Moblin V2 UX Gave Me a Headache

I downloaded the new Moblin V2 UX image and booted it up. My initial impressions are tempered by the disclaimer on the Moblin site: “The Moblin platform is still in a preliminary, beta-quality stage.”

Bullshit. It’s more like alpha-quality. A lot of stuff is broken and misconfigured, and quite a bit isn’t configured at all.

I’ll reserve my criticism accordingly and not dwell on things that absolutely didn’t work — like the link to youtube despite the lack of flash in the image, or missing audio codecs without any warning or message.

No, my biggest peeve was the entire graphical interface concept.

I prefer to keep my menus on auto-hide. The problem with Moblin is that there are layered auto-hide menus, or at least that’s the effect with different things dropping down — cascading, even — depending how far up your mouse pointer goes.

I also think the top level menu is an absolute abortion. Some of the icons are kind of peculiar so they’re not exactly intuitive. I don’t like having to work my way through a bunch of BS just to find a terminal to see what’s going on, how much RAM I’m wasting (I was using 975 MB with wifi connected, a browser session running, and a terminal launched), etc. I realize this interface is supposed to represent the new web 2.0 paradigm so maybe it’s the fault of a web 1.0 user. I got a headache (really — just took an Advil) between trying to figure out where things were and having tiers of menus drop down when I moved my mouse too far.

One final complaint. Someone at moblincore or whatever it’s called didn’t get every freaking oops report from my session. I figured three in the f irst ten minutes is enough. For the record, the crashes continued at about the same pace for the next ten minutes before I restarted the ever-crashing browser to find the su password (moblin) so I could halt or reboot my AA1 — if there’s a shutdown menu I couldn’t find the damn thing for the life of me.

Now some positive points. First, I was getting kind of nervous reading comments on the Moblin site about AA1 users unable to get wifi working. I had no trouble connecting to my hidden SSID — name it, add the passphrase, boom. It would’ve been nice to get a message that it was connected but the icon eventually changed to a familiar wifi-looking beacon thingy and I was surfing. Second, if you like shiny interfaces you’re gonna fucking looooove Moblin. Third, it boots and shuts down fairly quickly (not the five seconds stated on the Moblin site, at least not from USB) once you get root and/or a menu entry to shut down (if there’s even such a menu entry).

I can’t attest to any performance benchmarks — they should be extraordinary given Intel’s and Linux Foundation’s running of Moblin –because I was too frigging busy figuring out why the test sound was so awesome but sound via the Internet or anything else wasn’t working, where things were in the disjointed menu, why I was getting yet another notice that the browser or something had crashed, etc. I was too busy using the browser to learn that there wasn’t much working anyway and then repeatedly clicking “send” and then “cancel” for the almost incessant crash reports.

This thing might be kind of cool once they get things ironed out. It should be fast since it’s oriented for a limited set of hardware rather than one size fits all. It also has the flashy look so many users demand today. Unfortunately, I’m a more practical kind of guy and not into aesthetics. Just give me a clear and sensible menu first and worry about eye-candy later.

Right now, Moblin really has the cart before the horse. Even taking into consideration the alpha/beta level readiness of it, I still have to give it a FAIL because the interface is so convoluted that they need to do a revamp before I’d consider installing it on anything. Especially my own computer.

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