Home & Office

Desktop UI idea - best of both worlds?

Lying in bed last night, my thoughts turned to user interfaces. Yes, I am currently single.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Lying in bed last night, my thoughts turned to user interfaces. Yes, I am currently single.

Anyway, I was considering the issues facing Linux UIs in particular. While Ubuntu is gaining loads of traction by providing an experience that is not dissimilar to Windows, in my mind the best Linux UIs are those found on netbooks, such as the Linpus distro on the Acer Aspire One. The genius of such interfaces lies in their simplicity - they're pretty much idiot-proof. Simple panel with big buttons, one for websurfing, one for documents and so on.

That works brilliantly on a netbook, what with the limited screen size of such machines. But it will be too cut-down for many users, who will want their sea of desktop icons available to them at all times. Fair enough.

So, what about having the best of both worlds? Is there any reason why a single distro cannot use both UIs, simply toggling between them at the press of a button? Which button? Well, there's a ruddy great key on all keyboards that currently does nothing when you're on the desktop - the space bar.

Speaking for myself, I'd find it extremely convenient to be able to make the UI on my laptop - whether the machine be big or small - simple or complex, just by tapping the space bar. Imagine it - both versions of UI would retain the same user-chosen background image; it's just that one version would make the small icons invisible and bring up a basic panel in the middle of the screen (think the box you see when you press ctrl-L), and the other would be the Windows-esque mess we all need from time to time.

It'd also mean the same distro would be well suited to netbooks and desktops alike.

Anyway, it's just a thought. Any further thoughts from y'all?

Editorial standards