On Friday, esrblog
upgraded the machines in the house, including mine, to the latest version of Ubuntu Linux, 8.10 (codenamed "Industrious Ibex", or something like that). He always upgrades our machines to the latest release because he feels a professional obligation to run the latest version, and since he is the sysadmin for all the machines in the house, having all the Linux machines in the house running the same version simplifies life for him.
I first suspected there was something wrong when I found him sitting in front of my computer on Friday morning, before I headed off to work, trying to figure out how to find the menu that would change my desktop wallpaper. I hung out for about 15 minutes, trying to help him find it--to no avail--before I had to leave.
By the time I got home he *had* found the wallpaper, and had also set up my taskbar to look as much as possible as it had before the upgrade. "I'm sorry, but the taskbar icons aren't movable, and won't be until the next release," he apologized. I found and installed a new wallpaper I liked. After our Friday night gaming session, I spent the rest of the evening figuring out where the file manager was. (It's now accessed from an icon at the far right of the taskbar; the icon on the far left of the taskbar, which used to take you to the file manager, instead gives you access to an index of your home directory. The directory list is useful only if you know the exact name of the file you want, and not if you expect to use the preview feature of the file manager to figure out which one you need).
I'm still trying to figure out how to tell KMail that it needs to open Firefox, not Mozilla, when I click on a URL in an e-mail message. (Apparently they've moved around the files I need to do that, too.)
Do you see why I'm annoyed? Don't get me wrong; most of 8.10 still does what I want it to do. KMail looks and acts mostly the way it formerly did. But... not entirely. And that's the problem.
The Kubuntu team is clearly obsessed with implementing the nifty cool features that are being implemented by Apple and MS, such as translucent windows that let you see your desktop through them as though they were made of tinted glass. (esrblog
really digs that feature.) But in attempting to lure MS and Apple devotees by making Ubuntu *look* more like their favorite OS and office suite, they keep changing the location of files, and doing other things that change the way existing users have to *use* the software to get at features they like.
That's just wrong. Those of us who are not geeks but have other uses for computers want to be able to continue to *use* them, reliably, and not have to spend hours experimenting or searching through on-line forums to continue to use the same capabilities we've gotten used to after every single upgrade. Windows has the sense to do this, which may be why it's kept most of its customers despite their bitching; why can't Ubuntu?
I know I'm not the only user to detest this behavior. landley
, who is a Linux geek, has gotten so annoyed with the small but annoying changes in how you have to use 8.10 that he's considering giving up
on either the K suite or 8.10. "This shouldn't have to be this hard," he says.
He's right. It shouldn't. So why is it?
I think it's because the dev team for Ubuntu assumes, wrongly, that we users are more lured by the look of an office suite than anything else. That's wrong. What we want is to set up our computers to do the tasks we require, and be able to *continue* to use them reliably, without having to look in different places or learn a lot of different new commands and keystrokes.
We users may like cool visuals, but we *need* to be able to find the functions, features and applications we want. And we need to be able to continue to find them after each and every upgrade.
It's bad enough that Linux on the desktop is not making a lot of new friends. But if Ubuntu, the best surviving Linux, continues to alienate the users it has by screwing around with the nifty desktops it has already given them, they'll deserve the defeat they'll get.
To be fair to the Ubuntu team, they're not the only ones making this mistake. Google recently made the same type of mistake by capriciously changing the location of the subpage tabs for iGoogle from the side to the top. I don't mean just providing a new default location for the tabs. No, I mean changing the tabs permanently to the left-hand side of the screen, and refusing to give those of us who preferred the top tabs any way to change them back
It's as if they're saying, "We're Google. We're cool. We don't have to care if you don't like it our way. We
know what's best for you, and that's what counts."
Sigh. You don't make friends by giving people what they want, and then randomly taking it away, and I'd expected people supposedly dedicated to open source and what it means to understand that.