Today, Novell is releasing something I (and the rest of the team I’m on) have been working on for a while:, a website which focuses on usability studies and analysis for the Open Source desktop.

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12 Responses to “”

  1. Jason says:

    Nice job on the Drupal theme!

  2. Very nice work!
    I really like the layout and the content is really interesting.
    But why are all the headers made in flash?

  3. Calum Benson says:

    Hmm, some nice content there, think it needs some BetterPageLayout though– this is what I get on my Ubuntu Breezy PPC box:

  4. Ryan Lovett says:

    I second Calum:
    (Galeon on Debian unstable)

  5. Jason says:


    That’s probably cause your PPC breezy box doesn’t support flash? I would guess the headers are falling back to some no-flash style that hasn’t gotten tested a whole lot yet. BTW, does anyone know how they make the mouse-over underlines crawl? I can’t figure out from the CSS how they’re doing that.

  6. Bart Schuller says:

    Another disadvantage of the flash headings:

    Website usability goes down the drain. I wondered what was wrong when scrolling using the mousewheel suddenly started to hiccup.

    It turns out that scrolling using the mousewheel doesn’t work when the cursor is over a flash heading.

    Having this happen on a page about usability, is, well…

  7. nlp says:

    I see the point has already been made by others, but I’ll chime in and say:

    1) Using .swf for simple paragraph headers is a REALLY bad idea. Not everyone uses flash, and even those who do may use flashblock or some other plugin to prevent it from running automatically. The result is a website with poor usability, since a lack of paragraph titles makes the page difficult to navigate (to say nothing of ugly). See:

    Considering that the .swf doesn’t even appear to be animated, this may be the most inappropriate use of Flash I’ve ever seen! You can easily achieve a similar visual result by using a simple .png or .gif (if you don’t think ordinary text would be adequate).

    2) There doesn’t appear to be any way to provide feedback to the webmaster re: this usability problem. That’s also a usability problem.

    Don’t get me wrong — I do appreciate what you’re trying to accomplish with, but the current website is perhaps a bit too ironic to be taken seriously.

  8. […] Intéressant ! Alors que le monde du bureau linux est souvent décrié pour sa pauvreté ergonomique, deux projets ont vu le jour pour tenter de travailler cet aspect là du monde des logiciels libres. C’est comme ça qu’hier j’apprenais l’existence d’un projet soutenu par Novell nommé Better Desktop et c’est le blog de Garett LeSage qui me l’apprends […]

  9. superstoned says:

    I wonder what is wrong with so the Novell ppl had to duplicate it, and only for gnome apps…

  10. nlp says:

    I checked out today, and it appears that the header problems have been resolved; they now look fine on my system (no gratuitous use of Flash).

    Thanks for fixing this!

  11. Anna says:

    Hi. My name is Anna, and I, along with the team I manage, am responsible for the betterdesktop site. I designed, ran, and recorded the usability tests that appear on betterdesktop.

    Regarding the question about openusability:

    1. We are very much cooperating with the openusability people. Check the announcement on One the leads of the openusability project provided us with this quote (from the press release):

    “Novell’s Linux desktop usability test results represent a significant addition to the resources available to open source developers who are working to enhance the Linux desktop,” said Jan Muehlig, founder of “Novell is making it easier for developers to get insight and fundamental information of how users interact with the desktop through state-of-the-art usability research. This will help open source engineers everywhere to create packages and applications which better meetuser needs, improving the overall quality of the Linux desktop.”

    Betterdesktop and OpenUsability complement each other. The two projects have been in touch for several months, and we look forward to working more with the OpenUsability people over time.

    2. The videos are not just of Gnome. If you look around carefully, you’ll find lots of tests involving YaST, as well as tests involving KDM and the KDE Desktop. And indeed, we showed some of the videos you’ll find on the site at aKademy. The betterdesktop project is not only a Gnome thing. If you want to be involved and help us on the KDE side of things, you are more than welcome to participate.

    3. Currently, betterdesktop hosts videos corresponding to a SMALL section of all the parts of the linux desktop that could be tested. We intend to site to serve not just as a place for Linux developers to learn about the specific tests we ran, but also as place where they can learn about running their own tests, too.

    My team and I will never be able to run enough tests to please everyone in the world. If there are tests that we haven’t done that you’d like to do, we’d be happy to help you figure out equipment, etc.

    So yea, We’re not duplicating OpenUsability, we’re working with them. We’re not just testing GNOME, look over the videos again. And if you want to help run some tests, we’re here for you.


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