Those pesky buttons


Many of you have been asking for some correspondence regarding the button position in the window manager.

Here it is.

At Ubuntu we have a golden opportunity not only to make our OS as good as the competition but to make it better. The button position discussion and analysis started with:

– Why do Mac OS and Windows have the buttons where they do?

– What was the functional reason behind the Mac OS choice (or the Windows position for that matter)?

– Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right?

– Why, when we read left to right is the most destructive action first?

– Are we smoking crack to think that the learning curve for getting used to a new position is ever going to be worth any real or perceived benefit of new positions?

As part of a major theme update it felt appropriate to ask these questions.

After the internal debate and analysis (which went something like the picture below) we decided to put this version in the theme and to use it. I have had it running on my machine with the buttons in this order since before the Portland sprint (first week of February?) and I am quite used to it.

Is it better or worse?

It is quite hard to tell. The theme has been in the alpha since Friday.  Now that you have had a chance to use it what do you think?

Personally, I would have the max and min on the left and close on the right.

About the author


Ivanka Majic works in technology. She was Head of Design for Ubuntu, service managed Digital Marketplace through to beta, was acting director of digital for the Labour Party. She lives and works in Brighton where she works with the council’s digital first team, does a bit of teaching at Sussex University, and works with her husband on projects like and the BRAVOs. She has also started a podcast with her friend Michael which you can listen to at


  • Let’s start by saying the lucid artwork is great work and I’m sure users will love it.

    Having buttons on the left side is a nice change and users will probably get used to it without issue, swapping the order of 2 actions on the 3 is a mistake in my opinion though. It breaks muscle memory built over years by our users (and probably those coming from some other os-es). It also breaks consistency with any other themes Ubuntu ships or older Ubuntu versions in a subtle way which will lead people to do errors (the change is too subtle to trigger the user attention about having to think about the action before clicking). Is the change in order really worth the users frustration it will create?

  • I think you just solved the whole thing in one question: “Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right?”

    What happens if you go up to the file menu, overshoot by a few PX and click? You kill the app. The reason the window controls are miles away from the menu is to stop accidents… At least, that’s my guess.

    I end up moving the window quite frequently when I’m going for a menu. I might be a clutz but I doubt I’m the only one.

    OS9 and OSX get away with this sort of stuff because the menu is stuck to the top of the screen, potentially miles away from the window controls.

    I would say: you’re dealing with an LTS here. If we can’t have new kernels, new intel drivers, etc, why on earth are you pushing such a non-Windows (still 90% of desktops in enterprise) method. Stick with what people know on the default.

    This might be an idea for the LTS+1 but seriously… You’ve had your fun. Put the buttons back now please 😉

  • The only thing which is annoying is that Chromium us his own window-decoration and that leads to an inconsistence between normal windows and chromium

  • I would have expected every slashdot weenie to be saying stuff about Fitz law, but I haven’t seen them doing that. What’s the deal with slashdot weenies these days?

  • I’m using Lucid with the new standard theme since a couple of days. I’m trying hard to get used to the new layout. But to be frank, i can’t. When i’m going to “manage” a window i find myself mousing to the top right corner of a window. I’m so accustomed to that, that I can’t get rid of this habbit.

    But not only the position is unfamiliar, it’s the order of the buttons. For years we are used to…

    * Ubuntu Karmic: Min, Max, Close
    * Windows: Min, Max, Close
    * Mac OS X: Close, Min, Max

    …and now?

    * Ubuntu Lucid: Max, Min, Close

    You changed not only the position, you changed the order too! And you choosed a order NO OTHER OS uses. To be frank, it doesn’t feel right. In my eyes it’s a really bad decision. Users will have to get used to the new position and new order. Until yet there’s no easy GUI to take back those changes. Choosing a different theme, doesn’t move the buttons to their “usual” position.

    Playing with gconf-keys is not really a thing which i would recommend to someone who is new with Linux.

  • I don’t want to argue for this buttons being on one or the other side of the window, I’m not a designer, and by no means a usability expert. And after using the new way a couple of hours I got used to it pretty easily.
    But the only question for me is: Is a LTS the correct release for such an intrusive change? – I don’t think so. For me a LTS Version of ubuntu is a version where we ship the best features of all former (non-LTS) versions, and no experiments, moving this buttons is an experiment IMO.

  • >> Are we smoking crack to think that the learning curve or getting used to a new position is ever going to be worth any real or perceived benefit of new positions?

    That’s what I think. I fail to see what are the benefits in having the button on the left, and then don’t really want to be bothered by this change.

    On OSX, you have the button on the left, but the menu bar is on the top of the screen. So, if the window is maximized, and the user want to enter the file menu, the Fitt’s law helps him to not accidentaly click on the close button. That’s not true in the GNOME enviroment. If the windows is not maximized, the distance between the close button the the menu bar also avoids unwanted click on the close button. That’s not true in the GNOME environment.

    I think it’s better to have the close button far from the menu bar entries.

    Also, be kind and think of all of us that are using daily multiple environments: GNOME on Ubuntu, GNOME on fedora, Windows, KDE. This change will not help us. And even for those that are mainly using OsX and GNOME, the fact the the button order is not the same will not help.

  • Personally, I would have the max and min on the left and close on the right.

    Love the idea. I will give it a try.

    The major bug for me in these new themes is the fact that windows titles are not centred.
    Is there any reason for it ?

  • “Personally, I would have the max and min on the left and close on the right.”
    I think is a good idea

  • First of all, you have not argued the _reason_ for changing the position. You did an Obama, you changed. For the sake of change.

    Let’s argue what a good reason for a rather radical change could be. Radical yes, since most people have used Windows for about 20 years with minimize/maximize where they’ve always been. If you change, you better have a good reason for it.

    To me, a good reason for change, almost the only good reason, is because you have a vision – how you want desktop applications to function in the future. I have such a vision – Google succeeded rather well with Chrome – the vision is to integrate the application bar (chrome) with the menu and have one solid non-client area with [Big enough area for dragging, application name, menu, toolbar(s), min/max/close buttons].
    I know this is not gonna happen any time soon in Gnome because of a very old legacy where (key) people believe there is a necessity to separate the application from the window manager. Technically it has to do with the fact that Metacity != GTK, and that GTK should have to care about Window positioning etc. It’s really just a technicality. A tough one yes, but still.
    If you ask any random person if they believe the window bar/title (and min/max buttons) belongs to the window or not, they say yes. A Windows developer will definitely say yes. However, a GTK developer will say no. Let’s end this once and for all.

    Personally I believe that cluttering the left side of the non-client application area simple because “we” read left-to-right (or bacause Mac OSX is like that) is a bad idea. This will leave a lot of space in the right, used for absolutely nothing.

    Please consider thinking of a future where the window manager is integrated with GTK somehow. This _is_ already how modern Mac OSX and Windows versions have done it. If that can be a reality, then the positioning of individual parts of the chrome (menu, min/max buttons etc) will come naturally.

    And about the new theme…
    The team behind theming has always done a great job. Almost every release of Ubuntu has looked better than the previous, and I’m amazed by how simplicity can look so good. I even rather quickly started to like the colorless icons of 9.10.
    However, the theme in Lucid is the worst I have ever seen. It’s dark (which is a radical change), it looks extremely cheap, like it’s made by a 14 year old in an afternoon. There’s a “light” alternative theme (Radiance), yes, which is even uglier although not dark. The metacity theme is even worse, it’s absolutely grotesque.
    In light of the great history of Ubuntu theming, I won’t stop hoping this is a joke. Please continue with the light gray, brown/orange shade Human/Clearlooks theme and modernize it, fresh it up just a little bit, perhaps even turn shades to blue or green or yellow or whatever.
    Are you trying to make Gnome look like the some dark theme in KDE?

  • If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I see no advantage in moving the button on the left, therefor they should remain on the right for consistency. I’m not saying it’s better on the right, I’m also a MacOS user and I’m fine with them on the left, but what would happen if MacOS or Windows changed the position of the buttons on the titlebar. A huge shitstorm. Because it is not necessary. Moreover, with buttons on the left and the window title on the left it just looks crowded, I think this [1] review covered it well


  • I’m an open minded and pragmatic kind of guy. I like to think that the design decisions coming out of Canonical HQ aren’t written on the back of a beermat or pulled out of thin air but taken after careful consideration and forethought for the impact this will have on our current and future user community.

    I suspect that in some peoples eyes that will make me a ‘fanboy’, and to some degree that may be true. I have a degree of trust in the Ubuntu developers to do the ‘right’ thing. Maybe that’s misplaced, I don’t know.

    Personally I pretty much didn’t care where the buttons are because I didn’t think I used them much. I thought I used the keyboard more than the mouse, using shortcuts like CTRL+Q and ALT+F4 to achieve what those buttons do.

    However in the last week or so I’ve noticed on the 3 machines I have running Lucid I have been doing a little dance with my mouse. I throw the mouse up towards the top right and then realising my mistake divert and throw across to the top left. I have to careful to examine the buttons before I click because it doesn’t immediately spring to mind which one is ‘right’. This surprised and alarmed me a bit because I really thought I was a keyboard nerd, but clearly not. My muscle memory is clearly strong. Although given I use Windows all day at work this is hardly surprising.

    I’ve kept the buttons in the top left because I’m testing Lucid so it makes sense for me to use it as delivered. In fact I tend to keep the theme and background pretty much as-is for the entire lifecycle. This makes me one of those oddballs who don’t mind brown and for that matter aubergine.

    But, I’m just one guy, and I’m not target audience because I’m already ‘converted’. I’d be interested to see what the great unwashed (i.e. not the Ubuntu community) think about this change. The one thing I would ask is that you guys/gals get on top of the bugs filed against these themes. They’re starting to build up.

  • I tried messing with the gconf key to move the buttons on Karmic, I ended up settling on minimise, maximise:close. I would be interested in trying minimise,close,maximise in the middle of the title bar. The bottom line is I don’t care very much. My kids are using Lucid and they have not yet commented on the move of the buttons. They just don’t care.

  • I’ve been using the buttons on the left since the switch, I have got used to them *but* I still disagree with the change.

    Pretty much what everyone else has said is true, the buttons are too close to the menus, the order is wrong, it looks like an OSX rip-off, it breaks muscle memory, it breaks themes, it doesn’t work in the Gnome appearance dialog, it’s happened on an LTS release and it appears to be a change just for the sake of change.

    That said the real reason I think this is a bad idea is that although we testers got used to the change pretty quick, we aren’t normal computer users… after the update my girlfriend used the computer. I got called in because she couldn’t figure out how to close the window. She is *not* computer illiterate and has used Ubuntu for some years, but when faced with the missing buttons her first instinct is not to find where they have gone, it’s that the system is broken. Remember also that many (most?) Ubuntu users will be using Windows daily at work, or dual booting, having to continually readjust is a pain.

    All of these reasons are of course minor, but I can’t think of a single reason *for* the change that counteracts those reasons. If a button change has to be made (which I don’t really think it does), then at least keep the close button on the right, at least it’s then consistent with Openoffice, Firefox tabs, Chrome etc. and it keeps a destructive action away from the commonly used menus.

    Also, if there needs to be another reason against it, the new button position won’t work well with Gnome Shell, imagine how many times you’d accidentally hit the Activities overview!!

  • I haven’t had a chance to try it out, but the idea seems right.

    Everyone has closed a window at least once or twice, while aiming for maximize. By putting min/max on the other side of close buttons, solves this, ’cause you are aiming on the right side *only* if you wanna close the window. Which IMO solves the issue of miss-clicking, better than making different sizes per min/max/close.

    Only thing that I can’t figure out, that while I’ve missclicked close on windows and gnome/kde etc, I don’t remember doing so in OS X. Maybe you are forced to try harder to hit those circles? Weird.

  • Personally, I use the close button the most, so having it at the extreme (far left, or far right) makes sense as it’s easier to get to. It’s definitely the right decision to move the window controls over to the left hand side (where the application menus are), and I’m speaking as someone who doesn’t like the OSX user experience in general.

  • I am totally with Oli. Where it not for the global menu on the Mac, people would kill windows by accident all the time. I still do it, when I use a Mac on very rare occasions (which are getting rarer, fortunately).

    I am pretty sure Canonical is trying to move to the global menu as well (maybe in Lucid +1 or +2). Why on earth people think that setup is usable has always escaped me. I think that would be an even bigger mistake.

    As it stands, the best thing about this theme change IMO is that it’s extremely easy to change it back.

  • Ivanka, your post is very much welcome in that it has broken the official silence and will perhaps start a dialogue, but since the new branding was introduced, what lots of people, especially those on the periphery of design and development discourse, rather than the center, have been expecting to hear is a concrete statement of reasoning regarding the current button positioning in the new themes, as opposed to “some correspondence”.

    This post, by providing an outline of your thought process in the internal UX&D team meetings, provides the latter, but still not the former. You list the questions you asked, the whiteboard shot outlines the examples you studied; that’s all good, but there’s no trace of the rationale for the actual change. It’s indeed hard to tell if the change is “better or worse”, and for people to present any useful feedback, without knowing what it is that you intended to achieve with it. And this situation brings about all sorts of reactionary accusations of the design being a “ripoff”, being “unoriginal”, being “by Mac users for Mac users”, etc. and causes a lot of negative buzz.

    If this is just an experiment (which, given that Lucid is still pre-Beta, is very much expectable) without much of a strong rationale, at least at this point, then we should make that known too, so that the placement is not going to be received as if it were set in stone.

    We can really do better at communicating the intentions behind radical changes to users and development branch testers, and I’m willing to help with that.

  • I agree with you, having the close button somewhere else than top left is good. I’ve already misclicked and closed a window two times the last five days. Please, get the close button away from the top left. Either by moving all the buttons to the old regular position, or just have minimize maximize buttons top left while close button remains top right.(after all its better to misclick and minimize than misclick and close).

    Still think its better with all the buttons on the right side though + It makes the theme look that much better, balanced.

  • “Is it better or worse?”

    Perhaps neither, maybe it’s about the same.
    If it happens to be slightly better to move these around, is it that much better for the potential userbase that it’s worth the pain that some of the current userbase seems to have with the change?

    In Thunderbird 3.0, one of the things we got a lot of (negative) feedback on was moving the message actions to the message header instead of the toolbar. I still think it’s worth the pain for the current Thunderbird 2 userbase that updates to version 3, as it allowed us to make only the relevant actions show up on message selection (if you select multiple message, only the two relevant actions show up etc.).

    That said, don’t be afraid to shake things around a bit, that’s one of the biggest strengths of both Ubuntu and GNOME.

  • Distance

    Having the buttons on the left could be of advantage because it shortens the distance between them and the menu, as well as the main menu in the panel (or Activities corner for GNOME-Shell). Ideally one would look at pointer travel paths to determine if this can speed things up.

    Short distance from the menu could be a disadvantage, if users end up over-shooting the menu and click window buttons by accident.

    Reading Direction

    Just thinking about reading direction, I’d say the title should lead. Object before action, what you are dealing with before what you do with it. However, I guess the way people access the screen will not be that linear.


    Minimize next to Close seems to make more sense, because you get a succession from More over Less to Nothing (or the other direction). A plausible explanation for the order on MS Windows could be Minimize used more often than Maximize (I don’t know if this is the case).

    Reasons to have Close on either all on the left or right: It’s the most important of the trio and having it on the edge means you could make good use of the screen edge with a maximized window (Fitt’s law, sorry). It’s like an exit, you leave the window, so having it on the edge seems fitting.

  • The position is not that big of a deal, the order is.

    Also, agreed with comments saying LTS might not be the best release to test this on. A new theme is a new theme, no more, no less (love them btw), but changing the position and order of the buttons is a big UI change and it has obviously raised questions regarding usability already.

  • Oh, by the way. You got rid of the menu button. So you can’t set a window to “Allways on Top”, “Allways on visible workspace”… This is a regression.

  • I was a bit skeptical at first, but I think I’ve gotten used to it, and learned quite quickly. I like how it gives some weight to the upper left-hand corner of the screen (the program menu is there as well).
    Nice work. 🙂

  • Christoph:

    If you have more than one mouse button, you can continue to use these functions. Right-click on the titlebar to get the menu (incidentally, this is the first time I noticed that those options were available via the app’s “favicon”).

  • The benefit of having the window buttons as they have always been out weighs the perceived advantage the new placement could bring to user. Using OSX as a case study doesn’t not take into consideration that gnome and OSX do things quite different when it comes to desktop management. for me the windows manager is a case of if it aint broken, dont fit it. The current state of things create problems of inconsistency on the Ubuntu desktop with some applications (google chrome) having their own window managers. What about other metacity theme? Perhaps the best thing to do is leave the window button as default but create a GUI config tool which would allow users to change their window button placement anyway they want.

  • Huh?..all you have to do is right click the title bar to access these functions..oh and for me, I prefer my buttons to the right and it’s a simple hack to move them 🙂

  • > Why do Mac OS and Windows have the buttons where they do?

    Well what are the answers to these questions then. I need a lot more convincing to not just think this is arbitrary. Just ignoring peoples’ concerns about Fitt’s law is not helping.

    Note that it’s far less of an issue for Mac OS because it has a global menu bar.

  • I cannot begin to tell you how massively misguided this idea is.

    First, it reduces your chances for adoption by Windows users who will find it annoying. See Bug #1. Windows users will be hampered switching between desktops using dual boot setups. It’s annoys loyal users that are your marketing base that have to overcome years if not decades of muscle memory. The close for tabs in the GTK toolkit are on the right making the UI paradigm inconsistent. The potential for regression is massive, especially in a LTS release. You’ve most likely broken a number of themes.

    For Ubuntu to be successful, it needs to grow. It needs to poach Windows users. This will not further the cause. If you were serious about this, you should have offered a UI choice during installation. One for compatibility with existing installations, another for the “New Coke”. You need to phase in a change this fundamental. Let the market decide. If your setup is superior, people will choose it and it will dominate.

    UI design requires you to get outside the bubble and think about the big picture. Maybe it is a superior design. But good ideas done incorrectly are worst than the status quo.

  • I don’t mind buttons position. I didn’t even notice that “minimize” and “maximize” are swapped. To be honest I NEVER use these buttons. For minimizing I click on bottom panel or Docky, and for maximizing I press F11.
    Only buttons I use are “close” and “always on top” (added by myself).

  • When you login to Ubuntu (or any other distro) with Langauge = Hebrew, the buttons are on the left. This is because Hebrew is written from right to left, and in fact this is how it is in Windows too. I always found it very strange, after all I’m not writing the buttons. When I switch between speaking Hebrew and English I don’t change the placement of furnitures in the room… why should these buttons change? Many Hebrew speakers are used to login to their computer with Langauge = English just to avoid this strange thing (writing in the two languages is fully supported either way, it’s just a matter of the UI language).

    Well, now it seems that the default in Ubuntu is going to be buttons on the left. So I can now login with Language = Hebrew and have them on the right, just as I’m used to… Are you confused? I am.

  • @didier, @pipedream: However, right-clicking is a non-discoverable feature for most users, and a right-click menu should never be the only way to access any function. (This is covered in the HIG.)

  • Whatever you do, please leave the close button in one of the corners. Doesn’t matter to me if the other buttons are next to it or on the other side. Somehow it feels more natural if the maximize button is on the outside and the minimize is on the inside, but that doesn’t matter much either.

  • – Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right?

    Putting so many little widgets close together is only going to make efficiency worse. It also looks unbalanced if everything is cluttered on the left side (including the window title).

    – Why, when we read left to right is the most destructive action first?

    Because it’s also by far the most common and important action. It’s destructiveness is often overrated. With well designed software you lose a few seconds at most, which is not actually more than you lose to undo an accidental minimise or maximise action. Having it at a predictable location in one of the corners makes a lot of sense. Notice that Aero even makes it significantly larger than the other buttons, because it is so frequently used. De-emphasizing the close button is entirely the wrong idea.

    Honestly, the layout you chose for Lucid is the first window button layout I have ever seen that doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.

    I hardly ever use maximise or minimise, which means that you basically just moved the one important button away from the corner (and also made it smaller in the process), while adding some mostly useless buttons as padding.

    Visually, the biggest issue is the red close button. It doesn’t look particularly good in the first place, but having this somewhere in the middle of the window title is just absurd.

    Moving the close button to the opposite corner of the other buttons seems much more reasonable, especially if otherwise that corner would just stay empty anyway.

    We need bigger fundamental changes to our application layouts, and GNOME 3 presents the best opportunity for this in a long time. Right now strikes me as one of the worst possible times to change the button location, when we might have big chances coming again so soon. This is also something that should not be done in isolation, otherwise it will just be hell with third party applications like Chrome, which rely on a certain consistency from Linux distributions.

    And please don’t make the buttons so awfully small. I mostly use OSX these days, and this is one area where Apple hasn’t done so well.

  • My personal preference = to-right

    More importantly, I don’t feel my personal preferences should be default on anything. To think so would be selfish. But one of the reasons I love ubuntu and OSS so much is because they have usually given me the option to change things to my personal preference regardless of what the default was.

    So, put the icons wherever you like. But PLEASE give us an easy to find(not gconf) check box somewhere to change this setting to our liking.

  • it seems like you’re acting as if it’s linux day one, that there’s no history and no cost of changing. but there are already millions of people using ubuntu and i don’t feel like the reasons to make the change are good enough to disturb all those users and their muscle memory.

    i’m still using 9.10 at this point, but recently i’ve worked on a colleague’s desktop which has 2 screens. i was constantly moving the cursor to the top right of the screen, and moving to the screen on the right when in fact i was looking for the close button. i was used to the fact that by pushing all the way on the right i’m going to hit it. so i’m pretty sure this is going to disturb me.
    but i won’t know before i upgrade to 10.04 which is not going to be before the final given my disastrous experience with 9.10.

  • Breaking muscle memory isnt a bad thing. No-one is born with a muscle memory for either positions. Right or left doesnt really matter much.
    People will always complain for any change[its just what users are used to for years, breaks muscle memory and yada, yada… ]. IMO,These aernt good reasons against the new position.
    People can always relearn and form new muscle memory, *if* the change is planned for a purpose.

    Change is always good , *if* there is a good reason to change.

    It is great that UX wants to listen to user opinions , but what has not been mentioned here is :
    – what problem are we trying to solve ? [if we are not trying to solve anything why break it? are we trying to re-invent the wheel? is this a NIH syndrome?]
    The thought process leading to the change has been elaborated, but the problem that has been identified is not mentioned. Was there a problem with the old position?

    – Has this been given thought for the future? Gnome3 [gnome-shell with it activities button/hot-corner] seem to have not been considered. What happens when gnome-shell lands? the buttons would end up too close to the activities button and this position would be a recipe for accidental clicks. Would we revert back when shell lands?

    Answers to these questions would probably reduce the user frustration and probably what people are really expecting to hear.
    Without knowing what the problem was earlier and why this has been changed , one really cant judge the change.
    Right now, its like asking Americans or British who have switched locales : “do you like driving on the right or the left side of the road?” 😉

  • For all the reasons above, this is a bad idea. For me, add the fact that I switch between Windows and other Linux distributions. I’d like it to all be the same.

  • “Personally, I would have the max and min on the left and close on the right.”

    I agree with your preference here. The biggest problem, as I see it, is accidentally hitting the close button and interrupting your task. Most buttons and menus tend to be on the left side in a left-to-right environment. So, by putting the close button on the far right side, you have much less of a chance of accidentally hitting the close button when you were really trying to hit the file menu or some other button.

    On the other hand, the minimize and maximize/unmaximize buttons are no so terribly disruptive if hit by accident. In addition, by separating them from the close button you further prevent the user from accidentally hiting the close button when trying to hit the maximize button.

  • The post reveals questions that were raised, but does not go into further details about the answer to those questions and how the current design is coherent to those answers. All this post reveals is that you, personally, does not agree with the decision. That’s not exactly a statement that increases our confidence in it.

  • I like that this was pondered extensively and I’m sure you folks came up with the best, most scientifically accurate solution 🙂

    Firstly, this approach certainly has grown on me. My favourite part is that it gives us a bigger target with which to drag a window. For me — and this is probably subjective (though would be interesting to research) — when I stack windows on each other it’s usually going in a left to right order, so with the previous button position the window buttons would be inaccessible without focussing first. Now, naturally, they’re available at a glance. (The left-aligned title helps there, too, and that is a change I am really happy about, having used the Impression theme for the last six months or so).

    However, I do have to point out that there are some definite issues with consistency that hinder the idea. You’ve seen most of them. Another is the session indicator (for logging out) at the top right of the screen. Before, that was synonymous with the window close button. Now, the position feels arbitrary and, to me, less natural. Probably not as easy to learn.
    That, and I do find myself wondering why, on the title bar, the first thing I see is the window controls and then I read the title. See Gnome’s HIG, and the convention in the desktop to put the close button for dialogs to the bottom right side.

    Alas, this would be a much less polarizing issue if button positions were controlled by Metacity themes, not gconf keys…

  • – Are we smoking crack to think that the learning curve for getting used to a new position is ever going to be worth any real or perceived benefit of new positions?”

    Did the article get truncated?
    I don’t see where you explain the “perceived benefit of the new positions”

    All I see is you all asked a bunch of questions and then arbitrarily came up with something else that you personally don’t even like.

  • I think the community has to evolve some new layout!!

    No Buttons Anymore. Move the window to get some actions. Preferred like gestures
    to not make aktions while only dragging the window to a position:

    My thougths:

    Throw the window to bottom: Minimize
    Throw the window to upper: Maximize
    Throw the window to right: Close
    Throw the window to left: “Close” -> Save state like Iphone do

    So the buttons are obsolte. Please, try to invent something new instead of rolling the old thing 10 times and it doesn’t even get better.

  • I would like to know why this change is happening . So far no valid reason has been offered. Its very confusing and its not what I think ubuntu should be doing. Does anyone know why this is being used.

  • Few things:

    1. Markus Korn is right. Changes like this shouldn’t go into a LTS release.
    2. You need to do more work and discuss the menu as a whole not just where do the min, max, close buttons go. Ask questions like, “Where the title text in mac, win, linux? Is it centered? Why is it where it is? Is there an icon next to it?
    3. I think the buttons should blend into the title bar and then change color when you hover over them. The circle “look at me I’m a button” needs to go because it fills the desktop with unnecessary “clutter/distraction.” Look at the Google Chrome theme for an example.

    This is constructive criticism… you guy have done great work, so I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining.

  • I don’t get why you are doing this. Let me try giving you my personal answers to some of your questions.

    – Why do Mac OS and Windows have the buttons where they do?

    Why do we care? The only reason to care for that would be consistency. We want to make things easier for users. All users. I remember the times when SuSE developed KDE to resemble Windows as much as possible, when Mozilla didn’t want to remove the silly “go” button for the sake of IE users or when OOo was hesitent to any UI changes that were a deviation from MS Office. I’m glad they are all (well, some more others less) over that stage, however, at the same time they did have a point. And it is that point that we should care about: consistency.

    – What was the functional reason behind the Mac OS choice (or the Windows position for that matter)?

    Because they care about another thing: branding. Particularly Apple. I do not believe that there is any other benefit than the separation from Windows in having the buttons on the left.
    However, as your sketches show, most OSes always had them on the right. And i believe for good reason…

    – Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right?

    Where is the connection between the application menus and the window buttons? There’s a whole lot of arguments for their separation, actually. Application menus belong and are in reference to the application itself. The window buttons belong to the window that ‘carries’ the application. Of course that separation is somewhat arbitrary, yet it points to another one that you can’t eliminate: the menus are direct interactions, the window buttons are meta-operations. There’s pretty good reason to separate them.

    – Why, when we read left to right is the most destructive action first?

    Exactly because! Having the window buttons on the right keeps them out of the main focus line. Which is exactly what you want. When i start an application, the first thing i want to be made to decide about – even on the most subtle level – is definately not if i want to close, minimize or maximize its window right away.
    The main focus line (top left to bottom right) should be focussed on the content and main interaction. Having the window buttons in the upper right corner resembles exactly the gap in their character, by taking them out of the general interaction focus and requiring a focus shift, like a little side-step, to do an action on them. Which is exactly what happens. The moment you decide to minimize your window, you already took that sidestep.
    One of Fitts findings was that the easiest mouse movent axis is upper left to lower right. The lower left to upper right movement axis almost creates a separate dimension in the user interaction. That’s a good thing, because it helps the human brain to not get overloaded.

    – Are we smoking crack to think that the learning curve for getting used to a new position is ever going to be worth any real or perceived benefit of new positions?

    Well, as many others i really wonder as to what that ‘perceived’ benefit really is.

    If you want to do something real useful, i’d rather recommend getting rid of the window menu button (usually the application icon) and coming up with a creative way to amalgamate the menu bar and window border, a bit like Google did with Chrome (only their solution does only half of what it could do).

    Currently, window title bars are a mere waste of screen real estate and have been so for years and years. Yes, they display the application name and other useful information, but so does the task bar and i seriously wonder what the ration of reading it is for people…i bet it’s something like 30% titlebar, 70% taskbar and other places. Who ever uses the window menu? And it is accessible in other ways. And that button could be and should be moved to the other buttons, as well…for me that would be the right. The only real function of the window title bar is to have a drag handle for the window…which it is almost too fiddly for…doing something like alt+drag is much more productive. However, i’d think that’s where the creative challenge would lie…maybe an amalgamated menubar+titlebar that opens the menu on click, but moves the window around when dragging. Or somesuch.

    Don’t get me wrong, i appreciate people stepping beyond the ‘we’ve always done it like that and that’s how we do it’. I consider myself one of those people that sometimes take that a bit too far. But in this case, i think there’s very good reasons for not shifting the buttons over to the left.

  • Hi,

    Are you aware of this bug?:
    Resize buttons in title bar

    Right now you resize a window by finding the few pixels on the border that
    allow you to drag the window.

    I propose that the title bar have resize buttons for vertical, horizontal and
    diagonal resize.

    | H | D | V | Window Title | _ | - | x |

    H = Horizontal resize
    D = Diagonal resize
    V = Vertical resize

    Holding down left mouse button on these buttons and moving the mouse resizes.

  • Argh. The multiple spaces got removed.

    | H | D | V | Window Title ................. | _ | - | x |

  • From a visual perspective I dont think its nice to cluster a whole bunch of title bar info in one area. In this case the title bar title and the wm controls and even the File/Edit menu. IMHO its nice to maintain visual separation.

    The other thing that concerns me is that in Mac, the File Edit menu that apps have is moved into the top panel. In ubuntu/gtk the File/Edit menu is just beneath the title bar. I think by moving the wm controls to the leftside you make it more liekly for users to enact wm functions when all the wanted was to click File or Edit.

  • I was actually thinking much in line with Eumel when reading the post, but I would stil keep a Close button and still keep it in top right. There is a lot of ‘closure’ in top right – tabs close in the top left of the tab header, windows have the close button there, and even in the default panel layout the logout and shut down actions are in top right corner.

    Close needs to be in the top right corner for consistency.

    Now other window actions as minimize, maximize and tiling should be redone as mouse gestures and have no buttons by default (throw up = maximize, throw down = minimize, throw left, right = tiling with preference to the new window being right or left to previously tiled windows).

  • I would like to understand the rational behind the change too – the above post is welcome but as others have said does not explain why the change was made.

    It appears to violate the usability quality of compatibility because users of other systems (even previous version of Ubuntu) cannot use their previously learnt experience.

    Additionally it violates the quality of coherence because the close buttons are on the right in Firefox tabs (and other apps too). If you look at Windows and versions of Ubuntu previous to this change – close is always on the right, if you look at OSX close is always on the left. We now have confusion.

    We have also lost the menu that used to be on the left and near other menus. Instead we have window control buttons near the menus, including a button to close the entire application. Now, when using the menus, a slip off the Edit or View menu in Firefox closes the entire application.

    Overall, the visual changes are welcome and look great, but this change seems out of place unless there is some compelling usability data behind it. It is slightly worrying that this decision appears to have been arrived by discussion rather than by using empirical usability data from a study.

  • Yeah, closing the window instead of opening the “file” menu for example could be very annoying.

    the second comment is very reasonable.

    Maybe we should wait for the whole package though (Gnome Global Menu?),
    personally I would just merge GGM and the window buttons in one line, sadly that is only doable in the panel, but makes much more sense than putting them above one another..

  • Personally, I would have the max and min on the left and close on the right.
    Très bonne idée. Very good idea!

  • Let me repeat my comment from OMG! Ubuntu:

    This doesn’t seem like such a difficult problem. The key is that you want to avoid accidentally closing a window. Putting the close button on the left makes it much more likely that you will accidentally hit it when aiming for another control. If it’s on the right, however, that likelihood decreases, since there tend to be few other controls on the top right of most windows. (And, yes, it follows that Mac OS X has it wrong on this issue.)

    By the same argument, it makes sense to put distance between the Close button and the other window controls. You don’t want to try to maximize a window only to find that you’ve accidentally closed it. Therefore, it makes sense either to put a spacer between Close and the other buttons, like KDE 4 does, or to move the other buttons to the left of the titlebar, like Symphony OS did. Both options are already doable.

    So, combined with the fact that Close-on-the-right has become almost ubiquitous, it’s not difficult to reach these conclusions: close should be on the right, and, ideally, it should not be immediately next to any other button. Whatever placement follows these guidelines will immediately be more usable than what is done by Windows and Mac OS X.

  • “Personally, I would have the max and min on the left and close on the right.”
    Yes, good idea ^^

  • I’m going with “probably not worth changing”… I think people very quickly figure out where min/max/close are and moving them from where they are normally will upset lots of people while nearly no one will find anything works better with the change – it might seem “illogical” to people but that doesn’t stack up against sheer force of habit.

    Also visually it means that window titles are awkwardly offset compared to the menu entries… notice that Mac centers the text but the new Ubuntu themes don’t (and max doesn’t have text menus near the title bar anyway).

  • After a short learning period of closing windows when trying to maximise them, I figured it out and everything made sense. Actually it was much less confusing then when I switched from a pc to a mac all those years ago.

  • I have solved many problems myself for other peoples about usability.

    Remove buttons of “Minimize” and “Maximize”. You do not need them.
    Keep “Close” and add “Keep top” and “On all desktops” buttons.
    Place “Close” to left corner and “Keep top” and “On all desktops” to top right corner.


    When you want to minimize the window. Click the window task on taskbar. When you want to show it again, you are already clicking it from that same place.
    Many old people who are first time starting to use computer, finds that very intuitive. It is already on taskbar, you can manage it from there.

    When you want to maximize the window. You drag it to top of the screen (if you have a KWin as windowmanager) or you double click the decoration. When you double click it again, it comes back to normal.

    When you want to roll window, you use scrollwheel up/down on it.

    When you want to close it, you just go to top left and close it. Usually I dont even place the close button to window decoration at all. Because people close too much windowses what they are using soon. It is better to close them from taskbar. They learn faster the multitasking and you do not spend time to close window because it is on your way.

    In the end, you only have two buttons on your window decoration, keep top and all desktops. All desktops is not so needed for normal users because desktop grid is so great to move window. But top of others is thing what people really like to have there. You can pin the window easily. And if user does not need the hiding function of windows, you can activate the scrollwheel to place window top of others or normal.

    In few hours, new users have learned to manage windows better ways than long time users use. Just by having only a “keep top” button on window decoration.
    And if we add a “Quit” button to toolbar far right on it. We can even remove the last button from window decoration and it becames just what it is, a window decoration and the window manager takes care it for you.

    And in the end. We only have intuitive desktop where we drag window to top, right or left side to maximize to other side of screen or fullscreen. Double click to close. Minimize/show from taskpanel and pin top of others with scrollwheel.
    And no decoration problem.

    And works very great way with touchscreen as well!

  • “At Ubuntu we have a golden opportunity not only to make our OS as good as the competition but to make it better. The button position discussion and analysis started with:”

    The window decoration has nothing to do with the OS. You can not see Linux OS (what is the Linux kernel!) anyway. This is just something what would make it different from other Linux distributions and other OS distributions what use GNOME as their desktop environment. Do you really want that? Answer might be “Yes” if you are ubuntu fan.

  • @Hezy:
    Just run this in a terminal:
    gconftool-2 -t str -s /apps/metacity/general/button_layout menu:minimize,maximize,close

    It should set the windows button to the right matter what language you use 😉

  • Window operations are a different kind of operations than functions in the applications menu. They SHOULD be distinct – can you imagine somebody (consciously or unconsciously) confusing the two, and moving the mouse in the wrong direction before doubling back?

    As for the positions of the buttons: The usual order seems somehow intuitive – maximize should be ‘outside’ where minimize is. And close is always the ‘last’ operation. Contrarily, having the close button close to maximize, and also close to the top-right drag corner, is dangerous. As always UI design is about compromise.

    Two options you didn’t explore but are probably suboptimal:
    (i) merging the menu-bar and window-title-bar (ala chrome), which saves vertical space on these insane panoramic displays we’re all using (but is problematic for small windows relative to app menu), or
    (ii) moving the window controls to another border (say, the bottom) where the min/max could be separated properly (but you lose pointer precision when you have to move it too far in one ‘hop’.

  • @Wyrfel: “Because they care about another thing: branding. Particularly Apple. I do not believe that there is any other benefit than the separation from Windows in having the buttons on the left.”

    Just for the record, Apple had their window buttons on the left before Windows and GNOME were even thought of, and even before MacOS was thought of. They first appeared there in the Apple Lisa’s desktop GUI.

  • As another aside, the idea of putting the close button on the opposite side from the min/max buttons in GNOME is nothing new. I certainly remember it being suggested when we were writing the HIG back in 2002 or so, but we decided window manager theming wasn’t an area the HIG should be covering so it never really went any further.

  • Well, OS 9 also has those buttons split up if I’m not mistaken, with the close button on the left and the others on the right. It is quite nice for visual balance, and I assume that a big reason why they moved all buttons to the left in OSX is, that they added the large toolbar-toggle button which would not look good if put next to a standard window title button.

    Personally, I don’t particularly care whether the buttons are on the left side, the right side, or split up. There is an argument for consistency, but eventually I will get used to everything (I don’t even mind anymore to constantly switch between left-on-Mac and right-on-Linux). However, not putting the close button first is just an incredibly odd decision, seeing as it is the only button of the bunch that is actually necessary and frequently used by everybody.

  • ” Why, when we read left to right is the most destructive action first?”

    … by this logic could you perhaps also consider changing the order of gtk+ dialogs/buttons from Cancel / OK Cancel / Apply buttons to OK /Cancel Apply / Cancel ?

  • “It is quite hard to tell. The theme has been in the alpha since Friday. Now that you have had a chance to use it what do you think?”

    Well, if you can’t tell the difference, why the hell introduce this change in a lts release? Don’t fix it if it’s ain broken man!

  • Why do we need an maximize button if we can do that by double clicking the title bar, just like a big maximize button. Why do we need the close button if we have alt+f4 (ok, thats just a short cut).
    I think the idea of getting rid of the title bar is a good idea, and using the task/window list as a window name shower and window management functions (that can already be done my right clicking it).

  • I would like to put the close on the right and min/max on the left too, but the new Lucid theme get ugly if i did this

  • I hate the new scheme on the left. Here my reason:
    I have to switch frequently between Windows and Linux (Virtualbox with XP is almost constantly running) . at this time, both are very similar, no problem. With the new setup I’d have to change all the times. Suddenly, what was an intuitive mouse movement becomes a thing you’ve got to think before you click. In addition, some applications, like chrome, without title bar, will still have the traditional controls on the right. Total confusion !
    I think too that such a change is too sudden, divulged two months before a LTS release.

  • Wow. An awful lot of comments from people who don’t understand UI design. I guess also some people are so mired in the seductive ugliness of Microsoft’s products they cannot see the benefits to this kind of optimization.

    Top-right close button placement has always been a bugbear for me. I often want to resize from the top right corner, and that “kill” button right there is a real inhibitor to my desktop navigation. (Or at least, it was until I found Alt-MMB.)

    Nevertheless, I resize from top right about 30% of the time, and from bottom right about 70% of the time. Take away the “kill switch” and that usage will even out to 50:50. I never resize from the left size, because that’s where the visual anchor is.

    I’m sure if I read right-to-left, I’d want the whole thing mirrored; not just pieces.

    Nice to see the work you’ve done, but it’s a shame it’s only tinkering. Please go back to the drawing board and take the greater step of revolutionizing the Linux desktop.

    Oh, and on a point of GUI history: Intuition was the windowing environment, while “Workbench” was the OS shell. Also, MUI was widely adopted, and offered great improvements to an already beautiful system.

  • I guess I should follow up with RJ Mical’s advice: “Dare to be gorgeous and unique. But don’t ever be cryptic or otherwise unfathomable. Make it unforgettably great.”

  • Crap. What the hell is wrong with making features like this configurable?

    Gnome is trying to look like Mac, and KDE is trying to look like MS Vista. If I wanted to use either of those platforms, I’d use one of those platforms.

    Add new features and usability, yes, but don’t force a new look and feel on those of us who don’t want it.

  • Its not that I think one placement decision is better than the other, its just I don’t see any valid usability justification for moving the buttons.

    On the other hand I can see several reasons for maintaining their position:
    1) Its where they are in the current Ubuntu, people are used to it.
    2) Its where they are in Windows, if you want to capture new users, they’re likely going to come from Windows, and they’re going to be facing enough changes without having to worry about where they click to maximize.

  • on several of my jaunty boxes, i can apply themes that will move those buttons to the left, but i’m told that that will no longer be an option, once this change goes through. why not just leave that decision to the theme, instead of a gconf edit?

  • This entire debate is laughable. I want to put the buttons wherever I want them, to suit my mood, ergonomics or whatever. Let me decide where to put the buttons, globally or per application, please.

    With respect, UI designers need to stop pulling stuff with this Office ’07 mentality. I’m the user; let me decide what I want to see on the front-end.

  • Just to add something…I like the theme very much, except for “those pesky buttons”.

    Visually, the shiny cavity does not fit well with the rest of the metacity, and the red close button stands out too much (I think the close button should contrast in a way, but not by using a color that appears nowhere else). Also, this breaks a lot of themes, that are designed considering the buttons appear in a particular order, and in the right side. This should be an option placed under the appearances menu, not something that can only be modified with gconf.

    But, once again, I think the theme is very good, and I’m using it since it was released (I prefer ambiance, but radiance is also nice). It’s only those buttons that turn me off…

  • I think if a UI change like this is going to be dumped on existing and new users that they should at least be given the courtesy of having the ability to EASILY change it back to right-hand via the Preferences>Appearance panel. My understanding is that right now, in order to “fix” this, you have to open a terminal window and type some strange looking command in, or fire up gconf and do… who knows what.

  • I don’t care that much whether the buttons are on the left or right. I just wish there were a more convenient shortcut for maximizing and maximizing a window by default, and for showing all windows at once with no overlap. Alt-f9 is obnoxious. I’m pretty used to alt-tab and ctrl-w, but if I want one window to minimize and re-maximize from shortcut, it’s not very convenient. Likewise, with alt-tab, once you’ve got tons of windows open, it’s not very easy to quickly identify the one wanted.

    However, I do think the arguments for moving the buttons to the left is also an argument for having one panel rather than 2, and I think Ubuntu should seriously consider having one double thick panel that has more creative widget placements to use the double height and uses a combination of live preview thumbnails (even for minimized windows) and icons, and collapsible container areas that expand on mouseover or shortcut.

  • I really think the new theme has potential, but I’d love to see more Aubergine (for example selected items) and the menuebackground should be lighter in the dark Version.

  • Also, I think there should be a user interface paradigm to eliminate ALL popup dialogs from from the system unless they require administrative access and locking. It’s much more elegant for them to expand into the existing window or interface instead of spawning a new layer of interface elements. If it’s bad for websites to make popups, it’s just as bad for the OS to make them, too.

    The way that firefox drops in the save password dialog choice is a great example of how dialog windows might be presented with less irritation. A more elegant and developed version should be applied system wide for all non-admin-locking dialogs.

  • Why, when we read left to right is the most destructive action first?

    I’ll give you two good reasons: When you click buttons in a UI, you aren’t reading. Believe me, when I go to click a button to close the window I don’t read to myself “Minimize, restore/maximize… close. Okay, I’ll click close.” I, like most users, have muscle memory, so I immediately speed my mouse cursor over to the top-right for Windows and Linux or the top-left for Mac and just click on the farthest-most button, assuming that’s the close button.Sometimes the most destructive action is the most common action. It’s very handy to have that button be in the corner, since it is the one I click most (not minimize or restore/maximize). On Windows, it’s the top-right. On Mac, it’s the top-left. On most Linuxes, it’s the top-right. For Ubuntu Lucid, it’s randomly the left but not all the way to the left. When people want to close a window, they want to close a window. Why should you make it difficult for them to close the window? Most programs will allow you an out if you accidentally try to close a window with unsaved changes in the document.

  • When you guy’s reveal this was just an April fools prank, all us naysayers will have egg all over our faces.

  • While I have a preference based on habit, it would be great to test the position on non-computer users who have no OS-preference bias. You are going to get a million opinions on this by folks who already an ingrained allegiance to a particular design paradigm. Ultimately, actual use should reveal a natural pattern of use that should drive the end decision.

  • Here’s my thinking: WHY bother all the carefully laid out balance of the lives of all the readers, when you can simply include 2 themes instead of just one?

    I figure, if you were to design a nice (and I mean nice) tool to actually build your own layout, then there’d be no need for all this, and you’d be hailed as the people that gave back the desktop to its users.

    My opinion about the “Close Window” button placement on the left is simply because western civilisation uses mostly latin alphabet and left-to-right writing. So you generally start something on the left, and finish it on the right. But what about the Chinese?

    They actually read from the bottom right to the top left, going down-to-up, not right-to-left. So the habit is truly to have that same button at the top-left for them, which makes a lot more sense.

    Hence multiple themes, each adapted to their own cultures, while retaining the same artistic vision. Does that sound more appealing now?

    I wish I had the latitude to design a truly international OS where corporate giants and supercorps have totally failed to see the actual potential they hold within reach. Software is so flexible, why hold back?

  • -the bottom line is – ubuntu looks like poorman’s OSX – job well done guys
    -instead of hiring “pros” Canonical should blatantly copy-paste some stuff from or deviantart
    -wallpaper is DREADFULL – looks like – surprise,surprise – OSX with way too much of gaussin blur applied 😀

    mr.Shuttleworth!! – please hire me – i’m eqully useless as your current dezignerz, but im cheaper, much cheaper

    cheers, better luck next time with your designs

  • If I think about what has bothered me about Ubuntu/Gnome usability it’s things such as preferences being a menu (not an organized app), that the clipboard doesn’t retain itself when the app closes, that keyboard shortcuts are inconsistent across applications…

    So when the most obvious change that occurs is moving buttons that were working, to somewhere where I’ll likely strike them unintentionally, and then chisel it out and colour it red to make it really distracting… I’m disappointed. It also removes opportunities like Chrome’s very efficient window layout (menus and window controls are secondary to the application, making it much slicker and efficient layout)

    I can appreciate trying to improve Ubuntu to make it top notch, but this change doesn’t seem to improve usability nor is it slick (it sticks out like a sore thumb and doesn’t feel refined and polished)

  • What I’m curious about is what weight all the re-imagined theme’s will have. There are some really lovely theme’s out there that have taken your work and built upon it. Can we take some of the great ideas (at least in look) and integrate them…

  • Make it selectable!
    I suspect one is splitting hairs when trying to sort out where they “should” go.

    Having purchased my first Mac this past December, I am getting used to Mac OS’s placement. I still use win-xp at work.
    I would prefer to set my Ubuntu server to match my Mac.
    Others will prefer to set it to Win 7, or some other way.

    By all means, decide on a rational for Ubuntu and set a default, but let people set it where they want, if so desired.

  • I’d like to share some insight on something slightly related. The application menu.
    I’ve tried out the “Global Menu” applet a few weeks ago, just for the sake of experimenting and had 3 conclusions:
    1. It sucks! In the rare case when you need something from the menu, you have to climb all the way up to the top panel…
    2. Using the menu is a rare case
    3. removing the menu leaves a LOT of space for the actual data I’m trying to see

    So, with these 3 conclusions, I thing that the traditional menu could have been folded (very much like Google Chrome and now Opera and Safari) to a single button on the opposite side from the “close” button, next to or instead of the current menu, which is somewhat redundant with right click. That way we can save some real-estate while leaving the menu close to the application it actually effects.

    Other then that, I think the buttons should be returned to their “natural” location and order, but above all, it should be easily configurable, so that everyone can easily arrange them in the way that makes them happy.

  • in any case, you shouldn’t just go changing things for existing users. if you want to give a choice, then give a choice. but fdont make a change thats a pain and then make me have to go through google to find out how to fix. it. and btw, i liked the brown too ..

  • Its a brave move to improve the branding of Ubuntu! I agree its a slight learning curve trying to switch to the left to use the minimize, maximize, close buttons. Maybe I will keep it maybe I will switch it to the right side, from gconf. Time will tell how it affects productivity.

    I question the timing of this change. Lucid Lynx is a LTS!! Being aimed for mass adoption especially in enterprise segment. If the button switch is deemed too much of a change then it will hinder adoption of Lucid Lynx and maybe Ubuntu and Linux in general!

    Change is scary! But its necessary. Maybe it should have been brought in slowly in a non LTS release.

    Also, it would be nice to have an option for users to choose between left and right side buttons. Maybe an option in System–> Preferences–>Appearance would be nice.

  • First of all, I really like the new design. But here are my 2 cents.

    I think that it’s not the button’s that are the problem. It’s the composition. The titlebar is a weird entity. Certainly now it is merged (visually) with the menu bar. It just points out more that alle ‘bars’ are entities seperated from each other.

    For instance in firefox, i have:
    – Title bar
    – Menu bar
    – Navigation bar
    – Bookmark bar
    – Tab bar

    That’s not a design any graphical designer would be happy with!

    But things are changing. For instance in the Google Chrome browser. For instance in the Opera 10.5 browser. Unfortunately this brings out another problem: no cohesive look for programs.

    For Mac OSX, the buttons on the left work, because there is no menu bar. Just a navigation bar, that is spaced out beautiful across the width of the window.

    I agree that placing the titlebar buttons above the menu is not beautiful because of the empty space on the right. Bu that can be avoided by spacing out the menu across the full lenght of the menu bar. It would create a look, unique to any OS.

  • Gnome 3.0 seems to be a good time (really now if it’s not too late already) to start discussing the general look of the titlebar, menus, etc. Really the whole window of apps and develop some sort of new and updated standard. I think Microsoft’s Ribbon and office button is a huge improvement over the conventional File, Edit, View, etc menus. I’m not saying this is the answer, but it’s certainly better than the old way and many other apps are copying it (PaperPort, Nitro, etc). However, even with all the drastic changes they did still put the close, max, min buttons on the right. I like to think that when it comes to taking ideas that linux takes the best ideas from both windows and mac and doesn’t try to out right copy one or the other.

  • As many others here have stated, I also don’t think there is much benefit to moving interface elements to differ with other major OS’s.

    I suspect most users Ubuntu are targeting will come from a Windows background, or at least may use Ubuntu at home and Windows at work. Therefore it would help to have the window elements located in the same place.

    Others have talked about the chance of overshooting the applications main menu and hitting the window action buttons accidentally if they are located above the menu.

    I don’t think it is a good idea to change the location, particularly for a LTS release.

  • Nope, you aren’t smoking crack, you’ve obviosuly passed that phase and are full on mainlining the black tar with 50 on the hype.

    Between putting this change into a LTS instead of waiting for 10.10 and seeing how bad the feedback was and copying a bad UI paradigm from Cupertino this is asking for trouble, if I wanted to use an unusable OS my Macbook Pro would still be running OSX instead of dual booting 7 and Ubuntu.

    I guess I’d better go and try Kubuntu now as this isn’t going to work for me.

  • Its hard to answer those questions myself (somewhat because I know nothing about UI), however after thinking about it, a lot of the changes in the new style are very logical – putting the buttons towards the lefts would mean a lot less mouse movement (which I was just subject to minutes ago), and an order of “Close”, “Minimize”, “Maximize/Restore” makes more sense in their “badness” (for lack of better word).

    To answer a few other points: Making the changes during an LTS release is perhaps not the wisest choice, but I don’t think its any worse than any other release – Ubuntu seems known for making changes at the worst possible time; The current system isn’t necessarily broke, but from the perspective of a person who has never used a computer, it makes very little sense; looking at why other operating systems do what they do does make sense because they have likely asked these same questions; resembling current configurations of
    Windows or Mac OS X is not a bad idea because a good part of your (Ubuntu’s) new users are likely from these platforms.

    In any case, the theme on a whole is looking great (assuming some of the smaller quirks are worked out before the change/artwork freeze, though I thought that already passed). The menu placement is perhaps controversial, but is insignificant in the larger whole.

  • The only relationship relevant here is between the window control buttons and the vertical scroll bar. Often, the first action after resizing a window is re-positioning its content. Placing the control buttons on the opposite side of the screen seems counterproductive. Additionally, the min/max/close buttons have become much smaller in the new themes, making it more of an effort to aim for them, especially at higher screen definitions.

    I’d rather see your efforts concentrated on integrating window decoration themes and application themes into one (create a simple interchange protocol via dbus between GTK and window manager where GTK can transmit content, like icons or menubars to the WM, allowing for dynamic re-postioning of application icons, menu- and toolbars into the window title area). Most toolkits have yet to take advantage of the widescreen aspect ratio of modern displays. Look at all the empty space after the ‘Help’ menu or on both sides of the window title on a 1920×1200 screen and you see what I mean…

  • Just to second Wyrfel, FrejSoya, and others. The muscle memory thing drove me NUTS until I found a workaround. It’s not good enough (not, not, NOT good enough) to say, “I got used to it” or “I like it” or “That’s where we decided to put notifications”. How you feel about it is fine for you. It says nothing about anyone else.

    So do this the Linux way: make it easily customizable. A right click on the title bar should offer a choice for the (user’s! not designer’s) preferred arrangement.

    As for the notifications excuse, that’s completely silly. Put the notification somewhere else. How about the middle of the title bar? There’s nothing there that we’re already used to clicking on. Do not put new notifications in places the user already has learned to use for something else. (Honestly. Are you folks smoking something?)

    Just to spread the word about the workaround as far and wide as possible (although probably nobody here needs it) this is what I used:
    start gconf-editor, go to /apps/metacity/general/button_layout
    Colon separates what goes in the left corner versus the right. eg:
    menu:minimize,maximize,close means menu on the left, min max close on the right.

    (apologies if this is a dup. first attempt didn’t seem to post.)

  • I quite having like the buttons on the left, but I don’t like the minimize and close buttons being next to each other and so close together – I keep clicking on the wrong one. It’s not so bad having the maximize icon next to the close button because I don’t use maximize nearly as much as minimize.

    And if I move the maximize and minimize buttons around using gconf-editor, the icons no longer go nicely together visually.

  • Leave everything on the right by default. Visually group the minimize and restore/maximize (placing a small separator on either side). Allow that group to slide along the title bar so that users can choose to put a little space between the group and X or pull it all the way to the left.

    As long as the title menu is on the left and close is on the right, all should be well.

  • Ivanka,

    Let me ask you some questions “why the Enter Button is not just beside the ESC key”? Why does the socks must be identical when worn in pair? Why do we stick the stamp on the top right corner of the envelop? You can change all of that and the world won’t go any better. Because these are arbitrary standards and a new standard is not necessarily better.

    Please stop asking yourself the “design” questions you were wondering in your post. The reason Mac put their buttons on the left is because Windows have them at the right side. If Windows had put their buttons on the left side, I bet you the Mac people will put theirs on the right side. I am afraid you guys are doing the same. You try to shuffle these buttons just to say I am doing like the big guys but I am not a copycat. Come on, you still use the SAME 3 buttons min/max/close ! Regardless where you put them, you don’t invent anything new.

    When people comment about Ubuntu look and feel, they talk about colors, fonts, less buggy graphic driver, or less ugly wallpapers. Never I have seen someone complaining about the buttons position.

    Here the best solution: design a better theme customization utility where people can select the buttons position. Get easily all the custom themes available on gnome look. More fined grained possibility to change theme elements, pretty much like Windows Display properties, Advanced Settings.

  • The fact is, although there may be some minimal usability improvements with the new button layout, there are some clear disadvantages.

    Normal users do not like to have their user interface changed. That is the reason why – for the most part – the placement of the window buttons on Windows and Mac have not changed for the last 10 years. Windows users are used to being able to slide their mice to the right-top corner of the screen without looking to close a window. Mac users have to look, but they know to slide their cursors to the left-top corner all the same. They know that the buttons work as-is, and would only get annoyed if the buttons changed locations. In their opinions: if it works for me, why fix it?

  • I use a global menu bar on every platform I touch. On Mac, ..It is what it is. In Ubuntu, it’s gnome-globalmenu, and in Kubuntu, it’s Bespin with the XBar.

    I don’t see how anyone hopes to make any real progress without moving to global menu by default, the current squabbling about window control buttons case in point.

    Personally I say go global menu and leave the window controls where they are. Most people don’t look at the buttons to tell what they are so much as aim the mouse at the one their habit is to click. Close button belongs in the corner. How I use some buttons in my title bars doesn’t have jack to do with how I read, it’s a matter of habit. You know who I feel sorry for here? The colorblind people. You can make that close button as red as you want to justify moving it to some exotic new location and it doesn’t help them one bit.

    I’ve got my grandma on an eMac right now. With HTML5 replacing flash and V/V in Empathy and Pidgin, my unmet requirements list for her migration is getting shorter (Google Earth pending), but there’s no way I’m installing Ubuntu until the global menu thing is solid, I’m not putting her through this.

  • Is this lady fucking nuts

    This is a great move if you want everyone in the world to ditch ubuntu

  • I find it hilarious that the “interface design” is distilled to “pesky button” positions. It’s all completely academical and looks like an obsession with a detail that is mostly managed by teaching the brain-muscle where to click.

    If someone says “Make it like OS X and I will switch” and the reply is “What if we make it better?” and _then_ the result is something butt ugly that competely ignores any whitespace, contrast and even simple typography rules it just shows that someone doesn’t “get it”.

    Seriously, button positions!? Half-assed copying of OS X’s window toolbar buttons, menu icons, a completely half assed mix of shiny, glossy, matte elements and icon styles, transluscency for transluscency’s sake, badly anti-aliased UI elements, icons that blend with the backgrounds they’re used on, comepletely random use of whitespace with various UI elements — that’s a good recipe to be worse than Windows, not better than OS X.

    And, yes, I know that a lot of the problems are mainly due to the applications themselves. So instead of spending time with philosophical discussion of where windows resize/close/minimize buttons should go, maybe think about some UI guidelines first and force those down people’s throats. Cause I have yet to see someone who can’t learn about windows buttons in a few minutes, but I see plenty of coders who don’t know shit about UI design and are making the Linux “Desktop” a complete mess.

    PS: Personally, I would keep max/min/close button all on one side, because it’s easier to remember to “go up+left/up+right” for “window operations” than it is to think about which direction I would go first. And if you have your application’s menus start at the top left, that’s the direction users will go to most often, so puttin the buttons there will put them in a “learned path” of the hand. But that’s just me.

  • I have to say the buttons are the least of your worries! Purple and Orange! That doesn’t fit! Cmon guy lets get this together i believe in you!

  • It’s not about esthetics or even usability.

    If you don’t put the close button on one of the corners, we will all get RSI / carpet tunnel syndrome.

    And this has been pointed out enough already.

    If this thing lands like it is, it’s the biggest FU to the community and users in Ubuntu ever.

    Put the damn close button on a corner. You are not going to believe the bad press Ubuntu is going to get all of the web, if you guys don’t.

    And I strongly suggest you guys do it before the beta. And the icon spacing thing better be fixed as well. Oh well, one more week, before the shit storm starts.

  • I Would say they shouldn’t be moved in a LTS release 🙁

    But really your a usability designer? and you don’t even use your own implementations? no wonder theres issues of you don’t even use what you design !

  • I fully support who suggested the following layout:

    [max][min]………..Window title (centered)………..[close]

    This is a sort of reversed MacOS9 layout which prevents users from accidentally closing a window instead of maximising or minimising it.

  • Hello Ivanka,

    I want to congratulate you on an awesome job. I think the new theme is a bold move that worked out very well.

    Kind regards,
    Michael Anckaert

  • This is total fail.

    Now Windows and all other distributons have it:
    minimize-maximize-close ..And everyone in the PC world has used to it

    OS X has it
    close-minimize-maximize ..And Mac People have gotten used to it, PC people find it strange

    And to make things more messed up, Ubuntu will have it
    maximize-minimize-close ..setup which *no one* is familiar with.

    What the heck you were thinking? For real?

    Hopefully you offer easy way to fix broken button placement on the first launch / at the theme panel.

  • I’d like to see the buttons stay as they were prior to any change but with one single difference: the app menu on the left becomes a menu that shows the contents of the menubar, and the menubars disappear altogether…


    -M- Title                                – _ – ^ – x –

    -M- Title                                – _ – ^ – x –
    – —————————————————-
    – File         –
    – Edit         –
    – Etc.         –
    – Etc.         –

  • Hi, first of all, thanks for asking the community for feedback.
    My 2 cents on this: I always felt like the title bar is wasting precious space. Anything that is going to take space in the ‘vertical’ direction (menu bar, title bar, tabs …) should be carefully considered. On my screen I often see ‘wasted’ space on the sides but I’m often limited vertically.
    I guess the MS Office Ribbon is a bad (horrible) implementation of a good idea: make a better use of space which is normally wasted.
    In this sense, I welcome the re-positioning of the buttons, but I would encourage you to look at a complete re-design of the title bar. Something more useful and functional than it is today.
    I would be willing to go through a learning curve (perhaps a longer one) just to get overall benefits rather than just find the buttons in the new place.
    One idea: a “bookmark” button, so that you can set the window in a pre-arranged size/position. Or a ‘color’ button (or maybe a property button, with color being one of them) in case you want to change some default behavior (e.g.: always on top, or always on background).

    Lastly: I don’t really mind the position of minimize/restore, but I do find convenient the close button being in the corner (I’m used to it being on the right, but I suppose left would work just as well): why? Because it seems very effective to me to ‘shoot’ the mouse in the corner of the screen to close a window.
    This maybe a personal thing, but I normally prefer having windows maximize and flip through them. So to close a program I always find the button in the same spot.

    I hope this helps. In any case, thanks for the effort to make Ubuntu better: I do appreciate it greatly.

  • Change is not bad per-se, I’m using the new theme on Karmic now and I think it makes more sense to have all functionalities on the left instead of spreading them across the window. Yes I still have the automatism to mouse right in order to close the window but it will take not more than one week getting used to the new layout.

    Keep up the good work !

  • – Why do Mac OS and Windows have the buttons where they do?
    – What was the functional reason behind the Mac OS choice (or the Windows position for that matter)?

    There is no functional use for this choice. Both Microsoft and Apple are making small annoying differences (like the buttons) to harden the transition to another operating system. Most of the people are used to right side buttons, so if Ubuntu want to address to larger audience you must have the buttons in the right side. I am a teacher and i use ubuntu in the classroom and I do not want to imagine if this change happens, the problems that i will have with my students.

    Don’t do it! It will have a great negative impact to a newcomer!

  • We read from left to right, it’s natural to place next buttons to the right and back buttons to the left. Close is definitely NOT something you do when you go to the next step. It’s usually something you do to go back to NOT having the application/windows opened.
    Looks like a back button to me so it should be top left. Minimize and maximise have a different meaning.. they could be on the right but .. we.. who cares.

  • The ‘close’ button ( x ) should always be on the far right or far left, I think. It is the most-used of the buttons, I’d reckon, and the corners are the easiest reference point. Just inside the corner, not so much. Just a thought.

  • – Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right?

    Two possibilities spring to mind:

    1. They’re located in the top right because right handed users won’t have to go all the way across the screen to close the buttons.
    2. Users are more likely to accidentally close/minimize/maximize the window when the controls are near the application menu.

  • It’s worse – what works for Canonical folks who likely use keyboard shortcuts for window management doesn’t work for users who have spent 15 years or more with the relevant buttons at the top-right. This sort of programmer-knows-best, user-hostile nonsense is what Canonical was supposed to have changed about Linux.

  • Just to add that, if following other UI designs, I’d take a look at the Classic Mac OS’ instead: Apple had an actual Human Interface design group those days, and its lack is showing in OS X.

  • I have no offence against this but it breaks theme it is not compatible with upstream either.

  • You simply can’t do a change like this without proper user testing and right before a long term release. Any kind of improvement in performance (if any at all!) will be ridiculously small compared with the pain inflicted on the users by changing something that, quite simply, should not change without a very good reason. There are some good reasons for having window buttons on the left, and there are good reasons for having them on the right. Since there isn’t a definitive answer, the best thing to do is keep consistency.

  • I think you should keep controls as usual.

    Just see windows 3.x and win95 (and all linuces I have used) difference in your picture: You’ll understand why, after 15 years, I still sometimes (several times a month) close a window with the intend to minimize it.

    That’s not so often I loose productivity with this error, but 15 years after old habits sometimes still come up from the very deep of my brain!

    So this is huge change…

    This will also break coherency with many applications (the ones using tabs: tab close will stay right… or the ones not using desktop global settings).

    Don’t forget that until ubuntu bug #1 stays uncorrected, most ubuntu users go between 2 environments and the other is 90% windows. Who will want to change habits several times a day?

    You could reply that Mac users do so… but mac users most often use Mac both at work and at home.

    For a LTS version that targets corporate environments, will sysadmins change thousands users habits, loose productivity for an unknown time (remember my 15 years mistakes!)… and hear them screaming?

    No, just revert and stop with this test baloon after community feedback: A Lynx is not supposed to look like a Leopard!

  • @ Ivanka:
    “- Why, when we read left to right is the most destructive action first?”

    Well, does the layout of the buttons changes with Right-to-left languages?
    I don’t think so, and this argument seems very, very poor to me…

    Anyway, you want feedback on this question? Maybe this feedback need could have come earlier?

    Well, the feedback on the internet is disastrous – maybe you didn’t notice?

    Think honestly about the situation, and you’ll know what to do…

  • @ethana2: One of the problems with a global menubar is that it becomes increasingly painful to use the bigger your screen gets, as you can’t always reach it with a single mouse or touchpad gesture. It was a great idea on the early Macs with their tiny 9-inch screens (which of course means it’s fine on modern netbooks and small laptops too), but these days, using a 30″ screen isn’t uncommon, and it’s pretty horrible to use on those.

    It’s also not a great option unless you know your users are never going to use sloppy focus– which is again true on Mac, but not on any X Windows-based system.

  • I hate it.

    This will not only break GTK/GDM Themes, but also it will break users as well. I personally will just find some way to hack the buttons back where I want them, but if it causes other things to break, then I’ll just configure keyboard shortcuts with hotkeys to do whatever I need and forego the titlebar/button issue altogether.

    I do have a request though… Canonical.. put the da** buttons back on the right-hand side in the order they are supposed to be in and stop f***ing with it and acting like Micr*soft who changes a UI just because they can.

    If Ubuntu is about humanity to others, then be humane to your users and stop messing with them and the UI.

  • @Calum: I don’t think sloppy focus should be taken into consideration, unless it is spcifically part of the concept design. I know that some would hate me just for saying this, but I don’t see how we can ever make considerable progress if we don’t even trust our own designs.

    The global menu issue on large monitors is certainly true (and the flicking is not particularly useful when used with a tablet either), but global menu or not, there is definitely a trend towards getting rid of window specific menubars one way or another (with Windows steering away from it, we may soon be the only hold-outs). While the global menu may not be the most efficient in all situations, it does provide a convincing alternative.

    I think that gnome-shell is on a good track with the single application-specific menu item in the panel, which could help to find alternatives for window layouts without menu bars. I hope that we will soon have a decision though, whether GNOME 3 goes with this or with the global menubar and panel layout as suggested by Seth.

  • @Daniel: Sure, I don’t entirely disagree… I’d certainly have no problem disabling sloppy focus altogether in pursuit of a better interaction model, even though a reasonably significant number of people would scream for a while. As long as we still have a GUI option to turn it on, though (which not all distros do, admittedly), IMHO we have to design for people who want to use it.

  • Some possibly important details about Mac OS and Windows are not on the whiteboard or in the comments.

    Early versions of Windows did not have a Close button on the title bar. The [-] button which opens the window frame menu is shown on the whiteboard, but its behavior has not been mentioned. I believe that those versions of Windows, at least some of them, would close the window if you double-clicked that button.

    Later versions of Windows replaced that menu button with the application icon, but its function remained the same: click to open the menu, and double-click to close the window. In at least some applications, you can navigate by keyboard between the window frame menu to the application menu bar.

    In Mac OS (not sure which versions, maybe all), there are two hidden features in the title bar. The icon is a proxy for the file and you can drag and drop it like you would the file’s icon in the file manager. If you hold Command and click on the icon (or window title?), it will show a menu of folders in the document’s path.

    Also, I think Mac OS X carried over the feature from OPENSTEP where the Close button will be disabled if the document is not saved.

  • Oh, that is true of course. I somehow managed to repress that we have that option. Even with the single global menu entry of gnome-shell this doesn’t make much sense anymore, so I would expect this option to disappear eventually (and the sloppy-focus-community to wage war on us).

    This is also an excellent example of how options can get in the way of progress in unexpected ways.

  • If you’re going to put the max/min/close on the left, you’re going to have to put the scroll bar on the left, too.

  • @ethana2: One of the problems with a global menubar is that it becomes increasingly painful to use the bigger your screen gets, as you can’t always reach it with a single mouse or touchpad gesture. It was a great idea on the early Macs with their tiny 9-inch screens (which of course means it’s fine on modern netbooks and small laptops too), but these days, using a 30? screen isn’t uncommon, and it’s pretty horrible to use on those.

    @Calum: I keep hearing this argument, but has there been any testing to verify it? Has anyone crunched the numbers for large modern screens, or is this pure “intuition”? It’s basically an issue of plugging the numbers into Fitts’ Law. The only values I could find for the two constants (a and b) are in Jef Raskin’s The Humane Interface. Using those numbers, my preliminary findings indicate that global menus are still faster on modern screens. To be sure, those constants are probably not based on modern systems, but modern systems also increase cursor speed on account of screens with higher dpi than those in 1984 and due to mouse acceleration. (If you’re aware of studies determining those constants for modern systems, I would greatly appreciate it.) If your touchpad is too slow or doesn’t accelerate well, I would say that it needs to be recalibrated to take account for screen size and resolution (and I’ve heard that mouse acceleration on Macs is a bit lacking).

    There is another, more important reason, for global menus: administrative debris—it’s everywhere! Open several windows and half your screen is taken up by toolbars and buttons and window decorations and panels and lots of other stuff that isn’t content. It’s a wonder anyone can concentrate in such an environment (I know I certainly find it distracting). Remove the menu bar from all but the focused window and place it away from the content, and you’ve considerably cleaned up the clutter. Ideally, this should go much further, removing as much debris as possible, designing applications so that content be its own interface, and showing no unnecessary debris at all for unfocused windows. Even better would be to replace even more of that debris with natural-language commands (such as Mozilla Labs’s Ubiquity, or, to a lesser extent, GNOME Do).

  • @David: I haven’t sought out any research, but it’s certainly based on personal experience… I’ve used 24″ and larger monitors with my Macs for years–often in a dual-screen setup, with my laptop screen being the lower screen, which accentuates the problem. The menubar ends up being lightyears away from your mouse pointer, a lot of the time! And there comes a point (not just on Macs) where you just can’t calibrate your mouse or touchpad enough to be able to traverse an area that size with a single sweep, whilst still retaining sufficient control for shorter or more precise movements.

  • The {needless} button placement change breaks my preferred Metacity theme — AND THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO OBVIOUS WAY TO CHANGE IT is the primary reason I don’t plan to use Lucid. It’s disappointing, because I was looking forward to a new LTS. This will be the first release since Warty that I decided to pass on.

  • I don’t care which side they are on (not sure it really matters), but the close button has been awkward not being in the corner. Change the sides if you wish, but put the most-used button (close) first.

  • I mostly like the new theme (especially the bright one, the dark option deserves a different name than light), but please reconsider moving buttons around un-necessarily. Many people I know who have shifted to mac say looking for the close button in the “wrong” place is one of the harder things to get used to. For people with less computer experience, moving a button that has always (at least in their minds) been in the same place will just be traumatic.

    Try it out in an optional theme for a few years and see if it catches on.

    As a general rule, changing anything is a dangerous effort. For the vast majority of people the Right Way of doing things is whatever way they’ve Always Been Doing It. If you’re trying to be user friendly (and we’re Ubuntu so we are), we have to adapt to this way of thinking.

  • The buttons are fine on the left. You should just reorder them so from L-R they are close, min, max like Mac OS X. This will also enable you to reposition the notification dialogs near the system tray without fear of overlapping them.

    The other thing I’d say is ignore the complaints. I’ve never seen people struggle to use Windows and Mac OS X on a day-to-day basis. Users hate change, but once it comes they’ll just relearn and forget about it. Don’t let them hold you to ransom (or start crazy online petitions!) 😉

  • You’re running your graphics on a 40-year-old (distributed) technology (Xwindows), and THIS is the stuff you guys worry about? This is why Linux will never be more than a niche operating system.

  • Please, please get rid of the “footprint” icon of Gnome! It just doesn’t look good. I can’t stand that image, so I have been a fan of KDE over Gnome for a while now. A picture of a foot is not something I feel like seeing every time I use my computer. Until Gnome changes that picture, I think I’ll use and recommend Kubuntu instead of Ubuntu.

  • Since there are pros and cons to all possible button positioning schemes, it’s difficult to say which one will be superior. Given that themes can easily change this aspect of the UI, it may be worth changing it up this time around in Ubuntu.

    However, one more factor to consider is that by placing the window management actions (minimize, maximize, and close) in close proximity to the application actions (the menu bar items), users are more likely to accidentally click on the wrong action.

    For example, you might try to click on the “File” menu, but miss, and instead click on the “Close” button, potentially a very frustrating problem indeed. This may seem foolish or unlikely if you are an experienced user. However, if you are using a laptop/netbook with a touchpad, it may be more likely.

    By keeping the window management buttons on the right, you are separating two different categories of actions. This makes sense, because these two categories of actions are almost never used in conjunction with each other. In typical workflow, you start an application, then you might maximize/restore the window, and then you use the application (via the menu bar and tool bar). When you are done using the application, you minimize it or close it (via the titlebar).

    So there is little to no overlap in the use of application actions and window management actions. Therefore, it makes sense to spatially separate these actions in the UI.

  • I think changing the order and position of buttons isn’t worth spending this much time and energy on. While a good looking theme accounts for some part of user experience, it is ultimately a very tiny part of a whole operating system and desktop environment.

    Integration of applications, services, protocols and technology accounts for much more, so if you really want to bring about a better and streamlined user experience, leave those window buttons alone, design a simple unobtrusive theme and improve individual applications issues regarding spacing of widgets, structure of menus, content of toolbars and appearance of toolbar elements.

    Window button layout is already configurable via gconf, just set the proposed button layout as default setting and let everyone else be able to change to something more comfortable.

    While this might or might not be an improvement for beginners, it will alienate experienced users. Alienate enough of them, and you loose community support… these experienced users install Ubuntu on family and friend machines and they provide technical support for their families and friends.

    GNU/Linux was, and hopefully always will be, about choice. Forcing stuff down your users’ throats is exactly why many switched from other operating systems to GNU/Linux and by extension Ubuntu.

  • I do not think that major interface changes should be made in an LTS release. Ubuntu 10.04 should focus on stability and that includes stability in the user interface. By not using the button layout of either Windows OR MacOS, the proposed theme creates a steeper barrier of entry for new Ubuntu users. If Lucid is released with this proposed theme as it is now, I am NOT looking forward to explaining to my friends and family who use Ubuntu why the buttons have been shuffled around. Also, the loud purple backgrounds being used by plymouth, gdm and nautilus are FAR from professional. I’d take the brown/black combo over orange/purple any day.

  • The main issue here I think is that there are grannies out there that I’m well acquainted with who are using Ubuntu. I don’t think we should stay with old ideas all the time, and evolution is good. But the real benefits of this new positioning is unfamiliar, and I know a lot of users will just want it to be back where it used to be. I know we want to rethink things and make it better than it used to be, but the change isn’t beneficial enough to warrant shoving it down users throats, to be frank.

    This isn’t like what Mark was saying about, “oh, some people like this, and that, and then you put another option in and it just confuses people rather than simplifying everything.”

    This is adding arbitrary complication, change for the sake of change, and despite what I previously thought, and what you’ve acknowledged, that it’s best to concentrate screen elements in one part of the screen rather than going back and forth, but you should keep the close button on the outside, despite being destructive, this doesn’t exactly help- now it’s closer to where most people click the title-bar and drag.

    I’m sorry to say, but it might be a good idea to step out of the designer’s shoes and look at the big picture, and measure the benefits.

    If we didn’t have a new theme to go along with it, I can guarantee the support of this decision would be much lower. We should focus our momentum on things that will clearly benefit the most users. And every poll that’s been set up for this issue has between 80 and 90 percent DISAPPROVING of this decision. And these are the geeks, not the people who just so happen to use Ubuntu and aren’t really command line junkies.

    You can’t expect to have greater ISV support with an LTS if you force people to choose between comfort and another distro without a good reason, and this reasoning just isn’t good enough. Also, it looks horrible on themes besides the default.

    All in all, there is a lot of focus on cross-platform compatibility these days, what with games and applications being built on open technologies, Steam’s port to OS X being a prime example- if we want stuff like this, we have to make people feel relatively safe, AT LEAST with an LTS.

    I think that, if we keep going with this, we need to at least provide a simpler way than gconf to change things back, and I don’t think the community should have to be the ones to provide that option third party, through Ubuntu Tweak or whatever else.

    I know you’re trying to help, but this is kind of irresponsible, no offense! ^^; And if Mark wants to get involved with the community, he has to take this criticism for what its worth, even if he thinks this change will make his baby grow. We’re a team, here.

    I do bug testing for new versions, I donate to open source projects, and I care about what happens to Ubuntu. I deserve to be heard, don’t I?

  • LTS is no place to start pissing about with daft layout ideas or colors. If you must try this out put something in the repository and see how many users take it up. I bet very few.
    Lots of people switch from one OS to another several times a day. And sometimes even run both on the same screen. So to operate this window we find the buttons here and there, and this other, with the purple and orange bad style, we find the buttons somewhere else.
    This present color and layout is just painting a target on your back.
    Come on team. You have the chance here to put the gloss on a great OS.

  • pleeease keep the buttons in their original (windows-like) position and the title centrered otherwise it will look to left-side heavy and my mouse will have much further to travel to get to Close.

  • “- Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right”

    Following the same logic why not have just one panel in Gnome with all the menus, window lists, notification areas, indicator applets, date/time, log out/quit buttons all on the left?
    It would be pretty crowded, would look chaotic, and throw Fitt’s law into the mix, you’ve got a pretty hard to use UI.

    The application menus are used mainly to work with the data within the window(create, modify or save data, move stuff place to place, change how the data is viewed and so on). The window controls are used for something different- to temporarily move the window out of my way so I can get to something else(minimize), or to close the window once I’m done working with the data.

    When I want to create/modify/view content I throw the mouse to the left(reading from left to right, to the beginning)
    When I’m done with the data/content, I move the mouse to the right, to the opposite end, to close the window/app.

    And as for modifying the order of the Min, Max buttons, it’s more of a complaint because it breaks ‘muscle memory’, but it’s still bugging me, feels like someone switched the accelerator and brake pedals on my car.

    Just my $0.02 worth

  • What bothers me even more then position of windows is the buttons for minimize and maximize. This two up and down arrows. I don’t use bottom programs bar. I just integrated this programs bar into top bar and I have heard from many people do the same. OK, now what does up icon do? Maximize or minimize? You know I have programs bar at the top, so it would be logically it would minimize isn’t it? This up and down arrow was first invented in Windows 3.1 and Microsoft figured out that was bad design, because it confuses people. And to confuse even more in Ubuntu default min,max order was changed to max,min. Why?

    About left-right position of icons I prefer to have them on right, because I use Windows at my job and Ubuntu at home. So having any difference that is not important for productivity makes me not happy. So I use as many programs on Windows and Ubuntu the same like Firefox, Pidgin, OpenOffice etc.

    What I would prefer to have is having min,max,close buttons on the right and having some more space (for example for one button size) between “min,max” and “close” button. I am always afraid that I will click close button instead of max button.


    as mentioned in some posts above, theses “Mac like” buttons with colours demerit the new themes Radiance and Ambiance

    We are facing a profound “Mac complex” here, but it’s not too late. The button should be colourless at last, and redesigned at best.

    Ubuntu 10.04 the OSX clown (clone)?

  • I have to say that these changes in the button position and the theme in general (very half-baked) have sucked out of me almost all of the excitement I had for the Lucid release. It’s just horrible. Please listen to the community, please don’t pull a Steve Jobs here and tell the community to go screw themselves. Please!

  • I am left thinking ‘deckchairs,titanic’.

    Windows 7 suffers too from this obsession with minutiae

    If the only problems left to be tackled are the colour and placement of knobs and buttons, then innovation is over. What is the point of any further new versions, ever? The product is finished, fully optimised. Like a 1950s bicycle.

    where is the real development? This whole WIMP interface has led us up a 25 year blind alley, wasting millions of hours of peoples lives fiddling about with desktop colours instead of doing any work!

    Why can’t we think at our computers? Kirk had a talking computer in 1968. Where is mine? What happened to expert systems? ideas processing? CASE? natural language processing? Why is CAD still so mind-numbingly dull? Databases so tedious?

    Where are the open-source drm systems, ebook readers, photo editors (other than GIMP), accesible systems for the handicapped or elderly? By now, surely Stephen Hawking’s talking box should be freely available for anyone who needs it. (and let it not be forgotten that screenreaders for the blind do not mix well with the WIMP desktop)

    Do stop pretending that tiddling about with window borders is going to change the world.

  • To all this pre-mentioned opposition I want to add a plea for the ELDERLY and the DISABLED users of Ubuntu.

    They often have to cope with a diminished or minimal eyesight and/or motorial impairment. They like to scale up the default fonts e.g. for better viewing and/or operating buttons and other controls. Until Human this is not an issue. Setting bigger fonts triggers all UI elements to scale in the same way. Titles, buttons and so on. Even button icons are easily replaced with – for them – more sensible text layout.

    Visual balance of each window is a way of making viewing and operating more easily as well. Up to now these users use the window controls -minimize/maximize/close- to identify the right edge of the active window. This is significant when there is more then one window overlapping each other on the display. The same issue is there with the window title. When it is centered one can know that the window is stretching to the left side as far as to the right side from the position of the title.

    So any change in the basic layout of windows will confuse them, and as you might know their learninig curve is often not big.
    Putting all info to the left gives no information at all concerning the window dimensions. It will visually overload the left side of the window with a mass of controls, menus and other information. Looking up the desired information is then much more difficult, as authorities in this domain wil state.
    Not only the position and the order of the minimize/maximize/close buttons is an issue, but the lack of scalability of these controls is a big disadvantage in comparing with the human theme. In case one uses a font height of e.g. 190 dpi (this is really sensible on 22-24 inch screens) these window controls are not larger then 3 mm diameter, while the font height is more then twice as much. Hard to operate.

    The Ubuntu designers should not ignore this visual aspects. The current window design did not just drop from the sky. Someone had good arguments for it, which at this moment I cannot confirm for the light themes. I fear that persisting in this design will chase the elderly and disabled away from Ubuntu whilest new ex-MS-windows users will not adopt as easy as in former times.

  • Hi Ivanka.

    I just wanted to say, that I switched from windows XP to Ubuntu Karmic 9.10 after trying it a little. It seemed like a very tight distribution, made by experienced computer users. However also scaling very well, to the new users. Most things seem to be set up, in a no-nonsense, no-obscurity, way. I particulary turned on to the NewWave theme, and see it as perfect for my needs.

    I looked at the theme-updates, said to come in the next version of the Ubuntu-distribution, and well, things seem to be obscured a bit, however it’s nice to see that some of the new themes seems to be further developments on the NewWave theme.

    I do not think moving the min,max,close buttons to the left, is a wise idea. They can be mixed up with the filemenu, and I don’t think most other OS’s are wrong, in putting them on the right side. BeOS used tabs ofcourse, and had them mostly on the left side, but I don’t think it’s tabbed look, works outside special applications either.

    The logo also seems to be influenced by spirits, that are not Ubuntu, or “linux for humans” but rather maybe something I would call “African-tribe-word”-mentality. Remember that Ubuntu most probably has a monotheistic religious origin, and therefore is universal to the whole world. Therefore notions such as african, and tribe, and particulary spears, and so forth, should be dropped, and instead, a good and compassionate, natural “surrendered-to-God”, gnostic mindset instead thought of.

    I wrote this earlier about Ubuntu: “It may be an interesting monotheistic thought, behind the name and expression Ubuntu.
    It means “I am that I am, because of what We all are”.
    Many recognize the monotheistic God, as the cause of all things. An individual cannot say that what he has achieved, not has been based on what others has achieved, of what his parents did, and what his forefathers back to Adam did.
    Therefore this expression is a referance to the immanent God, We. The gathering of transcendent intellects. The logos, word, in us all.
    Under this is also, that, God exalts, and deludes whomever he wills.”

    You can also read more, about my religious research here:!/pages/Quranical-Islam/223298917285

    I saw your blog-title, and it was indeed and interesting title.

    I also noticed that the gnome-layout was changed in the earlier screenshots. It is true that a lot of users may not be used to both a lower and an upper bar, but it really is optimal, for an advanced user. I also think that the speaker icon in 9.10 is more suitable than the windows-looking icon, in the screenshot.

    Here is a screenshot of my current desktop. I think this is optimal for my needs. Notice that I also added some resource-overviews there. Any changes from this, I do believe is a step in the wrong direction 🙂

    Peace Be With You.

  • Change for the sake of change, No benefit to the user what so ever! The buttons are fine where they are.

    When people asked for the brown to go, they meant the brown, not lets mix this up as much as possible. It’s ended up like that car Homer J Simpson designed.

  • It would be interesting if there was a study on where on the screen mouse is most of the time.

    It seems like someone could write an app to record the position every minute and then make a graphic based on the results. Hot areas where the mouse was a lot and cold where it was only once in a while.

  • 1) an internal discussion is not what I better like, but it’s OK. But then, you publish the software _and_ the internal discussion, that’s absolutely natural – if you want, it follows by pure induction from the concept of Open Source
    2) That was a nice experiment, the goal was to gather users’ reactions, now please fix it.
    3) If you have good reasons to not fix it, get in touch with upstream and fix that in GNOME default theme.

  • I’m tired of this arbitrary shit – am gonna go play with a green chameleon

  • I don’t find the buttons move to the left an impediment.

    But is it an ‘improvement’? I am not sure.
    I can adjust to their being on the left.

    Keep up the excellent work!

    Dietrich T. Schmitz
    GNU/Linux Advocate

  • I think willy nilly moving the close button without any provable benefit, but very provable setbacks, is a bad bad idea.Actually makes me doubt the sanity of the Ubuntu team and looking at other distros 🙁

  • Leave them where they were….pure and simple. Do NOT force change on your userbase or it will come back and kick you in the nuts.

  • I agree with Wyrfel

    “Exactly because! Having the window buttons on the right keeps them out of the main focus line. Which is exactly what you want. When i start an application, the first thing i want to be made to decide about – even on the most subtle level – is definately not if i want to close, minimize or maximize its window right away.”

    When I open a new program the least thing i want is to get rid if it right away, that’s why the “buttons” should be away from mi sight.
    The are a lot of important things in the top left that i’m gonna be right after opening a program.

    Also, I agree this is the real deal:
    “If you want to do something real useful, i’d rather recommend getting rid of the window menu button (usually the application icon) and coming up with a creative way to amalgamate the menu bar and window border, a bit like Google did with Chrome (only their solution does only half of what it could do).”

    In GNOME Shell (GNOME 3) the application menu is in the top panel left to the “Activities Menu” an on top of the title bar. So if we have the application name and the “Application Menu” occupying the (otherwise useless) empty space in the top panel, why should we waste more space whit a title bar of redundant information?

    Thanks for opening the floor for this discussion, thats why I love Sofware Libre

    PD: I really hate Global Menus

  • “- Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right?”

    Because accidental clicks happen all the time. Before, accidental clicks around the menu bar meant you were just clicking dead space. Now, you may minimize, maximize or (bring in the agony) close the application altogether.

    Change for change’s sake is not good. You are just breaking consistency for no good reason and forcing people to relearn something that has become second nature. We all know that the QWERTY keyboard layout was designed to slow down typing, but it is still the most widely used layout. Why? Are you going to change that too?

  • When cars were first around over one hundred years ago everything was new and needed inventing. It took decades before the modern layout of the floor pedals emerged, you know from the right, “Gas, Brake, Clutch”. Now imagine if there was a modern issue just like this. Maybe apple-motors got a crazy patent on “Brake, Gas, Clutch”, and cried foul if any other manufacturer did the same, so ubucar went ahead and chose another arbitrary pedal layout.
    This is where the fun begins, just try driving your friends car and see how long it is before you stamp on the brake and ram-raid the funeral parlour.
    Please don’t change what has become a standard and unconscious reflex action for most computer users.

  • I’m sure a lot of people would love to redesign the QWERTY keyboard to some more ‘efficient’ scheme. Why don’t they? Because familiarity outweighs all other arguments.

  • My .02 cents, since all are chiming in. I do not believe that this is a positive change for my usage, but I can see why some people might prefer it.
    When the full release comes, if this element is included, I will decide whether this issue (along with any others) is fixable, endurable, or if I should check out a KDE distro again. Here is my usage pattern.

    My mouse never sits up in the top left, waiting to be used. My house parks on the unused real estate on the right edge of the screen. I read left to right, default en_us. Left-justified text means I complete my reading and my eyes (and often mouse) are vertically bottom right and horizontally mid right side of the screen. This means it’s a natural operation to mouse up along the far right edge and close/minimize the windows as needed. I only close or minimize at the end of my usage – not the start. The first thing I do when opening a window is not at the top left, but at the top right.

    I may be unusual, since UI guidelines claim you should work from left to right, most commonly used to least commonly used options. I think this fails in many actual usage situations because you close or minimize a window when done with the window, or moving to another window to complete another task before returning.

    Strangely, my most used operations all cluster to keyboard shortcuts, followed by bottom right. This is especially true at work, where I run a batch file on Win XP Pro to start and arrange everything on my screen. This makes me a outlying example, but an edge case should be heard as well.

    All my other normal operations, especially spending the better part of my day with multiple web-browsers open on multiple screens, are keyboard shortcuts. Except minimize and maximize. For some reason, I simply don’t learn the shortcuts for them. I alt-tab, shift-alt-tab, and use ctrl-n/ctrl-w in Firefox for my open/close operations. I swap between minimize/maximize from bottom by right/left click, or using the top right buttons. Since I have a laptop, I typically have EVERYTHING maximized unless I dual monitor and watch a movie while browsing.

    I think the only real answer comes from finding out where a large sample of users hover their mouse, where their pointer spends the most time, and making determinations from that information as to where the best close/minimize/maximize placement is. Not directly in the mouse path, but an easy transverse. For left-to-right languages, natural read or scan patterns move top-left to bottom right as a general rule. I think that should be kept in mind.

  • Hi Ivanka, thanks for posting about this.
    Respectfully, I strongly disagree with the placement of the “pesky buttons”.
    Please reconsider this.
    Ubuntu’s competitiveness really does not hinge on button placement. I respect your willingness to re-examine things that most people take for granted. Its a great quality. Its how progress happens, but not all change is progress. This is one of those changes.

  • The best thing about Linux and Ubuntu is that we have choices, please make it easy to move the icons.

  • Changing someone habits !!! GOOD LUCK

    But while at it, re-think the whole title bar, the most wasted real estate area on any screen IMO 🙂

  • Seems to me if you come from Mac you like the new design if you come from windows you like the old design. Its what people are used to that they like better.

  • Warning asI’m going to be very direct. The person(s) behind UA in the Ubuntu-team should be poissoned and shot without questions. The changes Ubuntu makes are so Ubuntu-only and are working on my nerves. The 9.10 release was my limit due to some changes how the systray works and need to access mail- and IM-notifications. Now 10.04 is coming I tested it in Virtualbox to give it a fair chance and things got even worse. And I not going to give Ubuntu another chance EVER, you just lost a Linux-promoter.

    First thing is. Why do I need a mouse to shutdown my machine or to logoff. The entries under System are there for a reason and Ubuntu moved them to a place you can only reach with a mouse.

    Second. Why do I have to fire up Empathy two times to get the buddylist.

    Third. What the hell is with the notification thingie? I need multiple clicks to access my IM, mail, blog, etc.

    Forth. What is with the username thingie in the systrac? It is a mixture between changing you status and shutdown down?

    Fifth. The new interface misses contrast. My eyesite is good, but their is just not enough contrast to make out tabs, buttons, whatever. And everything on gnome-panel is only available in black-white without any hint what it may be. Two arrows up and down? An enveloppe to tell that you should read you blogs or IM using that icon? Where is the logic?

    I can go on for example after example, but I’m not going to. One thing is clear. Canonical is changing and branding Ubuntu in such a way that is becomes incompatible with the rest of the world. Ubuntu One hints the road it takes and I have switched back to Debian and OpenSolaris with ClearLooks and everything seems to be sane again. Again you lost an user today and more as I’m going to advise against Ubuntu to everyone who askes it.

  • Don’t mess with the management button placement. Moving them seems like a good idea only if the user can choose to use Ubuntu 100% of the time. I am not uncommon in that I use Ubuntu most of the time but frequently have to use Windows for parts of my job. I chose Ubuntu, in large measure, because the UI is so Windows-like that I can easily move back and forth between the two operating systems.

  • Left side is perfect for us left-handers. Why not make it customisable: left or right?

  • Repositioning the window decoration buttons is not a priority. As others said, nobody is complaining or having issues with them. I find more important that the Ubuntu design team adds polish to the GTK theme. For example the scrollbar design is really a step backward compared to previous themes.

  • I actually don’t mind the new position, because I see the logic behind it. However, I switch window managers almost weekly sometimes, so I’m used to completely changing all my keyboard shortcuts and mouse movements, and I get used to a new one very quickly. However, I know that lots of users will not get used to it. My parents will now have a terrible time with Ubuntu. They’re both really computer-savvy, but they don’t like things to change. And regardless of how good the logic is, the fact that it’s different will piss off most users, especially the non-technical ones.

    My two cents on global menu bars. I hate them for another reason than the distance you have to go to get to them. That problem can be alleviated by a faster mouse. I hate them because when I want a menu option on an unfocused window, I have to click one more time and move my mouse twice the distance. Most window managers have you click to focus a window. In such a window manager, to get a menu item, you can just click on it, if its exposed, because the click will change the focus and activate the menu. With a global menu, you have to click on the window and then click on the item on the global menu. Now, some window managers have the focus follow the mouse, so mousing over a window focuses it (clicking raises it), which could solve the problem except that you wouldn’t be focusing on the correct window when you hit the global menu. That’s my pet peeve with global menus.

  • Hey guys..
    To the buttons location…have choice tick box with 3 choices…left…center ..and right
    seems to me that left handed people will choose one over the other. DO NOT make force ANY on users if the traditional position…to the right…has always been there..this is common sense…
    To oftern developers want to make changes without consulting the vast majority of users “FIRST” before making changes.
    The ONLY solution to t his is the tick boxes as I mentione.. NO NEED to have users go into gcong or kde’s configuration uitlity to change this it should be a right click on the title bar and make it that simple
    Again the choice in position should be determined by individuals because of the left or right handed -ness or personl choice of ease of work.
    The new light themes in Lucid..ambianee and radiance..are fairly ok… but as default…BIG MISTAKE! the buttons themselves are not drawn correctly because a bug in metacity..which , by the way ,.has not been fixed, and in order to “qasi fix” the redraw have to go into gconf-editor and change the actual positions of the buttons in the slot order..<<< bad idea!

  • You asked so I’ll tell you.

    Don’t do it. You’re creating problems. We already have enough trouble getting employees to adopt Ubuntu as it is. Most people will not like this. They do not think like you or I.

    In a nutshell; if its not broken then don’t fix it. That’s simple common sense.

  • Is it better or worse?
    Definitely worse. Nothing is getting easier or better.

    I understand the reasoning behind the idea, that menus are on the left side. And right, after closing one window, I very often want to open a new window, so off we go to the menu bar in the panel. Yes, this distance gets shortened. Point taken.

    But! There is a flaw in that argumentation. The File, Edit, View, Tools menus are all on the left. When I want to open these menus, I don’t want to close the window. With the buttons on the left that might accidentally occur.

    The next wrong decision is putting the close button NOT in the corner of the window. Ok, obviously this was done to prevent accidentally closing the window. What with most dangerous button … But it completely neglects Fitts Law – One has to actively aim for the most important button (it is not dangerous, its important!), because it is not in a corner where it could be hit intuitively without looking at it.

    Thirdly: most users are used to these buttons on the right corner, it is a usability nightmare for anyone switching from windows to ubuntu or anyone who is used to the buttons being in the right corner.

    No – gaining a few seconds and maybe mouse mileage every day does not compensate the negative effects!

  • Forget messing with the colours and button positions.

    Change as LITTLE look and feel..

    Just make go faster, reliable, less ram. (no “forgetting” samba share mounts or WiFi passwords or IP addresses).

  • In a school environment, my concern is support for all of my users, some students and older staff, who have just recently figured out where the power button is and now gotten used to the idea of controls. Unnecessary changes are not good when dealing with implementations whose users are not that computer savvy!

  • I have to throw in my 2c here because I’m that scared that these left hand buttons will make it into the final release.

    One piece that I think you overlooked in your design decision is the simple fact that people across the board have gotten used to having the buttons, in that order, on the right hand side of the title bar.. Just because something is a ‘better’ layout doesn’t mean we’ll see, or even feel, the benefits as users. We couldn’t care less about an eventual 2-millisecond productivity increase in the long run if it’s going to cause us no end of pain to start with…

    Case in point: I think the keyboard layout of dvorak is far better (just my opinion, not wanting to start a flame), but I still use qwerty – why? I’m used to it, and the pain of switching to it far outweighs any kind of productivity increase that I can perceive.

    Same for the titlebar button switch. There is no point,especially not for that kind of pain. I’m having a hard time convincing windows users to switch as it is, please leave the buttons alone 🙁

    My 2c.

  • This seems like a very bad move. You would need strong reasons to change such a fundamental thing, and you give none. Try concentrating on changing stuff that need to be changed, instead of standardized behaviour known to the most naive user.

  • Hi Folks

    I think the change looks great. I did not have an issue getting used to it, although if it moves back to the right I really don’t mind. Overall the refresh looks good and improves upon a pretty UI (I use netbook edition). I for one will not be changing distro’s any time soon….after too many years of windows and a bit of distro hopping the next LTS will be my one and only OS.

  • The truth that move the buttons and changing colors is a breakthrough, with any issue you customize the appearance and with ‘Ubuntu Tweak’ can change the place of buttons.

    A very interesting change would be to reposition the window by dragging the title bar (as Windows Seven) but not only to maximize, left and right, the good would be to put in a position grid.

    Let me explain with an example: We have a maximized window, click on the title bar with the right mouse button and start dragging an overlay appears with a square with 2 columns and a square with 4 pictures (for example), so if drag in any portion would be placed at that location of the window.

    I put a link to an image that explain it better. Sorry to image texts are in Spanish because it was used in a Spanish blog:


  • I’m just going to copy + paste what I wrote in a thread on the ubu forums because I’m lazy :

    I like how having the close button inside makes it harder to close the window. By that of course I mean less accidental clicks.

    The one scenario I can think of that has happened to me more than a few times is that I’ll have a window in the foreground that I THINK is maximized but it’s not so my brain goes to close the the X in the corner and Poof the window in the background gets closed. It was second nature as to where the button was so I didn’t give it more than a glance.

    That’s pretty much the only scenario I can think of that occured on a frequent enough basis to remember. So having the close button on the inside (whether on the left or right) might be an improvement, at least to me.

    Now if this WERE something that would be easy to get used to and it wouldn’t cause any horrendous issues in the long run (the only one I can think of are apps that have their window controls hard coded in, and even in that case I’m sure modifications & themes could be made to those apps to fix them) then it would be a good argument for being different.

    Being different lends to having an individual identity and it may be understandable that Ubu devs would want to make the OS they’re developing different & recognizable.

    As far as styling goes…well I was shopping at ikea today & it reminded me of a post I made in the other button orientation post. Simplified industrial design is something that reaches far back before apple began to use it and is shared by an incredible amount of products & companies. Should Ubuntu use these principals they’re going by an industry standard, not just copying OSX (Yes I know there are some blatant copies like the .doc file which can even be argued for since it’s a WORD document).

    Anyways, I’d put them on the right just to keep people happy, but I think it’s a missed opportunity to push for individuality.

  • wow, i cant beleive another redesign of something thats not broken.
    considering 90% of pcs are on windows, for ease of transistion, just keep it like windows. if anything, put some space between the buttons.
    If you want to do something radical, and more useful, merge the menu bar into the title bar. eg

    file edit veiw tools help (Title) min max close

    Just my thoughts thanks,

  • Please out them back in the original position. After using Windows all day at work, I don’t need to put up with that annoyance!

  • total epic fail!
    not only does it break with consistancy, which is tabu!, its a terrible design anyway.
    – easy to hit closebutton when going for menus

    – resizebuttons should be close to vertical scroll, as scroll is often next mouse-stop after resize..

    – there is a psychological effect when manipulating the window in the top-left corner, which is why we dont have the scroll-field on the left side.. in our mind we feel we “hold our hand over the document we are reading”(right-handed ppl) even the menus should ideally be placed centre for this reason..

    this all smells like “mac-envy” anyways.. something i find utterly pathetic.
    id personally rather have a sys looking like win95 than a poor osx-clone/wannabe
    even the purple color resembles osx..
    google: (or bing in your case) “mac osx wallpaper”

  • The left-side placement alone is annoying, but the action reordering is a disaster. A complete violation of the Principal of Least Surprise.

    I beg you: use the Windows layout or the OS X layout. There is nothing to be gained by inventing your own.

    This “experiment” does not belong in an LTS.

  • I gave it much thought and couldn’t think of a single reason how this change is going to be useful for end-users. I am used to have close button on top right corner of the screen and could aim at it blind folded ( i am sure others can do this too) at times when I don’t wish to use keyboard shortcuts Are you suggesting that I should get used to new locations of buttons that will take anywhere between 2 weeks and 1 month of learning curve and then when I boot windows for work at office place, actively remind myself that the button locations are different? Can you imagine how frustrating this can be?

    The point is that nobody complains about the button positions, why would you spend precious time discussing on the design and then face criticisms from users because this change seems total illogical.. after all its the end users who are going to use Ubuntu and not the designers.

  • I have no problem with the buttons on the left–I get it you want it to look distinctively ‘ubuntu’–I actually find it strangely refreshing but, too me, it looks terribly unbalanced with the buttons on the left AND the window title. I agree with Martin, I think it would look much more balanced with the window title in the centre al la (of what I’ve seen of it) gnome 3.0.

  • I really like this change. I don’t use Windows, but I only use Mac OS X and Ubuntu. I always use gconf-editor to configure Ubuntu to have the controls on the left side, just like on Mac OS X. I really hope this will be the default in Ubuntu 10.04.

    Why should the controls be on the right side? Why should we copy Windows? Just put the controls on the left (like it’s in the current alpha of Ubuntu 10.04). It’s more obvious to have them on the left. What does Microsoft know about usability? Why should we copy them?

  • I just tried the new button positioning for quite some time and just couldn’t get used to it! Maybe given enough time I eventually would, but don’t see the advantage in it.

    I think a good middle point, that both gives a good usability and gives Ubuntu a distinctive look is to have, as Ivanka says in the post, the maximize/minimize buttons on the left and the close button on the right. It would be even better to have a good preferences dialog so that a user could easily choose the positions as he may wish.

    However, I think it is not a very good idea to drop this usability *bomb* in an LTS release. Perhaps 10.10 would be a better target for such a change.

    Just my 2cents… 😉

  • Hi Ivanka,

    I think the reason the minimize,maximize,close buttons are in the upper-right corner is because that is the least visible location. As you start moving your eyes left to right when you open a new window, having these buttons in the upper-left corner would become clutter and annoying over a longer period of usage. Also they balance out the design as if both menus and buttons would be on left side, right side would be empty and design becomes unbalanced.

    It’s just like the brown theme is nice at first, but when you switch from brown to blue for a few hours, or a day and then back to brown, it does not feel that user-friendly anymore. If you would compare the TOP10 websites for USA, Australia, China, Europe, Brazil, Russia in… then you would notice that in all cultures around the planet blue theme is dominant for the most popular websites.

    Think of nature, if brown equals trees and blue equals sky and sea, which would humans prefer watching (from their window) all day long.

    E.g. these are the color settings I am using:
    System > Preferences > Appearance > Theme > Human > Colors >
    Selected Items Background > #5a79b6
    Windows Background > #f0f0f0

  • NO! Fine if it has it’s advantages, I will get used to it, but for most “switchers”, from MS Windows that is, it is hell.

    If it is really such a wanted improvement, give it as an option during installation of the Ubuntu OS. As others have said IMHO it better to have a good preferences dialog so that a user could easily choose the positions as they may wish.

    Thus, I only can repeat what other have said. I think it is NOT a very good idea to drop this usability *bomb* in an LTS release.

  • Please, stop saying “copy OS X” and “copy Windows”, that’s not the point. The two popular OSes can be seen as a proof that both alternatives _are_, in a way or the other, viable, and that’s all.

    Now, talking about Ubuntu’s best choice, the reasonment must consider only 2 factors:
    1) ergonomicity
    2) habitude

    But, then, if we think on the long term, also factor 2) disappears: anybody should be willing to sacrifice some confort during the first weeks to increase confort in the following years.

    So, that’s it, if Ubuntu devs had just made a plain and _convincing_ reasonment on factor 1), ergonomicity, involving the GNOME devs and users in it, I would probably have no objections. Instead, they didn’t! The most similar thing to a usability study that I’ve read is “I am quite used to it”!

    If you share this view, you will also share the opinion that a “compromise” between OSes with icons part on the right and part on the left is simply absurd if it doesn’t stem from some usability reasonment and study. And by the way, I think in that case “close” would be better on the left, since it is the button less conceptually related to the window manager – one thinks of it as exiting _the app_ – and it is also the “unnecessary” button – one can almost always close a window/app in some other way. So I don’t think it necessarily needs “isolation”. The others two do.

    Ergonomicity reasonments don’t only guarantee that the choice has sense, but also that it _will last_. And that’s really important.

  • I unfortunately agree with several commenters above: as this is an LTS, making it user friendly is key – and for a lot of non-tech end users and business customers, that means “looks like what I used to use before”.

    (Real) use case: 60 year old lady with scant computer knowledge, has grown accustomed to Windows 2000/XP on friends & families computers but is now happily running Ubuntu 9.10. Occasionally needs reminding about what the difference is between an email and a chat window, and at least once accidentally releted the top menu bar on the desktop, rendering the computer useless to her (as a techie, logging in on a text terminal and deleting the .gnome preference files fixed the latter).

    I would imagine a major change in the core window layouts would be upsetting to this user. Will the “old”-style layouts be included as optional (so I can upgrade her to an LTS but not change how things look by too much ?)

  • Seriously, the color of the theme and default placement of the buttons rates higher on the priority list than the broken pile of garbage that is Pulseaudio on Ubuntu? I would bet money that more people will leave Ubuntu for some other OS (even going back to Windows) over fundimental issues like sound and video, than over colors and buttons that can be easily changed to suit the user.

  • -please put them back on the right or place a setting for it in the appearance control panel?
    -i don’t see having the buttons on the left as a reading function.
    -what about languages that read right to left?
    -we have to unlearn what has been the norm for, well to me for 16 years.
    -if you must do this, please wait until 10.10 and see how it goes. this is an LTS.


    If you go changing the order/position of the buttons, you’ll be causing chaos.

  • Well, it is very simple to test this, just issue these commands in the console:

    gconftool-2 -t string –set /apps/metacity/general/button_layout “maximize,minimize,close:menu”

    gconftool-2 -t string –set /apps/metacity/general/button_layout “maximize,minimize:close,menu”

    gconftool-2 -t string –set /apps/metacity/general/button_layout “menu:minimize,maximize,close”

    gconftool-2 -t string –set /apps/metacity/general/button_layout “close,minimize,maximize:menu”

    Which one is better looks hard to tell, but someone at /. said moving the close button away from the corner would prevent people from closing accidentally when they wanted to resize. The rest is a matter of habit i guess.

  • For those saying this shouldn’t be a high priority, you should realize that the design team is only chartered to evolve the design. It would help if they would point that out more often. I think I understand there is some future reason for this, If I knew I might be more supportive.

    I’ve tried themes where the buttons were on the left and hated it. Every time I wanted to close a window I would go to the upper right and then get frustrated.

    If this is the default theme, I’ll give it a chance and change to another, or modify it to put the buttons in the right place. If it isn’t modifiable, I’ll change distros.

    Still, it would be nice to see some mock-ups that show why this is being discussed because to most of us it seems like a clueless change.

  • I’ve heard several people say that it takes several days to get used to the new buttons. Most reviewers will not try the desktop for that long.

    The beta testers haven’t been solidly in favor of the changes, but of course the real test will be in how normal users react to the changes. It will be a surprise for them when they see it the first time.

    My parents had to use separate computers because my Dad freaks out when there is a new icon on the desktop. Dad always use Firefox. I wanted to get rid of that “Firefox is not your default browser.” message but it turned out that was a bad idea. Dad doesn’t like change.

    Good luck with your endeavors. 🙂

    The buttons certainly will be the main feature that users notice about this release.

  • Relax people, just do: gconftool-2 –set “/apps/metacity/general/button_layout” –type string “:maximize,minimize,close”

    And they are back on the right. Geez you people are acting like it’s the end of the world. Grow up.

  • What I found worse than changing the position of the window controls, was that the controls are now so very small. I find the tiny dark x inside the orange ball with the light effect hard very hard to see. In something so small I think there is too much detail.

    The issue that confused me the most was that I couldn’t switch back to the old theme as it was. It was there in the theme window, but switching themes apparently does not affect the format of the titlebar.

  • Just include Mwbuttons by default and the button order is just another thing almost all Ubuntu users will have to change after install , after changing the theme.

    What I feel is stupid about this decision is that the Ubuntu design team has copied the mac button placement which itself is a usability mistake unless the user is left handed.

    btw im an ubuntu user .. Desktop, Laptop and netbook.


  • Lijepo je za vidjeti da ima Hrvata u Ubuntu timu. Lijep pozdrav iz Vukovara. Bila dugmad lijevo ili desno tako mi svejedno.

  • +1 for minimise and maximise on the left and close on the right with the title centred

  • The problem is the assumption of the design team that everybody will love those buttons once they get used to them.

    Because they are not going to get used to them.

    What will happen is what is reflected on the polls, over 80% of the users will change them ASAP, and then add the users who don’t participate in polls who are going to run into the forums asking how to fix them as soon as they install.

    In the end your little UI experiment will fail because there is no way to enforce it.

    The only thing you are going to achieve is eroding the faith of the community.

    If you are really that are super great and that everybody will love the change once they get used to it then you better make it impossible to change, remove the option from gconf and use DRM to prevent users from using a third party repos to change their Gnome version because otherwise we are going to opt-out of this scheme.

    The wise thing would be to invite users to test this configuration, maybe with a popup dialog and only after a day of regular use.

    Make the user feel like they have an option to try something new, instead of making them feel like they have the option of switching distro.

  • NO! Don’t do this I have the ability to make the buttons switch back/ get used to it, but this is one more person to scare and confuse a new user. There is no benifit and everyone coming from windows will be like WTF. There is no benifit. Why are you making decisions that are so against what the community wants. This just creates problems

  • PLEASE put the buttons back on the right. Not only is it familiar, I think the close button should be on the same side as the vertical scroll bar to avoid endlessly forcing the mouse cursor across myriad windows.

    I have grown to like Gnome 2.28. The big thing I want to see fixed in Ubuntu is the network manager and its vpn integration. Make it *really* solid and then worry about gratuitous changes to the appearance of the GUI.

    BTW, your best boot splash graphic to date was in 9.04 – the (ray traced?) Ubuntu logo in that image is a thing of beauty. I am not saying that you should display it everywhere you can, but it is a nice splash, especially on wide monitors.

    Overall, thanks for Ubuntu. You and others are helping me to ditch Microsoft and should be knighted for your role in it.

  • Maybe Linux Mint will become more popular than Ubuntu if they keep the original button position as in <= 9.10.

  • “- Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right?”
    In order to create a certain balance? At the Moment, if you will kill a windows, you’ll have 4 or more posibilities, and all on same side.

  • The ‘new’ button position is refreshing, i got used to it in a couple of hours … and i think it also stimulates creativity!

  • And here I thought it was because Microsoft fired the UI guy behind the Eurozone ballot screen – and Canonical hired him.

    But you do have to consider the possibilities of misfiring. Maybe the user does not want to close the window. Maybe an epileptic user accidentally twitches then clicks (and lets me restore the files that just got trashed).

    With the drop-down menu already giving you zoom-zoom-close options, what is gained here…although the doubleclick-to-close is not present now at top left – see above, this prevents accidents.

    And it’s easier to alt-space zooming anyway. Much easier. Mouse menus are meant for novice learners and those who cannot remember shortcuts; in either case safety over efficiency when data loss might result.

    There are some more important issues with screen space. This widescreen is becoming a regrettable standard. Programmers work vertically. Office use is vertical. Only this stupid cinema ratio is widescreen. Uh, just because the new market is videos, it doesn’t mean the old market’s screens should be abandoned. But since it has been…

    All of these 1366×768 or 1440×900 screens being sold now get really condensed vertically. Efforts need to be made to reduce/remove the series of horizontal top and bottom rows that can leave us (for instance with file pickers) with scarcely one line of text – but a long line.

    I put the widget bar at the side but other adjustments result in weirdness.

    Adding a second screen shows issues for tissues too – windows tend to open where the mouse is, not where the opening process is, the window manager likes rectangles so the space above the smaller screen is there in its imagination, and while it may not be the window manager’s fault specifying the default main screen didn’t work until it did – and it’s still telling me the wrong thing while doing what I want.

  • Bas volite zmišljat’ toplu vodu, a?

    ?emu trganje kompatibilnosti? Ako korisnici nekaj mrze, onda je to kad im netko pokuša mijenjati navike, tak da ih šopa ne?im kaj netko drugi misli da je “bolje”.

    Ako su stvari uvije radile na odre?eni na?in, onda trebaju i dalje tak delati.

    Dobar inžinjering je unazadna i budu?a kompatibilnost, odn. ne-trganje iste!

    Apropos slike, ve?ina GUI-a, uklju?uju?i tu i AmigaOS, je imala gumbe za manipulaciju na DESNOJ strani.

    Protiv sam zmišljanja tople vode!!!
    Treba slijediti princip najmanjeg iznena?enja:

    “The rule of least surprise: in interface design, always do the least surprising thing.”

  • What the hell is your problem?! I see Ubuntu (as all free Software) as an offer, a kind offer of the developers and distributors for me to use. They do not charge me anything and they most certainly owe me anything! Its their decision, which approach they take and I can test it and then have my choice.

    If I don’t like their approach, I can change it, get used to it or simply change the Desktop Environment or the distribution. These are the options, they’re all okay by me. Thats the beauty with free software, I like it.

    Btw: Ubuntu has _never_ been democratic nor pretended to be. There’s Debian for that (try if they care for your opinion more..).

    Didn’t want to offend anyone, but this “customer-attitude” really makes me sick..

  • Les boutons de fenêtre en haut à gauche dans Lucid Lynx 😕 Aucun intérêt !…

    La prochaine version d’Ubuntu, dénommée Lucid Lynx, est disponible en version Alpha, et… il y a une modification de conception d’IHM qui me surprend beaucoup : le bloc de boutons qui permet de réduire/agrandir et fermer une fenêtre a …

  • No one has offered a reason for this change except for something in the future.What is this going to be? please tell us. Yes there are ways to work around this now. I still think there should be an option.This still goes much deeper than just this one issue.There is a linux distro out there that uses the same kernal and the same gnome version. They have left all the utilities in it so you can still make adjustments to it,and its very stable.If we knew what was coming I for one would be more in favor of making the adjustment.

  • You ask “- Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right?”

    I answer window controls should go on the opposite position of the main controls. simply because this will make it harder for a user to accidentally closing a window. In mac os this is a non-issue because the application menu is not attached to the window and secondly and most important the application life cicle is independent of the windows that it shows. I mean that an application can be continue to run even though the user just closed the last window, because it’s menu is still showing.

    But on linux, and windows for that matter, the window is the application, close the last window and the user has no more interface with that application. The application is in fact closer (even if the process is still running). If the close window button is near the “file” or “edit” menu you are asking for trouble.

  • Ben Tinc said: ”

    What the hell is your problem?! I see Ubuntu (as all free Software) as an offer, a kind offer of the developers and distributors for me to use. They do not charge me anything and they most certainly owe me anything! Its their decision, which approach they take and I can test it and then have my choice.

    If I don’t like their approach, I can change it, get used to it or simply change the Desktop Environment or the distribution. These are the options, they’re all okay by me. Thats the beauty with free software, I like it.

    Btw: Ubuntu has _never_ been democratic nor pretended to be. There’s Debian for that (try if they care for your opinion more..).

    Didn’t want to offend anyone, but this “customer-attitude” really makes me sick..”

    I agree with this. All you prima donnas need to get a life. All of you complainers are really giving computer enthusiasts a bad name. Go ahead and get cancer, have 5 months to live, then talk about button placement. It would seem silly at that point, right? Well, it is silly. My god, have you people nothing better to do than come on here with a sanctimonious attitude, begging for attention? STFU, and get real. This isn’t life or death, it’s freakin buttons.

  • ::Switching daily between Windows and Ubuntu::

    I have tested the left aligned buttons for a week now.

    A point to note: I use Ubuntu at home. I must use a Windows computer at work (and in Windows the buttons are still on the right side).

    I have not been clicking the wrong thing lately (but did it earlier on).

    The main reason for this that is that every time I minimize/maximize/close a window I now have to consciously think and look at the buttons before I click.

    Instead of a 0.3 second automatic reflex gesture the operation has become a recurring 2.5 second IQ-test. I pass the test every time now but still my brain must channel off focus at a task that before was automatic.

    What is worse is that this also impacts me when using the Windows work computer. The buttons there remain on the right side as always, but I now experience the same pause-and-think effect as I do with the left-side buttons on Ubuntu. I estimate the semi-conscious pause before clicking the correct button is “only” about 1.5 seconds in Windows.

    Even though a few seconds here and there is not a big deal there is still a noticeable effect.

    If I was using *only Ubuntu* both at home and at work I suspect I would have no problem adapting to this in a few weeks, and get back to the 0.3 second automatic gesture.

    But making the company I work for switch their computer park to Ubuntu is not an option that is on the table.

    I doubt I am the only Ubuntu user that is stuck with using a Windows computer at work.

    My assessment is:
    1) Full time Ubuntu users (that are not regularly using another OS) will fully adapt to the new layout in a matter of weeks.
    2) The new layout will be a recurring bump-in-the-road for people who are unable to become full time Ubuntu users (due to work or other factors).

    Apart from the window button placement, the other design changes in Lucid are all pointing in the right direction (no pun intended) 🙂

  • @wolfen69
    Btw: Ubuntu has _never_ been democratic nor pretended to be. There’s Debian for that (try if they care for your opinion more..).

    Ubuntu without support from the community, will be nothing!
    Ubuntu is so popular and improving so much is bcoz of the community.
    Hence, input from the community is very important.
    If you like to use an OS that the community have no rights to give their opinion, then u should go back and use Windows.

    Even M$ is now listening to their users by having beta and listening to the suggestions!

  • If you want to do what’s logically best, without regard for how unexpected it is, then surely the right thing to do is to put the destructive action (close) as far away as possible from the non-destructive actions (resize). i.e. put close top right, and resize and everything else top left, or vice versa.

  • Lot’s of valid points in these comments. And an obvious trend toward dislike of the change, even from those who have give it a good chance. I am one of those.
    As someone who works on a Mac during the day I’m already used to having window controls on the left. However, the order change has definitely been an issue for me, I find myself maximizing windows I wish to close in Lucid, or closing windows I wish to maximize in OSX, or simply have to stop and think about what I’m clicking *every* time I go for window controls. Not very effecient.
    I understand the idea of not doing something just because everyone else is. However the concept of “user friendly” is completely arbitrary and in fact boils down to familiarity (otherwise why is ctrl-v for paste? Or the “about” dialog found under “help”?) In this context the change is not user friendly.
    Really there was no problem here at all, 9.10 controls fit the criteria in this article. Want window controls right above the file menu? They’re there, the little button in the top left has them all (including my favorite option, to keep any window on top). Don’t want the most destructive action on the left? It’s not, it’s the furthest from the left. PLUS it keeps with a convention meaning it’s instantly “user friendly” to most “common users”, experienced with MS Windows, Gnome, or KDE. Everybody wins. No change needed.

  • I agree with Ivanka’s opinion that the minimise & maximise on the left, close on the right is the nicest.

  • Center.

    In the center of the window below the title you can move your mose pointer and then display the tree options. Remember when in the panel there’s an option to hide it when is not being usit it?

    Apply that idea to the title-bar if you want an idea, send me a mail.

  • This is madness. It’s change for the sake of change. There is *no* good reason to break people’s expectations in this way.

  • This is precisely why Ubuntu continues to suck after all these years. Nobody cares about core functionality. Imagine if this generation had invented Unix! Unix would have been a big, bloated MSDOS.

  • The most disturbing thing here is the big-brotherish attitude to majority of Ububtu user base. People who have not even heard of gconftool-2 and gconf-editor are left entirely in the wild with no choice at all. The message Cannonical is sending to those people is clearly “My way or highway”. Is this not exactly the attitude of some other companies which motivates people to move to Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular? I truly hope this is not an irreversible trend.

  • It is often pointed out (mostly by staff and staff wannabes) that this isn’t a reason to stop using Ubuntu.


    But , hey! aren’t there other nice alternatives like for instance Linux Mint? Before, brand loyalty retained me in Ubuntu from even trying other stuff. I was happy and satisfied and new that whatever problems arise I could fix and keep using “my” ubuntu.

    Now, I feel suddenly liberated, actually.

  • On Windows (and Ubuntu as of today) the close button is furthest right and extends to the end of the window (even if the graphics doesn’t). This means you don’t have to aim the mouse exactly at the button if the window is maximized. You just *throw* the pointer to the top right corner and click, and the window closes. Not having that functionality quickly gets really annoying, because you need to find a pesky little glass bead and click it. It’s not good design.

    If the max and min buttons should move, then the min button should move to the top left so you can have the same features there. Or to the bottom right, hehe. But I think they can stay where they are. No reason to change this.

  • Why, when we read left to right is the most destructive action first?

    Well, it’s not if you leave it the way windows has it — top right, minimize-maximize-close.

    Sounds like canonical is getting a case of mac-envy/apple-fanboi-ism

  • Another comment. I have a mac and a windows pc on my desk. When I use mac I go upper left of windows for the min/max/close and on windows I go upper right for min/max/close. I can deal with it. However I prefer upper right. If I could get the mac to move the buttons to the upper right I would do it.

    HOWEVER, the menu bar at the top of the screen on the mac is the BIGGEST pain in the a** I have ever come across for UI design. It’s just not natural for me (and I suspect others) to have to move the mouse so far away from the app window to access the menu. Especially since I NEVER have windows maximized.

    Anyone know how to remove the social-app features in lucid? Add that to my long list of things to tweak / remove on ubuntu installs. Actually, I’ve been moving more and more to debian since the network-manager-no-static-ip fiasco. I figure since I have to do so much customization now with ubuntu I might as well start from scratch on a debian install.

  • […] community has called out the lead designer to explain the reasoning behind this new direction, and Ivanka Majic responds haphazardly: After the internal debate and analysis (which went something like the picture below) we decided to […]

  • In the whole post I cannot find any logical explanation.
    Just because we read from left to right… – well, then you should put everything to the left, the desktops, the trashcan, user presence or even all tray notification icons and everything. There shouldn’t be either a remaining right side – everything should be left – perfectly as I am left-handed. 😉 – No, joke apart, I want the old style back!

    Yes, menus are on the left – but closing a windows is the opposite operation to choosing a new app from the menu – so another reason why it fits well to the right.

    Did you want to reduce necessary mouse miles or what? Who really wants to reduce mouse miles driven, uses hotkeys, otherwise a good separation of operations is quite good.

    And something else: If you want to get people migrated from Windows you should focus on other things when trying to be better and not on habits that all Windows users do have learned. I have a hard living convince people trying Linux. Decisions like this make it really hard for the typical Windows user that fears the change.

    And please: Don’t look at MacOS – just because “owned” by designers this does not mean any real gain on productivity, their focus is to look cool. I for myself want to get my stuff done.

  • While trying to get familiar with the buttons on the left side, I noticed that for reducing mouse miles all dialog buttons should be on the left side, open office navigation and font pane also and and and… => Please bring back the old style!

  • Really, I feel (and I gave the new positions a week to get used to them) that they hamper productivity.

    The whole point of putting them on the right, to me, has been to seperate them from the File and edit menus. If I want to quit from the left side of the screen, I can already do that from the file menu, or the window position menu (window->close). Both of these actions were almost impossible to do accidentally. On the right, safely separated from common operations, was the close button, and, less importantly, minimize and maximize.

    Now, (or at least, half-an-hour ago, as I finally found out how to fix this with gconf-editor) I hesitate when going to the menus, since I don’t want to hit close my accident, or, still-disruptive but not nearly as bad, minimize.

    Please, please, please do not make this the default for 10.04 final.
    I tech-support for several people who are not very computer-savvy who I talked into switching to Ubuntu, and this will be a usability nightmare for them. They have enough trouble with the idea that “the start menu is on the top.”

  • Once again, Canonical folks seem to act like they live in a vacuum and break Linux conventions. Later, you will pester upstream (Gnome) developpers to use the “waisted” top right corner for something else. Other linux users will have to submit to your ways, or projects will in effect be forked. This lack of respect for the Linux ecosystem that supports Ubuntu is really annoying.

  • I’ve closed the windows a few times by mistake, which is why I suppose Windows has the buttons on the right. On Mac OS the menu bar is a long way from the window control unless you have a very small screen.

    What I’d like to know is how many people discussed this decision for how long? i.e. how wide was the ‘evidence base’ for the decision. Is it a Google approach (user test 25 different shades of blue) or a iPhone approach (Jonathan and Steve work it out). I think there is room for both and some processes in between. At least we can change the button placement on Ubuntu.

  • @KeithPeter “What I’d like to know is how many people discussed this decision for how long?”

    Complains are useless, not because they are invalid but because they are falling on deaf ears.

    My only worry is that whatever is gong to be put there is going to be something nasty. If it was something good, you’d hear about it right now, rather, it is being kept in secret. Moving the buttons now would then be an attempt to “soften” the impact. It makes sense, which is scary.

  • @rgz: It wasn’t actually meant as a complaint, just a request for information about the decision making process. I’m interested in that for a number of reasons (teaching material – I’m intending to get some students to try out the live CD with different button placements for one).

    I do think that an LTS release might not be the best place to try out radical new interface ideas.

  • I am not sure if there is any more than the sketch shown in this post. For the Windows 3.x for instance the close button was needed to be double-clicked to make it close.

    It is not the problem that we can’t change it – we can, but:
    a) the default dummy user will maybe not figure out and
    b) for the experienced user it is just annoying and
    c) at the same time doing such changes Canonical wants to reduce either configurability to avoid frightening the user and
    d) I would say that at least 90 % of new users come from Windows and maybe need to use both during a (maybe longer) transition phase – especially annoying different position of the buttons in this case and
    e) that Microsoft evolved to current button position and then kept since 95 maybe do to the fact that the optimum is reached (don’t give much on MacOS here because their priority is to be cool and different, while my priority is productivity, efficiency and reduced annoyancy).

    But the real bad thing with the current situation is: Neither Mark nor Ivanka is responding any more to the community (Mark unsubscribed from the bug – so most likely he is not following any more) – I think I have watched and listened to all their comments and my resumee is that there is no real good argument for that change. IMHO they simply mad a mistake but now they don’t admit.

  • What!? You’re not even sure if this is better or worse? How _can_ you justify pushing such a big ui change without having proper arguments for it?

  • For years users have been trained to do a fundamental task in a particular way, so much so that it has become a completely subconscious reflex action, and now you are breaking that reflex for no good reason resulting pain and anger because you have *substantially reduced the efficiency of all of those users*.

  • My mother and father, who have quite a problem keeping track of obscure concepts as windows, applications, files and folders will suddenly get some of the few concepts they learnt (how to close a window for instance) removed for them and they’ll have to relearn it.

    That’s just not user friendliness.

    All of the reasons for this change seems whimsical at best.

    The picture doesn’t answer most of the questions at all. I’ll give you some possible answers for some of them.

    – Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right?

    Well, there could be a lot of reasons for it. I’ll give some suggestions: You cram to much functionality into too little space, you can utilize that it’s easy to find the corners of the screen with a mouse. Of cource the main reason is: That’s how the last version of Ubuntu worked, it’s _consistent_.

    – Why, when we read left to right is the most destructive action first?

    It isn’t, now is it? The close window goes to the farthest right… Also I think that suggesting that’s very important is to read to much into it.

    – Are we smoking crack to think that the learning curve for getting used to a new position is ever going to be worth any real or perceived benefit of new positions?

    Yes. Sorry. I’ve understand that you’re experimenting with putting other stuff there. Fine! When that functionality is available, please do whatever you want, if the new functionality is good and we like it, the relearning might be worth it. But as it stands, you’re making people relearn the way their computer works twice. Once now and once again when that new functionality gets there.

    Why, o why did you sacrifice the sound principle of consistency for no apparant benefit?

  • I’d have to disagree with one of the comments. User friendly doesn’t always just mean familiar. There’s a lot more to it than that.

  • The moving of the button positions was a bad move. I don’t think you guys really thought this one through and it was just a move to be “more like a mac.”

    I’m a UI and UXE designer, so user experience is my forte. I also use a mac for 99% of my computing both professional and personal, so I really like macs and the platform.

    Anyways, the problem with moving the buttons to the left is the fact that your menu items are also to the left and under neath it. I know you cite the menus as the reason for moving the buttons over, that is precisely why that is a bad idea in terms of usability.

    The menus on the mac are not contained in the windows, but on the OS’s menu bar. This makes it so that the app windows are separate from the App itself. YOu can close a window without exiting an app.

    Apps in Ubuntu follows a more MS Windows method in that the windows themselves are the apps and closing the window is what exits you out of the app. Having the buttons over the menu items makes it more prone to accidents, increases app bar height (which affects design) , and you basically just alienated a bunch of users who may have just not gotten used to how to minimize a window vs closing an app the old way.

  • Please put the buttons back where almost every person on the planet expects them to be.

    It is a nuisance, a no-no with end users who already are quite hard to sell on the whole “Linux” thing.

    Thanks in advance.

  • There is no what so ever good explaination for the buttonchange. Yes, having the buttons to the left is probaly more logical and”smarter” but how do i explain for my mother why the buttons changed? Also have you no clue about where from the ubuntu-users come? Do they replace their mac for ubuntu or do they dualbbot windows and ubuntu and also try their best to get their widowsfriends to try ubuntu? If one had the buttons to the right for years does it feel natural to have them a the left? This buttonchange is so damn stupid i have no words for it! You call the buttonchange “pesky”, thats you not understandig i think. The buttonchange is a very serious business indeed. im so dissaponted you dont GET it.

  • I agree with Brad and Stephen Thomas and anyone else that think this is madness and jchange for the sake of change. Is so silly and done with youthfull (or maby old neardness) sake with no clue about the rest of the word. I love my ubuntu and sure, having the buttons to the left is theoreticaly a good idea but it sucks in real life.

  • I found this move quite annoying. I tend to use the keyboard and only use the mouse while in a mouse intensive situation (think GIMP). Here’s a change that demands a change by a right click on the desktop and a one or two click into a window customization app. I won’t obsess about it, but wish that the Canonical crew would think about making changes without informing users how to revert back. A start up notes page on first boot after upgrading and only with HIGH LEVEL changes that only affect the end user!! I don’t care if the wallaby IP stack in the hootchy gootchy plonk now has better error control. I DO want to know that a major UI changed occurred and how to change it back if I don’t like the change.

  • I’ve been using Lucid for few weeks now.
    Adapting to the new button placement is taking some time but it’s hardly an inconvenience. I cannot understand all these negative comments, really.
    The buttons can be easily switched back to how/where they were, if for whatever reason, they’re a serious inconvenience, so I don’t see the problem.
    Also, the reasoning behind this is now very clear (see Mark Shuttleworth’s post on Windicators) which is a positive change that should be welcomed by everybody.

  • @Walter: To make it short: For me at least mouse kilometers increased a lot.
    Apart from that I often need to support Windows PCs so it is annoying that such frequently used features have not the same style in both OS.

  • I think the wisest move will be to have the Preferences-Appearance dialog offer a simple way of changing the default button position. Ubuntu Tweak already offers a lot of easy customization on many issues. I think Ubuntu and Linux in general may appeal more to users of concurrent OS-es if it will be easy to customize the LAF as close as possible to their current platforms.

  • The problem is that the buttons can’t so simply be changed in position (look at some of the optional themes. Due to change of the close button position the fluent graphic is destroyed (because of the rounded engraving around the buttons – hope you understand what I mean).

  • Again i feel like i need to point out this -like 99% of ubuntu-users come from windows and atleast 90% of us still dualboot windows. I myself are old enough to have used amiga-os and had my buttons to the left from mid 80’s to mid 90’s and it was great so i understand where the idea comes from. But in the late 90’s i was forced into windows for various reasons and even if im in ubuntu 80% of my computertime still 15 years of windows use put the buttons to the right. I think this button move to the left is a very naive move full of youthfull stupidness.
    Where the buttons is at is not up for discussion about what is the “logical” placement of them. What is important is what os the new and old ubuntu user comes from primary. Do they come from Amiga os or osX or do they come from windows? Should we alienate the windowsusers from our os by making a natural relex something complicated. I dont really know whatyou do at the designteam but i think you should have better things to do the changing the placement of buttons. Grow up damnit!

  • @Walter, So Mark Shuttleworth is now Steve Jobs – he knows all and the “masses are just asses”? Perhaps he could consider taking this UI change and shoving it up his mASS.

  • Here i am again. I tried to have the buttons at the left for weeks now but i cant stand it. Aneasy way to change them back is ubuntu tweak. This chaning of the buttons is pure naivety and ignorance. as an earlier poster says “you act like this is the first version of ubuntu.

  • Im so very dissapointed becouse i love my ubuntu and the last release is better then ever but its so ignorantly f**ked up by the same people who made it generaly looking better. What the f**k was you thinking? I men in the f u t u r e there should be no need for those buttons and the future will come soon i hope and all you accompished in the short meantime is to make all linux users and possible pre-windowsusers confused and allienated only becouse of your ignorant bright thought of whats logical. Its your fault i and maby a milion others spent minutes looking for the buttons. I cant imagine the naivety of the minds that sat dicussing this and thought they had a briliant idea. Im so upset about this you probably cant imagine. You f**ked up a GOOD thing with childishness.

  • Martin Eriksson,
    you browser has probably an add-on to spell check your garbage-post.
    spare everyone’s sanity not using using the f*** world in every sentence.
    Thank you.

  • Im so very dissapointed becouse i love my ubuntu and the last release is better then ever but its so ignorantly f**ked up by the same people who made it generaly looking better. What the f**k was you thinking? I men in the f u t u r e there should be no need for those buttons and the future will come soon i hope and all you accompished in the short meantime is to make all linux users and

By Ivanka

About Author


Ivanka Majic works in technology. She was Head of Design for Ubuntu, service managed Digital Marketplace through to beta, was acting director of digital for the Labour Party. She lives and works in Brighton where she works with the council’s digital first team, does a bit of teaching at Sussex University, and works with her husband on projects like and the BRAVOs. She has also started a podcast with her friend Michael which you can listen to at