Opinion: User testing reveals Ubuntu is still unfriendly. Why am I not surprised?
OMG! Ubuntu! is currently covering the latest user testing results for Ubuntu 11.10 which have been released by Canonical in an article called User Testing of Unity Reveals Surprising Results.
As a bit of background, every 3 months Canonical, which is the main company behind Ubuntu, gets a specific usergroup, one that uses Mac and Windows Operating Systems for at least 10 hours a week, and asks them to perform specific tasks in Ubuntu, such as opening Firefox. And once again, many of these users have found problems doing simple tasks in the "user-friendly" OS and once again Ubuntu fanatics are confused by the lack of good user experience. In fact, the writer of the article wonders why Canonical tests the changes on regular people instead of Linux users. And it's this immature thinking that really annoys me about Linux: Our OS is perfect and if you can't figure out how to use this it's your fault. And the biggest problem with this idea and Ubuntu is that Ubuntu has always heralded itself as "Linux for Human Beings" when the community is slowly morphing into a geeky one.
This whole idea that it's the user's fault is what's wrong with Ubuntu and Linux in general. It's really quite pathetic that instead of making a user friendly OS, Linux users insist on being an elite group of geeks who then wonder why there is no support for the OS and small marketshare.
And on these fansites, such as OMG! Ubuntu!, there are so many users who will belittle you for even suggesting that Ubuntu is not as user friendly or functional as a competitor. While I'm sure there is a large number of nice members, possibly outweighing the meanies, the minority continues to stick its head in the sand.
One of the few problems that OMG! reported on was with The Dash. This is like, say, Spotlight on steroids. Not only does it allow search but it uses a beautiful user interface that generally works a treat. Many users have complained about it but I find it nice. However, the users who were surveyed couldn't figure out how to find the dash. Why? Because Ubuntu 11.10 put the dash icon on the launcher. So now instead of there being a dedicated button for the launcher, one of the fundemental features of Ubuntu, it is hidden in the launcher. This decision was made because users had a hard time finding it previously. And how does Canonical fix it? Moving it into a harder to find place. One user even asked "What’s the difference between the dash and the launcher?". While users have complained about this before, the developers have "fixed" it will an ill-thought out change. And it makes it even harder.
Now, before I start plagerising OMG!, you can find the rest on their website and full details will be coming soon from Canonical from the tests.
But in conclusion, I really think the entire Linux, and specifically Ubuntu, has to grow out of it's current immature ways. If a user can't use it, then it's not the users fault. And patronising users is not going to make any fans. While Ubuntu has come a long way in UX over the years and Unity is a huge leap forward, it still has a very long way to go. A very, very long way.
I love OMG! Ubuntu!, but I'm always confused by their ignorance of the quality of competitors OS'. The same goes with a number of Ubuntu fans.
I'd like to say that I am a fan of the OS. I use it full time on my laptop. But with problems like this being swept under the rug, I don't know whether the future is bright. Sure, these are unofficial views, but Ubuntu is community driven. And if the community believes in a complex OS, then the community will get that.
Am I wrong? Am I right? Am I right and wrong? Please let me know in the comments. I'll be responding to you if I find time.