Should Mandriva 2009 use the new KDE Kickoff menu or the classical menu?
Mandriva 2009.0 installs KDE4 with the classical KDE menu, a decision I can only applaud. It isn’t decided yet whether this decision will stand until the final version. The Mandriva Community seems to be running into a tie, as the votes for either the new Kickoff menu or the Classical menu are virtually equal. My vote is a solid one for the Classical menu and I don’t mind explaining why.
Whether it is the KDE4 Kickoff menu, the OpenSuse GNOME slab or even the Windows Vista menu all suffer from the same problem. In order to launch your program you have to click and click and click from panel to panel to panel, not to mention the scrolling up and down to check whether the program is really in the category you expect it to be. If you have tried a distribution or two you know that isn’t always the case. The classical menu’s (in all three) simply required clicking on the starting point and then hovering over the menu tree until you found the program. True, it is possible to set your favorite programs on the first panel, but you shouldn’t want to use more than four of five programs to benefit from it.
I still remember that day in the early 1990s when my hands locked up while writing a piece on my laptop. I couldn’t move my fingers and it took three months before I was able to use a keyboard again. It must have been one of the first cases of what was to be called Repetitive Stress Syndrome or RSI. I am aware that recent research indicates that RSI doesn’t exist, but you know the dictum: “lies, damn lies, statistics and IT related research”. That experience made me a stickler for workplace ergonomics. I will pester my employer to have a decent chair, table and setup for my computer. At home I have a Microsoft natural keyboard and a responsive mouse. I don’t like a wireless mouse: the batteries make it unnecessarily heavy and when they loose juice the mouse responds sluggish. If there is a keyboard shortcut for repetitive tasks I will find it. The programs I use often are no longer in the menu, but in the top panel (I use GNOME). Needless to say it is littered with programs.
The path of “menu innovation” goes contrary to proper workplace ergonomics and just adds more repetitive tasks in day to day use, a dramatic increase in mouse clicks and lateral mouse movements.
The discussion in the Mandriva Community seems to point to a possible alternative, a Kickoff menu that doesn’t require clicks to move from panel to panel. We will have to wait if that idea matures into something more. In the mean time I am glad the option to switch to the KDE Classical menu will be there in Mandriva 2009. Then again, with the push of KDE4 I might not use the KDE menu for the next year anyway.