The repositioning of window button controls in Ubuntu 10.04 has undoubtedly been one of the most ‘controversial’ decisions taken by the OS team period.

They change can seem both trivial – they are just window buttons after all – and important at the same time (e.g. “my Nan uses Ubuntu, this will confuse her”).

The flames against the change have largely been fanned from the lack of clarity surrounding the issue; people are more inclined to be rational when rationale is provided.

Ivanka Majic, head of the Ubuntu design team, offered some insights into the discussion that led to the change early last week but, again, this didn’t answer everyone’s questions. Her post highlighted to me the fact that there is no clear cut ‘this is why’ answer to be easily given.

SABDFL himself Mark Shuttleworth provided his insights into the issue earlier this evening when responded to the ‘bug’ report on this issue. Not only does he help reassure users, he drops a massive imagination-baiting clue as to the benefits left-hand controls will bring to Ubuntu 10.10…

The default position of the window controls will remain the left, throughout beta1. We’re interested in data which could influence the ultimate decision. There are good reasons both for the change, and against them, and ultimately the position will be decided based on what we want to achieve over time.

Moving everything to the left opens up the space on the right nicely, and I would like to experiment in 10.10 with some innovative options there. It’s much easier to do that if we make this change now. I appreciate that it’s an emotive subject, and apologise for the fact that I haven’t been responding in detail to every comment – I’m busy moving house this week. But the design team is well aware of the controversy, your (polite) comments and more importantly *data* are very welcome and will help make the best decision.

When we have a celebrity bug report like this, it’s a real exercise for our values of communication, civility, and ubuntu. Thank you to those who have pointed to the code of conduct when things get heated. And thanks even more to those who FELT heated but didn’t let it show :-)



I for one am incredibly excited by the thought of the right-hand space being utilized for something more meaningful than the usual window-fare of a menu button that no-one uses. In i was pretty stoked to see said ‘menu button’ nuked off the Lucid window borders – now knowing there is a deeper reasoning behind it is, well, mouth wateringly cool.

Oh, Ubuntu how i love thee…

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