With Intrepid on track to hit the wires today I thought I’d blog a little on the process we followed in designing the new user switcher, presence manager and session management experience, and lessons learned along the way. Ted has been blogging about the work he did, and it’s been mentioned in a couple of different forums (briefly earning the memorable title “the new hotness”), but since it’s one of the first pieces of work to go through the user experience design process within Canonical I thought it would be interesting to write it up.

Here is a screenshot of the work itself in action:

New FUSA applet allows you to manage your presence setting, as well as switch to a guest or other user, and logout

New FUSA applet allows you to mange your presence setting, as well as switch to a guest or other user, and logout

In one of the first user experience sessions, we looked in more detail at the way people “stop working”. We thought it interesting to try and group those actions together in a way which would feel natural to users.

We have already done some work in Ubuntu around this – for a long time we have had a button in the top-right corner of the panel which brought up a system modal dialog that gave you the usual “end your session” options of logout, restart, shutdown, hibernate, suspend and switch user. That patch was always a bit controversial and had not been accepted upstream, so we looked at ways to solve the problem differently.

We decided to use the top-right location, because it’s one of the key places in the screen that’s quick and easy to get to (you can throw your mouse into a corner of the screen very easily and accurately) and because there was a strong precedent in the old Ubuntu logout button.

One key insight was that we wanted to make “switching user” less an exercise in guesswork and more direct – we wanted to let people switch directly to the specific user they were interested in rather than have an intermediate step where they login as that other user. So we started with the Fast User Switcher applet, or FUSA, as a base fr the design. Another key idea that emerged was that we wanted to integrate the “presence setting” into the same menu, because “going offline” or “I’m busy” are similar state-of-mind-and-work decisions to “log me off the system” or “shut down”.

Menu order
We discussed at length the right order for the menu items. On the one hand, putting the “other users” at the top of the menu would mean that all the user names – yours and the ones you can switch to – would appear “in the same place” at the top of the menu. On the other, we strongly felt that things that would be used more casually and more easily should be at the top. In the end we settled on putting the presence management options at the top (Available, Away, Busy, Offline). Right next to those (in the same set) we put the “Lock screen” option, because it feels like a presence setting more than a session management setting – you are saying “Away” more than anything else.

Ted did a lot of work to make the presence menu elements work with both Pidgin and Empathy because there was some uncertainty as to which would be used by default in the release. Since it all uses dbus, it should be straightforward to make it work with KDE IM clients too.

We then put the user switching options – including the Guest Session which is a cool new feature in Intrepid that as been widely blogged (check out the YouTube demo) and which uses AppArmor to enforce security.

And finally, the session termination options – log out, suspend, hibernate, restart and shutdown are at the bottom of the menu, because you’re only ever likely to use them once in a session, by definition!

The design of the menu is deliberately clean. We use very simple colours and shapes for the presence indicators, and replicate those colours and shapes in the actual GNOME panel so that you can see at a glance what your current presence setting is. Ted had to jump through some hoops, I think, to get the presence icons in the menu to line up with the current-presence-status indicator in the panel applet, but it worked out quite nicely. There’s some additional work to tighten up the layout which didn’t make it in time for the release but which might come in as a stable release update (SRU) or in Jaunty.

We decided not to put icons into the menu for each of the different statuses. Our design ethic is to aim for cleaner, less cluttered layouts with fewer icons and better choice of text. A couple of people have said that the menu looks “sparse” or “bare” but I think it sets the right direction and we’ll be continuing with this approach as we touch other parts of the system.

This work was discussed at UDS in Prague with a number of members of the GNOME community. I was also very glad to see that there’s a lot of support for a tighter, simpler panel at the GNOME hackfest, an idea that we’ve championed. The FUSA applet itself is going through a bit of a transformation upstream as it’s been merged into the new GDM codebase and the old code – on which our work is based – is more or less EOL’d. But we’ll figure out how to update this work for Jaunty and hopefully it will be easier to get it upstreamed at that point.

In Jaunty, we’ll likely do some more work on the GNOME panel, building on the GNOME user experience discussions. There was a lot of discussion about locking down the panel more tightly, which we may pursue.

Integration into Ubuntu
We realised rather late in the Ubuntu cycle that we hadn’t thought much about packaging. The Ubuntu team had kindly offered to help package and integrate the applet but we definitely learned the value of getting the packaging done earlier rather than later. We had the applet in a PPA for testing between developers fairly early, but we underestimated the difference between that and actual integration into the release.

The Ubuntu team rallied to the cause and helped to smooth the upgrade process for new users, so that we can try to get everyone onto the same footing when they start out with Intrepid whether as a new install or an upgrade. There are some challenges there, because the panel is so customisable, and we had to think hard about how we could ensure there was a consistent experience for something as important as logging out or shutting down while at the same time trying not to stomp on the preferences of folks who have customised their panels. Similarly, we were concerned that people who run different versions of Ubuntu, or different distributions entirely, with the same home directory, would have problems if those other OS’s didn’t have the same version of FUSA – we weren’t really able to address that satisfactorily.

We also realised (DOH!) that we hadn’t thought all the way through the process of integration, because we hadn’t figured out what to do with the old System menu options. It turned out that those were in a state of flux, with the Ubuntu folks having to choose between the current GNOME default which everyone said would change, the patches for the likely NEXT GNOME approach, and the old Ubuntu approach. Ted whipped up some patches to make the GNOME panel more dynamic with its menus, so that we could remove the System menu logout options when people have the same menu in the FUSA applet, but that landed too late for inclusion into Intrepid final.

All in all, I think it’s a neat piece of work and hope other distro’s find it useful too. It’s just a teaser of the work we plan to do around the desktop experience. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at UDS Jaunty in Mountain View in December, when we can talk about the next round! Thanks and well done to Ted, Martin, Scott, Sebastien and everyone else who helped to make this a reality.

Well done to Team Ubuntu (thousands of people across Ubuntu, Debian and upstreams) who make the magic in 8.10 possible. Happy Release Day everyone!

112 Responses to “Ibex design: user switching, presence and session termination”

  1. informednetworker.com Says:

    Ibex design: user switching, presence and session termination…

    The new presence, user switcher and session management tool in Ubuntu 8.10 is part of the work Canonical is doing to make Ubuntu, and Linux generally, more usable….

  2. Callum Says:

    Design looks nice. Clean and simple. Good decision on that.

    This is probably not the forum, but nonetheless, my biggest frustration with the panel is not easily being able to “align” applets. I want to stick everything to the right or left and only choose the order, not the specific position. I’ve had to hack my gconf settings to set the orders and then set all positions to 0. Tough problem to fix though.

    Looking forward to 8.10… :)

  3. Søren Hauberg Says:

    I’ve always found it a bit odd that Ubuntu used one of the precious 4 screen corners on a button that allows you to stop working. It seems to me that it would be better to use that corner on something that allows you to work faster. The new use seems more useful, although it seems mostly helpful to people who IM a lot (which isn’t me).

  4. Jo-Erlend Schinstad Says:

    I think the new FUSA is really nice. However, the placement of it feels awkward. Because the clock applet shows appointments and tasks, I click it all the time. That makes me want to have it in a corner, where it’s easily accessible. Now, when you can set your presence in the FUSA, that’ll be clicked very often too, so it should also be in a corner. How about using the lower right corner for one of thiese? After all, both of thiese applets will be clicked much more often than the trashbin. Trash could be located next to the volume control, I think, or next to the standard launchers. But maybe that’s just me and I tend to move the applets around a bit anyway, so it doesn’t make the biggest difference. All in all, I’m very happy with Intrepid Ibex. Thanks, and happy release day to you too :)

  5. José Fonseca Says:

    What happens when we have hundreds of users (for example, an university environment)?

  6. jpv Says:

    Hey, my very own soapbox, swell!

    Thanks for bringing up the one feature I strongly dislike in an otherwise great release.

    Let me enumerate the ways on which the “FUSA applet” fails IMO:

    – If I want to see user names, I liked how it was in hardy. A long name can push the calendar way to the center of the panel and make for an ugly and unfamiliar panel. I like the shutdown options on the rightmost upper corner and user names don’t belong there.

    – the context menu is convoluted and lacks polish. And we don’t gain any worthwhile new functionality by bunching up so many different contexts (online status, user accounts and shutdown options) in the same place. On the contrary.

    – empathy icons in the notification are repeated in the FUSA.

    – and most importantly it’s too easy to do mistakes. Options are bunched up and with a single context menu click it’s too easy to suspend instead of logging out, restarting instead of shutting down, etc. With the old way there was a nice safeguard with a nice looking graphical prompt and plenty of buffer space between various actions.

    I’m also annoyed that I lost the old system menu. Now I have two menus, one to log out (Ubuntu shutdown icon) and one to shutdown (Gnome shutdown icon).

  7. Vitor Says:

    I think the “away” and “busy” icons are inverted…
    Anyway, great job!! 😀

  8. Tom Says:

    I never liked the two panel layout. It wastes too much space especially on mobile computers and you constantly move up and down with the mouse ( trackpad horror ).
    Most of the time my mouse pointer is in the upper region of the screen (for menus, bookmarks, search fields etc.)
    So I always delete the bottom panel and integrate it into the top one. That is why I would like to have more compact panel components that maybe show infos onMouseOver. Long names like my full name are a certain nogo.

    But the idea of this is quite nice with a few improvements it could replace my Pidgin icon .. so thank you very much for that!

  9. Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex: get it while its hot! | Lawyerist Says:

    […] 8.04 was a stable, long-term service release, 8.10 includes a number of improvements. One of Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth’s goals is developing a user experience that matches […]

  10. Andrew Says:

    Great post Mark, it is interesting to see how changes that I, the end-user ultimately see, are developed and implemented.

    You spoke about how in Jaunty, you would do some more work on the gnome menu

    Does this mean condensing down of the system menu entries (there are loads!), as this is something which has been featured on Ubuntu Brainstorm, and also one thing that annoys many people, the fact that you can’t view a menu item’s properties without allocating it to the panel or desktop first?

    (If any of these have been implemented already, please excuse me :-])

  11. gordallott Says:

    I have been working on my own version of the usability hackfest mockups, it seems to be coming along quite nice. i really like the ideas presented in it. using clutter helpts a lot too. (screeny: http://i33.tinypic.com/15d6r83.jpg)

  12. gordallott Says:

    I have been working on my own version of the usability hackfest mockups, it seems to be coming along quite nice. i really like the ideas presented in it. using clutter helpts a lot too – i have screenies but this blog flags it all as spam when i include it.

  13. Roger Says:


    How will you be celebrating the launch this evening? Are you going to be tied up with numerous media interviews or will you make it along to one of the launch parties?

    Mark Shuttleworth says: London Release Party, of course!

  14. Mr.doob Says:

    I’m do like Tom. I integrate the bottom panel on the top one. Having the desktop view icon on the site of shortcuts on the middle the running applications panel and the wastebin gets just lost, I don’t need to access the wastebin that much, I can access to it from nautilus anyway. In the end it look a bit like Windows. Well, I come from Windows, so that must be why…

  15. Mark Says:

    Whilst I agree that the FUSA applet is much better the associated changes are a little annoying. For ages I have been able to press Ctrl-Alt-Del and get the logout dialog which gave the options to shutdown, suspend or hibernate in addition to the logout and switch user options. Now you just get logout and switch user so shutting down either requires a logout and select shutdown from the login screen or selecting shutdown from FUSA. Both of these are more painful that being able to do Ctrl-Alt-Del, Alt-S and have the machine shutdown.

    Mark Shuttleworth says: Hmm… that’s interesting, I didn’t know the Ctrl-Alt-Del trick. Did that use to bring up the Ubuntu-style modal dialog with all seven options on it? Or the old GNOME dialog? The current behaviour in Intrepid is based on the next version of GNOME, iirc.

  16. Daqui a pouco teremos o Intrepid Ibex « asf@web Says:

    […] a pouco teremos o Intrepid Ibex Em tempo, segue como dica de leitura um post do Mark Shuttleworth sobre uma das novidades (em usabilidade) da nova versão, o “user […]

  17. Huayra Says:

    So your girlfriend is a Danish lawyer? 😉

  18. Frando Says:

    Hey. I quite like the idea behind the fast user switcher. I am running Kubuntu, though. Did you guys do this /only/ for GNOME / Ubuntu, or is a KDE/Plasma version of it available as well?

    It seems to be a major feature in Ibex (according to the press it gets), so it would be quite, well, “selective” in favor of GNOME/Ubuntu to have it only there and not in Kubuntu.

    Especially with KDE 4.1 now default, Kubuntu/KDE will likely (hopefully) gain more interest in the Ubuntu community, so it would be great to keep it en par at least with major features.

    It shouldn’t be too hard to create a Plasmoid that does the same thing for the KDE.

    Mark Shuttleworth says: We’ve always wanted the KDE community to have a relatively free hand in the design of Kubuntu, rather than having the distro and Canonical driving the agenda. I think we have built good foundations for a relationship between Canonical and GNOME for the experiments we will lead in Ubuntu, so that good ideas migrate smoothly to GNOME. We need to have a conversation with the Kubuntu team and KDE representatives at UDS to see if they want us to do work – which might feel like exerting pressure – from the design team on Kubuntu too.

  19. jaduncan Says:

    Is there going to be an option to use this to replace the IM icon in the future? At the moment on a double the pixels necessary to display status are used as the status icon is effectively replicated – this is OK on most desktops but more of an issue on low resolution screens such as netbooks.

    Mark Shuttleworth says: That’s a good point. Yes, we do need to eliminate the duplication in presence status but then we also need to provide a mechanism to get to the IM window and be notified of new incoming messages, which the Pidgin notifier currently handles.

  20. jimbo Says:

    Tom, I hate two panels as well, but you can reduce the amount of curser wrangling needed regardless of your set up by learning shortcut keys.
    Alt + Tab to switch windows
    Ctrl + Tab to switch tabs in firefox
    Ctrl + W to close a tab in Firefox

    You dont have to be a power user to learn this stuff. It makes using the computer easier even for the

  21. Ubuntu Intrepid is here! « I’m Just an Avatar Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth has posted a nice article to his own blog about the design for the new user switcher, although I did notice that it seems to be hooked into Pidgin to show my current IM status. Although not everyone is entirely thrilled with the new Ibex. […]

  22. antistress Says:

    Same as Tom : bottom panel is useless
    Tom, you should try Ubuntu Netbook Remix it’s amazing
    (i’m using it since june even if my PC is a desktop PC with a 17 LCD monitor)

  23. Howard Says:

    This article has – once again – illustrated that integration often comes as a complete afterthought in the development process. If you truly want Ubuntu to compete on the same stage as Apple, integration – and not just design – has to be a key focus. When the user experiences offered by the Ubuntu OS are truly ‘seamless’ to the user and ‘just works’ out of the box, only then will Ubuntu finally earn it’s proper place in the OS market.

  24. Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex: conheça o user switching Says:

    […] Em tempo, segue como dica de leitura um post do Mark Shuttleworth sobre uma das novidades (em usabilidade) da nova versão, o “user switching, presence and session termination“.” […]

  25. Tom Says:

    Sorry for sounding a bit whiny :)

    I really like this, but in its current form it just seems like it needs more panel real estate than I am willing to sacrifice but think it will have an option to replace the IM icon pretty soon and then I will be a happy camper!


    @jimbo: Yeah, I use Firefox shortcuts and alt-tab when possible.,

  26. David Says:

    Mark, I feel that the status icons are cryptic, confusing, and the red triangle is too severe. Right now, a red triangle with an exclamation mark is visible in my notification area, indicating that updates are available. Another red triangle appears, indicating that my presence is “away.” My mother could never recognize the symbols for play or pause on our VCR/DVD players. I don’t think there’s much hope for her understanding these red triangles.

    Also, what percentage of users actually understand or use fast user switching? 50%? 1%?

    I have stronger words about the menu, but I’m afraid they approach nastiness.

    How about a presence icon that, when clicked, changes status from available to away to busy, etc.? Make menu access optional. Changing from away to available via a single click would be very convenient. I really don’t want to see the big beige rectangle full of options that only confuse me; also, it covers up the flowers on my desktop :)

  27. David Says:

    Oh, and congratulations on the best release of Ubuntu yet!

  28. Nils Says:

    I just read an interview with you..

    > “We would never characterize our six-month releases as beta releases or experimental releases. They are fully
    > supported, and you can buy full contracts on them.”

    Pulseaudio? Xorg with ATI gpu? Suspend and Hibernate uuhhh.. Many things just do not work (reliable!) with Linux on the desktop, I haven’t tried 8.10, but I was quite disappointed by Hardy.

    Compared to alternatives (OSX, Vista) I think Linux looks worse then 10 years ago. Win 98 did not support memory protection, multitasking, etc – Linux did (but it was complicated to use) Now I don’t really see an advantage in using Linux on the desktop anymore.

    What is your plan to make Linux attractive on the desktop again? (besides that it’s free)

  29. Thorsten Wilms Says:

    Like Callum, I also want the stuff in the panel to be either left or right aligned and don’t care about freely moving things about. Trying to guess left or right alignment based on the already existing content of the panel would be likely to conflict with the user’s wishes at some point, but a default could be set based on the initial click position for adding an item. Then the items could snap to either the left or right group when dragged, perhaps.

    Like Tom, I also use only a top panel, I can only hope that FUSA thing allows to hide/collapse the user name, as I have only one account and need the space for the window list. Or I have to try if “t” works as username 😉

  30. darkweasel Says:

    Great! Finally I no longer have to find that tiny Pidgin icon in the notification area when I go to lunch but can just throw my mouse pointer to the upper right! The perfect addition for IM addicts like me :)

    However, there are still some issues with this:
    1. It doesn’t allow you to be “invisible”, just “offline” – the notification area icon allows this though…
    2. It should have the option of using the Pidgin icons, not those current ones I guess I’ve seen in Gajim the last time…
    3. As has already been pointed out, the available and busy icons seem to be reversed.
    4. Why is “Lock Screen” under the status items? I think a better place for it would be just above “Log out”.

    Thorsten Wilms: Yes, it allows you to just display an icon showing two faces instead of your username.

    jaduncan, you can always “never show” or “show only on new message” the icon in the Pidgin preferences.

    Mark Shuttleworth: Ctrl-Alt-Delete used to bring up the old Ubuntu dialog, but now it does just what System -> Log Out darkweasel does.

  31. Luca Livraghi Says:

    I think that the most of the users would appreciate to have a big icon (or at least a small but visible icon) that identifies actions such as “shut down”, “Restart and so on”. I’m not a developer, but this doesn’t seem hard since they used an icon for presence management.

    At the end, I’d like to thank Mark and the Ubuntu teams to make all this possible.

  32. Dedoimedo Says:

    I’d like to comment on several things:
    FUSA does not sound like a good idea; first, privacy, second, too many users will turn a useful applet into a clogged dropdown menu. The IM approach is not for everyone; that’s what gOS is for.
    As to general innovation / improvement, always go with stability first, iron out old bugs. People prefer stability over anything else. If they’re in only for the style, they won’t be using Ubuntu anyway. I’m talking about the private folders and the network manager, mainly. Even a single user who can’t his/her network working properly is 10 times worse than 10 users missing a nice-to-have feature.
    Anyhow, great job, love the effort, love the dedication!

  33. Houston… the Ibex has landed « Dominiks Weblog Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth gibt es einen recht interessanten Beitrag über das Design der Benutzerschnittstelle. Bezüglich des Ergebnisses kann man ja geteilter […]

  34. Walther Says:

    The new FUSA is a great idea, but a couple of remarks.

    * Online, offline and away/idle should all be automatic. I only use busy, but maybe once a month. We rarely have several users logged in at the same time. So Logout/Shutdown is exactly the thing I use most often (even if only once per session). It wouldn’t surprise me if this goes for a lot of users.

    * The menu feels bare indeed and unfinished, which is not a good thing. As soon as I’m a little familiar with a menu, I use the icons (in *front* of the text) to recognize the correct item. This menu feels very out of place in the Ubuntu Desktop.

    * Although splitting shutdown/restart from “switch user”/logout is good, it was very convenient to press the power button on my computer and get the 7-option-dialog come up. I guess this is the same as the Ctrl+Alt+Del.

  35. beeman Says:

    For me a big win on the panels would be the possibility to lock the panel items all at once (just like some certain proprietary OS we all know ;-).

    So you can unlock it, fiddle about with the items and then lock it again and be oke. I find myself unlocking, moving, locking way too many times when rearranging the panel layout. :)

    @Ubuntu team: Congrats on the Intrepid release, installing it as we speak… :)

  36. Jose Hevia Says:

    Hi Mark

    With the new release of Ubuntu, Do you plan canonical to offer pay for use services or products for ubuntu users?

    IMHO there is a need for proprietary programs over linux. I mean, people love linux, but if people can’t buy real photoshop, 3dstudio or commercial games over it, they won’t leave windows or mac. They are the little devs that are good making programs but bad giving services too.

    BTW I think click and run is bad-bad, and it duplicates ubuntu(why selling free programs?).

  37. Tim Bielawa Says:

    Marc, it’s great that this sort of research and development is happening. I am concerned, however, about the new applet. I feel (as do others, LP:203217) the hardy heron fast user switcher is incompatible with large deployments. In an environment with user accounts numbering in the thousands, and automounting home directories, the fast user switcher can make a system hang for minutes before a user is able to _use_ their desktop. Do you know or feel if the new log in/log out button coupled with the feature of fast user switching has adequately taken that into account in its development?

  38. Ponzonha Says:

    I am currently downloading K/X/Ubuntu via torrent. Ubuntu has changed my life, and I want to extend the joy to other human beings.
    Thank you Mark, thank you Ubuntu Team.

  39. Maurício Says:

    Hi Mark !

    I live in Brazil.
    I’ve been using Ubuntu for 2 years.
    In that time, gained a new conception of what an operating system should be and do.
    THANKS for efforts to make Ubuntu a better free OS !
    Peace !


  40. LankyFrame » Blog Archive » Ibex design: user switching, presence and session Says:

    […] http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/233 […]

  41. Lukas Says:

    Hi. Mark Shuttleworth thank you for all that you do bringing Ubuntu to people, who don’t want to strugle with compilations all the time. 8.10 is brilliant, everything works out-of-the-box. I was sceptic about human theme but additional dark one makes Ubuntu quite nice. Great done. Regards from Poland.

  42. Planeta jakilinux.org » Mark Shuttleworth mówi o wyglądzie Ubuntu 8.10 Says:

    […] Pełną treść wpisu Marka Shuttlewortha można znaleźć na jego blogu (ang.): http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/233 […]

  43. stelt Says:

    Less icons, isn’t that annoying for illiterate ?

  44. Mark Says:

    The worst thing about the FUSA applet is that it’s very easy to accidentally click on the wrong thing, and then there’s nothing you can do to stop your computer from restarting, logging you out, or whatever you clicked on. The old system was much better from that perspective.

    I also find it unusual to now have the date and time shifted to the left to make way for my name. I think it’s a bit too unusual and inconsistent with what users expect to have the time so far from the side of the screen.

    It could be very hard to find elegant and unobtrusive solutions to these problems.

    Another annoyance with Intrepid is the bugginess of NVidia drivers, but I suppose that’s what you get for using proprietary drivers! I have noticed that this bugginess has been mostly resolved by the final release (although XOrg still has a tendency to hog CPU when using NVidia drivers).

    Overall, Intrepid’s shaped up to a pretty good release. There are lots of things we want but still don’t have, but ultimately we have a very stable and usable operating system which continues to raise the credibility of free software. Thank you very much! :)

  45. zelrik Says:

    I do not like it, while I am trying very hard to reduce the number of icons on the only toolbar bar I have left….why do I need to have my name written on the screen with a useless status icon beside it? Why dont you improve the ‘drawers’ instead (which are very buggy, not pretty, and quite useless at this point by the way) ?

    I want to mention that I have a 12″ screen and I start struggling with the use of my screen space…

  46. Mark Shuttleworth Details Intrepid's FUSA Design Process | RebelZero.com Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth Details Intrepid’s FUSA Design Process Oct.31, 2008 in Ubuntu Source … Mark Shuttleworth […]

  47. wayne Says:

    Great work Mark and to thousands of people who make this all come together. Very proud to see that you are giving energy to improving the desktop experience for us humble computers users, and also listening to people and taking note of what is in the Brainstorm. People care about Ubuntu and its future. Please improve it before Windows7 comes along. Anyway, time to make another one of my six-monthly donations, it’s the only way I can contribute at the moment.

  48. gabriel Says:

    just remove the bottom panel. entirely

    add the window selector applet to the top right conner (just like old mac OSes)

    logout pressing the power down button and watching the machine initiate a shutdown :)

  49. lzap Says:

    José: if you have so many users then you do not use local accounts but something like yellow_pages/nis. the users are not listed in this new menu then.

  50. Andreas Nilsson Says:

    stelt: If you mean illiterate in the aspect of not being able to read at all, I would suggest that our system is pretty much unusable for those people today too. Throwing in a bunch of new symbols (icons) that people would have to learn doesn’t help learning the old symbols (the alphabet).

    Mark: I’m glad to hear that you’re aiming for cleaner designs. I think this is definitely something that needs to be done to GNOME in order to create a slicker and more attractive system.

  51. Ricardo Pérez Says:

    New FUSA = Bad.


    1. Lack of usability: it’s easy to click on Suspend when you want to click on Log out, or Restart instead of Hibernate, for instance. Also, there’s no confirmation warning when you click on any of these options. The Hardy’s logout dialog has big icons with big space between them, so it’s practically impossible to click on an icon by mistake.
    2. Lack of information: the Hardy’s logout dialog explain what “Suspend” means when you put the mouse over the button (VERY necessary for newbies). New FUSE applet doesn’t explain what’s the difference between “Log out”, “Suspend” & “Hibernate”. Not even a bare tooltip.
    3. Lack of consistency: presence options has icons; exit options doesn’t.
    4. Lack of scalability: what if I have many many users in my system?
    5. Waste of space: the applet takes to much space in the panel.
    6. Duplicity: the presence icon in the GNOME panel is duplicated with the Pidgin applet.

    IMHO, the Ubuntu team must reconsider the current FUSE design for Jaunty.

    Thanks in advance.

    Mark Shuttleworth says: This is all very good feedback, but I think you’ll find that filing detailed bug reports is more effective! And of course patches welcome.

  52. Azrael Nightwalker Says:

    “I was also very glad to see that there’s a lot of support for a tighter, simpler panel at the GNOME hackfest, an idea that we’ve championed. The FUSA applet itself is going through a bit of a transformation upstream as it’s been merged into the new GDM codebase and the old code – on which our work is based – is more or less EOL’d. But we’ll figure out how to update this work for Jaunty and hopefully it will be easier to get it upstreamed at that point.

    In Jaunty, we’ll likely do some more work on the GNOME panel, building on the GNOME user experience discussions. There was a lot of discussion about locking down the panel more tightly, which we may pursue.”

    I hope Gnome will finally get a good management of panel applets and icons. The current implementation is very user-unfriendly. Reordering icons and applets is hard and annoying.

  53. Steve Says:

    Did nobody try the applet on a vertical panel? The icon always appears next to the user name, instead of above or below, and on default panel width, appears unusable, all squished up. It is alright if one makes the panel large enough. Believe that someone has already posted a bug related to this.

    Please fix so that I can use the applet on my vertical panel.

  54. Mr. Butcher Says:

    Is it possible to get the presence settings available also for Gajim?

  55. Michael Says:

    I would like to second Frando’s Kubuntu comment. Even now, running Kubuntu feels like being a second rate citizen, right the way down to kubuntu.org, which lacks the polish of ubuntu.com. Kubuntu tends to have Ubuntu’s new features one to two (or even three) releases later. Obviously I accept that you take the decisions in this respect, but it would be nice for the Kubuntu people to be consulted regarding new Ubuntu features, and for them to be implemented in a cross-desktop way from the start. I know that both KDE and Gnome want to have their own differentiating features, but these are more on the application level than the system level – down below the GUI, and even to some extent where the GUI interacts with “down below”, Kubuntu and Ubuntu tend to end up pretty much the same, albeit with different visuals.

    Mark Shuttleworth says: This “Kubuntu as victim” meme is a real pity, because it turns a very generous position from Canonical into a negative.

    The reality is that we invest a substantial amount in Kubuntu, and by proxy in KDE. We ship millions of CD’s, we complicate all of our processes by maintaining two desktop platforms, we make the CC and other organisations have to worry about the potential conflicts, we split our developer participation (and my time) between two large upstreams. We have hired several people with KDE experience, and we work hard to get KDE’s code to the widest possible audience for testing and bug reports. We do that purely out of goodwill to the KDE project, it’s not in any way necessary for Canonical’s business objectives nor for the Ubuntu projects philanthropic goals. As you can see, it irritates me to be told that this all amounts to a poor showing.

    There are no features that are “kept away” from Kubuntu. We do try to design things in such a way as to make it easier for them to be done on Kubuntu as well. But our primary goal is to advance the state of the art of the free software desktop, and blocking everything till it is done twice is not a reasonable requirement.

    It boggles the mind that every ISV should be expected to do their work *twice* just because KDE and GNOME haven’t seen fit to find common ground. I am delighted with the shared conferences planned for this year and firmly believe this situation will improve, but have little sympathy for folks who simply expect others to do their work for them. Kubuntu, and KDE, are open projects. Get involved, get active, patches welcome.

  56. omegamormegil Says:

    For those of you who don’t like the FUSA wasting panel real estate, have you tried right click > Preferences > Appearance? You can opt to not have the FUSA display your name, but instead “Users” or a small icon. This is a particularly good option if you have only one user account.

    Also, right clicking the FUSA gives quick access to the About Me, Users and Groups, and Login Window system settings. I’m surprised I haven’t heard these features mentioned already elsewhere.

    I like having quick access to so many user/login related features.

  57. Rickert Mulder Says:

    I like the idea of FUSA. Its really intuitive and would make life a lot easier. I cant use it though due to the fact that for some reason it just creates a spot of ugliness in the corner of my screen.

    The FUSA applet does not generally seem to conform to the color of the panel when using a theme that uses a dark panel in combination with light windows*. It basically looks like this: http://www.circlingthesun.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/screenshot.png

    I did initially leave it there for a while but the ugliness simply outweighed the benefits so I got rid of it. The prettiness of my desktop is not something I take lightly. I just thought it might be something you guys might want to look into on the road to Jaunty.

    Other than that I’m extremely impressed with Intrepid and would like to congratulate you and the team on a job well done!!!!

    *http://www.gnome-look.org/content/show.php/Freezy+themes+pack?content=80899 (Ciano Theme)

  58. Ubuntu 8.10 Outperforms Windows Vista | TP's Space Says:

    […] now a lot has been reported on the new features and improvements in Ubuntu 8.10; it also looks like the OS is outperforming Vista in early benchmarking (Geekbench, […]

  59. justme Says:

    Hmm. I like the goal, but the execution doesn’t add up. I see the following problems:

    1) It conflates three different things I’m telling the computer: how ready it should be, who is on right now, and whether I want to be left alone. Maybe you don’t mean to confuse those things, but they all look jumbled up together to me, without linguistic or visual cues to distinguish them.

    2) The “how ready should the computer be?” question is answered in a variety of conflicting or subtly different ways. From the user’s perspective, the states should be something like “I’m here” (logged in), “be right back” (lock screen/switch user, be ready to be unlocked/fast-switched to me), “don’t wait up” (log out, hibernate if you feel like it), and “i’ll call you” (shut down). Would the user really expect a difference between suspend and hibernate, or between locked, away, busy, and offline?

    3) This is a small issue, but I can see scenarios (university computer labs) where you don’t want to show all the available users as it’s both insecure and an unwieldy list.

  60. Dan Hamilton Says:

    Just a quick comment on the upper-right corner logout button…

    I have NEVER like this and ALWAYS change it. Reason is this:

    If you are sitting in front of your computer for several hours how many times are you going to log out? Once. So you are using one of the Fitts Law principles, making something that will only be used once taking up one of the key 5 positions on the screen?

    In other words the logout button is not useful or well used enough to warrant this prominent position on the screen in my opinion. I always remove it in favor of the deskbar or something similar. It is BECAUSE you only click on that button ONCE per session that you do NOT need it to be that easily accessible, something far more useful is better suited to that position.

  61. SEWilco Says:

    I don’t see “Mange” as a menu option.

    “New FUSA applet allows you to mange your presence setting…”

  62. Lee Says:

    Hmm… So you DESIGNED and usability tested this, and came up with a menu of unrelated options all mixed together? Thanks for the effort, but really, without meaning to cause offense, I think this needs to be reworked from scratch. As someone pointed out above, there could be MANY users on a system, so a menu that lists them all directly isn’t viable, imho. I’m also not even comfortable with listing all the users on a system to J Random User that happens to be currently logged in. The tried and tested Logout, followed by logging in with your own username and password (or at least picking them from some dedicated selection screen) seems just fine to me. I don’t think it’s right for the old user to pick who the next user is or is allowed to be. I also wouldn’t provide suspend AND hibernate options. When the user is not working, the system should save power automagically, as it’s been administered to. The colored shapes beside IM states doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either. Looks useful, but could be much improved, I think.

  63. Mike Says:

    ….and Freebsd out performs Linux, yet and it’s even more secure. Linux is crap even with SElinux.

  64. Arul John Says:

    Mark, thanks for this great distro. I’m dying to upgrade my 8.04 to 8.10, the servers were dying yesterday :)

    Here’s a suggestion for future releases. I wanted to ask you about the possibility of including a choice of GNOME, XFCE or Fluxbox to the user during installing. The default could be GNOME, but there are many hardcore Ubuntu users who would like to just download one ISO and have the choice of installing either of these three window managers. Xubuntu is great, but it would still be nice to have the major [small] window managers bundled with the default if they fit in one install CD. Thanks.

  65. jc444 Says:

    are you kidding me? The UI looks complete rubbish. Thats part of the problem that linux geeks just dont get. To call this clean and fresh proves my point. It looks cheap. This UI reminds me of the super budget range of goods from the local supermarket.

  66. t3st3r Says:

    > Happy Release Day everyone!
    Congratulations. I’m always waiting for each Ubuntu release.
    But excuse me, but may I also tell a few not so great words?
    Warning: you may dislike some of these words and I even can understand if you willing to delete this comment as “nasty”.

    So, I’m here to tell something about release. You may want to keep in mind that testers dislike bugs a way too much and may overestimate them sometimes but that’s serves for a good purposes. Tester should feel like user will do. And should try do it’s best to save users from having troubles with product. Since I like Ubuntu (really, I prefer Kubuntu though) and use it for almost 3 years on few desktops and some servers I learned it and well, I also learned it’s strong and weak points. Strong sides of Ubuntu are well known and that’s why I’m using it. So I will speak about weak sides of this release.

    1) General issue I can see for all these years I’m using Ubuntu… I did noticed that LaunchPad now has nearly 200 000 bugs which are not even triaged at all. If you’re going to try to beat Windows and Mac there is need to handle this somehow. It looks like awful bugs flow overwhelms your current QA teams and related staff. Some bugs I filed (I’m using another nickname in launchpad IIRC) were triaged after months or even more than year since bug creation date. Some required to provide extra information. I failed to provide it since after several months I may lack requested data at all due to configurations changed (for example, new Ubuntu released and machine upgraded). Your team really should be able to deal with all bugs in limited time frame or you will have hard times when trying to achieve a commercial-grade quality needed to beat Mac and Windows (and I hope this will happen sometimes).

    2) Some bugs are triaged poorly. This is probably consequences of 1) but still not excuses this fact. For example I filed bug that static IP setup in KDE 4 will not work while there was beta version. Actually, there was some time to fix this nasty issue but some stupid commenters and others intermixed this bug with another (Gnome specific) bug(s) and now there is bunch of similar bugs. Really this issue exists in another Kubuntu versions as well for some YEARS or so. Really these bugs should be combined into one heavy and moderately critical bug since it causes failures for reasonable number of users. Today, everyone is going to see new shiny KDE4 and give it a try. This is because KDE4 is eye-candy and users like this. And what? No network?! That’s what frustrates a reasonable number of users. I seen couple of my friends hit by this issue. I seen dozen of dupes after release. Hence this bug really hits users and quite fatal.

    3) Some bugs are longstanding. What could be more frustrating if some annoying bug still not fixed even after couple of years? There is some of these as example:
    – Mentioned issue with static IP in KDE also appears in earlier releases of Kubuntu as well.
    – Some users need PPTP VPN to access internet. Windows allows to set up it as easily as dial-up connection so people have no troubles here. But in Ubuntu… uhm, I filed this bug 3 releases ago IIRC. And is seems that in Kubuntu there is nothing usable so far (in Ubuntu there is at least some attempts to implement it). In my country (Russia) lots of major ISPs are using VPN to authenticate users, especially in Ethernet-based metropolitan area networks (MAN) when people need to access Internet. There is hundreds of thousands or millions of users who will be unable to access internet. This was a major problem in Russia for years. And even now this is not relaxed. This bug a really showstopper for many users in my area since without Internet access Linux has only part of it’s features. Why Ubuntu (and especially Kubuntu) have to give up this huge market to someone else, who implements PPTP easily? This is not funny!
    – Another long-living issue is installation to XFS. People are hit by a failure when GRUB fails to deal with XFS volumes. This lasts for YEARS. And virtually all other Linux-based systems fixed this annoyance ages ago. Only Ubuntu (and maybe Debian) are still suffer from it. Not really critical but still annoys people and makes poor impressions about overall OS quality.
    – If there is no network while installing system, in some cases installer may wait for updates anyway. This takes a while. This bug was filed by me ages ago. Users are still hit by this issue here and there. Maybe exact circumstances differ but why not to test bugs well enough before declaring them as fixed and forgetting them? Right now my friend affected by this issue. Again!
    – And so on, there is really many long-living bugs which are hurting dozens of users and still not fixed in years. It should be somehow changed to outperform Mac and Windows.

    4) I’m terribly sorry to say this but sometimes it is better to delay release a bit and then use this time to release product which will make people happy rather than release product plagued with bugs but in scheduled time. Do you really think it is great user experience when I have to compete with my CD-ROM drive to eject Ubuntu disk when live session completed? Actually, newbies are getting frustrated by this bug. What could be more frustrating when you’re about to get Ubuntu CD-ROM out of CD drive and then … what?Tray unexpectedly closes right before your fingers. Or even with your fingers put in tray. Shock therapy is not so good thing. Really. Users with old Nvidia were hit as well. Why this needs to happen?

    Sorry for long and not completely fair speech. As a tester I have a really hard times looking on this release plagued with bugs and users reporting tons of problems on local Linux forums. I’m feeling some of these bugs as my failure as well since I filed as many bugs as my free time permitted but I failed to track fate of some bugs due to lack of time (I’m have to work for some proprietary company to earn moneys so I have quite limited time to spare).

    I hope situation with bugs will be improved in next releases. Otherwise it will be very hard to beat Mac and Windows. Look, they’re usually not affected by bugs and issues easily noticeable just at release date (known exception from this rule is Vista and look, it has poor market acceptance after all).

  67. Eero Tamminen Says:

    I agree with Ricardo’s criticism and like Walter, I use shutdown much more than IM (at least once a day[1] and IM only couple of times a year).

    [1] “green” computer is one that’s shut off.

  68. Anonymous Says:

    If you manually set the IP settings for your interface, network manager doesn’t set them, ignores them and upon restart you loose them.

    How can I have presence on the Internet If I can’t connect!

    For more details see here:

    Really stupid bug

    Deeply Disappointed :(

  69. Dan Hamilton Says:

    Another follow up, IMHO it is a serious problem to change menu options based upon what applets you have running, as that will most certainly lead to people questioning inconsistencies across different configurations. A new user from a previous version of Ubuntu, or someone with no need of the FUSA applet will build a muscle memory for logging out that involves navigating the menu. If that is suddenly gone because of the appearance of an applet that will enhance confusion and inconsistency in interface design.

    This is not far off from one of the biggest interface design problems people have with mac os x, when certain menu options become grayed out under unknown circumstances that leave the user guessing. Menu’s should be a standard because people will rely on them. Redundant functionality in another applet may not be readily understood by a new user, and interface design isn’t about forcing users to think in new ways about new features, it’s about consistency first and foremost.

  70. Ibex design: user switching, presence and session termination (Here Be Dragons) | Extradomena.pl Says:

    […] Shuttleworth discusses recent work done on Ubuntu 8.10. “With Intrepid on track to hit the wires today I thought […]

  71. Software Livre no SAPO » Blog Archive » Ubuntu de Outubro de 2008 (8.10) já nas “bancas”! Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth, o fundador do Ubuntu, fala sobre as novidades do interface […]

  72. orlando_ombzzz Says:

    hi Mark

    (sorry, off topic)

    may be you know it, but i would like to let you know that one of the most renowed computer scientists, Donald Knuth ( IMHO a genious ) use Ubuntu to trust his “family jewels”. Complete interview here:



  73. Jim Dennis Says:

    Why not …

    … since this being placed in a crucial and strategic location of the screen … why not add a feature allowing users to easily at their own custom entries to that panel (with choice of top or bottom)? This would mitigate the concerns of those who would like to put something else there.

  74. Tom Says:

    Mark, don’t worry about the Ubuntu/Kubuntu thing. I guess once Ubuntu ships Gnome 3.0 and Kubuntu 4.6 or 4.7 then a lot of people will complain that Kubuntu is much more polished and feature complete etc.
    It will never stop .. just get a thick skin and keep up the great work 😉

    Ubuntu and Kubuntu are very dependent on the state of their DEs. Gnome2 is now in its 13th incarnation and KDE4 in its second… Huuuge difference.

  75. Mario Young Says:

    I think is too much work dedicated to GNOME, will be fair to be develop more things for KDE too.

  76. John Smith Says:

    Great post Mark. I am really good with the latest version of ubuntu. I really wonder why most of the changes in the ubuntu versions are based on gnome. Though I am a hardcore fan of ubuntu , I personally feel there are lot need to be done to get even more good desktop. At present I think, the booting time in ubuntu is really a pain. I hope in the next version of ubuntu it will be changed.

    Finally, I thank all the developers for their great work for ubuntu 8.10.

  77. pekmano Says:

    This new stuff is unusable. I mean if i put my panel to the left side of the desktop, the text(username) wont be reversed… So its just a hole.

  78. Ibex design: user switching, presence and session « World News Says:

    […] read more | digg story […]

  79. Barbie Says:

    See all these months later and you guys are still keeping up the good work!
    What can a girl say your project is one in a million success story and changing the world!!
    Well done guys!
    Credit where credit is due!

  80. Ubuntu 8.10 Outperforms Windows Vista | Kaizenlog Says:

    […] 0. http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/233 1. http://www.crn.com/software/211800390 Popularity: unranked [?] Listen to this podcast […]

  81. design Says:

    Nice article.
    I am downloading Intrepid right now!

  82. Clayborne Arevalo Says:

    It’s funny that you should mention the word “session” in the title of your blog because session management is to me the most irritating (sorry for the tough word) bug in Ubuntu 8.10. Take a look at https://bugs.launchpad.net/gnome-session/+bug/249373, titled “Gnome session does not start window manager nor restores the previous session”. Yes, I don’t log out that often. But after updating I found out that my carefully configured Gnome desktop was gone: 20+ titled Gnome terminal tabs spread over three windows, and open Pidgin and Nautilus windows. The workaround is to put these programs in the “Startup Programs” tab of the “Session Preferences” dialog, but this hack doesn’t preserve the Gnome term tabs, among other things.

    I know this is a Gnome bug. Still, it would have been nice either to hack the old gnome-session version to work with the new Gnome release. At the very least, this should have been mentioned prominently in the release notes!

  83. Steviant Says:

    I’m a long-time linux user who switched to Ubuntu back in the Warty days, and I’m really pleased to see that there’s finally some love going in the direction of font rendering in Intrepid (someone finally realized that pixel-grid-fitting and RGB sub-pixel-rendering don’t go together! yay!), as well as some clear processes going into the design of new items on the default desktop.

    I’m also encouraged by Mark Shuttleworth’s comments regarding KDE and Gnome equality, being someone who likes to mix-n-match KDE and Gnome applications based on their merit, I’m fairly sensitive to any actual equality issues between Gnome and KDE.

    Perhaps one day we can see a “buntu” with a unified Gnome/KDE theme like QtCurve and a system for synchronising settings between KDE and Gnome so I don’t have to do it all myself, and don’t have to choose all Gtk or all Qt applications for the sake of consistency.

    Anyway, enough rampantly off-topic ramblings. Thanks for everything Mark!

  84. Ubuntu 8.10胜过Windows Vista - NoNews.com.cn_ Says:

    […] 8.10带来了许多改进和新特性,初步评估显示Ubuntu 8.10在性能上毫不逊色于Vista。 […]

  85. darkweasel Says:

    Hm. There’s one more thing I’m still concerned about – if you accidentally hit Shutdown, you don’t get a confirmation dialog asking you if you really want to do this. This should clearly be added!

  86. Intrepid Ibex Impressions « Omegamormegil’s Weblog Says:

    […] you are interested, Mark Shuttleworth just posted on the design of the Fast User Switcher Applet, which is an interesting […]

  87. Oliver Says:


    I must say, loving the new release, was running some alpha’s, beta’s and RC’s here to see how it was progressing.

    I just installed my sisters new box and noticed the change in the menu. I, just as her, did not like the lack of icons on shutdown/hibernate.

    It makes it look to bare and to plain, but more over, less recognizable. Images/colors are far easier to recognize. Maybe we don’t want people to shut down, and thus they should put effort into shutting down?

    After years of nakid menu’s we slowly started to add icons for recognizability, and now we’re taking them out again?

    I think for many avg. Joe users the icons behind the actions (shutdown/susbpend/hibernate) will make the menu look dull, boring and unimpressive. Pitty. Is there a hidden option to re-enable it?

  88. Gabriel Says:

    Mark … honestly …. you need to hire a Usability expert if you want to fix #1 bug.

  89. ERIC WEGERBAUER » Blog Archive » Exquisite Corpse Meets the Dollar Bill Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » Ibex design: user switching … […]

  90. Ubuntu 8.10’s User Switching, Session Terminating Applet « Jayson Rowe’s Ramblings Says:

    […] links on Linux Today and and came across a link to Ubuntu creator, Mark Shuttleworth’s blog: Ibex design: user switching, presence and session termination where Mark talks at length on the development process of this particular […]

  91. Howard Says:

    Mr. Mark Shuttleworth,

    I honestly don’t know how you do it. I came back to this page to see if my post actually made it past Akismet’s filters, only to see all these rather direct and sometimes harsh criticisms listed above. As life goes, I guess you never get so much grief as when you’re giving away something for free. As a fellow human being, I hope you don’t take people’s comments too personally, and if you ever do feel yourself to be ‘in the hot seat’, you can remember this post, or whatever else reminds you that you’re an alright guy.

    Let me just simply say ‘thanks’. You are the benefactor of something that has so far given me months of good quality computing experiences. You didn’t have to do this, but you *chose* to, and I’m glad you did :)

    I am writing you now from my laptop which has only ever run Ubuntu (currently Hardy), and am quite enjoying using Compiz with GNOME-Do, while also comforted by the fact that my data is safely stored on my install-time encrypted root partition.

    I am not much of a programmer, but I just started learning some web programming skills, so perhaps someday I’ll not only be a user, but a contributor as well.

    Thanks again. Best of luck.


  92. Ubuntu’s Linux contributions « CyberTech Rambler Says:

    […] Want an example? See Shuttleworth’s latest post on the FUSA applet design. […]

  93. Imran Khan Says:

    After using the Beta for a couple of days I loved it. Network Manager is the best by far and worked great for me when I was trying to get on a GPRS network. I can say much better even than the Mac OS X network manager. But one thing really set me off..I just cant handover my laptop to my friend until I log in to my desktop and switch the guest account.I wonder why I need to log in before the guest account to activate. I think it should be available in the log in menu in GDM KDM or XDM.
    And I am very disappointed that the default theme is not moved to next level. And another thing I would like you to notice is Plymouth the boot splash used in Fedora.
    Thank You for the great work. God bless you.

    Mark Shuttleworth says: Imran, those are worthwhile comments and pointers, thank you! We did consider at length the idea of exposing the guest account on the login screen, and decided in the end that most people would prefer to be present at the handover process. There are some elements which cannot be secured, such as VPN network access, and for those and other reasons we opted to make the guest account something you trigger after logging in yourself.

  94. Arun’s Blog » Blog Archive » Ubuntu 8.10 upgrade and fresh installation Says:

    […] I upgraded my desktop from Ubuntu 8.04 to Ubuntu 8.10 last Friday. The upgrade went smoothly though it took 3 hours to complete. Most of the time was used to download the packages. After the installation was done and I rebooted the system, I saw the regular logout button (red square icon) in it’s usual place, but also a new one with my name in the middle of the menu bar. I then saw a informational bulb glowing in the menu bar and it informed me to click ok to replace the old logout button with the new FUSA applet (Fast User Switcher applet). I did that and it told me to logout and login. Once I logged back in, my old logout button was replaced with the new FUSA applet. FUSA applet is the new user switcher that integrates your online status with the usual logout options and user list. I liked the idea of integrating those commenly used options, but it didn’t feel complete to me. I can’t say what’s missing, but i feel it has a potential to get better. For more information on FUSA, check Mark Shuttleworth’s blog. […]

  95. Chrisky Says:

    Hi Mark.

    Gotta say for me, in a family environment, the FUSA is perfect! This machine gets used by four adults and two kids regularly and a lot of user switching happens throughout most days. It’s so simple for someone to find their name in a list and click it – presto.

    My 7 year old can manage this without accidentally clicking ‘Restart’ or ‘Guest session’

    Being able to set on-line presence for Skype and msn in one place is very good for all of us in this household!

    Anyone concerned about screen placement etc. should know that they can easily move it or delete it.

    I think a little video about the (GNOME/KDE) environment’s flexibility could greet first-time users on login and explain this. (among other things;)

    I love what you’re striving to achieve with this project, big appreciation for the work you are doing.



  96. Mario Says:

    I quote t3st3r. Ubuntu Intrepid shouldn’t have been released so early, with so much annoying bugs still unfixed. Waiting some days for the final release should not be a dramatic event. I am not interested to have the newest and unstable version of a software, when the previous version works properly.
    Much of new users that I personally know are feeling frustrating with the 8.10 release.
    I am sorry to write such a comment, because I believe in Mark’s long term vision of the Ubuntu role.

  97. Yariv Says:

    I second some of the opinions expressed above. This applet is not very usable. There are just too many options cluttered together.

    Have you read http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/11/21.html ? Joel has some interesting things to say about usability and Windows Vista’s fast-user-switch-applet counterparts.

    We don’t have to repeat the mistakes Microsoft did with Windows Vista.

    All in all Ubuntu is a very good distribution. The best evidence is that my father uses it regularly, preferring it over using Windows – and he is not a ‘computer savvy’ person.

  98. Miro Says:

    Hello Mark,

    Great job with the new FUSA package.
    Please take a look at this enhancement request if you find time. It may further enhance and simplify user experience with FUSA.

    Thank you,


  99. Miro Says:

    I forgot to enter the link


  100. Cesar Says:

    Too bad that fuse doesn’t include a invisible status in the presence options, it’s IMHO a standard feature in almost all IM applications!

  101. kikl Says:

    Hi Mark,

    I’m a long time windows user and only recently turned into a ubuntu-fan. Windows-Vista and malware made me turn to ubuntu as an alternative. It turns out that ubuntu as an operating system is far better than windows. Keep up the great work!

    The greatest obstacle? Driver-Support! In my case for printers and WLAN. I got it fixed with the help of the ubuntu-community, but Mom and Dad wouldn’t have. This is not your fault, I know, but it’s definitely the greatest problem.

    Once everything is running smoothly, then ubuntu beats the … out of windows in terms of usability.

    O.K. Intrepid Ibex. and the “switch users or shutdown” icon. Well, I think this tool just does too many things at the same time. If your running pidgin messenger, it indicates,whether you’re online, offline busy or away. That’s a neat idea and it is well implemented. I like the ikons used for indicating this. But I think, this should be a separate icon in the panel bar.

    At the same time the button provides fields for log out, suspend, hibernate, restart or shut down. Why? That’s not necessary, because you’ve got those features already implemented in the shut down button and the last points of the system menue. Then the default picture next to your name is the same picture used for “log out”, but the button provides many more features. That’s just confusing, because you expect every ikon to stand for one set features alone. The shut down button uses symbols for shut down, restart, suspend or hybernate, which are missing altogether in the new menu of the “switch user” button, which brings me to the last point.

    You can switch users in particular switch to a guest account. Now that’s a great feature and you should keep it. But I really don’t think that these features should be lumped together in the way it has been done. The logout button in the system menu already features a “switch user” button. This is where I think the possibility of switching to a guest user should be implemented.

    These are all minor issues, but once the whole product gets a polished and consistent look and feel, then ubuntu should do the next step. Overtake MAC OS X in terms of usability.

    Keep up the great work!



  102. Sara Says:

    Mark, could you direct me with how to get the update to FUSA that disables the shutdown options from showing in the Gnome menu? I really prefer this new option; I have it on the computer I upgraded to Ubuntu a bit earlier, but on the computer I recently installed Ubuntu on, the update hasn’t come yet (and I have all forms of update enabled, backports, intrepid-proposed…). I find it mildly aesthetically annoying (the shutdown options in both places). Thanks!

    By the way, I’ve told my whole family about Ubuntu, and everyone is very enthusiastic about it. We are humbled by your example of making such a good operating system available for free. I wish you and the Ubuntu team and all of the volunteers (I’d hope to one day become one!), the best wishes.


  103. Sara Says:

    Ah, I meant on the computer I upgraded to Ubuntu *Intrepid*. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

  104. Sara Says:

    I was actually able to fix my issue with the GConf Editor, but thanks nonetheless! Best wishes!


  105. Joe "Floid" Kanowitz Says:

    Another “Hi Mark,” :)

    UI is a complicated subject. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish condensing my thoughts or suggestions, but in the meantime, can I draw your attention to my suggestion for a “Knowledge Base” filed as a ‘bug’ against Launchpad at https://bugs.launchpad.net/launchpad/+bug/306378 ?

    No interface is truly “intuitive,” thus every interface benefits from documentation. Right now there is low selection pressure against “bad” (or often, just plain screwy) advice in the broader community. This is very laissez faire, and it’s nice to see people trying to help each other, but it leads to a great duplication of effort — and of course confusion over the intents of the project and its developers. Producing one “canonical,” yet still evolving, source of information would improve the quality of same greatly.

    In theory a wiki can work for this, but I don’t see them working too well for Ubuntu, since the union of “people who know something” and “people who [can be troubled to] have write access” is too small. Also, since everyone has to go to Launchpad to complain (bugs), it would make sense to catch those people while they’re there and get them to contribute.


  106. Matt Says:

    Hey, I like the presence switch/etc and how it integrates with Pidgin.

    However, it doesn’t integrate that well when you have 2 separate x-servers running for dual display (since twinview doesn’t work with gaming, etc).

    Kinda glitches a bit with that.

    Just a fyi :)

  107. Ubuntu 8.10 Review « ARSHUM’s New Stuff Says:

    […] Fast User Switch Applet (FUSA) 而家整到同 pidgin combine 埋一齊 轉 status 都容易d 但個 interface 仲係好簡陋 […]

  108. Pascal Meunier Says:

    Integrating pidgin to the logout/switch user menu is an incredibly ill-thought, annoying and intrusive idea. There’s not even an option to turn this off. Pidgin is an UNTRUSTED application. I really don’t like having buggy applications integrate with the OS GUI. The OS’s job is to protect us and protect other applications from buggy applications, and keep them separate. A UI that integrates commands for the OS and untrusted applications together is a violation of this principle. Please keep them separated!

  109. Gratamente sorprendido « Sembrando Realidades Says:

    […] el apt-get en las punta de mis dedos ;-). Otro dos detalles muy lindos son el nuevo control para cambiar de usuario, modificar tu presencia en IMs y cierre de la session y el nuevo, para mi, icono de eject que aparece al lado de cada dispositivo removible (pendrives, […]

  110. Skype API Plugin for Pidgin « nEws vom ConsEbt team Says:

    […] Plugin for Pidgin I think it was one of the first things I thought about when I was reading Mark’s write up about Ibex design – will this FUSA (Fast User Switch Application) work with Skype as well? I know Skype is not open […]

  111. Simonas Says:

    Hello Mark,
    I love that idea, thats probably was the major reason why i upgraded to ubuntu 8.10. in old applet when i clicked quit i needed to wait few seconds (probably because of bad ati drivers), but now that problem gone! anyway i switched to arch linux now, because it works faster on my machine, but i miss this feature? do you have source for your applet? Thank you.

  112. Lee's Blog Says:

    GNOME’s User-Switching Applet…

    Initially, I was skeptical about the design, but it’s actually a pretty nice little tool. When someone wants to borrow a browser, being able to just hit guest, let them play on their own desktop, log them out, and return to what you were doing, …