Part 3 - 3/4
Working and Tasks

Working and Tasks

Next, let’s jump into the tasks and apps of Gnome and Ubuntu. I also did not expect what I experienced, I was surprised and sometimes disappointed. Sure, the 17.10 release is not a main release, but I don’t think that most of the results will change to the 18.04 LTS release.

And of course there are a lot of working pieces, but we know, I have to focus on what’s not working well.


I like the files manager in Gnome. It is simple, clean and just works. There will be space for improvements, for now it’s good. But I could not get Google Drive integration to work… like never… Maybe because of the VM. Preview (description in the Help/Guide) via space bar is not working. Also I could not find out what the arrows on the top, beside the folders do – not the back/forward buttons. Only (confusing) design? And where are the tabs?


That was a little weird. I like the look of the “Photos” app, but I don’t like the way it organizes my pictures. Maybe just because it is more logical to have albums sorted by folders, when at the same time you have a tab named “Photos” where the pictures are shown by date. Also, it is a little weird, that it just shows every picture from everywhere. Here it shows my Google Photos pictures (still can’t reach Drive via Files). But the biggest fault is when you open a photo from “Files”.
This is a nice and clean viewer, but why is there no connection to the photo app? Even the click on “open with” just gives me Firefox (what?) and “Image Magick” – which should be hidden to every ordinary user out there… As a user I wanna open my photos, want to show it as a gallery and it should be easy and fast to make basic changes – like in every other operating system. And the photos app is able to do all of that – but not to view my picture fast from the files explorer. But Shotwell can. And is also there. So my question is: What??
Who will ever find a way through this?


Rhythmbox is quite useful and good for having an overview of your music, but it is a little confusing, when closing the app and the music still runs in the background. Then there is no quick way closing the music in the info panel. And: Should it maybe named “Music”? And yes, there it is – “Music” – beside Rhythmbox in Gnome. I understand why there are two of them – because the Gnome Music player is not good enough for now. But good enough to confuse people what to use. Decide!


“Videos” or “Totem” would not play a video or music in the VirtualBox. By the way, “Totem” is not a nice name. Includes the German word “Tot” which means death, if you should wonder why. Also, when you have to kill the app (I had to do this a few times in the VM) it shows not the app name “Video”, it shows “Totem”. Maybe it should be a kind of media player, named after what it is playing. Music or video, but on a same base like Totem.


Seems to work fine, also synchronizing with Google. More configuration would be nice in the future. Scrolling with the mouse wheel in months overview is a little weird. Maybe combine the “manage your calendar” and the “settings” (burger menu) button? Especially because in the “manage your calendar” button there are the calendar settings, which should be in the “settings” menu…


Quite good app, also synchronized with Google Contacts. Hung up on me when it tried to show the map of the location. More than once. Could not include a note to a contact, but syncs notes at least from Google. Not sure if everything works with the sync… And: The app is not present in Ubuntu. Why? Maybe it is too useful… Maybe they don’t want to make business users’ lives easier.


The “Help” app in Gnome is quite useful, hope they will keep it up to date and also adopt it nice for the new Ubuntu. And: Please get rid of the ugly lifebelt symbol, it’s also irritating and the common symbol is a (blue) question mark. Like in Ubuntu.

Software & Ubuntu Software

It was a good choice to switch to the Gnome Software Center, but it still needs a lot of work. Like finding a nicer way to show apps in detail, making a better overview/categories at start, how to show pictures in a better way and separate user and power-user apps – ordinary users don’t need to install “Gnome Packages” or a different terminal app. Also at this time – why are you hiding the “Education” category on the start screen? But there are a lot of good working app stores to learn from (also Linux based). After that, it would be useful filling the store with good/helpful descriptions and pictures.


Everything I need, it is just kind of ugly and the Ubuntu version has a bad overview somehow… the contrast between the buttons may be too low. I recommend a whole updated redesign.


Nice little app, needs a reordering for better usability. And why not bringing that app to Ubuntu? People love to have a look at the temperature while having to work on the PC… but why having a description of the weather in the information center? That’s neither common nor a fast way to do it. Also: Why is that app not following the design rules? It’s looking good, but does not fit to the other system.


Will maybe be useful when bringing improvements in the overview, the way it sorts and separates the documents (like Drive, documents folder, other folders and kind of document…)
AND: Why having one app to find and show documents, another app to show documents in the file explorer and then having LibreOffice, to show and work with it… better spend the work in other areas for now.


Could not try it, but the idea is good. 


That is a useful app, works for me the way it is for now. Would need a little redesign in a while.


I’m not sure how useful this app is, because most of us use Google Maps and the ability to find more than just streets – like shops and restaurants and businesses – especially because of the extra information you get. But: I find myself just scrolling through streets sometimes.

Log In / Sign in

Well, when there is only one user, why have to click or to hit a key to enter my password? Just wasting time here. And: Where is the guest login?

Lock Screen

Yes, we have to think this over. Pictures as a background are okay – but is it a desktop, or a touchscreen system? It is just irritating to not see the input field for the password, I spend time to push the lock screen away to enter my password, just to find out, that this is not necessary. I would recommend to design a new lock screen, because I also like the idea of showing stuff like clock, weather and notifications, if the user wants to.


Also weird: I can set up the PC with a worse than bad password like “ok”, but then I can’t change it to a weak password like “weak” afterwards. Warning is good, restriction is maybe not so good.


Also here we can find inconsistency: Updates via the “Software Update” app, or the “Software Center”? And they block each other from time to time.


Again more than one. They are maybe handy, but “Terminal”, “UXTerm” and “XTerm” is too much, even for pros. I think the “Terminal” is more than enough for most of us.


I really like the new settings. A wonderful new way, more logical, but also I found some things to think about. First of all: Why are you hating the user? Why should the damned owner of the PC be in “Details”? I had to search for that. It’s just inconsistent, but at the same time things are just right. Like “Devices” – there are the devices. Perfect! But it would be nice to have the same way with “User”, with sub sections like “Users”, “Region & Language”, “Universal Access”, “Online Accounts” and so on. To give it a logical and user oriented feeling. I don’t have a complete solution for now, but I would love to work on that as well. But for the start let’s think about personal settings, which the user can change the way he wants or prefers, and global/system settings, he has or wants to do to the system, like connections, sound or devices.


I have to admit that Thunderbird is still my favorite mail client on every operating system. And I know this is no Gnome app, but I need to say: There is no progress going on for a long time. And we all know there is still work to do. What work? What about finally letting people change the order of the mail addresses. Or have simple, but better input field for signatures – like you know from WordPress – to not have to use external HTML editors. Maybe improve the design a little, give it a more modern look and feel. Better compatibility with different accounts. AND: Finally build in native sync for Google Calendar & Contacts – as well as other providers. I think I would find more things to do, but this is not about my beloved Thunderbird… just wondering how they handle a program with more than 10 million active users… maybe it is time for a new leader of the open source mail clients.

Apps & Programs Conclusion

That’s it for now, there are much more things going on, but this should be also enough to break down, what I mean with “inconsistency”. Gnome is close to be a continuous experience, but when you have a close look, it is still far away. I apologize if I am wrong somewhere, please tell me.

Also this list should be updated every 6 months to stay accurate. But maybe we find a better way till then.

But I have to say this task took not only a lot of time, but also cost a lot of nerves. It was often disappointing and irritating. Sometimes I thought something like “no wonder why…”.

So the main task here should be to provide a nice, logical way to handle certain tasks. Not to have a handful of choices thrown on the floor. Pro users will handle everything their way and install everything needed. But the ordinary user is left alone in the dark sometimes.

Some of the mentioned points are of course personal opinions.