Is Linux Annoying?
Subject:   Copy/Paste
Date:   2003-09-16 01:58:47
From:   anonymous2
Response to: Copy/Paste

I'd like to second the listing of the Copy/Paste behaviour. In spite of what you say is the "standard" behaviour, it's still enormously confusing for someone used to Windows or Mac. It often takes me two or three attempts to get the effect I wanted.

This is definitely the most un-intuitive behaviour encountered on the Linux desktop.

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Showing messages 1 through 5 of 5.

  • Copy/Paste
    2003-09-16 07:04:22  anonymous2 [View]

    CTRL-C is not intuitive, especially if you're not english speaking. Apparently Xerox came up with the conventions because of the shapes of the letters, X for crossing out. IBM used to use things like Shift-Insert.

    The most intuitive would be the old Sun and HP keyboards, which had keys marked things like "Copy" and "Paste".

    X does support so called secondary selection (Windows style), but it is less used than Primary Selection. Again, Primary Selection used to be the standard. X toolkits had primary selection in all text widgets and labels before Windows had any selection in its text widgets. Unfortunately consistency has been broken by people trying to force Windows conventions onto Linux.
  • Copy/Paste
    2003-09-16 06:17:43  anonymous2 [View]

    It's only unintutive when your background is primarially windows. And that's not unintutitive, it's "different". I'm always irritated immensely the few times I use windows when a simple select with the mouse does not automatically copy the selected text. And instead, I'm forced to do ^c or pull down edit and pick copy to get done a job that shouldn't require my hand to leave the mouse. If there were only a way to get X select/copy functionality in windows, I'd reset windows to the X method.
    • Copy/Paste
      2003-11-29 17:54:01  anonymous2 [View]

      The direct "select/paste" method is good for sysadmins: you can select a filename and paste it into the next shell command, with a single click.

      The problem is, the average desktop user needs "select/copy/paste". A typical word processor session goes like this: select a word, copy it, select a second word, paste. This will overwrite the second word.

      With the "select/paste" method, the sessions becomes: select a word, select a second word, paste. Ops!

      So, the explicit cut, copy and paste commands are there for a good reason.
    • Copy/Paste
      2003-09-27 00:04:52  anonymous2 [View]

      On every windows widget I've encountered, you can right-click the selected text, and click copy. At no point must your mouse hand leave your mouse, leaving your other hand free to do whatever was so vital that it couldn't reach the keyboard.

      The thinking behind the copy/paste metaphor is that there are many reasons to select text, only one of which is to copy it. You might want to, for instance, cut it from an editable widget, have your web browser treat it as a link, drag and drop it, etc. Select/paste is incompatible with this, as it is impossible to select text to further act upon it without clobbering the clipboard.

      In my opinion, select to copy is unintuitive, not just different, as it doesn't conform to the underlying metaphor. The clipboard is (for better or for worse, and mostly thanks to apple) permanantly associated with the words 'cut', 'copy' and 'paste'. These hark back to the bad-old-days of assembling print articles by hand - you would literally cut, copy, and paste bits of paper, with scissors, photocopier and scissors, and glue respectively. Entrenched in users' minds is the concept of the clipboard - whatever you've cut or copied out goes in the clipboard, and the clipboard only holds one thing. For the clipboard to have got filled with something the user didn't cut or copy is unintuitive and confusing (Imagine if words jumped off the page just because you were looking at them...)

      Intuitiveness aside, the 'market share' argument is a valid one. If linux is to expand its market share on the desktop, there are two sources of potential users - users poached from mac/windows, and users who have never used a computer before, and have no preconceptions. The latter group is getting smaller and smaller.

      Select/paste goes against twenty years of convention in the desktop market (even dos used copy/paste), and the expectations of the vast majority of desktop users. Copy/paste is standard behaviour on both windows and mac, and therefore a de-facto standard, defiance of which will only serve to annoy potential converts.
      • Copy/Paste
        2003-09-29 18:41:00  anonymous2 [View]

        I've been using Windows since 3.1 and previously did a lot of copy/paste in DOS apps. I found this thread by googling to see if there is a way to implement "select/paste" into Windows 2K. I use Windows (at work) a lot more than I use X (at home) but I really like the "select/paste" ability. Don't judge intuitiveness on your own (mis)conceptions.