Work Spaces

I have noticed a constant throughout my years of using Linux systems. A desktop default of four work spaces (virtual desktops). Not two, not three, but always four.

Four work spaces is a given. A presumption. Desktop designers seem to never think about this default design choice.

Yes, some users use four or more work spaces. They are the exception.

I am not a heavy multi-tasker and do not play one on TV. To me, this never-ending default design choice of four work spaces is a running joke.

I use two work spaces. The second work space is for virtual machines. While I routinely might have three or more apps open on my desktop, I feel no urgency to move any of them to alternate work spaces. My task bar has ample room to show me what I have opened. I use Alt-Tab. I have no compulsion or need to use more than two work spaces.

Call me a simpleton.

Non technical users have no idea about multiple work spaces or how to use them. They could care less.

This default design choice is pure geekness. The technical savvy and geeks can configure multiple work spaces in less than a minute. Non technical users are better served not being bothered by work spaces at all.

Some people will argue that if a work space switcher is not placed on the panel then new users will not discover this feature. Discoverability is a reasonable argument, but the geeks and tech savvy already know about this feature and they are the only ones who want this feature.

To allow for discoverability and not frighten non technical users, at best the default should be two work spaces.

I have installed Linux systems for other people. Users ask about the work space switcher, which I always reconfigure for two work spaces. After I explain to them the purpose, they stare at me like the proverbial deer in head light beams.

To them computers are a challenge. Using one computer is difficult enough. Why would they want a second desktop when they use no more than one or two apps at any one time?

This is the chasm that exists between the geeks and the non technical user.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General

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