As we’ve know for quite a long time now, Ubuntu is aiming to look and behave as much like Mac as possible(1) – we’ve already seen the Growl-like on screen notifications (which are rather cool) and here is the next major user interface change:
In Ubuntu 10.04 – due to be released on late April of this year – the window buttons (close, maximize,minimize) will be on the left side of the window! See here for the branding screenshots.
In the previous release, Ubuntu already changed the order of the minimize and maximize buttons so instead of the MS-Windows-like order (minimize, maximize, close) Ubuntu has been putting the maximize button first. A minor change but it looks now to be a preparation to this very major change – starting with the next version, all the buttons are moving to the left side, like in Macintosh:
And just to compare, here’s the MacOS X implementation:
Care to tell the difference?
OK, on the Mac, the button order is reversed then in the new Ubuntu: close, minimize, maximize. So I’m not really sure what’s going on.
Anyways, quite likely people who are used to Ubuntu, other Linux desktops and even MS-Windows are all going to hate this setup, and there is no configuration option to turn this off – this is the Ubuntu way, so so either suck it up or change your operating system.
Or you can start messing with GConf (GNOME’s configuration system which is very much like the MS-Windows registry). If you do want to upgrade to the latest Ubuntu and keep your window buttons where you are used to, you can install the GNOME configuration editor (“Configuration Editor” in Ubuntu’s Software Center, or “gconf-editor” in Synaptic), look under
button_layout, read its help description and modify what you want.
Or if you want to just go back to the old behavior without messing with stuff, follow these easy steps:
- Invoke the run dialog by pressing ALT-F2
- In the command text, put this:
gconftool -s /apps/metacity/general/button_layout -t string "menu:maximize,minimize,close"
- Click on “Run”
Your windows buttons should now immediately revert to the old setup. If you ever want to try the new setup again, use this command:
gconftool -s /apps/metacity/general/button_layout -t string "maximize,minimize,close:".
Thomas Thurman – a GNOME developer working on Metacity – commented on the button layout issue in his blog and about Ori’s button_layout theming bug (see the comments below). Other discussions from around the web:
- Ubuntu developer Ivanka Majik with more details on reasons for the change
- Launchpad bug report requesting to change back and a lot of discussion on that, including Mark Shuttleworth weighing in.
- GUI designer Ian Cylkowski has some interesting comments on the new theme and its button layout and has a better suggestion for the button order, that I think better addresses Ubuntu’s ideas as detailed by Ivanka Majik.
- A simple application to easily change the button location or layout without needing to learn GConf.
- Ubuntu Tweak adds a nice UI to change the button layout (scroll about halfway down). I think this is now my recommended application for changing the button layout.
- Scott Ritchie has a list of problems with the new layout (and a funny animation).
- A favorable opinion of the new buttons.
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