back to article Ubuntu UNITY is GNOME-MORE: 'One Linux' dream of phone, slab, desktop UI axed

Ubuntu's dream of a single Linux platform across all your devices has died, swiftly, following a single gunshot to the head. Holding the revolver: founder of Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth. Shuttleworth has shocked and surprised the open source community, even those who were critics of the Unity effort that was started six years …

Coat

Mir -> Wayland then?

I'm assuming that the adoption of Gnome as the default desktop for Ubuntu 18.04 will entail use of the wayland graphical server/compositor in place of Mir?

Perhaps a concentration of available developer effort on something that works well might be for the best.

Coat: mine won't have an Ubuntu phone in...

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Re: Mir -> Wayland then?

Can't see it happening any other way. There is absolutely no reason for them to spend money building Mir any more.

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Re: Mir -> Wayland then?

The whole point of Mir was that it was to be more focused on mobile than Wayland was, There's no point to Mir if Ubuntu Phone is being binned. They'll just use Wayland.

I can see the rational for focusing on the server and desktop markets, given how Android utterly dominates the global phone market. Ubuntu Server is doing well, so they will focus efforts on that and on IOT.

However, I will miss the Unity desktop on my PC. It's modern without being as radical as Gnome 3. I hope they will do something to improve the usability of Gnome when they switch to it.

Ubuntu started off as Debian with more polish. It looks like they're going back to their roots.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mir -> Wayland then?

What about all the users who rely on X and ssh to use remote sessions and who won't be able to do this with Wayland? (Please don't mention VNC. VNC is MUCH more network intensive, particularly for sessions which only need a terminal session.)

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Boffin

Re: Mir -> Wayland then?

I think its a good decision.

Gnome 3 is very slick these days, especially on wayland. Far better than the ghastly kludge that is KDE5.

I may even consider trying out 18.04 over Fedora, probably before running back to the warmth of DNF.

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Devil

Re: Mir -> Wayland then?

ACK on Wayland's serious shortcomings. Wayland and systemd - we don't need either one!

I'm glad that Unity has been shot dead. I always _hated_ it.

Ubu with Mate, though, works pretty nice. same with Mint/Mate (or cinnamon for that matter). Perhaps the Ubu folks should re-consider their use of gnome 3 next...

Let's just keep X11 working well and stick with this old yet well supported standard, and stop trying to migrate everyone off of "something that works" to "new, shiny because WE happen to FEEL".

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Re: Mir -> Wayland then?

I've always been dubious about Wayland's architecture. It all seems much too tightly-coupled and Linux-specific. And it was designed NOT to work over a network?

Then there's the scenario that Wayland depends on evdev, which depends on udev, which is developed as part of systemd, which wants to eat my operating system.

Xorg still supports basic keyboard and mouse drivers, so I'm currently able to set up systems which are free from udev.

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Re: Mir -> Wayland then?

My understanding is that Wayland wasn't "designed NOT to work over a network", but simply that Wayland was designed to handle local display only. All manner of remoting capabilities can be provided, if necessary, by an external component. Which doesn't currently exist and which nobody appears to be working on. (Other than VNC and the other loosely-coupled solutions wich already exist for remote display.)

I agree it's an annoyance, simply because when running Wayland and I'm ssh'd in to my filesever, I can't type "sudo gparted" or "sudo meld" and have the application show up on my local screen, something I've gotten used to doing while running Xorg because the X11 proxying Just Works™.

I'm not entirely sure that particular annoyance is a big enough complaint about Wayland to make it a bad thing, and in fact I'm quite sure it's a much smaller problem than a lot of the legacy features I had to unlearn when they were stolen by Gnome3/Shell or newer Nautilus versions. Then again, I'm also still running Xorg on my main systems because I use (older) Nvidia cards with the proprietary drivers, so it's not an issue I've had to face yet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mir -> Wayland then?

Try Nomachine NX (or FreeNX)

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Unity always seemed to me to be an interface designed to work on the now defunct "netbook" concept. Also, it's a good reason why Linux Mint came about.

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The original version of Unity was for netbooks. However, the current version is definitely not, even though they re-used the name. They just took the name and the look of the launcher and came up with a new interfaced designed for desktops. The main ideas that survives from the older Unity is having the launcher/dock on the left, as this fits modern form factor monitors better, and also using this to make the icons bigger and do double duty as dock and application switcher.

The current incarnation of Unity came about in reaction to the complete usability disaster that the early versions of Gnome 3 were. Ubuntu didn't want to continue to ship old versions of Gnome 2 like many other distros did, KDE was still in the throws of their own long running self-created version transition fiasco, and the other potential desktops had a look and feel from a decade before.

Hence, Ubuntu rummaged through the cupboards and cobbled up a new version of Unity. The early versions were rough, but Gnome 3 at the time was so bad that people widely predicted that Gnome was going to die off from lack of users. Gnome had to kill off support for Gnome 2 to get users to "upgrade" to 3.

Eventually, there was some change at the Gnome Foundation. They abandoned some of their more hallucinogenic inspired UI visions, borrowed ideas heavily from Unity, and came up with something that was at least somewhat usable.

Linux Mint came about as a reaction to Gnome 3, not as a reaction to Unity. The Linux Mint founders also thought the Gnome 3 developers were on drugs, and wanted an interface that looked more like Gnome 2. Originally it was just a set of extensions that re-skinned Gnome 3 radically to give it a different appearance and function (the end result looked nothing like Gnome 3).

However, changes to Gnome 3 kept breaking the Mint extensions, causing them to look elsewhere for a new desktop, hence what they currently have (which were also started in reaction to Gnome 3).

Linux Mint was based on Ubuntu for the same reason that a number of other distros are. Ubuntu offers a good compromise between solid but out of date Debian Stable and bleeding edge Debian Unstable.

The main reason that Unity was never used outside of Ubuntu was that Canonical never put the effort into separating the Ubuntu specific features from the generic features. If you pulled in Unity straight from Ubuntu, you also pulled in a lot of unrelated Ubuntu specific features and services. Nobody else wanted to do the work of maintaining a hard fork if Ubuntu weren't going to make that generic version the one they worked from, and Ubuntu weren't going to slow down and backtrack on their own development to make that possible. Hence, it wasn't practical to put Unity into Debian, and without there wasn't any practical way for the secondary distros based off Debian to offer it.

If Ubuntu had separated Unity better from Ubuntu specific features early on, then it may have been able to expand into the vacuum that the early versions of Gnome 3 left. Instead MATE (available on 2 dozen distros, including Ubuntu) filled that role.

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@anthonyhedgedus - Linux Mint and other 'buntu derivatives exist because someone believes that the base Ubuntu can be improved in their opinion. In some cases, like Mint, they have a very reasonable alternative to Ubuntu itself long before Unity was a out.

It should be noted that Gnome can be run on Ubuntu instead of Unity fairly easily. Also, I believer there is Ubuntu derivative with Gnome as the default desktop. I have a couple of different desktops on my Linux partitions. This ability means that switching default desktops is not very difficult for a Linux user.

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"Ubuntu offers a good compromise between solid but out of date Debian Stable and bleeding edge Debian Unstable."

There's Debian Testing of course.

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Pint

History and all

@thames

Thanks for a good outline of the history - I think that I remember a spat about notification libraries as being one of the reasons for the decision to build Unity as an alternative shell as well as concerns around basic usability.

In addition to Cinnamon, there are a couple of other UIs that provide an alternative to Gnome Shell. The Chinese distribution Deepin Linux and the modifications that Trisquel used to make to Gnome spring to mind. I think Trisquel is moving its UI away from Gnome now. Deepin provide source for their UI and Arch users have in the past succeeded in packaging the code.

It is worth mentioning that Canonical Design actually carried out and published the results of usability studies, albeit with basic tasks and subjects new to Ubuntu. There appears to be very little usability research published for gnome shell that I can find; some work was carried out by an intern one summer. If anyone has references, I'd love to see them.

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The original version of Unity was for netbooks. However, the current version is definitely not, even though they re-used the name.

That "original version" for netbooks actually had a different name: Ubuntu Netbook Remix.

It only came to be called "Unity" when it spread onto other platforms than netbooks.

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Linux

Unity always seemed to me to be a pile of widgets built for one and only purpose of making Mac fanboys go "SQUEE!". It had a scrollbar miniaturized AND auto-hiding. What's the point?

I switched to XUbuntu immediately after getting over attempts to figure out how that weird thing which replaced window panel in Unity can be actually useable.

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Correct on all points, except for the point on gnome 3 usability in the early days. Gnome 3 ended up being the desktop that made all other desktops feel clunky IMO. And Gnome 3 advanced just as quickly as Unity in the early days, and might have done somewhat faster had Shuttleworth not aimed his prow at unity instead of Mir for his mobile/desktop project. Besides, Unity was always ineptly named given its relationship to gnome.

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Re: History and all

@keithpeter - "I think that I remember a spat about notification libraries as being one of the reasons for the decision to build Unity as an alternative shell as well as concerns around basic usability."

The notifications library issue came about later, as part of Freedesktop.org discussions (an organisation which was dedicated to promoting standards and interoperability between Linux desktops). KDE and Unity (Ubuntu) worked on standards for notifications and associated widgets, and Ubuntu produced a library which followed that standard. Gnome meanwhile refused to take part and then said they wanted nothing to do with it because "they hadn't been consulted" (because they had refused to discuss it - some serious circular reasoning there).

The head of KDE was quite pissed off with attitude displayed by Gnome, and gave his summary of the situation here: http://aseigo.blogspot.ca/2011/03/collaborations-demise.html Long story short - KDE felt that Gnome had a major problem with NIH syndrome and didn't play well with others. I'll speculate that some of that attitude may have been sparked by jealousy over KDE seeming to be the ones who came up with most of the good ideas. The KDE and Unity teams on the other hand focused on technical issues, avoided politics, and seemed to get along well enough.

@keithpeter - "It is worth mentioning that Canonical Design actually carried out and published the results of usability studies, albeit with basic tasks and subjects new to Ubuntu."

Yes, although I can't recall the name of the project. They went out and hired some professional UI usability consultants who produced a report which was then published and available to be used by anyone. Nobody else in the Linux world was spending that sort of money on usability by the average sort of person (as opposed to the sort who reads El Reg).

The project was called Ayatana. There are various wikis and Launchpad projects associated with it, but I don't know where the actual study is.

@keithpeter - "There appears to be very little usability research published for gnome shell that I can find;"

The Gnome developers wanted nothing to do with airy-fairy designers and people like that. Their design process consisted of someone writing some C code and asking one of their friends if they liked it. Conflicts were resolved based on who was friends with who at Red Hat.

The end result shows it. Start up Unity and there are familiar looking icons right there for you to click on so you can get started. Start up Gnome 3 and you have an almost completely blank screen and no clue on what to do next. It takes two or three times as many mouse clicks to do basic tasks in Gnome 3 as it does in Unity.

The most common tasks in Unity have keyboard short cuts (about three dozen of them) and they have a nice cheat sheet to explain them that pops up if you hold down the flag key. Gnome 3 is just starting to get around to implementing more than a handful, and if you want to know what they are you'll need some good Google skills to find the Gnome wiki.

Hover the mouse over something on Unity, and a tool tip will pop up telling you what it is. With Gnome 3 - well let's just hope you have a good memory for obscure icons.

I could go on like this for quite a while. Unity works on the principle of giving you obvious things to do up front, and making the important stuff large enough for you to see what is going one, and having explanations right there. With Gnome 3 - let's hope you like microscopic grey on black icons because you're going to have to memorise a lot of them.

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@oneguycoding Thought I was alone in this echoing chamber of anti-Gnome3 sentiment.

For me, Gnome 3 sets the standard for all desktops - Mac, Windows and backwards-harking things like Cinnamon and Mate (Ok, I'll let Mate past as it's useful for stuff with old CPUs and teeny RAM).

Even in its first incarnation it was refreshingly new, with a clean intuitive interface. Now, it's even better. But if you like squillions of icons, folders and files slapped all over your hi-res desktop, it's not the interface for you. If, however, you want something that doesn't get in your way, or impose itself on your work, it's spot on.

I'm sitting waiting for the ready stream of downvotes, but I'll win.....

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@oneguycoding - "Correct on all points, except for the point on gnome 3 usability in the early days. Gnome 3 ended up being the desktop that made all other desktops feel clunky IMO."

An opinion you're entitled to, but definitely not a universally-held one. I definitely heard some of that sort of response, quoted loudly and often by the Cult of William Jon McCann, but there were plenty of the rest of us who were completely frustrated with the changes, and the sudden loss of features we'd spent over a decade relying on. I even once sent Jasper St. Pierre an email, thanking him profusely for extensions.gnome.org, and for being one of the only people within the ranks of the Gnome developers who appeared interested in "making Gnome Shell feel less like punishment".

I'm definitely not a luddite, and I'm fine with new things when they work well. (I think PulseAudio is great, for instance. I know it's been a problem for some people, but I remember what a nightmare Linux audio had always been, and every time I move VLC's audio from my speakers to my bluetooth headphones, or start a song playing in my fileserver's music server with the audio exported over the network to my desktop, it feels like living in the future. I've also had no real qualms with systemd, only my own teething troubles and needing to relearn some things, but I could and did. Plus, the direction they're heading with it, where there'll be an instance to manage user sessions, is exciting. $HOME/.config/autostart/ can't die fast enough for my taste.)

Early Gnome Shell broke a lot of things without offering anything in the way of alternative solutions, and appeared to do so glibly and without remorse. That was what really upset a lot of people. And it made us vindictive and petty, and we remain so to this day. You should've seen how viciously I mocked them when the Gnome 3.18 release notes included this item for Nautilus: "Context menus can now be activated on a touch screen using press and hold." They redesigned the entire interface around touch, with giant controls, minimal chrome, and no freakin' tooltips, but it took them 9 releases to figure out long-press menus?

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Facepalm

Unity helped Mint

Mint came about before I switched to Linux on my machines but I believe part of the reason it became successful were from people like myself switching at the time we did.

Windows 8 had come along with it's 'for tablets and phone' Metro interface on the desktop which I absolutely hated. If this was the way Windows was going with it's unified desktops, it was finally time to switch to Linux that had been in the back of my mind for ages.

Ubuntu was one of the first I tried out, being as it was the most popular, besides say Debian, and looked like the one to go for. At the time I switched the latest version had just been released and it had this new Unity thing which sent anything I searched for on the desktop to Amazon as a search too. I was horrified that this could happen on Linux. After a quick look around it wasn't clear that is could be disabled so threw Ubuntu out as a choice and went with the next ISO to try.

Mint worked, looked fresh and had an interface that was easy for Windows users to switch too. It didn't have that horrible Ubuntu feature that tried to monetise my local file searches, so I stayed with it.

Everyone has their own reasons for switching but I feel the reason Mint got popular was because of the Win 8.1 interface originally and not choosing Ubuntu because of the Unity thing. Good or bad timing depending on how you look at it.

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Finally!

About time people stopped thinking that this was some kinda nuxvana.

Different usecases, different needs. Even Microsoft are getting it finally (I think, I try to avoid windows these days since they butchered Windows Phone 8), Canonical should certainly be ahead of that curve.

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>Different usecases, different needs.

Absolutely love my Lubuntu LTS VM for occasional POSIX development I don't want to hack in with cygwin. GUI runs comfortably in 768 meg and boots in like 5 seconds and shuts down nearly instantly and there is almost always a PPA for that.

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Anonymous Coward

Glad someone in this world has the balls

to kill a project that that needs putting out of it's misery. I think many of us have worked on projects that everyone knows is dead in the water, but management are too scared to admit defeat, and continue on down the road of pretending everything is all right... YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE...

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Trollface

Re: Glad someone in this world has the balls

"management are too scared to admit defeat, and continue on down the road of pretending everything is all right"

Oops - don't say the 'M' word! Or the 'W' word, or the '10' number, or...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Glad someone in this world has the balls

Yep, 10 for sure.... It's the unlucky project number it seems.

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Just give me a Linux Desktop with the look and feel of OSX 10.6.8 (peak OSX) and I'll be a happy chappy.

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If you are going for the hipster vibe NeXTSTEP would give you more cred.

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I have configured Ubuntu running on an iMac I inherited to look like OSX http://www.noobslab.com/2016/04/macbuntu-1604-transformation-pack-for.html

Much better for me to be able to do all the Linux stuff and it fooled my Mac owning friends, so I guess it matches the experience pretty well.

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Coat

"NeXTSTEP would give you more cred."

My kids love that on CBBC, as well as many grown men (but for different reasons).

Coat? More like a dirty mac.

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Vic

Just give me a Linux Desktop with the look and feel of OSX 10.6.8 (peak OSX) and I'll be a happy chappy.

There used to be a KDE project called Baghira that allowed you to make your desktop look like various versions of OSX.

I don't know if it's still usable - I stopped using it many years ago.

Vic.

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Devil

A Linux desktop with the look and fell of OSX?

Fine, as long as I don't have to use it.

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Mushroom

Good

The entire idea of one GUI to rule them all is bonkers.

TVs, phones, eBook readers, mid to large tablets and stuff used mainly with keyboard / mouse all need different nuances to the GUI, different resolution/screen percentage per interactive element and text sizes as they are also used at different distances too.

Unity was doomed. As was Windows 8 (phone centric on desktop) or even Windows CE / Win Phone < 6, as that was a regular WIMP desktop, on a too small screen which is why it was resistive with a stylus. What idiot thought a Win9x desktop was suitable for 320 x 240, or the Win phone 6.5 Zune like interface suitable for a laptop with no touch. What moron thought changing menus or ribbon was a good idea.

Really Ubuntu needs to IGNORE Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac, go back to WIMP GUI basics and take a course at Norman Nieslen Group.

Ditch FLAT, avoid hyper realistic and rendered. Simple highlight & shadow, a bare hint of 3D like Win3.11, Win9x, NT3.5x 4.0, Win2000. No eye candy OR newspaper flat.

Mozilla take heed too!

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Re: Good

@Mage - Unity wasn't a "single" GUI. There were two different GUIs - one for desktop and one for mobile. They had common visual elements and certain shared features, but they were two GUIs. The system had both and was intended to bring up the appropriate GUI depending upon the mode it was being used in. This was not part of the current shipping desktop Ubuntu, which still uses Unity 7 and X.

Application developers who wanted the same app to work in both environments were expected to write two GUIs, one for desktop and one for mobile, and the system would show the appropriate one, again depending upon current mode. The GUI tool kit was designed to support this dual mode.

In other words, it was the complete opposite to the approach that Microsoft took with Windows 8.

I suspect that Apple will eventually do with the iPhone and Mac what Ubuntu attempted to do with Unity, and their fans will ooh! and aah! at the latest Apple "innovation".

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Re: Good

"Unity wasn't a "single" GUI. There were two different GUIs - one for desktop and one for mobile.

...

This was not part of the current shipping desktop Ubuntu, which still uses Unity 7 and X."

It sounds like you are saying that the shipping version did have one GUI, and the shipping version in Ubuntu is what people are generally aware of and referring to when they say "Unity."

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Re: Good

"The entire idea of one GUI to rule them all is bonkers."

That's it in a nutshell, and it's nice to see that Mr. Shuttleworth has the ability to recognize when an idea has failed and move on. When they tried putting telemetry-using adware into Ubuntu, users were livid, and the fact that it could be turned off completely with a single setting was not enough for them. Canonical responded, changing the default to "off" for the ad tie-in.

If only MS could show some signs of being able to learn. Users have complained far and wide about the MS data slurping and ads... slurping that cannot be turned off, and ads that have to be turned off, whack a mole style, with various settings that are sprinkled across the OS and not immediately recognizable as ad settings (and I'd bet on those settings going away eventually).

Users rejected the phone and PC convergence in Windows 8, but the product that was supposed to make up for the mistake has the same damned thing! They changed a couple of things from Windows 8.1 (making the start screen not take up the entire screen and eliminated the Charms), added a whole bunch of crap no one asked for (see above), and then has tried to force it down our throats whether we want it or not (and it's "not" for many of us).

The ship has sailed on the converged UI, even before Mr. Shuttleworth commendably gave up on it. It was a bad idea from the start, but maybe we had to try it to recognize this. Now we know for certain: Mobiles and PCs are too different to be well-served by the same UI. Rather than making things easier, the unified UI has proven to be another example of putting the cart before the horse, and that's particularly true in Microsoft's case: We're all expected to tolerate a reduction in UI quality (less intuitive, more drilling, slowed work flow, and butt-ugly to boot) in order to support Microsoft's ambition to create one UI to rule them all.

Wait, what? Wasn't the UI supposed to be provided by them to the user for the purposes of facilitating what the user wants to do with the PC or other device? When did it get to be about us, the users, working to support Microsoft?

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Re: Good

I still think a single device that can work as either phone or desktop is the future, but not using the same GUI as Unity tried to do (or as Android keeps failing to - yes, it's possible, no, nobody seems to like it much). Any GUI with a hope of succeeding to pull off that convergence in the future will have to reflect that various screen sizes / distances have radically different requirements for UI elements, and that people generally hate change and no newly emerging paradigm can hope to be instantly so much better than the old as to simply overcome that resistance. Change for the sake of change, backed by nothing but lofty ideals will always be rejected.

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Coat

Re: single device

IMO, such a single device needs to be just storage for all your data, MRU lists, application settings, customisations etc.

Then the challenge is purely two alternate sets of applications, using the same settings, same data and similar functionality on two alternate GUIs.

The dock can be simply interfaces, or a dumb connector and entirely optional if it uses a different GPU or a different CPU and GPU.

So in theory this can be done on an SD card, or using USB Storage mode on a phone/tablet to a laptop as a demo, using two sets of applications written (phone & laptop) to show it off. No need to ever sync bookmarks, email, data files.

The idea of one GUI to fit all, or one app to run everywhere misses the point that the gadget/phone/tablet/laptop etc is only differentiated from the factory shipped one by the user's data and settings!

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Re: Good

"The entire idea of one GUI to rule them all is bonkers."

Next the design of web pages please.

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Re: Good

It's not just the UI where convergence is wrong.

Innovation and divergence go hand in hand.

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Anonymous Coward

When prototypes go too far

"the new Samsung Galaxy S8 phone came with the ability to attach it to a screen and keyboard [and fan] and use it as a desktop computer" for idiots

See what I did there?

You do realize you can just attach any mouse and keyboard to any Android device and use it with them? All Sammy did was add a way to attach a bigger screen, then provide a method to cool it that goes back to the stone ages. Even a mini fire extinguisher in the product box would have been an innovation. This is; why bother, no one is going to configure and use a crap phone with a larger monitor because you can attach a keyboard and mouse to it, which you jolly well could before. What technical buffoonery!

ATH+++

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Re: When prototypes go too far

My ancient Sony Z1 takes mouse, keyboard, 1920x1080 HD HDMI screen.

Though you can't power it at the same time.

The fact is though, Android is rubbish on a big screen and for an alternative to netbook or laptop. Many apps can't use the SD card, hardly any support printing. Networked storage requires the file manager. Most apps don't suit a mouse.

So even if Android supported multi-window use better, the apps are designed for phone / tablet and often aren't that great.

So not only does a phone / medium tablet need a different GUI to a laptop or netbook, you need differently designed applications too. Microsoft's Universal idea can't work.

I can do ONE version of a java program that looks native and works OK on Linux, Windows XP or 7. But I have to design it differently for a set box (TV screen) or a phone/ tablet.

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Re: When prototypes go too far

My BlackBerry Z30 has HDMI, and becomes a computer when one pairs it with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. And the USB2 port is still free for charging! The problems with UI aren't quite so severe as you describe for Android, but it's still not that great.

I've never understood the drive for UI unification either. I've always felt that the proponents of such an approach (MS, Canonical, etc) missed the point of the word "user" in UI.

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Re: When prototypes go too far

Isn't it +++,ATH?

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Coat

Re: When prototypes go too far

"ATH+++"

Ha! I switched to my Miracle Modem and I'm safe from your attack!

Still it's very difficult to type quickly at 75 bd and the screen refresh takes a.....g.....e.....s at 1200bd

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Anonymous Coward

Re: When prototypes go too far

"All Sammy did was add a way to attach a bigger screen, then provide a method to cool ....."

"All Sammy did was rip of Microsoft's Continuum......"

TFTFY...

Granted MS don't give a shit about phones now, but you get the idea.

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Re: When prototypes go too far

I could do that with my old Sony Xperia SP with a MHL adapter.

MHL adapter plugged into the phone USB port, powered USB hub plugged into USB socket on MHL adapter, HDMI cable to a TV plugged into HDMI socket on MHL adapter, keyboard and mouse plugged into USB hub. You could leave it all on a desk, and just plug a single cable into the phone (I believe that Sony actually made a cradle to allow you to drop it into the cradle). And the phone charged at the same time!

Single app nature of Android was a bit of a problem, but with ConnectBot, I could use it to access remote systems as a terminal, and move files between other systems and the phone, and use local apps to process files on the phone.

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Re: When prototypes go too far

The Galaxy S8 drops in to a custom gui when docked - it actually looks quite natty so will be interesting to see how it feels in action

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Makes sense

Mark S must have realized what a long shot it was that Ubuntu / Unity could inroads against Android or iOS in the phone or tablet markets. Without that, what's the point of a unified interface?

I can't speak to Unity's technical underpinnings, but as a desktop user I didn't like it. I tried it, found it wanting, and went back to my preferred Mint / Xfce setup. Personal preference, to be sure; but if it had been popular then Canonical wouldn't have taken it out behind the shed...

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Re: Makes sense

It's not about popularity, the very concept isn't viable. There is a reason why iOS and MacOS are different and that the GUIs are different too. Apple has that right. If they do an iOS for a true Mac Air device, (keyboard and Wacom) rather than the half baked copy of the MS Surface, then it needs a new GUI *AND* suitable apps.

I have a Lenovo X201 Tablet. It works OK with Win7 or Linux Mint as a "netbook", but really only artistic work can make use of its wacom pen. It's a failure in Tablet mode, though that would be more usable with Win 8, but then the applications would still be poorly supported, they really need the keyboard and mouse. So it's a niche product.

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