I can’t say I’m fond of the Ubuntu move to a HUD (Head-Up Display), yet.
I’m still getting used to the “Dash home” search box that becomes only intermittently available (e.g. disappears over time after switching a laptop to different external monitors while running VMware Workstation in full screen mode). What happens when you lose your HUD…?
On really large monitors, if your HUD decides to appear, it mockingly sits stuck to the upper left corner forcing you to constantly be running your focus back-and-forth across the screen(s). Menus on dual or quad 24″ screens used to be so convenient but the HUD is often far away from where you naturally look.
Another serious concern is that you have to constantly use an input field to find data. You have the problem of typing accidentally and exposing info, being fooled by a bogus HUD, having the HUD log monitored or mined…I haven’t seen anyone discussing the privacy implications of the input.
That being said, Ubuntu has announced the general availability of 12.04 LTS. It’s the logical progression from 10.04 LTS for servers that have no graphical interface but the desktop path may be less clear.
I have seen the direction Ubuntu is taking discussed as though someone is removing our wheels and telling us to fly before they have fully attached the wings. Who is really driving this thing? And then Gnome3 classic on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS isn’t classic so switching back isn’t a full option.
Meanwhile LinuxMint continues to give an experience more in-line with what people are used to, without proselyting a UI. Ever wonder why DuckDuckGo has suddenly become so popular? It’s the default search engine on LinuxMint so maybe, just maybe, it reflects popularity of an OS with the classic menus?
It seems like a good time to wait and see how Ubuntu polishes their story and the interface. It might not be long before we say “there goes the HUD”. Note, there’s at least one other good reason to wait: after upgrading to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, VMware Workstation 8.0.2 needs a vmware802fixlinux320.tar.gz patch to run again.
On a slightly related note, my impression of 12.04 has shifted after Shuttleworth’s comments on HUD. At first I was caught up in the heat of the moment from a new LTS release and new features…so I whipped up a little pangolin bling based on the 12.04 wallpapers. Here’s my initial remix of one of the (un)official selections:
Then, after a month or so of fighting with the intermittent Dash Home errors and developing workarounds for the new UI, I found myself thinking about a very different pangolin picture.