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Friday, 19 March 2010 12:53

Ubuntu: three little buttons cause a great deal of angst

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The forthcoming Ubuntu release, Lucid Lynx, has a lot of good things going for it but one little change is causing a great deal of angst among users. That change is the switching of the window buttons that enable one to close, maximise or minimise a window from the right to the left.

The dominant desktop operating system, Windows, has these three buttons on the top right hand corner of a window - from the outer they are in this order - close, maximise and minimise. Mac OSX has the three buttons on the top left-hand corner of the window and the order from the outside is close, minimise, maximise.

Lucid Lynx, now in its third alpha release, has the buttons on the left top of the window and the order, from the outer, is maximise, minimise and close.

Those who have objected to the change - and there are plenty of users in this category - have been provided a remedy: run this command - gconftool-2 --set /apps/metacity/general/button_layout --type string "menu:minimize,maximize,close"

Given that Ubuntu users are generally more inclined to use graphical interfaces for everything, this is not a solution that is bound to endear users to the distribution.

After 109 messages were posted about this change by users and developers, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth posted the following: "Moving everything to the left opens up the space on the right nicely, and I would like to experiment in 10.10 with some innovative options there. It's much easier to do that if we make this change now." Some of Shuttleworth's later posts were not quite as diplomatic, especially one which ended this way: "This is not a democracy. Good feedback, good data, are welcome. But we are not voting on design decisions."

Some users have waxed voluble, giving their own reasons why they think the change is not for the better; others have pointed to polls that indicate they are right. A few have supported the decision and some don't appear to care.

According to the schedule laid out by Canonical, the first beta release of Lucid Lynx was due for release yesterday but at the time of writing downloads were not yet available. There will be a second beta on April 8, a release candidate on April 22 and the final release will be on April 29.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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