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Thread: Ubuntu's Unity Still Crashes A Lot, Usability Problems

  1. #11
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    I have been using ubuntu 11.04 since beta 1 and its been nothing but problems with this damned Unity interface, from crashes to bugs, i already knew it was going to be a problem for new users who upgrade or do an install but keep their /home folder intact when upon login there was no Unity interface just the mouse cursor and the desktop wallpaper, turns out Unity doesnt like you upgrading or doing an install with your previous saved/custom settings and so doesnt play nice and just drops you into Ubuntu with no panels etc.
    So i am not surprised with this result, 11.04 is a beta test for 12.04 and possibly 11.10 you should only use it because of the switch to the new interface and you will need to be familiar with it and to force Unity on us they plan to do away with gnome 2 which isnt such a loss as gnome itself has already done away with it but the fact there will be no fall back interface if Unity dies on you, by default in 11.04 Unity 2D is not installed so you dont even have that if Unity3D dies or doesnt work.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by d2kx View Post
    Yeah, that's nonsense. This news clearly shows Canonical has no idea how to improve usability. They rather shouldn't do these kind of tests, so nobody learns about the usability problems unexperienced users run into, so nobody can complain. It works out for gnome-panel, gnome-shell and KDE after all.
    That they performed the study is extremely useful -- as a reference point for future versions of Ubuntu. That they didn't publish it prior to making a decision about Gnome 2 or Unity for Natty? This greatly diminishes the value of the study. Particularly because many of the usability issues that are genuine defects will have been fixed by the time we need to make the same decision again for Oneiric.

    I have the sneaking suspicion that this study was done and reported internally within Canonical in the days prior to the open discussion on the lists about Unity vs Gnome2 for Natty, but they deliberately withheld it from the public because they knew that the results would damn Unity in the eyes of the public and make it very difficult to proceed with Unity in Natty.

    Of course, I could be wrong, and maybe they literally just finished the study mere days after the closing of the discussion on the lists. This would just be a matter of unfortunate timing. I can understand the desire to conduct a UX study using relatively stable software beneath (to get useful results, you know), but if you conduct it so late in the ballgame that its worth is greatly diminished, then why do it?

    Unless those crashers are 100% reproducible on all systems and completely obvious, chances are good that they won't be fixed before release. Two or three weeks is not a long time in software engineering. Not to mention that quite a lot of enhancement requests could plausibly be filed in response to the data gathered from the study, and without those enhancements Unity would seem quite "rough", and you see where I'm going with this.


    Quote Originally Posted by d2kx View Post
    Yeah, I completely agree. I've tried Ubuntu 5.04 Alpha 2 six years ago and it crashed, so I really can't recommend Ubuntu to any of my friends.
    But what does the sarcasm add to the table? I agree that we all need to just keep trying Unity over and over, even if it breaks, because we're enthusiasts and the distros rely upon us to provide our honest feedback. But if that honest feedback is negative, it shouldn't be interpreted as childish or invalid. Sometimes software really does suck, and you have to face it down and decide if it's a good idea to release it like that. I would say not, but apparently Canonical thinks otherwise.

  3. #13
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    Good thing Gnome 3 did zero usability studies.

  4. #14
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    Fantastic :-)

    Canonical must be just about the only Linux distribution that has the guts to carry out these tests and publish the results (even if they are bad). :-)

    I do not believe that Unity is ready for the general public, yet. But I am sure that, thanks to the results of this study, Unity is the right way to go. Developers need this kind of feedback.

    I would like to see the same happen with KDE, GNOME, Enlightenment, etc ...

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by babai View Post
    I have been following unity development for a while now, and with an nvidia card crashes has almost disappeared in the last few unity updates. I guess most people use mac osx to compare usability in other interfaces, let me tell when I first tried mac (it was just leopard) it took a lot of time to find my applications menu.

    I think with some more bug squashing unity can be made crash free, and some changes to the applications lens it *can* rock.
    Well, a few things:

    Look at the specifications for the test system that Canonical used for this study. This is a typical Lenovo business laptop with fairly high-quality components, but the IGP is an Intel "HD Graphics". This tells me it's in the G45 family most probably, since the i3-370M is not a Sandy Bridge CPU. So this Intel IGP is in its prime right now: Intel has had years to work on the G45 generation's drivers; Intel IGPs continue to be immensely popular; and it has all the hardware features you could want for supporting something like Unity. It's a much more advanced chip than the 965G generation that preceded it, and it's been on the market much longer than the Sandy Bridge chips that, if they had used those, I'd have understood the crashiness to be a driver problem this early in the SNB game.

    But, I've been running Fedora 15 Alpha using Gnome 3.0 and Gnome-Shell on my Lenovo ThinkPad X61T for close to two weeks now. The only things that have crashed are the Humble Indie Bundle games, and PulseAudio. Gnome-Shell has never crashed, and the PC has been on and in-use 8 to 20 hours per day. I'm using the open source graphics drivers on the 2.6.38 kernel, just like Ubuntu Natty would do. What's the difference? No Unity, no Compiz -- Gnome-Shell and Mutter instead.

    The performance is also fantastic, even with the X61T's aging 965GM chipset. Transitioning from a maximized browser window to a gnome-shell window present (tap the Super / Windows key, similar to Unity) is smooth as silk. Now on my Radeon HD5970, the same transition does lag a bit sometimes, but I chalk that up to performance issues in r600g yet to be resolved :P

    But on both chipsets, with Unity, I can get the same rate of crashes, drops in FPS (noticeable lag when hovering over icons), and lag when viewing the "Present" view of open windows, as reported in the usability study. So I'm basically one more person able to confirm the problems with Unity, and I've tested on both r600g and i965 classic.

    And don't think the binary drivers are any better, either. ATI's support for Unity in Catalyst is still pretty rough around the edges; they made a release specifically to get it minimally working on Unity, but they admitted that there are still defects and crashers present. I've tried the same Catalyst driver on Fedora 15, and while still being woefully proprietary, it does indeed work well with Mutter and Gnome-Shell.

    I can't speak to the NVidia binary driver as I don't own an Nvidia card.... but if the Nvidia binary driver is the only driver that works well with Unity, that's still a really big problem. The percentage of people who (a) have an Nvidia card and (b) know how to get the proprietary drivers working is probably about 20 - 30% of all Ubuntu desktop users, conservatively. Don't believe me? Look at the past Phoronix Linux Graphics Surveys, where some 80% of users just run whatever driver is installed by default in their distro. What's that for Nvidia cards? Nouveau, am I right? How well does Nouveau cope with Unity? Fermi cards?

    All that aside, I 100% agree with you that Unity can rock. Any software can be trivially said to have the potential to be excellent at some point in the future, because no software is ever barred from the possibility of future enhancement, refactoring, etc.

    And indeed, Unity is already doing things that would predispose it to rock in the near future. But will it be near enough for Natty? I still have my reservations!

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by admiraljkb View Post
    I suspect Xubuntu and Lubuntu are the same way. The main experimentation and breakage seems to have been around Ubuntu. Due to strange/improperly unexplained decisions starting with 10.04's UI, I've been behind Kubuntu instead for a fully featured Desktop Environment as it finally stabilised with KDE 4.5.

    Kubuntu 11.04 is FAST and snappy. Largely thanks to the 2.6.38 kernel combined with KDE 4.6.2 which has fixed most of the issues I've had with KDE 4.x in the past. One nice thing about Linux - if you don't like the Desktop Environment switch. If the distro has reached the "bad" tipping point, switch. Lot more flexibility than Mac or Windows where for better or worse you're pretty stuck with whatever comes out that year. Some years are good (Win7, XP) some years bad (Vista, WinME).

    Ubuntu Gnome all the way to 10.10 was making nice/steady improvements overall (except for the decision around the buttons moving to the left in 10.04). I understand having to do something (with Gnome 3 being the next KDE4 release), but I would have preferred if they had switched to KDE and applied the same level of effort to helping KDE fix issues and add features with the now stable KDE. Particularly since Ubuntu is going the QT route anyway.
    I'm kinda grateful for Canonical's hands-off approach w.r.t. KDE because, If I look at Unity, that kind of useability and stability help in the KDE enironment I can do without.

    I have no doubt that they're actually trying to bake a better desktop with Unity but both the stability issues and the whole "moving-target" feel of every iteration of Ubuntu's desktop GUI make the whole thing less than practical in my opinion.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeanPaul145 View Post
    I'm kinda grateful for Canonical's hands-off approach w.r.t. KDE because, If I look at Unity, that kind of useability and stability help in the KDE enironment I can do without.

    I have no doubt that they're actually trying to bake a better desktop with Unity but both the stability issues and the whole "moving-target" feel of every iteration of Ubuntu's desktop GUI make the whole thing less than practical in my opinion.
    Good point. Kubuntu for better or worse is like the forgotten stepchild sometimes. This might be one of the better times to be forgotten.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily have a problem with the experimentation. I think it's great really and applaud it. Some experiments work, some fail miserably but you don't know until you try. I do think that some of the more interesting experimentation (like Unity) should be done in a separate branch though and call it "UniBuntu"! At least until Unity stabilizes/matures sufficiently. Otherwise it ruins the brand, potentially irreparably if the first thing people see is "crash-o-matic" from the current Unity. We already had someone comment that Ubuntu 5.04 crashed a lot on them 6 years ago, so they don't use it now. Totally different beast in between 5.04 and 10.04, but that first impressions was STUCK at 5.04 (unless it was sarcasm... but I've heard comments like that for real too). That's just human nature.

    I do applaud Canonical for releasing some pretty damning data of their new UI. I think it'll get fixed by 11.10 for those still running the default Ubuntu rather than a variant, provided Shuttleworth doesn't catch sight of a new "squirrel" and dash off after it instead. Unfortunately, the "bog standard" Ubuntu 11.04 looks like something to avoid for now. No big deal to me, it's open source, these things happen, but expectations on Canonical now seem to revolve around "stop jacking around with things" and be a little more conservative.

  8. #18
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    Default About what I'd expect (and so should everyone else)

    Unity is an attempt to shift the desktop paradigm in exactly the same way as KDE 4x, Gnome 3, OS X and, yes, Vista. And for a <1.0 release (as of today), it is in roughly the same shape. These are early days. Remember the disastrous first release of KDE 4? The back-peddling claim that it wasn't meant to be a public release? Well, it has matured nicely (but I still don't like it). The same could be said of OS X (but I still don't like it) and Vista. Umm, wait, Vista is no more. Windows 7 is pretty good, though no paradigm shift, more of an XP patch.

    I find Unity to be disturbingly similar to the first release of OS X so, perhaps not a paradigm shift, but more of a regression. That's ok, they've tried something else which is at least a move away from the same old, same old Gnome. It's also in far better shape than Gnome 3, which at this point won't even run on any of my hardware. I'd call that a non-starter. And Unity will run in VirtualBox. Come on you Gnome slacktards, get with the program. I sure as f*ck am not going to waste my time installing your frankenstein monster to bare metal if it can't even be safely virtualized first.

    Unity is actually not too terrible, and easy enough to figure out where stuff is by poking around a bit. I'd like it better if it were easier to customize. It is definitely geared towards a touch screen, and that means tablet. Fair enough. I don't have a tablet, nor do I want one. For development use, I'll stick with my desktop pc running Gnome 2 on FC14, thank you very much.

    I'd love to play around with Gnome 3. It looks interesting. Someone wake me up when they finally get it to work.

  9. #19
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    Wow, I can't believe how nasty some of you are towards something that is still in beta. You guys need to relax and simply report what is not working without the whole, "it's crap", "it's garbage", etc...

    I have been using 11.04 for a few weeks now on my Aspire 1690 laptop and for the most part I am liking Unity. Have I encountered any problems, you bet but I am not going to put the whole Unity and Canonical down because of it. It's beta therefore there is going to be errors, crashes, etc. so don't get your panties in a bunch. When 11.04 is officially released and the crashes plus other problems still exist then you have ground to bash Unity but until then just relax and report the problems.

    As for Canonical taking average computer users and having them spend an hour testing Unity, everyone must understand that the average computer user are afraid of computers and thus are afraid of change. How do I know this, well I help a friend with his computer repair business where the customer base is mostly home users with some business users. Everyday I shake my head at how fearful most computer users who come in are of their machine and how a lot of them do not even know the basic names of things. Example would be asking someone to point to the desktop of their operating system. First question out of our customers mouth is "what's the desktop". It really takes a lot of inner strength to stop me from taking their computers away from them and telling them that they can not have it back until they take a basic computer course.

    Most clients who also come in wanting a new system refuse to take any other operating system than XP...why?...because they are used to XP and are too afraid of everything else. If it don't look like XP, they don't want it and are intimidated by it so when putting a Windows user in front of a Linux machine, you are guaranteed to get the results that Canonical got from their study.

  10. #20
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    Wow, I can't believe how nasty some of you are towards something that is still in beta.
    It's going to be released as production-ready software very soon.

    When 11.04 is officially released and the crashes plus other problems still exist then you have ground to bash Unity
    So... wait two weeks?

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