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Anaconda Usability Issues

These issues have been pulled together from various feedback the Anaconda team has received about the UI as well as multiple usability test sessions performed at DevConf 2013 in Brno and in the Red Hat engineering office in Westford, MA in March 2013.

Some issues have already been fixed! Fixed issues will be marked with a strikeout, like this.

Please do not file bugs for these issues. This is raw data - we don't necessarily agree with everything here, so not everything is a bug. Also, we simply do not want to use bugzilla to track these issues.

A. General User Interface

  1. Too much empty space in screens (Wilck)
    • Suggestion: constrain UI to a given particular max resolution. maybe 1024x768 or 1280x1024 or something like that.
  2. Disproportion between large items and smaller elements at margins (Wilck)
    • Suggestion: again might be helped with constrained max resolution set on screens
  3. User dislikes having to move mouse from lower right corner to upper left corner, would like shortcuts to not have to move mouse so far (inode0) Alt-D is a keyboard shortcut that can be used to hit done.
  4. Not sure about whether or not the spokes in the hub had to be completed in a certain order or not - it's not clear. (tburke)
  5. It could be much clearer which items on screen are mandatory and which are optional - by default the VM window cut off the notification area so the only indicator was the /!\ icon which is really small. (tburke)
  6. Would like to see every screen to have a help screen available. Example - some checkbox items' real purpose wasn't clear, it would be nice to get more information about why you'd want to use that checkbox somehow. (tburke)
  7. We should have a '<' icon or a grid icon (see icon in gnome-control-center for going back to the hub) next to the 'Done' buttons in the upper left. We may even want to consider killing the 'Done' text and just having the button. (Mo)
    • Suggestions: These are some mockups showing the various ideas: mockups
  8. Once you've visited a screen, there's no indicator that it's been visited. (Mo)
    • Suggestion: Color spoke icons black if unvisited, and grey if visited. This is possible but not right now because of GTK limitation - will need custom code to support display of emblems on black-colored icons. Mockup showing this
  9. New 4/15/13 Using arrow keys to navigate the hub screens is a bit dicey.
    • "I can't control it with arrow keys. Aha, it's possible. But it jumps everywhere when using the arrow keys." (Brno #1 Participant #1) (Brno #1)
  10. New 4/16/13 Participant #4 wasn't sure if he could enter any of the spokes when some where still loading. (Westford)
    • Suggestion: Add text to top of hub #1, "You may complete any item below as soon as it has loaded. Items may be completed in any order." mockup showing text on hub #1
  11. No keyboard layout indicator when switching layout (bug 901777) (bug 895913) (bugzilla) (vpodzime fixed this)
  12. Users used to buttons in lower right corner of screen, confused by position of 'done' button. (Wilck) All lower-right corner buttons removed from spokes. Only hubs have a button there now.
  13. We should display warning-level notices from the sanity check in the UI notification error; we only show errors now (bug 909410) (bugzilla) Done.

B. Language Selection

  1. Huge language selection list filling screen is overwhelming (Wilck)
  2. Initial language selection screen has no indication of keyboard layout affiliated with chosen language (Wilck)
  3. Easy to completely overlook 'Set keyboard to default layout' checkbox (Wilck)
  4. New 4/15/13 Czech users had some trouble finding Czech - we default to English, but people naturally scroll downwards, not upwards, so a couple of the users missed the Czech option for a while. Participant #2 tried a few search terms and they didn't work out - he tried "ces" ("cestina"), "4e" ("čeština"), "cy" ("cz"), and then "cz". Only the latter worked. (Brno #1)
    • Suggestion: If it's at all possible, allow for searching without diacritics on the language screen? So if a user searches 'cestina' it would return 'čeština' ? Done.
    • Suggestion: Place English at the very top of the list. Then all other languages will be below it, so the natural tendency to scroll down won't make users of languages that come before 'English' get lost finding their language. I think the mockups were initially mocked up this way, English listed first with a divider under it, then the rest of the list in alpha order - see mockup Done.
    • Suggestion: If we already knew which language to use (inst.lang=, etc.) we could put that one first (instead of English as suggested above.) This would make language selection easier for other languages if the person building the pxe server / custom language spin could use inst.lang= Done.
    • Suggestion: Some of the ideas we had early day: was that if we had geoip at that point, put the geoip related languages above that divider too
  5. New 4/15/13 Users didn't understand what the default keyboard layout checkbox was all about on this screen. (Brno #1)
    • Example user quote: "I do not know what ‘Nastavit klávesnici jako výchozí rozložení pro označený jazyk’ (Set keyboard to default layout for selected language) means. Let's leave it unchecked." (Brno #1 Participant #3)
    • Example user quote: "Even though I don't know what's the exact meaning. What the author wanted to express. I have to think about it to understand what it means." (Brno #1 Participant #1)
    • Suggestion: Just kill the checkbox and always change the default keyboard to the default for the selected language. Done.
  6. Participant in Brno #1 complained that there was no way to exit the language selection screen by hitting the enter key. (Brno #1)
    • Suggestion: Allow passage through welcome / language selection screen with the enter key.
  7. (old idea, not from usability tests) Flag languages with < 50% translation as 'Limited Translation' based on Transifex data, if possible. see mockup
  8. Text field at bottom of language selection screen confusing - has no label as to what it's there for (Wilck) (sbueno patched this - adding a label inside the filter box that says "Type here to search") Done, fix present in F19 RC builds

C. Date & Time Screen

  1. World map looks pixelated/blurry on larger screens (Wilck)
  2. Fine-tuning timezone using red pin inside the zone or top left controls easy to overlook (Wilck)
  3. City selection dropdown takes up full height of screen and is unwieldy to work with (Wilck)
    • Suggestion: The type input into the combobox for timezones should use typeahead to autocomplete; even better the dropdown list should jump on keyboard entry matches (so if I type 'M' while in the list it jumps down to the M's in the list.) GTK *should* allow this. One idea is the style attribute 'appears-as-list' property but preliminary poking around with GTK I can't seem to get this to work. There's an implementation idea in this article but it's for PyGTK. This is implemented, but doesn't work due to a bug in the Gtk. Until it is fixed we can use inline completion that seems to work. -- vpodzime
  4. No way to configure AM/PM vs. 24 hour time preference if you use network time (inode0)
    • Suggestion: Can we simply not grey out AM/PM vs 24 hour when network time is turned on? --Duffy (talk) 17:47, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
    • This widget is entirely for controlling how you specify time in the installer - it doesn't have any effect on the installed system. Perhaps that's confusing, but it's what it is there for. -- clumens
  5. Network time controls in far upper right affect grey-out status of local time settings on far bottom of screen - they are placed too far apart for user to realize they affect each other (inode0)
    • Suggestion: I've done a mockup rearranging the screen to make the relationship between network time greying out manual time control options hopefully more clear. Now the network time switch is on the bottom centered above the manual time controls, implying a relationship the network time switch has over the manual time controls. See date/time redo mockup
  6. It's unclear whether or not the date/time settings affect only the installer or if they will also affect the installed OS, and how (inode)
    • I think this might be confusion caused by a systemd bug earlier that resulted in date/time settings not affecting the installed OS properly, so I'm not sure that it needs any addressing at this time. --Duffy (talk) 20:16, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
  7. If there's no network connection, don't set network time by default? (inode0)
    • Suggestion: don't set network time by default and put a note beside the setting if there's no available network connection. mockup showing network message
  8. New 4/16/13 Certain timezones, when selected from the dropdown, don't result in the map and pin on the map getting updated. Participant #3 ran into this. Seems like an outright bug. (Westford)
    • I was able to reproduce with the following values:
      • Region: US / City: Any except Alaska
      • Region: Etc / City: All except GMT

D. Network Configuration

  1. New 4/16/13 On the network screen, Anaconda offers you to create a network bond even though there is only one NIC on the machine. You need a minimum of 2 NICs to create a bond. This seems like a bug. Two participants hit it. We shouldn't offer to create a network bond unless you have a minimum of 2 NICs I think. (Westford)
    • I can't reproduce this. Is there any more data? -- clumens
  2. New 4/16/13 The hostname field is hard to see. Even a recent blog post on Planet Fedora gave a 'workaround' for this 'missing' field - we should make it more visible. Maybe place it at the very top of the screen instead of the bottom? (Westford)
  3. New 4/16/13 Not sure of answer to question from participant #2 - "If I disconnect the network on this screen after filling out the custom [static ip] settings, then reconnect, will it come back with my custom settings?" (It should.) (Westford)
  4. New 4/16/13 Participant #2 confused about whether or not network changes / disconnects would make install fail. Might be worth having a note on the network screen to say a network connection isn't required for install. (Westford)
  5. New 4/16/13 If network is turned off, you can't turn NTP on and there is no error message as to why you can't turn it on. We should have a reasonable error message for this scenario. (Westford)

E. Installation Destination Screen

  1. When advanced storage devices pane not visible, excessive whitespace on screen. (Wilck)
  2. "Done" would be more accurately called "Back" on this screen because if you select no storage 'done' doesn't make sense verbally. (Wilck)
  3. It's no longer possible set configure the 'BIOS boot [sic] disk order.' (Wilck)
  4. Suggestion that 'installation destination' screen design be changed to match that of the 'selected disks' lightbox (Wilck)
  5. Misunderstanding that the 'partitioning scheme' dropdown doesn't matter if you enter custom partitioning (when it actually does) (Wilck)
  6. Use case of 'I don't care about anything on the disk, just set up an install as if they disk was blank' is confusing when walking through the install destination & custom part UIs. (inode0)
  7. New 4/15/13 Users in Brno were pretty confused about whether or not a given disk was selected. Every single user in Brno #1 ran into it. This was also an issue in the Westford tests. ((Brno #1, Westford)
    • E.g., "I'm clicking on the drive but nothing happens. I'm clicking again. Aha. If I click again, then the drive is deselected. It's something I don't want to happen." (Brno #1 Participant #1)
    • Suggestion: Don't select a disk drive by default in the storage spoke. Right now we select the first disk by default. Since we always require users to visit the storage spoke anyway, we should let them select the first disk and select no disks by default. (mockup)
    • Suggestion: Have checkboxes on the selected disks to make it more clear they are selected. (mockup) Done.
  8. New 4/15/13 Multiple Brno #1 users entered storage spoke just to take a look and hit done to leave without changing anything, but they encountered issues when they tried to leave - it would tell them they didn't have enough disk space because of the configuration they had already done. If users don't change anything about an already-completed storage setup, 'Done' should just let them leave (maybe still pop up the dialog if they want to go to custom though.) This is done, but it's definitely not foolproof. it should work for most people though.
  9. New 4/16/13 By default, the filesystem and device type options should be displayed rather than hidden behind a disclosure triangle (Westford) Done.
  10. New 4/16/13 Participant #3 couldn't find custom partitioning, wasn't intuitive to him to leave disk selection to get to it. (Westford)
  11. Once you've completed configuring storage, there's no real summary of how you set it up for you to review. It might be nice if there was.(adamw1) (clumens added a summary screen to custom partition exit)
  12. 'Encrypt my data' checkbox doesn't seem to belong on this screen. (Wilck) dlehman moved this checkbox to the disk selection summary dialog.
  13. Distinguishing between disks on this screen is difficult - only reliable property is disk size. Would like device names (eg /dev/sda/) or 'device 2 lun 3 on scsi host 1' to be more front and center. (Wilck) we added device names (e.g., /dev/sda) under the disks on this screen.
  14. 'Selected Disks' lightbox only offers serial number as additional information to identify disks, could offer more. (Wilck) (BZ #902617)
  15. Users worried about whether or not they are writing to disk when they exit storage spokes (Mo) Text added 'we won't touch your disks until you hit this button' on main hub and text 'disks left unselected here will be not be touched' text added to disk selection widgets on disk selection screen.

F. Custom Partitioning Screen

  1. Installations are sorted by their root partitions in alphabetical order rather than numberical order (e.g., sdb10, sdb11, ..., sdb9) (Wilck)
  2. Partitions used by several OSes are listed once for every distribution - no visual indication of which partitions are shared (Wilck)
  3. 'Not enough free space' error not very visible (bug 907889) (Wilck)
  4. It's unclear how you should overwrite a particular existing partition - user assumed they should delete the old one and create a new one. Instead, user discovered they should type '/' in the mount point field and click the 'reformat' box, which wasn't intuitive to them. (bug 908862) (Wilck)
  5. It seems impossible to configure custom partitioning with no leftover and unused space on disk. (inode0)
  6. Left-hand-side displays both pre-existing OSes as well as 'not yet existing' new OS install. (bug 883148) (bugzilla)
  7. The installer doesn't allow for encryption setup of individual LVs (bug 909228) (bugzilla) Done.
  8. New 4/16/13 When you try to change the capacity of a partition and there's no space left, you don't get an error message - the size just goes back to what it was. It would be good to have some messaging around what is going on there. (Westford)
  9. New 4/16/13 Multiple users expressed confusion about the 'Apply changes' button. They didn't know if they needed to hit it or not. Suggestion: The 'apply changes' button shouldn't be lit unless you've made changes. Might be nice to highlight fields that have pending changes when button is lit as well. (Westford) This is also done, but is not foolproof either. If you change something and then change it back to its original value, we'll still think it was changed. Correcting this seems like more work than it's worth, though.
  10. New 4/16/13 Users who ran out of disk space in custom partitioning were very confused, didn't understand how to go back, add another disk, and continue with custom partitioning. Happened to multiple participants - the loop that participant #3 got into is especially illustrative of the problem here. (Westford)
  11. New 4/16/13 The '+' on the disk capacity spinner in custom partitioning does not limit the number you can enter, even though when you hit apply changes the number gets cut down. (Westford) Spinner is gone.
  12. New 4/16/13 Participant #4 had to pick BTRFS to pick a RAID level, the other types (LVM, Standard partitions) greyed out the raid selector.... RAID should be possible with standard partition. But he only had one disk selected, that's why it didn't show up. (Westford)
  13. New 4/16/13 When participant #4 selected a RAID level he didn't have enough disks for and hit done anyway, anaconda crashed. (Westford)
  14. New 4/16/13 In custom partitioning, creating a swap partition didn't default to a swap fs type for one of the participants. It seems like it really should. (Westford)
  15. [major] RAID selection needs major revamping, has some inconsistencies / incorrect information. (dledford) RAID has been redesigned from scratch, implementation of redesign planned
  16. Custom partition creation instructions don't acknowledge partition re-use possibility. (bug 883150)(bugzilla)
  17. (25 Feb 2014) Disk space request should be slider like on reclaim disk space screen, instead of field - hard to indicate 'fill all space' or 'fill halfway' with a fill-in box, not clear how to express units either (elad)
  18. (25 Feb 2014) (bz 1067929) /home fills larger device, can't create new part even though plenty of space on smaller disk (elad)
  19. (25 Feb 2014) having an update button causes confusion esp when you're not making changes on main custom part screen but in adv config off of left pane.

G. Network and Specialized Storage

  1. New 4/15/13 If you have no network storage available, all of the network storage filter UI lists are empty. It would be nice to have an empty list message that directs you towards manually adding network storage using the add iSCSI/zFCP/FCoE target buttons. (You can use a GtkOverlay for this; put the GtkScrolledWindow and a GtkLabel with the empty list message as two sibling children inside the GtkOverlay, and hide the GtkLabel when the list is populated with entries.) (Mo)
  2. New 4/16/13 Participant #3 didn't understand the network storage filter screen and didn't know how to get back to the main disk selection screen. (Westford)

H. Reclaim Space Dialog

  1. New 4/15/13 When you click on ‘Delete’ for selected (NTFS) partition and you confirm it (clicking on ‘Reclaim Space’) then you can not reverse this action. I have to quit this installation and start from the beginning. The same problem is with the “shrunk” space etc. Maybe the dialog needs a reset button? (Brno #1)
  2. New 4/15/13 No markers on slider - "("It would be appropriate if the slider- has some- marking- of values. At least some scale can be indicated.")" (Brno #1 Participant #3) Done.
  3. New 4/15/13 Doesn't allow keyboard sizing "("Is it possible to enter that with the keyboard? No, it's not possible. Only with slider. I think it's quite a pity.")" (Brno #1 Participant #2) Done.
  4. New 4/15/13 Slider is disabled unless you click "shrink to." This confused two of the Brno #1 participants. Maybe keep the slider active and only shrink the space if the shrink button is pressed afterwards? (Brno #1)

I. Software Selection

  1. If a desktop environment's repo is busted, it'll still show up and wreak havoc and will break the whole install, this was a problem with mate in one of the test releases. Similarly there was an inkscape packaging bug in a test release that would cause the entire install to fail (minor points brought up peripherally related to bug 875433) (bugzilla)
  2. New 4/16/13 Multiple users didn't seem to realize the base platform / left-hand side list on the software selection spoke scrolled. Minimal install seemed like it would be a desirable option for them but they never saw it. Suggestion that minimal install, at least for RHEL, should be listed towards the top - every user sought it out. (Westford)
  3. New 4/16/13 On the software selection screen, participant #1 seemed confused about the relationship between the left hand side of the screen and the right hand side of the screen. For example, she wanted a server that had a webserver and infrastructure server on it - but she didn't realize she could get both by picking infrastructure server on the left and web on the right, or a minimal system and picking infrastructure and web on the right. Might make sense to change "Environment" as the label to "Base System" and to tune down the number of options offered as "base system" (Westford) Reworded the top labels in line with what we discussed in IRC.
  4. New 4/16/13 Participant #2 confused about how verify button on install source spoke was able to work without network... thoughts? (Westford)
  5. New 4/16/13 Participant 4 wasn't sure about what some of the base system selections under software selection meant. Eg. what is an infrastructure server? Might be worth having some kind of dialog pop up for each one with a sampling of the packages or something. Or just have better descriptions :) (Westford)
  6. New 4/16/13 Only the radio button in the software selection list is clickable - the whole row isn't. Participant #4 seemed to have trouble targeting the small radio button icon. If we can make the whole row clickable, it would make it easier on users I think. Participant #4 was confused that no add-ons are selected by default with infrastructure server. (Westford) Done.
  7. New 4/16/13 The software dependency error dialog should not have a quit button on it. There's no need to quit the whole installer because it's a fixable issue (just unselect the thing you picked.) The user almost clicked on quit thinking it was the same as cancel to get out of the dialog. (Westford)

J. Keyboard Layout

  1. New 4/15/13 Multiple users in Brno #1 clicked on a keyboard layout in the left-hand side and didn't realize by clicking on it they weren't selecting it or setting it as default. One user understood the ordering mattered. Need some solution. Not sure yet. (Brno #1)
    • Example from test video: "Goes to keyboard, clicks on Czech in the list on the left hand side. However, it remains at the bottom of list and not as default. It seems he was expecting that clicking it would set it as default."

K. Hub #2

  1. New 4/15/13 Multiple users in Brno #1 were afraid to set the root password during install; they thought it would break the install. They wouldn't even click on the spoke.
    • Example quote: "On the screen, there's the option to set an administrator password. But I would rather set this password after installation." (Brno #1 Participant #1)
    • "I don't want to try it during the installation." (Brno Participant #4)
    • Suggestion: Add explanatory text to top of second hub to let users know they can configure the options shown without disturbing the install.

L. Root Password Screen

  1. New 4/15/13 Users in Brno #1 complained about the error messages when their password didn't meet certain requirements. It would be better to have some text at the top of the screen that outlined the requirements the code checks for. I'm not sure of exactly what it's checking for though - I know it requires more than 4 characters in length based on the test participants' experience. (Brno #1)

Z. Outright Bugs / Mistakes

  1. Exclamation Mark displayed when nothing to do on Software Selection entry on main hub (Wilck)
  2. 'Set keyboard to default layout' checkbox does not work / Language selection screen (Wilck)
  3. 'You have no working NTP server configured' warning message in notification area is not dismissed when NTP is turned off. (Wilck)
  4. Lightboxes shrink mysteriously (bug 907441) (Wilck)
  5. New LVs cannot be made larger even though there's available unused space in their VG (bug 906906) (bugzilla)
  6. New LVs default assigned size seems to be based on unpartitioned space on the physical disk rather than unused space within their VG. (bug 906908) (bugzilla)
  7. Required space number doesn't reflect space needed for swap. (bug 951269) (Brno #1, bugzilla)
  8. New 4/16/13 On the network screen, if you click to create a bond when there is one NIC, Anaconda crashes. (Westford) NEEDS TO BE FILED
  9. On network screen, lightbox that should say 'editing eth0' says 'Editing Boot Disk' (inode0) Appears to be a network manager bug?
  10. The 'set as boot device' and 'remove' buttons on the disk shopping cart screen should be greyed out when no disk is selected on install destination screen. (Wilck)


  • Wilck - PDF write-up sent to Larry T.
  • inode0 - email to Mo from John Rose with various UI feedback.
  • tburke - email to Mo from Tim Burke with various UI feedback (from FUDcon Lawrence demo)
  • dledford - email to Mo from Doug Ledford with feedback regarding RAID configuration
  • adamw1 - adamw email to anaconda-devel:
  • bugzilla - miscellaneous bugzilla-reported issues. Refer to bugzilla number in issue description for source.
  • mo - something Mo noticed in the UI that we should or forgot to do :)
  • Brno #1 - Brno usability tests session #1
  • Brno #2 - Brno usability tests session #2
  • Westford -Westford usability tests