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GNOME GUI Open Source Software Upgrades Linux

GNOME To Lose Minimize, Maximize Buttons 797

Posted by timothy
from the aren't-you-taking-this-a-bit-far? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "When GNOME 3 arrives in a month, users might be surprised to see old UI staples 'minimize' and 'maximize' buttons gone and replaced by... nothing, in the case of minimizing, and either drag-up or double-click-titlebar for maximizing. Says Allan Day, GNOME Marketing Contractor: 'Without minimize, the GNOME 3 desktop is a more focused UI, and it is a UI that has a consistent high level of quality. Yes, moving to a minimiseless world might take a little getting used to for some, but the change makes sense and has clear benefits.' Some users already welcome the change, while others are in an uproar, swearing to wait for GNOME 3.2, switch to KDE or even Windows. What do you think? A better, simpler interface for new times, or a case of making something simpler than it should be?" I like minimize and maximize buttons, but I'll admit to liking the look of GNOME 3 .
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GNOME To Lose Minimize, Maximize Buttons

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  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:55PM (#35389430)

    The world becomes more and more like satire every day.


  • by fishlet (93611) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:57PM (#35389454)

    For ubuntu to drop Gnome for Unity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:59PM (#35389478)

    Tested in the real world? No, not at all. But the developers have done a lot of reading of theoretical papers, so how could this go wrong?

  • by devxo (1963088) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:01PM (#35389480)
    Eh, maximing window sure isn't an uncommon thing to do. I run my browser and pretty much every other window maximized, it just works better. Only windows I keep small are something like instant messenger and setting panels. Granted I've learnt to double-click the title bar instead, but many people use the maximize window button.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:01PM (#35389492) Homepage Journal
    Dragging is more stress-inducing to the hand than simply clicking mouse. we do countless minimize-maximize actions over the course of a normal workday.

    I cant risk more potential for RSI, just because a few people think that is better to do so.

    Excuse me gnome, but you are losing me.
  • by occamsarmyknife (673159) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:02PM (#35389500)

    I like clean interfaces, but seriously, what does this help? It doesn't save space, the title bar is still there. Ignoring those buttons costs nothing, and replacing a button with a non-graphical multiple-action like double clicking isn't making an interface simpler, it's making it more complex. I understand the confusion about a minimize button with no taskbar, but this doesn't seem like a particularly well thought out design change. We got rid of feature X, so action Y isn't the same anymore. Okay, just get rid of it.

  • by mfnickster (182520) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:08PM (#35389530)

    When are we going to get an interface that is totally configurable to user preferences?

    Someday, I'd love to sit down at a computer, point it to the URL where my interface preferences live, and presto - it instantly becomes the desktop I'm most familiar with.

    Think of it as the GUI equivalent of setting your shell in .profile.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:15PM (#35389590) Homepage Journal

    I love Linux, but it's like everyone mutually agreed to abandon desktop sanity. KDE never met an option they didn't like, and Gnome never met one they did. I've used both extensively and recently but both make me spend more time cussing at the screen than I want to. I've held on to Linux (and FreeBSD) desktops for over a decade but I give up. It's not going to happen. I'm still going to work on a Unix all day, but I'm switching to the pretty one.

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:15PM (#35389592)

    This is such a drastic step of changing a UI paradign that's existed for the past 25+ years, and the only justifications I see for it are completely theoretical ones. Where's the usability testing by actual users to see if the theories hold any water?

    Both sides can argue about what THEY think the user will prefer. The arguments can sound extrodinarily convincing, but what actually matters is how it performs in the real world with actual users. The solution to this problem seems to be "just put it in the next release and see if people revolt enough" rather than conducting actual controlled tests. IMO this is an extrodinarily flawed approach. A controlled test gives you non-biased opinions rather than political ones. This approach only seems to create a rift between the two opposing sides rather than finding out what's the best UI experience for the user.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:17PM (#35389636)

    It improves job prospects for so-called "usability" geeks who can sell themselves by writing pseudo-intellectual crap about how they improved things. See also the removal of the status bar, protocol string and other such stuff from web browsers.

    Most people can't be bothered to learn how to use software applications so everybody should dumb-down to their level! Of course Gnome was a real innovator here with v2 when everybody stopped using it. And hey; I hear mobile devices are the new coolz so no matter how limited you find mobile apps, desktop software is now going to copy the UI.

    You just know these usability bastards are going to show equal contempt when, having fucked-up desktops, they set their sights on the command line.

  • by dingen (958134) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:21PM (#35389664)

    If a minor UI change like this really is that much of an impact on your productivity, then maybe working with computers is just not for you. Things change all the time. You're not working the same way you were 5 years ago, which is different from 10 years ago, which is different from 20 years ago. People adjust to that an carry on, or try to stick with what they're used to in vain and get left behind.

    I'm not saying every time something changes, there is progress. I'm not saying every change is really an improvement. But people should be able to adjust to almost any change in computing without too much of a fuss, because things just change. That's just how it is, how it has been and how it will be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:24PM (#35389686)

    Ooh, falling back to the keyboard? You're a real anachronism.

    Somehow the code is there to minimize and maximize the windows anyway. I just don't understand the reason for taking away part of the flexibility that is supposed to make the Linux Desktop so much better than Windows. Oh, wait, Windows will still have the Maximize and Minimize buttons, so the reason must be to differentiate the Linux Desktop experience from the Windows Desktop experience.

    For heavens sake, just leave them in as an option that people can turn off or on as they wish. Damn developers are getting as bad as our city council. They know what's good for us so they make changes with no consultation except among themselves.

  • by mickwd (196449) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:26PM (#35389710)

    Fortunately, it was well planned, not just a result of someone changing their mind while writing an email. []

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:32PM (#35389762)

    ...they are not removing the functionality... they are just making it harder for the users to actually use it

    So, more like Windows then.

  • by Posting=!Working (197779) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:33PM (#35389764)

    So they took a button on the screen you could click and turned into a keyboard shortcut, and one of the benefits listed in the article is that it is more touch-friendly.

    It is nice that they took them out and used that space for nothing. I'm not sure how replacing useful buttons with more pixels that do nothing and convey no information helps.

    Another argument given is that there's no dock or windows list to minimize to, but if you want to switch to a different window, you go to the overview, which is exactly like a windows list or dock, but less convenient.

    Reading Owens explanation was painful. He starts with revealing that he never minimizes anything and then speculates randomly on why people would use it (missing nearly all of the reasons I use it), then bases everything on 2 peoples opinions who he had work without minimize buttons for a while.

    The reasons for getting rid of the maximize button is they though it emphasized the title bar as a way to resize the window (WTF?) and that the new way is more enjoyable (WTFFF?)

    I haven't found a single reason that wasn't based on incredibly minor aesthetics or really screwed up views of "emphasis" or "mental models."

    Can anyone give an actual reason for doing this?

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:35PM (#35389792) Homepage

    Nothing. It's just the latest from the Department of Stuff Nobody Asked For.

    Who exactly is supposed to be the target audience for these inanities? On the one hand, you have people who have already being been using computers for a long time. They already know how to work a standard Win/Lin interface. What's the need to present a "baby" interface?

    For children? 5-year olds can (and do) run current versions of GNOME without a problem.

    Meanwhile, how many mod points do you want to bet that Gnome still will not have fixed 5 or 10 year old basic usability bugs in the file chooser, etc., as opposed to creating whole new ones with shiny, fancy stuff?

  • GNOME (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SigmundFloyd (994648) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:35PM (#35389798)


  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:42PM (#35389852)


  • by Heliologue (883808) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:42PM (#35389860)
    Let's be honest, though; both Apple and Gnome have pretty much the same design approach. The only difference is that when Apple does it, all their douchebag fanboys call it a design win, but when Gnome does it, it's a terrible, uninformed, arbitrary decision. It's stupid either way.
  • by TheLink (130905) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:46PM (#35389888) Journal

    It might seem a bit strange to make a big change based on only reasonable certainty, but more than that is hard to get. User studies can be informative, but in this area, we're really interested how experienced users work with a lot of windows, so the most basic approach of paying people off the street to sit in front of of a computer for an hour to do predesigned tasks wasn't going tell us much.

    Yeah hilarious. Are they really interested in how experienced users work? Or have they been paid by someone to sabotage GNOME (just looking at the stupid ideas they've been coming up with).

    Not sure if I count as an experienced user but the way I work with lots of windows (e.g. 30+) is, I use Windows (2K/XP/7) and have all the task buttons ungrouped and in two rows, so that I can click directly on them to raise the window I want. I also have a utility I wrote called LinkKey[1] so that I can quickly bind alt-1 to alt-9 to various windows - so for example if I have to work amongst 4 windows, I can just press alt-1,2,3,4 to switch amongst them.

    GNOME or KDE don't suit me for handling lots of windows - they order task buttons vertically first then horizontally so if I close a window, ALL task buttons on its right change relative vertical positions making me lose track of where stuff is. Windows orders the task buttons horizontally first then vertically, so only a few edge buttons are affected.

    I find it funny that friends I know who use unix/linux as their primary desktop tend to use "screen" to manage their tasks/"windows" quickly. To me that shows how crappy the GNOME and KDE GUIs are. They can't even beat "screen" after so many years.

    [1] []
    I have no idea who did the recommendation (wasn't me!). I think only a few people in the world will find it useful, but I figured I might as well put it on sourceforge.

  • KDE is much better (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mangu (126918) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:48PM (#35389914)

    In KDE you still have the minimize and maximize buttons. "If you want to minimize, you can right-click the titlebar, then click minimize, or using ALT+F9"??? WTF, I have been using computers since 1975 and find that difficult, how about n00bs?

    In KDE, if you are a "power user", you can middle-click the maximize button to maximize the window vertically while maintaining the horizontal size, or right-click it to maximize the window only horizontally. Nice, easy, simple, and keeps working what has always been working.

    In other words, you can always improve something, but ***IF IT AIN'T BROKEN, DON'T FIX IT***

  • KDE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brunes69 (86786) <> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:52PM (#35389942) Homepage

    Sounds like you want KDE.

    In KDE whether or not you want minimise or maximize buttons is a simple click in the control panel.

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:52PM (#35389950)

    You only use ONE application at a time? Ok... 1980 called, it wants its workflow back.

    It's not a waste if:
    1) Maximizing the window makes it actually harder to absorb the content in that window (as is the case with web browsers)
    2) I use the extra space for something I look at often, like my IM buddy list and messages.

  • by sootman (158191) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:57PM (#35389980) Homepage Journal

    It does NOT make the UI easier to use. Cleaner looking, yes, but NOT easier. A button sits there, visible, inviting you to click it. You see that the option is exists and if you care to find out what it does you can click it and see what happens if you're adventurous or you can RTFM if you're not. Either way, you know the option exists. Double-clicking the title bar, however, is completely non-discoverable except by accident. Look at the screenshot [] at the top of the screen. The title bar has the title, a close button, and... NOTHING ELSE. Just a bunch of wasted space. Gnome devs are doing their users--present and future--a great disservice by removing these buttons.

    I think they're trying to copy the super-clean look of iOS, but iOS looks super clean because it works differently, not because it is clean for cleanliness' sake. There is no close button because you press the home button to leave the app. There is no minimize/restore because that's not how iOS apps work. There are no scroll bars because you scroll by dragging anywhere. Steve didn't just say "I'm going to throw away all these controls," he said "I'm going to change the UI" and as a result of THAT those controls were no longer needed. Gnome has not changed its underpinnings--it just threw away all those controls.

    Double-clicking the title bar to change the window is a great shortcut for power users who know it's there because it's a nice big target [] and sometimes it's easier to double-click a part of the screen close to where the mouse is, rather than going after a button. But that shouldn't be the ONLY way.

    Decades ago, as a kid, I absolutely HATED the original Mario games on the NES because there was all this totally undiscoverable crap where you had to jump in just the right spot to mash your head into an invisible block to get points. I thought it was the dumbest thing in the world--how could you possibly know to do that? I didn't think it was a good way to make a game back then and I'm positive that it's not a good way to make a UI now. Gnome devs are ON CRACK if they think this is a good idea.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:58PM (#35389986)

    Clearly reading text on browser windows is the only thing people could possibly do in a large-screen computer. Absolutely no applications could conceivably benefit from more screen real estate. You, sir, are 200% correct!

  • by sjbe (173966) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @02:08PM (#35390082)

    You only use ONE application at a time?

    Regularly. Despite what many believe about themselves, most people are shitty multi-taskers. I merely acknowledge that fact with regard to myself - I simply don't do more than one thing at a time effectively. While I may have several applications open, I normally only am working directly with one at a time unless I am transcribing data from one to another. I do have multiple monitors because it makes the occasions when I am working with multiple apps much easier but most of the time I could turn off the second monitor and never notice it missing.

  • by puhuri (701880) <> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @02:18PM (#35390160) Homepage

    Spreadsheets, graphics and diagrams are one thing that benefit from maximal area. However, for other applications I maximise them only vertically, if any. I have configured title-bar double-click to expand window vertically.

    Text editors, terminals, email message panels run 80 character wide as they have always been. A browser window where I type this is a bit wide, 1175 px, but it still leaves room for window below be that much visible I would notice if it scrolls. If web page is too wide for it, then C-- few times will make it behave.

    On 7" netbook using Ubuntu 10.10 most windows are maximised and there the usage is just fine - expect for those dialogs that do not fit on screen. But if screen size is 1280x800 or better I very seldom maximize windows.

  • by yelvington (8169) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @02:27PM (#35390230) Homepage

    If you want to minimize, you can right-click the titlebar, then click minimize, or using ALT+F9.

    There's no better way to say it: This decision is asinine and incredibly arrogant.

    The change to the maximize function is ... well, minimal. Double-clicking the menu bar is something that can be learned (although certainly confusing if you expect it to windowshade the window).

    But killing miminize? Minimize is an important, frequently used function for anyone who does real-world work with multiple applications. Multiple screens are NOT a substitute. Anybody who thinks right-click/pick is an adequate substitute must not use a laptop. Clumsy, oafish interface.

    I wasn't bothered when Ubuntu moved the close boxes around, because Gnome traditionally has followed a path of encouraging user customization, and I could easily move the controls back where I wanted them.

    But if Gnome 3 removes the minimize button, it's dead to me.

  • by grimsweep (578372) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:37PM (#35390812)
    Don't assume that multiple monitors means someone is trying to juggle multiple tasks. 3 monitors has become a part of my life at work. Here's how:
    Left - Maximized browser window looking at my web app
    Center - Maximized IDE to develop/debug my web app, providing sufficient space for my code, log monitoring, and package browsing
    Right - IM Window, Resource Monitor (particularly CPU and Memory), and a handful of widgets. If there's a web-share meeting, it gets maximized here.
    When I switch to a portable environment or lose a monitor, believe me, my productivity suffers.
  • Re:Flame, not RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joe Jay Bee (1151309) <jbsouthsea&gmail,com> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @04:07PM (#35391068)

    Oh jesus effing Christ. I'm not a Linux hater but by god KDE, Gnome and Ubuntu seem to be having great fun in a spectacular race to the bottom.

    Minimize - in GNOME 3 default shell is GNOME Shell, and in this shell there is nowhere to minimize to. You switch between windows using either Alt+Tab, or Expose, which can be reached just moving cursor to left top corner.

    As a brother poster just put, what happens when you want a window hidden? I like this window existing, I don't want to see it - click, gone. Windows does this. Mac does this. Even bloody WindowMaker, blackbox and virtually every other WM in history do this. But GNOME want to differentiate themselves by removing a feature nobody wants removed. Good for them. They can suck somewhere else.

    Maximize is more tricky, but more or less I always have wanted that confusing button gone. Nevermind that it toogles between maximize/restore functionality, double click on title of the window will do much better.

    "Confusing"? Confused, by a maximise button? You click it, the window fills the screen. If it's filled the screen it shrinks it back. This is elementary. By all means complain about Apple's Zoom button (which is confusing to most users who don't understand what was going through Apple's head when they put it there, which is most of them) but a maximise button is probably the simplest thing there is. And by all means put Aero Snap functionality in - it's a feature of Win7 I simply cannot do without without going crazy now - but don't take a reasonable option away from me.

    These changes are risky, but I would definitely not call them rushed or stupid or "just because authors want it that way". Keep in mind, that those are hired professionals which have brought us GNOME 2.x series.

    They're risky because they're absolutely retarded. You would have to be absolutely insane to fuck around with something that is, to most people, an intrinsic part of using a computer. These changes are rushed, and whether their architects brought us GNOME 2 (which is hardly a case study in excellent UI idea, all things considered) is completely irrelevant. It's a silly idea.

    Before criticizing understand that GNOME 3 and Unity (which also have got lot of "love" from Slashdot flamers) is created with future controls in mind - multitouch, gestures, etc.

    Windows 7 does this right. I actually thought about this today - it looks like a desktop OS, it works like a desktop OS, but it would work equally well as a touchscreen OS, and neither gets disadvantaged by it. All of the controls and buttons are touch friendly without the user even realising it. To contrast however, GNOME's approach, from the looks of things (and Unity's) is "fuck you, we want it touchscreen friendly and desktop users can lump it". Bear in mind that touchscreens are still niche devices, especially on the desktop. It's stupid, stupid, stupid.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @04:40PM (#35391354) Journal

    Not saying that I like the idea for Gnome Shell but they are moving away from the old desktop idea. Storing things on your desktop by the way has LONG been a BAD thing done only by the terminally disorganized.

    For files, there are places like Documents, and program links should go in the menu. There shouldn't be anything on your desktop to look at.

    I know, not how we are used to doing things, but change is not something to be feared.

  • by Burz (138833) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @05:11PM (#35391594) Journal

    ...what they're doing.

    If they did know, then they'd realize A) a GUI spec is pointless unless it forms part and parcel of a holistic OS platform, otherwise they might as well be trying to reinvent HTML; and B) being a *nix coding geek imparts a natural INferiority when it comes to GUI expertise, not the superiority that most of them obviously feel; and C) Personal Computing is a consumer culture with certain basic use cases and expectations that must be fulfilled, so you shouldn't be surprised that putting 'candy' on everything doesn't work when you expect people to operate their computers in some profoundly different ways.

    What are those profound differences? Here's a few:

    1) Leaving users to grope in the dark WRT hardware compatability, instead of marketing your software to hardware vendors by offering a simple test suite and standard, trademarked icon that shoppers can readily identify on the package. Leaving it to each distro to define hardware compatibility lists was wrong: They all sucked and were half-hearted at best. HCLs should be the Linux Foundation's job because hardware compatibility is the kernel's role.

    2) Leaving budding programmers and power users without an SDK or standard IDE that allows anyone to get their feet wet and share their work with confidence (as in, it will actually run on another novice's machine instead of going down in a dependency flames). If you think this is stupid or off the mark, consider that Linux is doing really well on handhelds and both Google and the Linux Foundation have their own SDKs. No one will do a Desktop SDK because of the old-hacker politics involved and their loathing of vertical integration; LSB does not go far enough and doesn't even define a way to install software packages (all it has is the package format, but no procedures or interfaces are defined).

    3) Leaving users to fight-it-out with their device settings. There are still some influential (old people) who behave like Linux video was good enough with VGA framebuffer support and /dev/dsp output for one audio app at a time. Yet others treat video and audio as simplistic and beneath their concern. This has lead, for example, to subsystems like X11 that could not support the use case of 'Change the display to these new parameters and if the user indicates they work, save those setiings'. Instead we got a situation where every distro had to write their own display settings code, and they all did it badly because the assumption that display settings were just too 'simple' for X11 itself to manage them just wasn't true.

    Also, what most PC programmers and techs refer to as 'OS components' (libraries, services, etc) are astoundingly referred to as 'applications' in the Linux world. This distorts the way Linux techs relay help and tips to novice users to the point where the distinction between OS and application tends to disappear.

    4) Relating to the "platform" primarily by its Kernel, a piece of software that is formless/invisible to most non-programmers. Suffice it to say that if Google were marketing a handheld "Linux" to phone users, their offering wouldn't be a tenth as successful as Android and there would be all kinds of negative politics involved that called for Gnome and KDE versions just for starters. The whole community is guilty of this misstep, which amounts to a sort of mass geek delusion. Note that Firefox didn't play this game and it succeeded because people knew how it looked and behaved by default, and any third parties changing the Firefox code were forced to change the name of their offering to something other than 'Firefox'. OTOH, "Linux" defines an almost formless sea of non-kernel alterations that we geeks expect users to become familiar with.

    5) Inserting the OS people between the user and the app authors, ensuring that only the biggest enthusiasts and coder-types make an effort to interact directly with the authors. This is part of what I call 'distro culture' which itself has many ill effects. Contrast this with the App Store concept where authors upload their wares themselves, and get a communication channel to/from users.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @06:30PM (#35392228) Homepage

    Like the physical item that the metaphor is based on, if something is on your desktop it usually means that you are currently working on it and you want it to be at hand so you don't forget about it off in some pile you don't ever see. It's the graphical equivalent of $HOME or $PWD.

    That said, even my desktop has folders that are intermediate storage for things that will eventually go into other "long term storage" locations.

    It's by no means "disorganized".

    It's just another arbitrary location. Just another folder.

  • by randomsearch (1207102) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @07:45AM (#35395890) Journal

    Whilst the parent post has plenty of valid points, I wonder if there is an underlying issue about the way people think about Linux.

    Some people seem to think that the goal of Linux is to become as popular as possible, and to beat immediate-term "rivals" like OS X or Windows. So "Linux on the desktop" is important. On the other hand, some may think that trying to produce a flashy UI to make this happen is not a good use of time.

    Some people think the goal of Linux is to create the best possible OS and to hell with what anyone else is doing. Some people may think this doesn't increase the adoption of Linux, and they see that as important, perhaps they think of Linux more as a businessman might think about a product.

    I think the truth is, that there is no goal of Linux. It's created by a disparate group of people with different ideas, intentions and ambitions. This is a good thing, as it produces a free OS that can be used for many purposes in a very robust way.

    Linux doesn't really care if people buying hardware in stores can use Linux with their hardware, because "Linux" is just a vague group of people pulling in different directions, not a coherent entity (and that is no bad thing, unless it happens not to agree with your personal view of what it should be used for).

    If we measure Linux by its use, by its deployment, then it is far more successful than any other OS in history, and is in the ascendancy. I don't lose much sleep worrying about the UI choices of one set of developers, or the hardware compatibility of a desktop distro.


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