on which bar (if any) to lose, that instead all items are simply not "locked" so that the user can make their own decision easily. It takes ages to unlock everything so that one or the other panels can be removed without losing functionality. RobJCaskey: I think part of the problem scaine mentioned about unlocked is true, and that panels should be either locked or unlocked, no control-by-control or panel-by-panel setting. I am in favor of 1 bar, especially in light of changing screen dimensions. What's really need is a more sophisticated task monitor to refactor some "applications" into "tasks" that can be monitored via some kind of dashboard.
RainCT: I'm totally against this. Having the two panels is one of the thinks I most liked when I switched to Ubuntu. Even, a friend of mine (that has absolutely no technical experience) wanted that I install him Ubuntu just because he liked the top panel after he saw a PC with GNOME.
KarlGoetz: Just a few links Gnome Usuability list links http://mail.gnome.org/archives/usability/2006-May/msg00065.html (Start of the thread) and http://mail.gnome.org/archives/usability/2006-May/msg00069.html the thread continued
and my responce was: http://mail.gnome.org/archives/usability/2006-May/msg00095.html
Derick_eisenhardt: I highly agree with this idea! Having 2 panels on screen at once eats up a lot of precious screen real estate. The average user, Ubuntu's targe audience, will most likely never take advantage of adding in enough launchers and applets to make the top bar worth their while. And if anyone prefers the 2 bar approach, they can always easily add another panel.
After looking at the provided screenshot of SUSE 10.1's default setup, I would like to make a few suggestions as how we may want to set it up just a little bit differently. First off, instead of putting the show desktop button in the far right corner, put it immediately after the System button. Put the trash can applet in the far right corner instead. And also set the clock to only show the time, not the date, as space is very limited. This is the way I have been setting up both my Gnome and XFCE desktops for quite some time now, and it's extremely usable
I also think it would be a good idea for Xubuntu to have only one panel by default as well.
RobertWolterman : One of the things that I liked about Gnome when I ran KDE was the two bars and I even emulated it as much as I could. When I moved over to Gnome with Dapper, my customization was minimal because it was already set up pretty much how I wanted it. In my opinion, the two panels define Gnome and its look and it organizes all the stuff on there more efficiently than with one. Yes it may take up real estate, but with the resolution that monitors get now and virtual workspaces, it shouldn't be an issue as you can easily organize windows. If it comes down to it, have an initial setup script that runs on first boot with the option for one/two bars so if it gets changed to one bar, I won't be mad.
NurseGirl: Usability and similarity to Windows are two different goals. Our goal should be the best usability possible, not the most similar to Windows. A new convert to Ubuntu will have to make some adjustments, but that is OK, once we are convinced that the changes will be largely intuitive to learn, and will result in increased productivity. The Gnome Usability group is looking into this issue, but it would be great if Ubuntu could do usability testing as well. (Two stage: First time sitting down to Ubuntu and after two weeks' usage - test only bottom panel, top & bottom panels, and side panels). Perhaps, in the future, in addition to the summer of code, we could also have summer of usability. Without testing, my perspective is that we should maintain the two panel layout, but attempt to visually differentiate the system panels from the window bars, so there is no confusion.
RunarIngebrigtsen: GNOME rocks, okay? The whole user experience is just awesome. You spend like what, two days, to get used to point upper corner instead of lower to open the menus. Then most regular people spend two months to discover the four desktops. Those who are too fixed-minded about the Windows feel just move things around themselves. I'd say Gimmie is a better option than OnlyOneGnomePanel.
Std: I agree on the fact that both panels should be kept, as long as they are correctly put to work. What I currently absolutely hate about the lower panel is the fact that the window list is never of a fixed size. In many aspects, it's somewhat worse than the Windows taskbar, because the buttons randomly become smaller or larger, even when setting a fixed size.
The current default setup is largely ok (it correctly uses the corners of the screen and allows enough space for extra things to be added).
A way of compromise would probably be to allow this behavior to be easily switched, i.e. an option that would allow one to specify whether to use two panels or only one, automatically loading a panel scheme). This would make it sensibly easier for KDE users who are used to having only one panel, and as far as I can speculate (I'm not very familiar with the internals of Gnome), easy enough to implement. Of course, this means they would "waste" two corners of the screen, but it's the user's choice in the end. As a long-time NextStep user, I'm still wondering how people can deal with only one panel, just like people are wondering how I can love having only one menu on the screen at a time :-).
- When using Metacity I always have Brightside turned on, and that can give actions to the window corners without having a panel there (although I only use it's edge-flipping feature for switching desktops, and try to stay with E16 most of the time anyway) -- Warbo
Adonikam2: As far as I can see, nobody has yet suggested to let the user decide themselves upon installation. Take KDE installation as an example - I don't know if it still does, but I remember KDE asking me what theme I wanted, whether I preferred single or double clicking, Windows or Unix style keybindings etc. when I started it for the first time. I propose to prompt the user with images showing their options - they then click the image of the layout they like to continue, whether this be Windows-style (Vista/XP style menu or Classic monolithic menu), Mac-style (sort of), GNOME default style (two panels, separate menus) or perhaps even a custom layout or (more reasonably) community-provided layouts. All of these would require a list to be displayed once clicked to show the advantages and disadvantages - many that the user would not have thought of themselves - so they can make an informed choice and have a useable desktop. I have no doubt that data retrieved from installations would show that many users would change their minds after reading the disadvantages of their favourite layout. The only downside that I can see is that this requires a large amount of development time. But looking on the bright side, it would mean the bugs that advanced users encounter when using a custom layout would be swiftly fixed, and it would also be beneficial for those doing automated installs who wish to mimic the operating system they are replacing.
Kevin Cain: I have a suggestion that could perhaps be seen as a 'meet you in the middle' approach between both suggestions of desktop layouts. I suggest only one bar, at the top, in order to prevent looking like a Windows ripoff. I would also suggest, where the time and other icons are displayed (such as synaptic when there is an update available) that there be a button on the far right that would open a collapsible menu including all types of monitors - such as battery monitor, CPU graphs, free space monitor, etc. as well as other plugins that users choose to install. I think this is a very practical solution in order to avoid a) our loss of precious desktop space and b) not lacking any function from the bar that new users and power users benefit from.
- i second that, having ubuntu default to only have a top panel would be great! but i can only imagine this with beryl enabled by default, it would make the taskbar very obsolete (alt-tab with previews, exposé, and the gnome-window-chooser applet)!
bmhm: I think if you are going to modify the panel layout you might want to take a look at the BeOS Deskbar. Screenshots can be found here: http://de.images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?p=BeOS+deskbar You can make it look pretty much like a gnome panel, but it is in fact somewhat more flexible. I like the standard design in the upper right corner, not using a lot of space. I also haven't seen it in any X Window Manager so far.