LXer Feature: 04-May-2011
Yesterday I downloaded, burned, and installed Ubuntu 11.04. Perhaps in the fullness of time I will come to terms with that decision, but let me give you my first impressions.
BEAT THE NEED TO READ!
Tired of learning all those difficult technical terms like “Applications” and “System” just to get to your favorite porn site or play another online game of Slash Your Neighbor?
Well, relax. You can just install our new word-free desktop, Nasty Nonwhale, and you'll never need words again. You'll use pictures for everything, pictures that are as simple and limited in what they can do as the ones on your phone. In fact, we've reduced the functions you can access to the point that less than a dozen big, colorful icons will show you everything you'll ever be able to do with your computer.
No more confusing complexity! No more big words! And there's more! We're working on a voice-actuated version too! With just a few easy-to-learn grunts, moans, and whistles you'll be able to run your whole online life!
Nasty Nonwhale – the desktop for the discerning illiterate!
Well, maybe it's not really that bad but it sure was a shock to click on some of those icons and be confronted by a whole page of nothing more illuminating than a bunch of OTHER icons. Hey folks, I'm only 77 years old, but I don't need the pictures THAT big!
I grant you, if a desktop is to be anywhere near as useful as the terminal as a place to work from it had better be one that simplifies in some way the process of reaching out to the file or application you're looking for. I also grant you that language can be a problem for this whether it involves technical words or entire foreign languages that must be learned. In some cases just learning a few symbols can be an answer, an easy one if the symbols are unambiguous: No Left Turn is not much of a challenge to symbolize. But what is the icon for Synaptic Package Manager?
As is my habit when getting my hands on a new distro, that was the first one I looked for. I suppose the Software Center is a nice easy place to get things you want, but it doesn't really make clear what ELSE you get along with what you want, i.e. the nest of dependencies. With Synaptic, you can see just what is in all those megabytes you're about to download into your machine.
I had faith that Synaptic was in there somewhere, but the only way I finally found to get to it was to Search. Search for such a fundamental resource? You've got to be kidding! Or if you're NOT kidding, how about at least putting a Search icon on that silly Totem Pole on the left edge of the desktop?
I'm severely biased, I'll admit it. I'm the sort of person who gets rid of all desktop icons at the very start of setting up a new distro. Worse yet, I'm still pretty new to the Linux world and by no means a competent terminal jockey and I am reluctant to click on things unless I have some notion of what they are. The idea of Learn By Crashing is anathema to my academic background.
I have developed my own technique for dealing with Ubuntu 11.04. At present I've simply opted for the Classic desktop to configure my own setup as I like it. Once I have that, I'll just log out and in again to the Unity version and see what clever icons have been added to the Totem Pole to represent my chosen apps. If there aren't any, I'll Search. If I don't Find, I'll go back to the Classic form. Or LXDE. It is still Linux, after all: there's a choice.
At least for THIS release...