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back to article Canonical flings out Ubuntu 12.10 – now with OPTIONAL Bezos suck

Canonical is bowed but undaunted after the bashing it took from Penguins over its recent integration of Amazon searches with its Linux desktop. The company has promised further integration between web and desktop as it today released Ubuntu 12.10. Asked by The Reg whether there would be more tie-ins like the one between its …

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WTF?

Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

When did using a computer turn from 'select an application, then choose recent files/new as applicable' to 'search for something to do something with, then click on it and hope that the default application is the one you wanted'?

Is it just me that uses a search on the desktop, oh, once every blue moon? That *doesn't* assume every function requires web access? That knows both what his applications are and where the data upon which they operate live?

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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

I think it's something called the "inter net"

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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

Is it just me . . . That knows both what his applications are and where the data upon which they operate live?

You, and me, and a million other people. However this is targeted at a mythical grandmother who probably also knows where her files are, but is assumed to not.

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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

My personal hate since Windows XP at least and much more to-the-fore on the newer Windows.

I actually went out of my way to disable search on Windows 7. I killed the service, replaced the start menu and DID NOT BOTHER to put search options back on. I find it very annoying to expect me to do the equivalent of "Google" my apps in order to find them, even on a menu designed to do nothing but run apps I have installed. Windows XP's treated documents the same and the "index your disks by default" was also something that was switched off in the first day (and people comment on just how much faster my machines are than their equivalents with their setup).

I actually did need to find a file after doing so. Once so far in, what, three months? And only because I'd put my old hard drive into the new machine and wanted a very ancient file that I knew was on there somewhere (but manually searching 500Gb for a tiny setup file was not productive). So I installed Agent Ransack (at the recommendation of the start menu replacement I was using) and it was fabulous. What Windows search should have been without the all-the-time indexing and the stupid dog, and with so many more options.

Within 1 minute, I had my file. And I haven't needed to use it since, and it had ZERO indexing to help it.

Strangely, on Linux, I actually LIKE slocate - which indexes the whole drive on a schedule - maybe because it does so unobtrusively and (properly) in the background and my Linux machines tend to be on 24/7 so an indexing operation at 4:30 in the morning isn't noticed. But on a desktop or laptop, I don't WANT things indexing, collecting usage patterns, trying to second-guess me, and making me "search" for things. I just don't have a disorganised data storage that makes it necessary. Hell, for years I found having empty "My Music", etc. folders horribly messy and inconvenient and things insist on constantly recreating the damn things.

So my desktop has no search options except Agent Ransack (which is actually linked to Classic Start Menu's, Start... Search... For Files and Folders option), my computer doesn't launch into a disk index because it hasn't done it in a week because I switch it off overnight, my start menu doesn't REQUIRE searches and suggestions because it's well organised, and my desktop has five icons on it. And you know what? I find absolutely everything quicker and easier than everyone else I know, going back further than anyone else has data stored, and my memory is absolutely, 100% ATROCIOUS so it's not like I just rely on my brain to do the work (the exact opposite - I use my computer to be a tool).

And when there is something that I literally haven't needed to use in nearly a decade, which I stored away because I knew it wouldn't be around for ever but would be incredibly useful should the need arise, and which I needed to dig from 500Gb of data, a proper, real, necessary search, for vague keywords over the whole of my data takes minutes for the absolute worst-case scenario.

I don't want to "Google" my files. I know where they are because I foldered them and named them properly and I have the ability to sort by type, name, folder, date modified etc. at the click of a button. I don't need to "Google" my programs, because they are all categorised, organised, and named so that I know what they do (WinDirStat? Serviio? Even Agent Ransack? Please, that's not a helpful product name and it would take forever to remember what the damn thing is called, go through the list of software that *almost* match that name and pick the real one).

Can other people work with my system? Hundreds of kids and staff do every day, because I built the computer images and I organised the desktop and instead of the 400+ icon MESS that was inconsistent across desktops, all the machines now have five-six categories (the sixth is hidden unless you're a teacher!) of software, which have subcategories and relevant icons and identical Start Menu entries (for those who like the keyboard - I just redirect Desktop and Start Menu to be the same, read-only, set of icons). From 5-65, everyone uses it and no-one complains they can't find things. And when a new piece of software goes in, they guess where to go for it 99.9% of the time.

Stop turning my computer into a website. This applies to everything from server-apps (Really? I need to run an IIS instance and load up IE so you can show me the state of the RAID array?) to search bars to fancy desktop effects (Metro etc.). It didn't work for Active Desktop (which I switched off, again, within the first day and never enabled again).

My computer is a personal tool. Start messing with how it works so that idiots can use it, and all the professionals will run a mile.

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@Lee Dowling

Rapturous applause!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

"Stop turning my computer into a website" - this should be on tomorrow's QotW article.

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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

Yes. It happened quite a while ago. First via apps like Quicksilver and Gnome Do, then later in with search being built into Windows (best thing about Win7 imo) and then Unity and Gnome Shell. No idea what MacOS is up to having not used it for a few years, but I expect it has something similar. Search is the default interface for everything these days. Makes a lot of sense to me. Did you also not notice that mainstream companies advertise domains less and search terms more? "Search 'blah product' online" is much more common than "Type blah-dash-product-dot-co-dot-uk into your browser."

Can't remember the last time I navigated a menu then clicked on an icon to start a programme. "Win/Super Key --> type a few letters --> hit enter" is how apps and files, launch these days. Every app I've used to do this kind of thing has been intelligent enough to get what I want for quite some time, at least by the second attempt. And yes, I still know what all my apps are and where they live and same for files - but I no longer actually need to. If I need my Mum to launch print manager over the phone, I don't have to guess my way through a menu, I can just say "Press Windows, type 'Print man' and press enter"

Search works better for me. Other things work better for other people, but isn't it nice to have the choice?

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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

@johnnytruant:

Choice is good, but I'd like to include the choice to turn it off and return to what works for me.

Did I misunderstand your method of working, or have you put yourself in a position where you have to remember the names - or at least part of the names - of everything you want to do? That seems a retrograde step, somehow. To me, navigation by what something does to a short list provides a much more intuitive method.

But as you say, each to their own.

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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

In Linux at least you have that choice. Install Mint and run MATE or Cinnamon, uninstall Zeitgeist or whatever. It's your call. Pretty sure you can turn off indexing in WinX as well.

So let's say I want to launch a video editing app, something I do reasonably often but not often enough I have a dock shortcut (although frankly I've stopped making those because I never use them). My choice for video editing is KDenlive, and I use it fairly regularly. I can click a menu-opening button, navigate through one, maybe two levels of menu and click a thing (just checked, four clicks). Or, I can press a button, type 'K' and hit enter. I think the first time I launched it I had to type KDen, but Gnome has learned what I mean now and I don't have lots of apps whose names start with K.

In either case I have to know what the app is called, or at least recognise it's icon. Although in the second case I could just type "video editor" and still get the same result.

However, I can also type "video editor", hit tab and launch a google or wikipedia search for that term. Sure, I probably already have a browser open, but I might not. Same number of steps though, but it's all through one interface. My computer is not a web page, but web pages represent a lot of what I do with my computer and being able to hook into them painlessly is nice. It's not essential, at all, but neither is a lot of stuff we like to do.

A slightly better example is Stellarium, which I use a lot. That's Win-S-Enter now, but it can also be "planetarium" (it shows it's link alone after 'plane' on my machine). But where would I look for that in a category? Science? Graphics? The (n)ever-useful "Accessories" category? Then there are apps which create their own app categories. Thanks "Limbo", you really needed to make a top-level menu entry? Nested, categorical menus need sorting by hand. Search-based, learning interfaces don't - they sort and manage themselves based on use levels.

Just to be clear I use Gnome Shell, not Unity. I am a huge fan of how slick, easy and seamless it is compared to the old 2.x/Win95 UI style. I'm not in any way saying search-based UIs are better for everyone, but they are better for some people. They do very well in "normal" user testing, which is why they're appearing more and more - techies seem to like them less though. I have speculated about the reasons for this in the past on this very website.

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Vic
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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

> I think the first time I launched it I had to type KDen

I have trouble educating users that it's called "Firefox", rather than "The orange thing"...

Running programs by name is the domain of CLI jocks - and that's my preferred way to run stuff I know well. But it stinks from a discoverability perspective.

How exactly is a novice user supposed to know that his video editor is called "kdenlive", his music player is called "amarok", or his PDF viewer is called "acrobat"?

Vic.

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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

>How exactly is a novice user supposed to know that his video editor is called "kdenlive", his music player is >called "amarok", or his PDF viewer is called "acrobat"?

The point is exactly that that they don't need to know this any more. Typing "music player" or "video editor" or "PDF reader*" does the job, and in all cases on my machine I don't even need to get past the first four characters, and that's just the first time too. Typing "internet" or "web" finds Firefox. If you wanted to edit firefox.desktop to include the search string "the orange thing" then that would work too, but that does sort of defeat the object.

Also you can still browse the menu in the old style, by section, and the menu interface itself is way bigger and easier to use than the old-style start menus, so I would argue that discoverability is up. Not only are there multiple complementary - not contradictory - routes to find things, but the old menu systems have (imo) been improved as well. I hear a lot of techies complaining about big icons, but the fact is big icons and simple interfaces are easy to use. Personally, I like big icons, but that's just me.

* actually 'PDF Reader' doesn't work in Gnome. But in that case a user would be clicking on downloaded a pdf file or, even more likely, wouldn't know even they were looking at a pdf 'cos it had opened in-browser. "Document viewer" works.

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Vic
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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

> Typing "music player" or "video editor" or "PDF reader*" does the job

So what happens when they type "the orange thing"?

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

@johnnytruant - Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

Discove...what ?! Are you sure you're not working in marketing or PR for a new web startup ?

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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

@Vic - funnily enough, typing "the" gets you Firefox as the first result. The icon is orange. If you continue typing "the internet" Firefox is still the first result. It's almost like someone planned a system for - and tested on - low-technical-ability users. :)

@AC - 'discoverability' is a term well known in user interface design. You're welcome to think of a better one, just make sure you email the entire field with whatever you come up with and let us all know how clever you are. Maybe even put your name on, eh?

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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

But it stinks from a discoverability perspective.

This is not a game.

How exactly is a novice user supposed to know that his video editor is called "kdenlive", his music player is called "amarok", or his PDF viewer is called "acrobat"?

You tell him.

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Re: Has there been a paradigm shift and nobody told me?

You have a very egocentric way to view the world now, don't you? Just because nobody at your school complains to you about the choices you've made, doesn't automatically make them happy!

With the exponential increase of information on the Internet today - and the similarly growing reliance of people on it to work / live - Search is quickly becoming a necessity. Using the Internet mostly means "Googling" these days. People tend to use their computers like they are "the Internet" - for many there is no distinction - so it is only logical that Search functionality rises to the surface.

There's also another reason that Search is useful, besides finding stuff that you don't remember where you put: time efficiency. You don't necessarily have to NOT know where you put something to search for it, you can search for it because it is QUICKER to do so. Quicker than opening a file manager and navigating to it. For example, on Unity I hit the Windows key, type "wish" and it shows me "Wish you were here" from my Pink Floyd collection. One click and I'm enjoying my music.

Search is of course no panacea, but it CAN be very useful. As long as it doesn't hog resources. Canonical with Ubuntu and Unity seem to have found a nice way to do it.

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FAIL

“People want to be online and we want to make sure their online and offline works together well”

Many words used, but nothing said.

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Re: “People want to be online and we want to make sure their online and offline works together well”

Loaded last version of Ubuntu and it refuses to work with wireless.

Can't be arsed to find out why not - I expect an O/S with wireless capability to actually work.

(I am a standard 'not a 'kin clue how this fits together' user)

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Flame

Could be worse -

“We will definitely look to extend that metaphor.”

If people are going to put the english language through a woodchipper, they should allow society to do the same to them.

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Well, you haters can hate

but I'm excited by the release.

After all who wouldn't be?

Now that 12.10 is done, we can expect the next iteration of Linux Mint any time now!

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Re: Well, you haters can hate

You Sir are a facetious sh*t and I upvote you for it!

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Linux

Re: Well, you haters can hate

Is that the Mint whose Software Centre progress bar gets stuck at 16% and tells you that the application is not installed when it actually is?

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Linux

Re: Well, you haters can hate

You can use other software managers, like synaptic, or even the Ubuntu Software Centre itself.

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Re: Well, you haters can hate

A lot of peeps switched to Mint after Ubuntu's last update totally screwed up the ease of use. At least we now know it was to break users gently into this latest release, that not many actually want either.

Appreciate Ubuntu's work over the years. Just think they are following the commercial buzzword crowd now.

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Re: Well, you haters can hate

Excellent - I'd forgotten that. Cinnamon is well worth it and far superior - in my humble opinion, of course - to anything that Ubuntu has offered in the last few iterations.

Now if only they've got rid of the 'most recent files' on the file open menu...

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Unhappy

Re: Well, you haters can hate

I'd love to use Mint. It's the only distro that has a default desktop look so nice that I'd actually keep it rather than customising my own.

Trouble is, every release I've tried has installed beautifully and booted fine the first time. But the second boot has always hung at the X login, rendering it unusable.

Lucky I've got the sense to take full dumps before trying...

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Naked yoga

> People want to be online and we want to make sure their online and offline works together well

and a big part of that "working well" is having absolute control over who can see what. Just like practising the limber arts in your own home is best done with the curtains drawn, so there's little to be gained (for the user) by conducting one's business "online" or in full view of all and sundry.

Being online, or having internet access is an enabler, not a benefit in itself (the benefit is what the internet allows us to connect to). Just like motorways allow us to get where we want to go, faster and more conveniently. However that doesn't mean we want to use them all the time, or live in the middle of the carriageway.

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Unhappy

Re: Naked yoga

"Being online... is an enabler, not a benefit in itself.

Of course it's a benefit, but just not for you. As is becoming all to apparent the internet is being subverted for the benefit of the ad pushers.

Here's a quote from Rachel Thomas – VP of Government Affairs for the Direct Marketing Association:

"Marketing fuels the world. It is as American as apple pie and delivers relevant advertising to consumers about products they will be interested at a time they are interested. DNT should permit it as one of the most important values of civil society."

See: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/10/ad-industrys-assault-do-not-track-continues-w3c-amsterdam-meeting.

I do think that she forgot to whom she was talking and where. She was not addressing an audience in the USA and she was in Amsterdam. Shoving "The American way" into peoples' faces may not be wise, a lot of folk are already sick of the dominance of American vested interests as the antics of the RIAA and the MPAA have shown.

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Anonymous Coward

how much is Shuttleworth paying you for the publicity

Many (better) Linux distros out there and not a word on this "technology website", yet anything around Umbongo and it gets several articles

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Re: how much is Shuttleworth paying you for the publicity

That's because Ubuntu is the largest, and the best well known. There may well be lots of other 'better' distro's, but they don't have the presence of Ubuntu, nor the rich backer. Hence, Ubuntu is more newsworthy.

Of course, if any of those 'better' distro would care to email El Reg with their latest release information, and what exciting things are happening with their distro, perhaps they would get more publicity. Or, perhaps they are just not very newsworthy.

I'm an Ubuntu user, more than happy with it. So's my father. Ubuntu works, looks good, and does everything that the vast majority of users need. Just like other disto's of course, but it's just a bit more polished.

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Linux

Re: how much is Shuttleworth paying you for the publicity

"Many (better) Linux distros out there and not a word on this "technology website", yet anything around Umbongo and it gets several articles"

Distro Watch ...

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Re: how much is Shuttleworth paying you for the publicity

Re: Distro Watch

Exactly, and Umbongo is not the "most used" by that very simple method of judging usage. Mageia, what I use, has been above Canonical's offering for some time now

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Big Brother

Re: how much is Shuttleworth paying you for the publicity

DistroWatch rankings are interesting and all, but...

It proves NOTHING at all about how popular a distribution is or how many systems are using it. All it does is rank how many people are visiting a distribution's page on DistroWatch.

What the rankings show is that in the last month (for example) the distribution that received the most page views was Mint. NOT downloads, NOT installs, but page VIEWS at DistroWatch and only at DistroWatch.

All it shows is a ranking of user INTEREST in a particular distribution. If a new distribution is released called "Sexytime Penguins" that promises an interactive sexual "experience" on login, the ranking of "Sexytime Penguins" at DistroWatch would shoot to the top, not because it is being heavily installed (although that may be true) but because there is heavy interest in learning more about the distro.

It is also biased in a small way towards fringe distributions. For example, I have no need or interest in visiting the Ubuntu, Mint or Fedora pages because I already know about them. I did however visit the Mageia page because I was not very familiar with it and I wanted to learn more.

I contributed to the Mageia ranking for this month, but I didn't download or install it and have no interest in doing so. I didn't visit the Ubuntu or Mint pages, didn't contribute to their rankings and yet I manage 5 computers in my little familial support network that run flavours of Ubuntu and Mint.

So, this ranking of distro interest among visitors to a single website which provides information about the many Linux distributions, is useful for measuring installs how?

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Anonymous Coward

Looks like a media centre

Yuck, looks like an over-designed interface from a TV 'smart box' or media player.

I'll stick with my icons of my choice on a desktop with a taskbar and Start button, thanks very much - you know, the interface that has been proven to work for decades.

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Boffin

Re: Looks like a media centre

OK,

Install stock Ubuntu 12.04

sudo apt-get install icewm icewm-themes thunar suckless-tools

then add a few bits to ~/.icewm/startup and ~/.icewm/menu

Download and install the humanity icons and Ambiance theme from box-look.org

Tweak up some keyboard shortcuts in ~/.icewm/keyboard (although carefully chosen menu file entries will provide keyboard operable selection)

Enjoy an 'effing fast' traditional desktop.

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Seems they went a dumb way about it

Searches that include the results from web sites have been around since the days of Sherlock in MacOS 9. I'm quite certain that Ubuntu could have chucked a bunch of Sherlock / Mycroft plugins into Ubuntu, made them configurable, installed some by default which were affiliate links and marked as such. Nobody would have batted an eyelid. Don't like the default plugins? Just disable them or install non affiliate versions. Big deal.

However I think the issue has been simmering for some time and the latest incident just brought it to the boil. Unity's launcher wastes 30% of the screen suggesting apps that users *might* like but never asked to see in the first place. It's just dumb UI design. All those suggestions should be relegated to their own store tab leaving the rest of the launcher clean. Clear delineation like this would go a long way to making Ubuntu's commercialization of the product far more palatable.

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Nice to know I'm a, "challenge."

The company has promised further integration between web and desktop

“People want to be online and we want to make sure their online and offline works together well,” George said.

“The challenge for us is we do our development in the open,”

Totally unbelievable. They believe that doing their development in the open is a challenge. A challenge in what way? That people get to see what they're planning and voice an opinion? If that is their definition of challenge, then I personally define it as customer feedback ... feedback that they should be listening to, not classifying as a challenge.

I don't appreciate George's opinion of what people want. I thought that the vocal rejection of the Amazon crap was enough to disabuse him of that bent view point.

I don't want my desktop and the web to be integrated. When I want the web, I will go to the web. As I noted to the blog when all this flared up; some people are living on the end of mobile dongles or teathered to phones with restricted data bundles; if Unity starts chewing in to that allowance with no restrain, bringing back graphics and other content; and who knows, maybe in future the icons will be small video thumbnails ... then in the course of simply using the machine, you're eating in to your allowance.

I have to admit to hating the way that Unity works anyway; it takes me more clicks and now sometimes typing as well, to launch the application that I want to run. It was great on a netbook (when it was netbook remix) with the restricted screen size and the low number of applications I was using; but on a power desktop it just isn't making sense to me.

I search for things on such an infrequent basis that the overhead of the indexing is bloat that I just turn off.

For crying out loud Canonical ... smell the coffee, will you? An off switch isn't good enough. It is time to admit defeat and use an "opt-in" approach.

Oh ... no ... I forgot ... that's too much of a, "challenge." Long live Lubuntu-desktop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice to know I'm a, "challenge."

Oh, and I forgot ... people like me who are on the end of a crappy internet connection. Thanks for making my experience slower and more painful.

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Customer ?

Surely you're only a customer if you paid for the product ?

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So how does it work, then?

I'm reassured that I can choose not to see on-line search results, but there is nothing to tell me that the search terms are not sent out anyway.

The user experience issue has been resolved, but what about the privacy issue?

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Linux

Are we sure 12.10 is released? The Ubuntu website says it is still in Beta!

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Linux

Final release is today...

But the day ain't over yet!

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Linux

Re: Final release is today...

http://releases.ubuntu.com/quantal/

Still says "Beta 2" there.

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The Ubuntu website says it is still in Beta!

The website is :)

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Focus follows mouse?

Is this supported yet?

Last time I tried Unity, the global menus were absolutely hostile to focus-follows-mouse of any form. This is an absolute deal-breaker for me; I need this to work.

Given that I would have to ditch Unity and install an alternative desktop UI anyway, I have switched to Debian; but I do miss the general just-workingness of Ubuntu...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Focus follows mouse?

LINUX MINT

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Re: Focus follows mouse?

Kubuntu?

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Things that aren't metaphors

1) Adding web search results to a desktop

2) Other things that aren't metaphors. You get the idea.

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Facepalm

Re: Things that aren't metaphors

He should have used "idiom" and made it easy for us to crack on about them extending the idiot... failing that, the dreaded "paradigm" would have been appropriate.

Metaphor is just wrong.

How many ways does there need to be to say "way of thinking"? Especially for people who are not thinking?

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Diminishing returns

OS design has reached critical mass, now 90% of effort is going into fixing stuff that ain't broke. It gets classed as innovation, but really it is just titting with the fripperies and blindly hoping the change will become temporarily popular. Who knew Simon Cowell was a software developer??

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