I am on the road this week (shout out to Boise) and it is the first trip I’ve taken where I’m spending almost all of my time on my Macbook Air since upgrading it to run Linux.
I’ve been pretty happy with it. Wireless works fine, and while I sometimes struggle with nvidia-settings when trying to run an external monitor, I haven’t hit anything where I had to boot back into OS X, at least for very long.
As someone who has decided to run Linux on the Desktop, I am very eager for news on the future direction of such things. I noticed today on Mark Shuttleworth’s blog that he was announcing a new feature in Ubuntu called the “Heads Up Display” (HUD).
The idea is simple – instead of a hierarchical menu have an intelligent search box that learns what you use the most, and can use “fuzzy matching” to help you get to what you want fast. Once it is considered ready for prime time, I’ll probably check it out.
However, there were a couple of things about his post that bothered me. First, he wants to add voice recognition. While that is all well and good, I must be the only person on the planet who doesn’t want to talk at his electronics. Sure, I love being able to dial my mobile phone by voice when driving, but I don’t want to have to speak “Find Nekkid Pictures of Scarlett Johansson” into my browser. I experience so many people on cellphones creating noise pollution that I don’t want to have to deal with it in other aspects of technology. While this probably won’t be the default for most devices, I am still not as excited about it as Mark seems to be.
Second, nowhere in his post did he mention Gnome 3 as an inspiration. I’ve been using the much maligned desktop for awhile now and I love it. When I need to run a program I simply drag my mouse into the upper left corner of the screen and type in the name of what I am looking for in the “Type to search” box. Now it isn’t smart or fuzzy, but it gets the job done and seems to me to be very similar to HUD.
I especially liked Mark’s comment “Instead of cluttering up the interface ALL the time, let’s clear out the chrome, and show users just what they want, when they want it.” which is very similar to what I wrote about Gnome 3: “It gets me to where I need to be, and then it gets the hell out of the way.”
As someone who doesn’t plan to leave the linux desktop, I am excited when improvements like HUD are being implemented. In the ecosystem that is open source, the great ideas will propagate, and if HUD takes off I would expect to see something similar in other offerings.