Those of you that follow the development of Ubuntu Lucid Lynx might be caught by surprise regarding some of the new design decisions being made by Canonical. Their Ayatana project was created to revitalize the Ubuntu desktop by trying to resolve usability issues. While a lot of the approaches have shown merit, some have been downright stupid.
I’ve been particularly critical of the decision concerning the removal of functionality in libnotify. The Ayatana group decided that allowing interactive notifications was against their master plan, guaranteeing a thousand solutions to the problem and forcing new paradigms on the user. Their decision to use pop downs for the update manager simultaneously annoys the advanced user while opening serious security holes for the noob.
But these pale in comparison their latest faux pas. They have decided in their infinite wisdom to change the control layout for the windows in the gnome desktop. That’s right, they have moved the close, minimize and maximize to the left side of the window just like the mac. Little mind was apparently paid to the disruption of the existing users. Even less paid to the users that have to work in two desktops, the other 90% likely to be in Windows. And none whatsoever to individuals thinking about transitioning, again most likely from Windows.
I have great respect for the work done by Canonical. They have added stability to the chaos of open source. But it’s apparent that they are starting to believe there own press releases. These changes smack of a group that thinks it’s visionary, but in reality isn’t sufficiently open to listen to reason. This current design choice will kill any possibly of poaching market share from Microsoft while annoying current users. I’ve spent considerable time championing their cause, but it is obvious to me that they are going a different direction. I think it’s time to look at the competition.