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  1. I've been meaning to reply to this thread for weeks. Hopefully, it's not too late! I like the idea that the setup should be like a video game. We should have most of our actions in an easy to find location. Fair warning: All of this is basically my opinion. History of Linux: Skip this section if you don’t care about the history of Linux. I’ve been using Linux primary since about 2011. One of the reasons I switched is because the built-in file explorer had dual pane setup. I couldn’t believe that Windows still had a single pane setup when so often we need to move/copy files from one location to another. I tried 3rd-party programs like Ross uses but I didn’t find one that I liked. I also felt that this should be a feature of the OS. Back then, I used Ubuntu which was using Gnome 2 for the GUI. This worked well and many people were happy with but it was starting to look dated. Gnome 3 was starting to come up but Canonical, the company that makes Ubuntu, decided with good reason that the new Gnome was oversimplified and not the direction that users want to go in. For example, they removed the dual pane feature of the file program! Canonical made their own user interface called Unity. Unity had a decent setup although it couldn’t be customized very well. Unity was part of Ubuntu in 2012 and in 2016ish they announced it would be going away and they would be switching to Gnome 3. In 2016ish, I switched to the KDE desktop which I could customize close to a Unity layout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSBMn6eGH88. As for my desktop layout, I started using the taskbar on the left side of the screen back when I was using XP. This was also the default setup for Unity. The idea was it was easier to get to the side then all the way at the bottom of the screen (reduced travel distance). I also started getting used to having the Close, Minimize, and Maximize buttons on the left side to reduce travel time. Additionally, having the task bar on the left gives you more vertical space since that is a scarcer resource on wide-screen monitors. Later on, I moved the taskbar/dock to the top of the screen and changed it to auto hide. This way, I have the full screen to run my applications and I can get to the dock by moving the top of the screen to get it to appear. Ubuntu Touch (now developed by Ubports), uses Pie Menus. You can “flick” up from the bottom of the screen (on a Tablet) to bring it up. The radial menu works well on a touch screen and I think it would work well with a Desktop machine. (Although, rather than flicking up from the bottom, opening the menu would be different.) Remarkably, this menu would work on both Touch screens and Desktop machines (unlike some other systems like whatever Windows 8 was trying to do). Ideally, I would like to find a pie dock similar to what Ross showed. Something that can be opened with a hotkey or gesture that opens around the cursor. That would mean no travel time and the dock would be available wherever the mouse is. Going back to games, I didn’t like the Pie Menus in Crysis. I don’t think it works well in a game to “flick the mouse” to the selection that you want to use, especially if you have the option to use a hotkey. Maybe it works better with a controller with limited buttons. Crysis kind of turned me off to Pie Menus but with Ubuntu Touch, Ross’ videos, and trying it on my OS, I can see the use now. Counter point to Crysis, Pie Menus worked pretty well in Secret of Mana. I think the animation slowed down navigation a bit but looking back on it, it was nicer and faster than full-screen menus of other games. Pie menus would be great for applications as well. Some programs are doing this like others have mentioned. Unfortunately, because this is a per application basis, there isn’t a wide spread system for doing Pie Menus in an OS. (Since we are going for hypothetical optimal though, we can say that this is something that we need/want.) As an aside, Alt-Tab is not useful. I don’t use it and I tried to figure out why. One of the reasons that I think I don’t use it is that on KDE, the Alt-Tab only shows on the current screen rather than all screens. However, I think the real reason is that it is system that requires you to remember the order that you last used an application. I used to use it to switch back and forth between two applications but now that I have more than one screen, I can just put each window on a separate screen. If I need to switch applications now, I just go to the top of my screen to my taskbar/dock and select the program there. (I can also use the Window+Number hotkey but I have that it is quicker to move the mouse than to try to stretch to Win+Number. I have thought about finding better hotkeys but have been sticking to using the default.) One thing that Ross didn’t touch on that much was being able to search for the program that you need to run. He’s right in that if you don’t know the name, it is hard to search for. But if you do know the name, it shouldn’t be difficult to pull up. The OS should have a search option to find whatever program you are looking for. (Categories are nice too.) KDE’s full-screen Application Launcher works okay for this in my opinion. Also for searching, there should be a way to search the menus of an application. Ubuntu’s Unity had this feature and it is sorely missed. If we are going for an ideal system, there should be a way to find options in our menus by going through the menus and by searching. I couldn’t find a video on it but the way it would work would be to press “Alt”. Then a search bar would come up and and you search for something like “Save”. It would list what it found and show you how to get to it, such as “File → Save”. Not only is the search great on its own but it is also useful for helping with training. As far as training and learning where hotkeys, menu items, or what mouse gestures do what, there is a learning curve to everything. Saying that gestures aren’t useful because you have to learn something isn’t wrong but no matter what you do to use your system, you have to do some amount of learning. Worst case, you fumble around Alt menus (or use a search function if you are lucky) looking for your frequently used command. You may even learn the hotkey for an action that you repeat often. Since you have to learn hotkeys, you could also learn mouse gestures. Although, I agree the learning of gestures isn’t the same since you don’t have the option to search a menu as a backup. There were some complaints about Ross’ setup not looking good (i.e. ugly). Something that is ugly but works is better than something that looks nice but is hard to use and slow. Ross’ description for Macs is the perfect example. One button mice and simple non-busy GUIs look nice but it’s that much harder to do anything. Another example is Latte Dock for KDE. I used it for over a month. It looked better than the default Dock and had pretty animations. I found it slow and even later sped up the animations to the maximum but in the end, I went back to the default Dock. The default dock doesn’t look as pretty but it is much faster and easier to use. (Lighter on the memory usage too.) Below are some ideas for a setup. Ideal setup: OS: Arch Linux. Arch has good online support (wiki and forums) and the frequent updates keep your system up to date. Window Manager: KDE (or Gnome). KDE offers more customization. However, there seems to be more Pie Menus available for Gnome. Dock: Launcher at the top of the screen that auto hides (ideally, only a pie launcher would be needed). In my opinion, dock placemen goes from least to most ideal in this order: Bottom -> Left -> Top (auto hide) -> Pie/Radial Dock Menu: radial menu (like some applications have) and searchable Radial/Pie Dock: Gnome Pie – in Ross’s video (works okay but not that great for KDE) Pie Dock – another option (used to work with KDE but seems to be a bit outdated) Mouse Gestures: These work well for actions that need to be done quickly and only once. Maximize, Minimize, Close are good examples. Cut, Copy, and Paste are good ones too (although the hotkeys are close to the home row in QWERTY, it says you a trip to the control key). I also use a 3-screen setup so a Move one Screen to the Left/Right are useful too. Doing a gesture often takes less time then hitting a hotkey especially if the hotkey requires moving hands off of the mouse and/or home row. Hotkeys: Great for repeated actions that would be too slow with gesture. These are arrow up/down, page up/down, next/previous tab in a browser, etc. Ideally, the most common hotkeys would be on the home row or close to it. Search Menus: Unity had a feature where you could search the menu of an application. Things that don’t work or could be better: Hot corners: I disagree with Ross on the hot corners. My main reason is that with a multi-monitor setup, hot corners are harder to get to if at all. I use a three monitor setup and the hot corners on the left and right monitors are way to far to get to. Hot corners on the center screen aren’t hot corners at all since the mouse cursor just moves to the next screen. Cording keyboards: After I saw the video, I pulled out my “Frogpad” that I bought years ago. The idea is that you can use one hand to type. You have to use multiple keys to type a letter. This might be useful for type short things but I found it was faster to move my hand to the keyboard to type. Also, it wasn’t great with Control, Alt, and Windows key combos. Hotkeys: Hotkeys themselves are useful but there is a fundamental flaw with them and that is “Discovery”. Take Starcraft/Warcraft as an example. There is a 3-4 grid for doing actions such as build farm or have a unit perform an action such as patrol. You would think as a gaming company you would say, “oh this is easy, I will just make my grid align to QWER, ASDF, ZXCV”. However, they went the route with having the keys match words, sometimes. Build farm might be “B” then “F” but build factory would be “B” then “A” since “F” was already used. This comes down to how drop-down menus have been designed (think Alt-F, S to save). The better approach would be to have things aligned to a grid (for the gaming example). For regular GUIs, I’m not sure what the best solution would be. Maybe a pie menu with hotkeys aligned to each sector. The current system is pain. It ends up being, let me hunt for the thing I am looking for. (With Unity, there was a very nice feature where you could press Alt and it would bring up a search for the menus of the application. Without Unity, I ended up just search the web to find a menu option for bigger programs.) Once you find it, if the option is something that you use frequently, you may try to remember the hotkey(s) to get to it. However, remembering to do Alt B, C to something just is slow and requires moving your hand off of the mouse half the time. Things to try/investigate: Hardware: What is the best mouse? A Vertical mouse to avoid wrist pain? A large number of buttons on the mouse? What is the best keyboard? Ergonomic, split, or some kind of custom non-standard? Custom one-handed keyboard or gaming pad for the left hand. Pros: If the keyboard had common hotkeys and commonly used keys (arrows, page up/down), it could minimize having to move to the keyboard. Cons: We would have to move our left hand to keyboard in addition to the right hand. If this one-handed keyboard worked well enough, it could be strictly for typing. Toggle typing mode: Using AutoHotkey, we could remap the keyboard to have arrow keys and pgup/pgdn for the left hand on the home row. Then, we could press some key to bring it back to “typing” mode. I used this scheme for games. In the Warcraft/Starcraft example, I arrow keys on the home row (similar to WASD). I would press Enter to bring up chat and that would also play a sound and switch back to “typing” mode. Pressing Enter again to send the message would go back to “game” mode. (I can’t think of a good simple way to toggle this outside of a game.) I use the Dvorak layout myself. I found that it feels more comfortable since my hands can stay on the home row rather than move around for the most common keys. It is a bit of work to learn but since you don’t have a home row, I would recommend either learning Dvorak or learn QWERTY using the home row. I do feel faster typing this way but the comfort thing I found most appealing. There was a free online typing course that I worked through to learn Dvorak. They basically start you off a couple letters at a time (‘u’ and ‘h’, the pointer fingers for each hand in Dvoark, and moving up to the entire home row, then the rest of the keyboard). It took me a couple of weeks to get comfortable with it. (I had a print out next to my computer of the Dvorak layout that I could look at while typing.) The downsides: if you work in office/lab where you have to use shared computers, in can be a problem. I knew a guy who learned Dvorak and then went back to QWERTY because our computer lab at the time had shared computers. (Not really the case today. This was back 10 years ago.) This probably doesn’t apply to you so if it’s just you on the computer, you don’t have this concern. The other downside is that some OSes and programs make their hotkeys around QWERTY. Control X/C/V is big one that I miss out on. At the end of the day, I still feel like we are stuck with this outdated typewriter model of input. Even though Dvorak is a good software solution, I think there must be a better setup. Note taking App: I started using “Zim” a couple of months ago for my note taking app. It’s mostly text but also lets you do “wiki markup” like bold, strike through, underline, as well as checkboxes and bullets. I feel it’s a better way to take notes than text or using Word Processor. You can also organize a hierarchy of wiki pages. (I don’t know how it compares to OneNote or other programs like that because I haven’t used those.) Summary: There is still a lot of investigating that needs to be done. (Looking forward to the follow up video.) The video game analogy works. We need hotkeys on our left hand (maybe even arrows and pgup/pgdn) and an easy enough way to switch from navigation to typing. Gestures are great for simplifying common actions and Radial/Pie Menus reduce traveling and make it easier to select our program. A complete solution doesn’t exist; either KDE’s customization or Gnome’s support for Pie Menus are good candidates. Maybe someone could setup a VM to do a lot of what you showed in the videos. Hardware solutions exist as well. A multi-button mouse may help. A custom keyboard (or a modified keyboard with AutoHotkey) could reduce dependency on arrow keys and pgup/pgdn. Thanks for making the video Ross! I started using the Mouse Gesture program that you showed and it has been useful. I started using Gnome Pie as well but haven’t found a Pie menu to replace my dock yet.
  2. I think that's a fair point. I'll try to explain and hopefully I'm still not too off base. Terminals: I believe what you might be seeing is a trend in "Tiling Window Managers." I haven't used them myself and I don't really see the appeal. I think they are for people who are using the keyboard primarily and prefer to avoid switching to the mouse. Also, I think they may be more for people with 4K monitors (or just one monitor). They can afford to have 4, 6, or 8 windows tiled on one screen. I prefer to run applications full screen on several monitors and switch between them. Flat Theme: I think this is a fad that is dying out. It might have been popular 2-4 years ago but lost it's appeal. I always felt it had a MAC feel to it (simple looking but not practical). There still might be a lot of screenshots on the web due to it being popular for a time. Default Theme: I feel that the default theme should at least look good if not be impressive. Here's an example of the KDE Plasma dark theme which I think is simple (hopefully not too flat for you taste) and not too crazy. I noticed that when I search the web for Linux themes I see a lot of wacky results out there. I would recommend checking out default screenshots of KDE Plasma (not gnome). The light theme is bit too gray/XP looking for my liking but it's hard to find screenshots of the default dark theme out there. I know you said that you didn't want to try a distro but if you did, there is a live test on the internet: https://distrotest.net/. It's a bit laggy but you could get a feel for the theme and even change it to the dark theme and feel that out. (I think looking at this way or on a video would give you a feel for the "flatness".)
  3. This is a very cool setup. I also find it useful that it is not only something that you have tried out but something that you have been using for years. Ross's request said that he didn't want a mouse like that because he was concerned about accidentally hitting side buttons. He probably has other concerns like weight since he doesn't need/want a wireless mouse. (Who wants to bother with batteries anyway when the mouse is always plugged into a Desktop PC?) How is your experience with the mouse? How often do you accidentally hit side buttons? How do you think this compares to the Logitech G502 Hero? How is the weight and the grip of the mouse? (Is hard to pick up and move with the side buttons? Do the buttons add extra bulk?)
  4. @meandmy10, I think Ross would benefit from using KDE Plasma as well since he is looking for a way to customize the OS as much as possible. It would be a bit of effort to switch from Windows to Linux but it's either go from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or some distro of Linux. The question is, what would be the best way (for Ross in particular) to get KDE Plasma? I am thinking that Arch Linux is the best choice but there are so many options. Here are my opinions: Arch Linux: Pros: Rolling release always up to date drivers, kernel, software, etc. Stable enough (in my opinion). LTS Kernel is an option. Should be good for gaming. Cons: Command line install - but you learn a bit and once it's done, it's all GUI. Some option don't have defaults so you have to make some decisions. Frequent updates (which Ross may not like). Downgrades are possible and not difficult but have to be done manually. Manjaro: Pros: Easier install than Arch (GUI installer). Kernel selection is very nice (but I don't see that be all that useful). Arch has the regular kernel and the LTS kernel which is usually enough. Cons: Might as well as install Arch since you end up with a similar system after install. Default Green theme is ugly. (I'd rather have a pure KDE install to start with.) Manjaro repos a bit behind Arch. (Which may be a Pro.) KDE Neon: Pros: KDE's official distro Cons: Based on Ubuntu LTS. Right now, it is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (will probably switch to Ubuntu 20.04.1 sometime after it is released in August). The Ubuntu LTS is slow to upgrade so some things like Xorg is out of date and has issues with programs like easystroke. Distro designed for the most recent KDE software by the KDE Plasma team but that's about it. (Distro has been called a "test distro" or "KDE demo distro" by some but I see it as a pretty solid stable KDE distro.) Debian: Pros: Super Stable. (Less updating, a plus for Ross.) Less having to deal with KDE changes when a new version comes out. Cons: Slow to update. Might make gaming hard. Also, getting some newer packages might be difficult. Has anyone tried Debian unstable? Major Upgrades are a pain and bit of a manual process OpenSuse (haven't used this distro much myself): Pros: Rolling release, up to date. Cons: How is it for gaming? Installing packages? Not sure about installing things like easystroke without having to build from source. Ubuntu: Pros: Popular distro Lots of available software Cons: gnome based instead of KDE based unless using something like Kubuntu 6 month upgrades are huge LTS versions can get out of date Plenty of other options too. But, Linux isn't for everyone. I would hate to recommend it to Ross and just end up frustrating him. It takes work and dedication but hopefully the openness and freedom is what Ross is looking for. A lot people replying to this thread got to Ross's point of frustration at one time in their lives and made the switch to Linux and are happy with it. Maybe it is what he needs to do too. I do like the idea of someone working with Ross to get setup. He could have a livestream for the install and/or another begathon to get Ross new hardware. A second video card for GPU passthrough using virtualization like QEMU would be great for gaming.
  5. That sounds like you are describing Activities in KDE Plasma. From what I understand, they are similar to desktops but you can have a separate wallpaper, widgets and programs in the dock. (I use Activities but never really tried out Desktops.) For example, I have my usual desktop with Firefox, Thunderbird, etc., and then a separate Activity for downloading and editing YouTube videos. In the Video editing Activity, I have Avidemux on my Dock, Dolphin (a file explorer) open to Videos, and Terminal open ready to run a script to modify the date on the Videos. All that is ready at push of a hotkey but completely out of my Desktop when not using it.
  6. It took me a while to figure out how Ross was doing the "no close button" on Firefox Tabs. I thought I'd post the steps to do it in case anyone else was interested. I found that you have to enable the option toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets in about:config. Then, create the chrome folder in your Firefox profile folder, create "userChrome.css" in that folder with this content: @namespace url("http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul"); /* only needed once */ #tabbrowser-tabs .tabbrowser-tab .tab-close-button { display:none!important; }
  7. Great video by Ross. Hard to believe that Mouse Gesture video (easystroke) was made 10 years ago! The technology has been available for years. I started using easystroke (mouse gestures) and gnome pie (pie menu) for about a week and it has been useful but not perfect. The gestures are nice if I need to something once (copy, paste, minimize, maximize, move to other screen, etc.). But if I want to something like scroll through Browser tabs, then I tend to move my hand to the keyboard and use a hotkey. The Pie Menu is convenient avoiding the need to move the mouse to an edge of the screen to launch an app. I don't see moving the hand from the mouse to the keyboard going away. Typing needs 2 hands (one-handed layouts seem too slow) and the analog mouse movement is needed too. It could be reduced, like with a separate numpad (i.e. not on the keyboard but a separate USB device) or remap hotkeys for the arrow keys. I could see Ross switching to Linux. I did the same when Windows 7 came out a decided to go from Windows XP to Linux instead. Ross used a 3rd-party file explorer to have 2 windows in one. I could never find a good one for Windows so that's one of the reasons that I switched. If Ross did switch, it would be another set of problems to get setup and running but some of the customization is built in to the OS.
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