When Ubuntu announced that it was going to switch to Unity for its primary Linux desktop, some users were outraged by Ubuntu’s shift to a new interface. Many turned to Linux Mint in place of Ubuntu. So, when Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth announced that Ubuntu would be moving from Unity to Head-Up Display (HUD), I expected Linux users to be even more annoyed. I was wrong. Instead, they are taking a wait-and-see attitude to HUD.
HUD, in case you haven’t heard about it yet, seeks to say good-bye to the “menu” in the Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer (WIMP) interface, which has defined desktops for the last thirty years. HUD replaces this with a search style interface. HUD uses use a vocabulary UI (VUI). In it you’ll start to type or say a command and, starting in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, the HUD starts a smart look-ahead search through the app and system (indicator) menus. This uses fuzzy matching, combined with a learning function so HUD will prioritize the actions you use do.
While HUD is still alpha software, Jono Bacon, the community manager for Canonical, Ubuntu’s parent company, assures me that HUD’s code is well along its way. Casual users will get their first taste of it in Ubuntu 12.04 on April 26th. More adventurous users can try it now in Ubuntu 12.04’s daily builds. If that’s you, you’re also invited to help test HUD out with Ubuntu.