Add function to WinKey button on keyboard

Bug #161960 reported by Fred on 2007-11-11
24
This bug affects 2 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
One Hundred Papercuts
Undecided
Unassigned
Ubuntu
Wishlist
Unassigned

Bug Description

When I press WinKey, nothing happens.

Maybe make press it, makes it open a menu like the "Applications" menu.

InsClusoe (insclusoe) wrote :

This will, most probably, not be considered a bug. There are ways to make this happen. Please check out GNOME keyboard shortcut preferences. If you still have problems, please indicate which release (feisty, gutsy.. etc) you are using and steps followed before encountering the bug.

Fred (eldmannen+launchpad) wrote :

Hmm, true this is not a bug.

I just thought it was strange, me coming from a Windows world, that when I press that Windows-key (or the other beside it), I am used to it popup a menu, but now nothing happens.

Dylan McCall (dylanmccall) wrote :

Here is a good reason to make it so: Discoverability!

People often come to Ubuntu and wonder "where the Start menu is". If they could press the Super key ("Start") and have something appear, that would mean they quickly learn what Ubuntu has instead. People must think outside of the anti-Windows thing here. The Start key may have been inspired by Microsoft's main menu, but that does not mean it should be ignored. It does not say "Windows' Start Menu"; it says "Start". "Start" can mean whatever we make it to mean, and it can most definitely apply here. I think that it makes sense for that key to mean and do what it tends to say these days, which is to start the user off. No, the menu does not have to say Start for that to make sense. I, for one, would prefer if the menu did not since having two Starts would be redundant.

The Super key could be effectively mapped to either GNOME's main menu applet, or to Deskbar. Both of those applets are present by default and offer a great way of starting off one's journey into Ubuntu.

Either one could be achieved via a fairly straight-forward patch that changes default settings for the respective application. I'll see what I can do myself, although I must admit to having never looked at either application (and I am a bit lost as to what project is ultimately in charge of GNOME's hotkeys).

I don't see the problem. This is easily configured using Keyboard shortcuts. This is not Windows, and users should not expect things to be the same. In Ubuntu, you can choose the button yourself, in Windows you cannot. You just have to learn how to use the system. It doesn't take more than five minutes to learn how to configure keyboard shortcuts, but it must be learned. To "solve" the "problem", maybe Super L could be mapped to Keyboard Shortcuts by default?

> It doesn't take more than five minutes to learn how to configure keyboard
> shortcuts, but
> it must be learned.

Why should it need to be learned?
Why make it hard for new users if we can easily pre-map a key to the
application menu?

Have you ever seen the disbelief on Windows users faces when you tell them there aren't any viruses for Linux? They're so used to it, they think it's completely natural for an operating system to have viruses. But it's not. The question isn't why Ubuntu doesn't have the same default keyboard shortcuts as Windows. The question is, why would Super L be a good choice for the Applications menu? The fact that Windows has a similar menu pop up when someone presses it, is not a good reason. Why should it need to be learned? Because if we mimic Windows too closely just to be similar, people will make other assumptions too. Ubuntu is a different system with its own philosophy. It must be learned.

Dylan McCall (dylanmccall) wrote :

I think you are looking at this from a completely unnecessary and, frankly,
foolish perspective.
Microsoft's Windows renders GUI applications into different blocks
(windows), each with their own externally controlled Close, Minimize and
Maximize buttons. The fact is, people expect this and it is an intuitive
choice.

Similarly, Super L says "Start" on it 99% of the time (number pulled from
thin air, but can't be far off!). In addition, it is mapped to nothing by
default. What harm is there in mapping it to something? I for one prefer
using Super as a modifier key for all my Compiz plugins, but as one who has
been converted and adapted to Ubuntu and the joys of customization, I do not
mind in the slightest the idea of going and turning that event-stealing
functionality off.
As for the claim that "We shouldn't look like Windows!!", I would like to
point you to a recent change in Ubuntu, which added symlinks simulating
Windows' shell commands. (For example, "dir"). There are a lot of Windows
users out there, and it certainly does not hurt to help them along. There is
absolutely no harm in either of these things. How can I say that? Well, did
you notice that you can type "dir" in the shell and have it do something?
Has that change come out and eaten your hand off?
Thought not.

The claim that Ubuntu must be learned is an interesting one. I accept that I
would scream in horror if somebody gave me Linux command line directions
using "dir" and the like, but it can't be learned at all if the first step
to learning is a tricky one. Our job is to make it as easy as possible so
that people do not *need* to read the documentation. The system should make
sense on its own.
Super L triggering a function that resembles "Start"ing is a relatively
simple concept, unlikely to harm anyone, and no more intrusive than the
Windows shell symlinks -- and those have proven quite painless so far.

Now, back to the topic at hand: Implementation!

On Wed, Feb 20, 2008 at 8:47 PM, Jo-Erlend Schinstad <
<email address hidden>> wrote:

> Have you ever seen the disbelief on Windows users faces when you tell
> them there aren't any viruses for Linux? They're so used to it, they
> think it's completely natural for an operating system to have viruses.
> But it's not. The question isn't why Ubuntu doesn't have the same
> default keyboard shortcuts as Windows. The question is, why would Super
> L be a good choice for the Applications menu? The fact that Windows has
> a similar menu pop up when someone presses it, is not a good reason. Why
> should it need to be learned? Because if we mimic Windows too closely
> just to be similar, people will make other assumptions too. Ubuntu is a
> different system with its own philosophy. It must be learned.
>
> --
> Add function to WinKey button on keyboard
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/161960
> You received this bug notification because you are a member of Ubuntu
> Desktop, which is a direct subscriber.
>
> --
> ubuntu-desktop mailing list
> <email address hidden>
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-desktop
>

What are you saying, that everything Microsoft teaches is intuitive because they teach it to alot of people? That doesn't make sense. I've also never, ever said that Ubuntu can't look like Windows, I'm just saying we should make good choices. If someone has never used a computer before, will they look at the Super L-button and say, oh, if I press this, then I'll get a menu of installed applications? I don't think so. Actually, I think using the button that actually has a menu-icon on it would be a much better choice, you know.. The one between Alt Gr and Ctrl, that has a Menu-icon on it?

What I'm saying, is we shouldn't copy choices just because people expect them. There is a big difference between "intuitive" and "easy to learn". I don't see any reason why Super L should be mapped to the Applications menu at all, except maybe to assist people who have been fooled into thinking Ubuntu is another version of Windows. And why should we force people to use that button that way? We have a choice. It takes less than a minute to configure Super L or Menu as the key to get to the applications menu. They should discover _that_.

Maybe you'd want to redesign the desktop to something like this? http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/538/menuslaunchercopy4uy.jpg

Fred (eldmannen+launchpad) wrote :

Super+L?
I am confused...
What is this?

Super L is the name of "WinKey". Menu is the name of the button between Alt Gr and Ctrl.

Fred (eldmannen+launchpad) wrote :

I know that "Super" is the name of "WinKey".
But what is the "L" doing there, I don't get it?

InsClusoe (insclusoe) wrote :

L and R usually represent Left and Right. My keyboard, for example, has two super keys apart from a Menu key.

Fred <email address hidden> wrote: I know that "Super" is the name of "WinKey".
But what is the "L" doing there, I don't get it?

--
Add function to WinKey button on keyboard
https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/161960
You received this bug notification because you are a direct subscriber
of the bug.

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Fred (eldmannen+launchpad) wrote :

Ah, now I understand.
"Super L" refers to the left WinKey, ok.

I have 2 WinKey on my computer too.

How can you know my secret email? :(

Go to https://launchpad.net/~YOURUSERNAME/+edit and make sure you've checked «Hide my email addresses from other Launchpad users».

Fred (eldmannen+launchpad) wrote :

"Hide my email addresses from other Launchpad users" is checked.

Jad Madi (jad) wrote :

I'd call it a bug as making the "Super L" assigned to open Applications Menu would add a usability plus to our Desktop

Why? If a change should be made, doesn't it make more sense to use the Menu-button? If the primary goal of Ubuntu was to mimic Windows, then alot of things could be done; we could use one panel instead of two, with Slab instead of Menuline, and we could use a Windows XP theme to make the windows look like Windows, etc, like the screenshot I pasted in my previous post.

But that's not the goal. I haven't seen one independent argument for changing the shortcut to Super L. The only argument is that people are used to it from Windows. That's not enough.

Jad Madi (jad) wrote :

Suggesting X or Y enhancement doesn't mean we want to mimic windows but we want to enhance Ubuntu; in fact, I'm not fan of comparing Ubuntu to Windows and Mac, in fact we are ahead of them and this status implies accepting the change as long as it is in favour of our beloved users.

Five years ago some people campaigned against extending GUIs in GNU/Linux and they said by doing so we will be mimicking windows when the fact says we are enhancing our brilliant OS.

Ok, then please explain why Super L is a better choice as a menu-button than the Menu-button? I don't understand it. The Super L-button has a Windows-icon on it, while the Menu-button has a menu-icon.

Fred (eldmannen+launchpad) wrote :

The Menu-keys is used for context-menus in Windows. Like right-click.

The Win-key can still be used for Compiz and other stuff, example if you use Win-key + another key.
But if you only press Win-key, and no other button, it can bring up the menu, on KeyUp event.

if(key=winkey & no_other_key_pressed) { show_menu(); }
elseif(key=winkey & some_other_key_pressed) { do_whatever_that_does(); }

Fred... I don't understand that. You don't have to program anything. Just open System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts, and you can easily configure your shortcuts as you please. No programming is necessary, just click which action you want to assign Super L to and press Super L to assign it.

I personally think it's annoying to have an action assigned to Super L alone, but if it should be assigned to anything, it should open the Keyboard Shortcuts configuration editors, so new users can discover that feature.

Jad Madi (jad) wrote :

Jo, The Menu key is already assigned to current application menu, just like right click.

Fred (eldmannen+launchpad) wrote :

Jo-Erlend Schinstad,
No having it assigned to "Keyboard Shortcuts" would be bad, because most users don't change things, or want to change things.

Jad Madi (jad) wrote :

I totally agree with Fred, most *NEW* comers wont know if assigning functionality to a key is possible especially if they are used to Microsoft Windows and the other *NEW* comers wont have this brilliant idea even if they knew how to assign a key.

Why do you keep talking about Microsoft and Windows? This tracker is for Ubuntu. What if Microsoft decides to change the keyboard shortcuts in another version; should we change ours too, to make sure Ubuntu still feels like a cheap Windows-copy? Without mentioning Microsoft or Windows, explain why Super L is a better keyboard combination than alt+f1 for the Applications- or mainmenu? Don't get me wrong; it's ok if our stuff looks and feels like Windows if it is a good reason for it, but once we start copying decisions just to copy Microsoft, we're on thin ice. Most people dislike the Start-menu Windows keyboard shortcuts, and very few will miss it. If they really miss it that much, they can easily change it themselves. If they don't want to learn even the simplest things when they migrate to another operating environment, then they should be advised not to make the migration at all. Now, I'll leave it up to you to come up with a _real_ argument why Super L is the best shortcut for that functionality.

dennyhalim.com (mail2dny) wrote :

even if i know how to assign shortcut keys,
it'll be great if there's a default assignment. something that 'just works' whenever i press the button.

it feels like home....
just like you can press Ctrl-D on (almost) any browser on (almost) any OS to bookmark.
and it just works.
and it feels great.

i never assign any shortcut even that i know how.
why?
because i use a lot of computer. 2 at home, 3 at office and dozens while maintaining clients' computers.
and it feels real bad if i press a button that works at home but not working at the office....

lopthopman (lopthopman-ann0) wrote :

 Jo-Erlend,

Super-L is better than Alt-F1 because it is a single key, not a combination key. Whether we like it or not, Windows has the largest marketshare on the desktop. Even if that is ignored, we can simply be pragmatic and look at the vast majority of keyboards out in the world.

Although I use Unix and Linux most of the day, I am also forced to used Windows for various reasons. It would be Nice if basic operations, like getting to the menu, could be the same across both regimes.

"What if Microsoft decides to change the keyboard shortcuts in another version; should we change ours too, to make sure Ubuntu still feels like a cheap Windows-copy?"

I believe Microsoft will be unable to change the meaning of the Windows (aka Super-L) key, because of the large community of users that are already used to it. In my opinion, the key is basic, much like the position of the accelerator and brake pedal of a car. Why switch it if the current dominant provider already has it a certain way? Or, put it another way, why go out of the way to annoy new users? Or old users that have to use both environments.

"Most people dislike the Start-menu Windows keyboard shortcuts, and very few will miss it."

I don't believe most people like or dislike Windows CUA. They are simply used to it. No one wakes up every morning, and says "Wow, I really love that the my car's brake pedal is in the place that it is." I believe the same is true for Windows CUA.

In Windows, you have a much more generic menu. When the Windows-user presses Super-L, is he looking for a file, the control panel or an application? Does he want to shutdown the system? There is a very good Vista menu clone for Gnome. Perhaps we should use that, because that's the menu that most people will be familiar with in a few years. Most people are also accustomed to having the clock and systray in the lower right corner. We can easily move them there. Actually, why not just use a single panel? After all, that's what people are used to. If we switched to a more generic menu like Slab or the previously mentioned Vista-menu clone, it might make more sense to the same keyboard shortcut, but we don't.

Ubuntu is not Windows, and is not intended to be compared to or mimic the Windows OS in any way. Marking Invalid. This is not negotiable. Please place ideas and suggestions for improvement for the User Interface in Ubuntu Brainstorm http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/ .
Thank you.

gdi2k (gdi2k) wrote :

I posted a bug that was a duplicate of this one without having seen it. Now that I've found it, I will reopen the discussion here. I disagree with Teej's assessment that "Ubuntu is not intended to be compared to or mimic the Windows OS in any way" and here's why:

 - 90% of the world's computer-using population use or have previously used Windows. Nearly all Ubuntu users are current or ex-Windows users. Making the transition as easy as possible will maximise successful transitions.

 - The behaviour of the Windows key has become ubiquitous among the vast majority of computer users the world over, just as the left mouse button is known to select things, the right mouse button brings up context-sensitive menus, F1 brings up help, directories are known as folders and the close button is always at the top right of a window. Changing any of these things would drive users away. Applications not appearing after a push of the Windows button simply confuses people as the behaviour (or lack of) is unexpected.

 - Most people don't care about the Linux ideology. Avoiding common UI design implementations for the sake of "not mimicing Windows" simply makes it harder for new users to get started. Gnome mimics Windows in more ways than most Linux DEs (and is also the most successful). Why should the Windows key be any different?

 - Doing a quick Google search reveals that this is a very popular modification for Ubuntu users:

    * http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/5182/
    * http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/ubuntu/use-the-windows-key-for-the-start-menu-in-ubuntu-linux/
    * http://blog.myjotnotes.com/2008/12/21/setting-up-the-windows-key-in-ubuntu/
    * http://gandhiakshay.wordpress.com/2008/09/17/map-windows-key-to-start-in-ubuntu/
    * http://ubuntulinuxhelp.com/10-things-to-do-after-installing-ubuntu-linux/ (item 7)
    * http://iamyouruser.blogspot.com/2008/12/ubuntu-windows-key.html
    * http://fixlog.blogspot.com/2006/09/windows-key-to-access-ubuntu-start-menu.html
    * http://www.pcmech.com/article/linux-mint-the-ubuntu-that-should-have-been/ ("In [Linux] Mint I can pop up the apps with the Super key alone and I dig that.")

Why are we forcing users to google the solution when it could just be fixed by default? People clearly want it.

mati (mati-wroc) wrote :

"Ubuntu is not Windows, and is not intended to be compared to or mimic the Windows OS in any way."
This is ridiculous. Windows simply does a better use of a keyboard, as Ubuntu currently have a "black hole" in that area.

Completely *aside* from other operating systems:
I installed Ubuntu on my friend's computer, and while trying it, he - out of curiosity - tried to press the key, just to see what happens. He was cheerless when he discovered it does nothing. He didn't know a shortcut to open a main menu and reached for a mouse every time.

"I don't see the problem. This is easily configured using Keyboard shortcuts."
It is a problem, as majority of users doesn't ever see that options.

Ubuntu should come with a *best* set of available configuration options, lack of those is an usability mistake.

IMHO Ubuntu Dx Team should look at this and see what would be the best use of the key.
Gnome-Do maybe, with a "first-time" tutorial?

Changed in ubuntu:
status: Invalid → New
tags: added: defaults keyboard usability
ShawnJGoff (shawn-goff) wrote :

How about this: Why should it NOT open the applications menu by default? Can you think of anything better for that button? I also agree that the context menu button should be for context menus, not for the applications menu.

Finding every little way to NOT be like Windows is foolish. Why don't we put the close/minimize buttons on the left side? Scrollbar on the left side? Titlebar on the bottom?

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: New → Confirmed
Petrusha (peter-e-zhabin) wrote :

Using Winkey for Applications menu by default is a good idea, but default <Super>F12 shortcut in compiz benchmark plugin will not work in this case and needs to be changed.

Lightbreeze (nedhoy-gmail) wrote :

Expo is another shortcut that uses super and is part of the default Ubuntu install (super+e).

Many compiz plugins use super+<key> shortcuts.
GNOME Do, a popular application, uses super+space shortcut.

gdi2k (gdi2k) wrote :

Windows uses the key for many shortcuts too, but pressing it alone results in the start menu popping up (this is achieved by not bringing up the start menu until the button is released, as opposed to responding immediately when pressed). This is the most common use.

Would such a solution be achievable in Ubuntu without too much plumbing? That way existing applications could continue to use the key as a modifier for shortcuts, while the Applications Menu would pop up if the key was used in isolation of other keys.

Petrusha (peter-e-zhabin) wrote :

It wil result in changes in many applications using key events handling code e.g. xneur and others i think. But may be I'm wrong.

Guys, there is probably a simple explanation why this has never been implemented. The main one being that NOT every Ubuntu user has a keyboard with a Windows key.
Aren't we forgetting Mac users, SPARC system users, and anyone else with an unusual configuration? I don't see how the WinKey can be set as the default Applications opening key (already assigned to Alt+F1) and have those other users be happy. Also the fact that this key is assigned to quite a few other uses in other applications kind of outweighs the need for laziness for a single button press. Ubuntu is Ubuntu, there should be no argument about this. From both a linux and Windows users perspective, if this could be implemented then yes it might be a good idea, but why would you need it anyway, do you intend navigating with the whole keyboard? You'd have to use the mouse to select everything else anyway, and as stated, would break too many other applications. If you want Windows or Windows-like system, either use Windows or change the assignment (may break Compiz).
Please suggest this on Brainstorm and make your pleas there, Launchpad is not the place for petty arguments over a keyboard button. It's already there somewhere so I shall be closing this bug report. Please continue any more discussion or ideas for generic implementation such as this over there, and thank you. Please continue to report any bugs you find in Ubuntu to Launchpad as normal.

Thank you.

Changed in ubuntu:
status: New → Invalid
mati (mati-wroc) wrote :

Not every Ubuntu user has a mouse with scroll wheel, so let's forget implementing it. Sorry, Teej, but this argumentation is just silly.

I believe this key can be set in addition to Alt-F1 (so Mac users can be happy) and be used *only when released*, so all super+<key> shortcuts will work. This way there would be no harm to anybody and a gain for a large group of users.

That's for clarification. Thank you :)

I am not getting into politics about Ubuntu vs. Windows, or Canonical vs Microsoft, I have my own personal views, but as an OS, Ubuntu can only be so much like Windows before we all get copyright infringement notices. Is the Windows key patented specifically for Windows use? Does anyone even know? Perhaps there are more deep-rooted reasons as to why this hasn't been done, but it's not for me to say.
I have looked on Brainstorm and this issue is on there already at http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/5182/ - but its old an unsearchable, perhaps its time to implement an idea again?

gdi2k (gdi2k) wrote :

Teej, I think these days we can assume assume that the vast majority of users have the windows key on their keyboards and know how to use it (at least to bring up their Windows Start Menu). No average PC or Laptop sold within the last 5 years would exclude it.

How many keyboards can you find on Newegg or Amazon that exclude the Windows key? HP's or Acer's laptop ranges? What about Logitech or Cherry's products? Even all of Dell's Ubuntu-powered offerings include the key. In fact, I think you would find it a challenge to source a new keyboard without such a key in mainstream outlets.

Of course there will always be people out there with obscure IBM classics and Sun relics, but neither of those companies produce keyboards today. Apple keyboards are the exception here - but are we catering to niches or masses with Ubuntu? Besides, there is nothing wrong with retaining the existing ALT+F1 shortcut for those without said key.

Of the 13 different people that have participated in this discussion so far, 10 favour making the Windows key pop up the Applications menu by default, 2 people were against it and one didn't state a preference. That's a pretty overwhelming majority, yet you keep shutting the bug down as Invalid.

Where's the community spirit?

Lightbreeze (nedhoy-gmail) wrote :

Discoverability for keyboard shortcuts is low so they need to be intuitive and consistent.

A vast majority of computer users use Windows (Bug #1). Many of these users will be used to this shortcut.

If we can make this keyboard shortcut act as the user expects it to, without negatively effecting usability in another way, we should.

* If the current keyboard shortcut (alt+f1) can be retained, and
* the super key can be used *only when released* (so all super+<key> shortcuts still work)
then I only see usability increasing :=)

Marking Incomplete.
Since you put it that way, I suppose I agree. It's really not me being ignorant to the suggestion, I actually think if it could be implemented then it would be helpful, albeit a bit lazy. Launchpad was never intended to hold idea implementations, but rather bugs, which is why Brainstorm was introduced. According to triaging procedures https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Bugs/Responses#An%20idea%20to%20improve%20Ubuntu this should be directed to Brainstorm, but this hasn't been done. Idea 5812 is unsearchable as the Brainstorm system was changed a while back, so if someone can put forward this idea with a few solutions then all involved in this can vote on it, get community approval, and go ahead with it. I doubt it would take long (1 release) before it is implemented.

Changed in ubuntu:
status: Invalid → Incomplete
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