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Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu Will Revert Window Controls To the Right-Hand Side in Next Release ( 171

Following a survey carried out last month, Ubuntu will begin shipping with the minimise, maximise, and close buttons on the right-hand side of windows. From a report: In the survey 46.2% of people said they prefer their window controls on the left-hand side and 53.8% said they prefer them on the right. The decision comes after seven years of window controls being on the left, at the time it had plenty of detractors but Ubuntu founder, Mark Shuttleworth, maintained that the controls needed shifting to the left because they'd be in the way of the then newly introduced window indicators.
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Ubuntu Will Revert Window Controls To the Right-Hand Side in Next Release

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  • 51% of our users want shit on the left
    49% want shit on the right

    therefore left is best because a bunch of randos who filled out a survey monkey are best equipped to design our UI for us

    • There were always options to be able to move them to the other side. I'm sure the same will still hold true.

      If more people want the controls on the right, then the controls should be on the right - at least by default.

      • by skids ( 119237 )

        There were always options to be able to move them to the other side.

        Oh, good. Because that's not generally the case with desktop environments. Usually
        you have to decompile and recompile some binary-ized markup/scripting language installed
        in system directories, or use some configuration tweaking tool outside the normal one
        that ends up obsolete by the time you upgrade to the next version of the desktop, or
        fiddle with trying to figure out which of tens of possible locations for rc-ish files actually work
        between three competing "lets put all the options in one place" projects

      • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @02:12PM (#54935339)

        Actually, no. With Gnome 3 and apps using client-side decorations and the HeaderBar where the window controls are mashed together with toolbar buttons, it's no longer possible to change window close, maximize, etc to the left side without serious hacking of GTK and possibly the apps themselves. Gtk dictates where the window buttons are going to be and what they look like (according to the GTK theme in use). So no more window manager themes in the long run.

        You used to be able to disable client-side decorations which would let the window manager draw its controls still (in whatever order you configured it to), which looks a bit funny because apps will have a sort of double titlebar. However recent versions of GTK have no means for disabling CSD.

        Trying to engage GTK devs over concerns about CSD won't get anyone anywhere as the devs are tired of hearing the complaints and consider the arguments tired and ignorant.

        In my mind, this (client-side decorations) is a huge step backwards for usability, to say nothing of the power and flexibility that has made the Linux desktop so interesting and powerful. But hey, progress.

        • by caseih ( 160668 )

          AC is right. I am wrong about changing button placement, at least as of Fedora 26. So while I still don't like CSD, GTK+ apparently does allow changing of the order of the buttons, and putting them on the left. In Gnome this is done through dconf ord.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences.button-layout. This setting will change both the window manager used for non-CSD apps, and GTK+ CSD apps that use the HeaderBar. I have no idea what dconf setting you would need to set for just GTK apps under other desktops.

    • by lactose99 ( 71132 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @01:11PM (#54934751)

      ...but the survey had the tick boxes on the left so I couldn't figure out how to submit my vote correctly.

    • I say the question is Wrong.
      Do you want the buttons where Microsoft Windows has them
      Do you want the buttons where Apple OSX has them

      • If they're adopting Gnome then they should default them to wherever Fedora sticks them.

        Unnecessarily fragmenting the cross-distro experience for the sake of quirky designers? Yeah, nah.

    • Boaty McBoatface and Trainy McTrainface disagree.
    • by bigdavex ( 155746 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @01:42PM (#54935075)

      Obviously they should compromise and put them in the middle.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      therefore left is best because a bunch of randos who filled out a survey monkey are best equipped to design our UI for us

      This implies that close to 50% of people will be happy with EITHER option, So why not create a Right-Click menu that allows you to CHOOSE between Left and Right-hand side?

      • Giving people options is so last century.

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          Giving people options is so last century.

          OK, Then... Let's compromise then and put the window controls in the center.

          Also, they should be drawn in the shape of a kitten.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      But the Russians manipulated the vote!

    • 51% of our users want shit on the left
      49% want shit on the right

      Sure, if you go by the popular vote. The Electoral College on the other hand ... Wait. What are we voting on again?

    • It's ironic that they should justify doing this with a poll, since when they moved them in the first place Shuttleworth specifically said that he didn't care what the users thought:

      "No. This is not a democracy. Good feedback, good data, are welcome. But we are not voting on design decisions." []

      • Also, they took away the ability to even change them in Unity as of 16.04. An Ubuntu dev had this to say when someone filed a bug about it:

        "The window controls in Unity are on the left. It is not a setting, it's where the designers chose to place them. This will not change." []

  • That's not exactly a "landslide" victory. Why not just make it user-configurable?
  • by LS1 Brains ( 1054672 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @01:08PM (#54934709)

    I mean really, the right thing would have been to have left things alone.

  • Being a programmer my question is, why isn't there a configuration parameter so the user can choose? Just my 2 cents ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If the controls have been on the left for 7 years, then why on Earth would you change the default to the right for mostly no good reason?

    Really, nonsense like this is why Linux desktop adoption has been...slow.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @01:24PM (#54934857)

    But apparently these newfangled "user interfaces" cannot do that anymore?

    • But apparently these newfangled "user interfaces" cannot do that anymore?

      You can still do it in metacity afaik. But Unity was purposely made less configurable to make support easier. It was a dumb idea and now it's going away.

  • Why does it have to be all or nothing? I prefer close on the left and max/min on the right.

  • We used to have arguments like this all the time at a place [] I worked. We built scientific software, with the UI written in C++ using Qt. The support, and the hardcore numerical solver, department heads used to have heated debates about button placement. Both had good points, and both's suggestions depended on their perspectives, and the perspective of the user base each represented (with support being more along the engineering, and the solver being more along scientific applications.)

    The solution I propose

  • Typical: a guy who has succeeded on something beyond reasonable expectation believes that he is an expert on just about everything. Reality, as usual, straightening things up.
  • Close on one and other buttons on the other side so one don't close accidently.

    See amigaos and others doing it right.

  • Why not both? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @01:35PM (#54935001)

    In windows, I've always taken advantage of the 'feature' from Windows 16-bit days, where if you double-click on a program icon (on the left), it closes the window, so whenever I want to close a window, I just find the closest upper corner, and double/single click it.

    You could do the same kind of thing simpler, just by having an X-mark box on the right, program icon at the left, and whenever you bring your mouse near the program icon, have it shift over and reveal a minimize/maximize/close button - and the same on the right, just slide out a minimize/maximize option. Of course, add the option to disable animations, and you're good to go - no visual clutter, but can use it wherever the window is.

    Just an idea.

    Ryan Fenton

  • When they forced them to the left, I tweaked them to the right.

    Whatever happened to the ability to be able to choose the appearance of your desktop?

    I may move them to the left now, just because, you can't tell me what to do. /s

  • I prefer a basic Debian instal for cleanness, stability and security, though it was nice to see the window controls in a sensible position when I used Ubuntu for those occasional multimedia installs. Ah well, nothing lasts for ever.
  • Wow. This ranks right up there with the furious debate over which side of the toast should be buttered. Conservatives, of course, insist that it be the side they've always buttered, while liberals, deliberately non-conformist, insist it be the other. Will there ever be peace at the breakfast table?

  • Some of us don't want any buttons on our windows, and would prefer to have minimal to no decorations.

    • by MrMr ( 219533 )
      Set XmNmwmDecorations to zero in your application, and you have a free floating drawing area. See the Motif programming manual [pdf alert] []
      • I'm not looking for the mechanism, I'm saying there is a false dilemma that Canonical presented between buttons of left versus on the right.

        I think we can all agree it would be insane to have the buttons in the center

  • I can't speak specifically to Ubuntu's UI, but in general, the close/exit action belongs on the left side. The majority of us read and write from left-to-right, and so an action on the left is to move backwards while an action on the right is to go further. Web browsers reinforce this notion with the idea of back and forward buttons (though their placement may not be ideal).

    It's an easy, logical standard and allows the users to quickly grasp the likely effect of their action in a pop-up dialog, for example. The affirmative choice goes on the right edge and the close / cancellation / negative response goes on the left edge. This also automatically means there is a good space between the two very opposite operations, vastly reducing the chance of a mis-click. In similar fashion, I always put the save/update action on the right and the delete action on the left.

    Why is this not a common standard by now?

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @02:37PM (#54935543) Homepage

      Because you're stupid and wrong. Sorry, but that's the level you bring the debate down to when you say my way is the right way and why isn't everybody doing it like me. For example let's take your page navigation, the natural sequence of events is that I open a book, turn the pages, close the book. The "close" action is clearly after I've turned the pages and is the last action "beyond the end" so it should be on the right-most side. As for the second example, you're turning a natural sequence of a "yes or no" question to become a "no or yes" question. That is not a natural ordering in English and indeed most western languages.

      Truth is, these things happen mostly by convention. It's not really important if they're left or right, it's that they're consistently left or right. And it's more important to be locally consistent, like everybody drives on the left or the right than to be universally consistent like all Fords drive on the right. Which is why when I use a Windows machine I expect every application to follow the Windows convention. If I use a Mac I expect them to follow the Mac convention. On Linux use whatever Gnome/KDE/Cinnamon etc. is configured to use. Those who refuse to follow convention because they know better should be taken out back and shot.

    • That presupposes that the close button is the negative/regressive/cancel option. A trivial counter example would be an alert dialog - both the OK button and the close button do the exact same action. In the scope of a workflow, the close button usually means "I'm done with this", I.e progress to the next thing I want to do, thus it IS the positive/affirmative option.
    • Personally, I like the title bar to have an icon on the left, with the title immediately next to it (left aligned), because it resembles the way the file appears when viewed in a list of files. Therefore, I prefer the close button on the right.

      Of course, the icon and title on the window should be that of the file that is displayed, not the program used to display it. The icon and title of the program should be at the very top left of the screen, on its menu bar. It's an easy, logical standard that allows

  • This sort of blatant discrimination against lefties MUST STOP!

    Time and time again Rightists stomp all over us lefties rights! er... uh... I yield back the rest of my time.
  • I switched to Mint long ago. Not only does it have the window controls in the right place, but it has a much more sensible selection of default applications, and I can get it with MATE, a desktop manager that's not trying to be an avant-garde tablet interface.

    • I switched to Mint, but recently Mate will no longer play well with multiple X sessions. I get one screen out of 3 with Mate now. I had to switch to Enlightenment but I prefer Mate. It may be because I am using the Debian edition of Mint. Mate wants to be a one screen DE as far as I can see.
  • Seriously, WTF do you need to download and install a fucking THIRD PARTY PROGRAM to do something as ludicrously simple and common as changing window colors, fonts, size, etc...

    Windows control panel let you do this is Windows 1.0!!!!

    It's absolute madness that you can't change the window color by default. How come Windows figured out how to add a control panel almost 30 years ago, but Gnome still can't include a built-in control panel that lets you change window color. It's an absolute embarrassment tha
  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @03:05PM (#54935761) Homepage

    I had thought that Ubuntu was planning to just adopt the GNOME Shell, but that's not their plan. Reading TFS I found out: their plan is to use extensions to change the GNOME Shell experience so that the desktop works more similarly to Unity.

    Famously, the GNOME Shell got rid [] of minimize and maximize buttons completely, opting to keep only the close button.[1] To maximize you snap a window to the top of the screen. There is no minimize, but you can make any number of virtual workspaces and the equivalent of minimize is to send a window to a workspace that is not currently displayed. It's not necessarily a bad way to go, but it's really different from any other desktop environment ever.

    The new Ubuntu is going to have a dock, and minimize will make the window disappear the way it does now in Unity, and you will use the dock to re-open the window just as now in Unity.

    What about menus... will they be per-window or Mac OS X style? One screenshot (see it here []) shows them at the top of the window. Just like Unity.

    So the Ubuntu team is going to avoid the needless duplication of effort of making a complete desktop environment, but they will be customizing their GNOME Shell to work pretty much like Ubuntu works today.

    I guess I should have expected it but this was surprising news for me. Personally I am still using MATE on my own computers, but I'd rather use a Unity clone than native GNOME Shell.

    [1] Note that back in the GNOME 2.x days at Sun Microsystems, Sun paid for usability studies. For GNOME 3.x, a developer made the giant change of removing the minimize button by... thinking about it and talking to two other people on the GNOME 3.x development team. Who needs usability studies? Not the GNOME devs, apparently.

    Actual quote: "In the end, I think with GNOME 3 we need to emphasize design coherency and slickness - what is different and better, and that actually is more important than being 100% sure we perfectly meet everybody's workflow." Personally I think the emphasis on "coherency and slickness" vs. "workflow" was a mistake, which is why I'm still using MATE. I just want to get my work done with minimal distractions.

  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @03:16PM (#54935865) Homepage

    The buttons were moved from the right side of the window to the left side because Ubuntu was planning an amazing new feature called "windicators" ("window indicators") which were going to go on the right side of the window bar. These would show, for example, a progress bar for a background task in an app, online/offline indicator for server connection status, etc. My favorite idea: they were supposed to also provide convenient per-app volume control or mute. (PulseAudio does allow per-app volume controls but there isn't any window chrome for it; you have to go to the audio control panel, find the list of running audio apps, and control from there.) []

    Windicators... never happened. []

    This announcement, that the window buttons are going back to the right side, indicates to me that Ubuntu has officially given up on ever implementing "windicators".

    • by sad_ ( 7868 )

      ok, i get it, but most of these things could be accomplished by a status bar, i suppose?

  • How did this survey find 10,000 people who prefer window controls on the left?
    Or did they just find 10K users who are sick of Ubuntu radically changing their gui every other release?

  • Let the users decide which sides they want on their own!

  • Why not put them slightly to the right of the center?
  • I keep clicking cancel on window boxes when I use Ubuntu due to being familiar with Windows.

    This is a big turn off for alot of users hwo keep closing Windows dialog boxes

A debugged program is one for which you have not yet found the conditions that make it fail. -- Jerry Ogdin