Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

Summary: Most users seem willing to give Ubuntu Linux's Head-Up Display interface the benefit of the doubt.

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Users are willing to give Ubuntus new Head-Up Display desktop a chance.

Users are willing to give Ubuntu's new Head-Up Display desktop a chance.

When Ubuntu announced that it was going to switch to Unity for its primary Linux desktop, some users were outraged by Ubuntu's shift to a new interface. Many turned to Linux Mint in place of Ubuntu. So, when Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth announced that Ubuntu would be moving from Unity to Head-Up Display (HUD), I expected Linux users to be even more annoyed. I was wrong. Instead, they are taking a wait-and-see attitude to HUD.

Welcome to Ubuntu 11.10's Unity (Photo Gallery)

HUD, in case you haven't heard about it yet, seeks to say good-bye to the "menu" in the Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer (WIMP) interface, which has defined desktops for the last thirty years. HUD replaces this with a search style interface. HUD uses use a vocabulary UI (VUI). In it you'll start to type or say a command and, starting in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, the HUD starts a smart look-ahead search through the app and system (indicator) menus. This uses fuzzy matching, combined with a learning function so HUD will prioritize the actions you use do.

While HUD is still alpha software, Jono Bacon, the community manager for Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company, assures me that HUD's code is well along its way. Casual users will get their first taste of it in Ubuntu 12.04 on April 26th. More adventurous users can try it now in Ubuntu 12.04's daily builds. If that's you, you're also invited to help test HUD out with Ubuntu.

A first look at Ubuntu Linux's Head-Up Display (Gallery)

The Linux users I've asked, many of them via my Google+ account, tell me that they're cautiously optimistic about HUD. True, some, like Drazenko Djuricic, a Linux user since 1996, "Hate it already." He asks, what are "they smoking. Gnome 3? Unity? Mac OS X-style menus on the top of the screen??? YUCK. I use "Lubuntu (http://lubuntu.net/)" now. It has a clean traditional desktop ... In other words: I can get work done. All this fancy stuff is all nice and OK and should have been added as optional extras (e.g. Compiz Settings?). But changing the UI paradigm every now and then ... seriously when will they stop this BS already??"

A programmer who goes by the non de plume, "Mikey G" adds, "Yeah, real original, basically a Siri for menus. Too bad you have to know what you are looking for before you search for it, unlike the traditional WIMP model where you can search through menu items to find things you didn't even know existed. GIMP comes to mind. Does not sound very useful for touch screen interfaces either, seeing how you will have to pull up an on-screen keyboard and type in save' just to save."

Tony Sandoval, a long-time Linux user, comments, "I think that some people just keep trying to fix something that isn't broken. Voice recognition software has improved a lot but it is not quite ready for the level of use that things like this want to do."

Another writer points out though that "Apple's Siri shows that voice-recognition software is up to the job. Shuttleworth is just taking it to the next logical step."

Charlie Kravetz, a retired IT guy who now volunteers with Linux projects, thinks "the time is now for this type of system. What an idea! To have the ability to find apps without menus, to be able to use voice to get to apps, screen-reader reads to you already. This could be something really fantastic for all of us."

Kravetz went on, "I also think the idea that you can tell the computer what you want to do, and have it give the application is great! Who ever would think GIMP when the desired outcome is ''blur a photo?' On the other hand, when I say BLUR and it tells me use GIMP that is great! Think of the ease of use."

Herman Aro agrees, "I think it will be a great switchable supplement and/or replacement to regular menus. This way you ease newbies and detractors into a more efficient interface. I think it will be HOT!"

You might think that William Shotts, creator of LinuxCommand.org and author of The Linux Command Line, wouldn't care for an interface so far away from the old-school Linux shell, you'd be wrong though. Shotts says, "I disliked it at first glance, but after reading Mark Shuttleworth's post fully, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. He seems to suggest that the interface is there to relieve some of the frustration that 'power' users feel about Unity, a frustration that I feel as well. The interface is being tested by developers and other advanced users to see if it can make the UI keyboard centric, which is a worthwhile goal."

Peter H. Salus, technology historian and author of The Daemon, the Gnu & the Penguin, a history of free and open-source software, can see Shotts' point: "I'd rather throw away the mouse and stick to the keyboard." Or, if Ubuntu is successful with HUD, eventually the microphone.

In short, Christopher Baluyut, a long time Linux user, seems to sum up most users' viewpoint when he says, "I'll give my full judgment when I get to use it."

But, if you really, really don't like what you're hearing about HUD or Unity makes you break into hives and want your Ubuntu Linux desktop the way it used to be, then check out Linux Mint's new Cinnamon, a GNOME 2.x, desktop. It looks to me as if Cinnamon is going to be as close asusers are going to get to the old Ubuntu look and feel.

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Topics: Software, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

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  • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

    More arguing amongst the linux developers. Even the linux community doesn't believe in its own software. That speaks volumes about the quality of software in the linux world and quality of software they are producing. If I ran a business I'd stay away from all things linux based on that alone. With all this backlash you have quoted in this article I can't see Ubuntu, HUD, or linux moving forward. We'll chalk it up as another failure against linux and specifically Ubuntu of which they have many.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

      @Loverock Davidson-

      I thought you said you stay away from Linux, yet here you are again commenting on a Linux article, so its quite the opposite... you're attracted to Linux, I can't blame you, its a fantastic OS.
      guzz46
    • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

      @Loverock Davidson- I wouldn't necessarily call this arguing,
      linux users have plenty of options and it doesn't hurt to allow developers to explore new ideas. Especially since HUD's primary use will be power users and voice control.
      I'm willing to bet Microsoft will do something similar a few months or years down the line. Ubuntu's primarily a consumer friendly version of linux, and it's main goal is to be simpler, and Linux users who don't care for that always retain the option of finding a Ubuntu derivative that works for them, or using another distribution like redhat or Gentoo.
      With windows you have whatever microsoft says, plus whatever hacks the users can come up with.
      with Linux there are always teams of developers taking different directions, so you never have serious problems since everyone has a choice.
      Not to mention linux servers have been in use for a long time.
      Atomic1fire
    • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

      @Loverock Davidson- <br><br>Fact: The complaints come from the "Traditional Users", those that have been blamed not wanting to share "their OS" with the masses; but when I see somebody like my sister take easily on Ubuntu GUI, it proves most complaints wrong.<br><br>Fact: The PC market is fast changing to hardware use outside the realm of Desktops/Laptops, like Tablets and Smartphones; the choice to stick with a traditional GUI would only mean the demise of Ubuntu in the medium/long run.<br><br>Fact: The Linux OS is so great, you can easily exchange the GUI to something more to your taste!! TRY THAT ON WINDOWS 8...
      mario_reni_roldan@...
  • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

    Will give Head-Up Display desktop a test drive with 12.04 LTS. <br><br>Cinnamon with Fedora Simply Outstanding! <br>Kudos to Clem.
    That speaks volumes about the quality of software in the Linux world.
    daikon
    • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

      @daikon You already can give it a shot if you upgrade, but ubuntu 12.04 and HUD aren't necessarely consumer ready.
      I've looked at hud and it isn't bad, even without using a microphone.
      I do think it would be even more handy if I could press the alt button and preform a search as well, but HUD seems to be primarily for navigating menu's by searching through them.
      Atomic1fire
  • I'm a Mint user because...

    The Mint Devs don't feel the need to be on the bleeding edge, usability is king.
    Seriously, I don't want to have to search for everything, I want Point, Click, and Done.
    x-windows user
  • If users aren't interested in HUD, they don't have to ditch the Ubuntu line

    From the article:
    "But, if you really, really don???t like what you???re hearing about HUD or Unity makes you break into hives and want your Ubuntu Linux desktop the way it used to be, then check out Linux Mint???s new Cinnamon, a GNOME 2.x, desktop.

    They can also use alternate Ubuntu distros: Kubuntu (Ubuntu with KDE), Xubuntu (Ubuntu with XFCE) or Lubuntu (Ubuntu with LXDE). More here:

    http://www.ubuntu.com/project/about-ubuntu/derivatives
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • HUD Spelled Backwards is DUH

    Why HUD? I am scratching my head. What is gained by typing isn't necessarily an 'advantage' over using a pointing device. The depiction shows a user typing in a letter and HUD displaying the application's corresponding Menu Item.<br><br>So, hide the menus, make the user remember the menu tree accelerator keys so they can type them in a search window and 'magically' have the search algorithm find what it thinks the users is looking for! The menu item maybe? Yes! Errmm, maybe not if the user doesn't know the deeply nested menu structure. In fact, an added 'intelligent' feature of the search algorithm is that it recalls a possibly long list of anything you may have typed with that letter! Incredible! I want that!? No thank you.<br><br>You see, with the traditional 'Menu', I can use my eyes and 'see' or even infer what I can do next. I follow my mouse pointer and position it on the Menu item and 'click'. No typing, no guessing about anything. Amazingly simple, but, in the name of progress, elitist minds have determined I don't need this and that -DUH- HUD is best. I must accept what they say is best for me, I know.<br><br>What we have here is total experimentation to forsake a perfectly good Mouse-driven interface. Why? No good reason I can think of.<br><br>Is this progress? Not really. I say it is a symptom of an elitist who wishes in the worst way to differentiate his product to the world, done at Users' expense.<br><br>Yet another regression.<br><br>No usability advantage to HUD really, but, hey, some say it's progress. What do I know? DUH :/
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • Now you are talking HUD, right?

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate <br>[i]What we have here is total experimentation to forsake a perfectly good Mouse-driven interface. Why? No good reason I can think of. Is this progress? Not really. I say it is a symptom of an elitist who wishes in the worst way to differentiate his product to the world, done at Users' expense. [/i]<br><br>Or are you talking Metro??
      klumper
      • Watchubetalkinbout?

        @klumper
        Yes HUD.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
      • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

        I don't think he knows about window's phone and it's menu with giant squares.
        Just wait till he see's windows 8's new start menu, He might start shaking his fists at the youngins in his lawn.
        Atomic1fire
    • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz
      You push the alt button and then type some things,
      Keyboard shortcuts have been doing this for years, but HUD's even simpler to understand because all they have to remember is press alt and type in copy, or blur.
      The menu is still there, as far as I can tell, and they always retain the option of switching to KDE, gnome, or another substitute.
      There are already window managers, browsers, and various other things that remove the use of a mouse, ever hear of luakit.
      Some people prefer using the keyboard they already have their hands on.
      Can't blame them for that.
      Linux is flexable and diverse, as it should be, so who cares if ubuntu adds a feature that pretty much copies cellphone's hands free navigation.
      Atomic1fire
    • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz
      The point is that you _don't_ have to remember keyboard shortcuts or even what the menu item is named. Eventually, the tooltips will be searchable, too, so you'll just type or say what you want to do and the first few times, the item will surface for you somewhere in the list. As you remember the name and the item gets used more, it will come up faster and with less typing.

      Menus aren't going away anytime soon, though. You can just keep using them.

      Anyway, you're on Mint now, right? It's no skin off of your teeth.
      daengbo
    • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate<br><br>Have you tried moving the pointer or hitting Alt in your Smartphone or Tablet? How was your experience, tell us... Or, how do you keep a similar, familiar GUI across all types of computing hardware, old/traditional PC and new/here to stay "consuming" products mentioned before? Just install Cinammon and you have what you want in your PC, but will bet that with time you will switch back to keep a constant Interface across your gear.
      mario_reni_roldan@...
  • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

    It really sucks. Back to Gnome.
    hayneiii@...
  • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

    Ubuntu is just trying to shake the nerd / Niche stigma and be innovative and industry changing like Apple and Microsoft. I don't see why this is an issue. I would recommend that they keep a desktop option for the old school types instead of leaving the early supporters of there product looking for other solutions.
    gweddle@...
  • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

    No mention of GNOME DO??? Or even the Win start menu version of the same preditive text-input menu navigation? Did I miss something here?<br><br>i have used a combination of gnome do and traditional menus on a number of my machines. I have the gnome do assigned to a keyboard shortcut and the menus still visible. This lends itself to each approach - keyboard for text input, mouse for menus (to be perfectly honest, i set keys for menus most of the time). This is a very interesting topic, i only wish a bit more had been done in the original article to explore the innovators and other implementations of these various approaches to UI.
    Tuxluv
    • Gnome Do is Mono. Avoid like the proverbial 'plague'

      @Tuxluv
      nt
      Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
      • RE: Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu's Head-Up Display desktop

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate <br><br>is that because mono / .NET's future looks like it might be dimming with Win's move to HTML5/jscript and SUSE's downsizing its Mono dev team?<br><br>Or is there a inherent language / program level critique inspiring your comment?<br><br>I'm glad this convo is opening some doors and windows for me, I had never heard of Quicksilver on Mac until looking into GnomeDO's history earlier today.<br><br>GnomeDO's future aside, I still appreciate it's functionality and influence - presumably (and I am not really in the loop on all of this), it has had some part to play in the new ubuntu HUD...<br><br>I for one can say I'm excited to check out the new ubuntu interface, hopefully there can be a hybrid menu/input field - do we really need to make things simpler by removing them all together?<br><br>I liked how Unity works for things like grandma's netbook, but thought it was too simplistic for even a non power user's desktop environment, plus it kinda just looks like a uglied-up dock(y).
        Tuxluv