Thursday, 14 February 2013

Fedora's New Installer

I recently installed Fedora 18 as a virtual machine to tinker with. This Fedora release got a lot of press concerning the updated U.I. of the installer (Anaconda). Whilst it looks vastly better than the previous U.I. some screens are confusing, and the layout seems somewhat cumbersome.

Rather than be a complainer, I've mocked up some screens with suggested improvements with rationales.


One my main gripes with the current new U.I. is the placement of "Done" button, and the fact I can only quit from the Installation summary screen.

In order to remedy this I suggest moving to "window" like template.

This way the user is presented with a button placement layout that is intuitive from other desktop environments. The Exit button allows users to quit at any point, with a confirmation dialog.

Using this template I've mocked up the following screens:


  • The need for a quit button in the lower left is removed as the user can now quit from the familiar close button on the top right.
  • Removed the redundant check-box. By definition "the default" is what you get if make make no additional selection. Why ask the user to select the default? If the user doesn't want the default they will need to visit keyboard panel anyway. (Guessing the default it fine for most users - 1 less mouse click)
  • Changed the wording "Continue" to "Done" for consistency with other screens.

Installation Summary

  • Removed warning from bottom and placed towards top of screen. Whilst this is inconsistent with Gnome 3 notifications it has a different purpose. As I understand it, the notifications in Gnome 3 are supposed to be as non-intrusive as possible so as to not interfere with the users foreground workflow. Here we want to be somewhat intrusive. The user is installing the OS they aren't working on any other task so we want them to now what is preventing them from installing, and that warning should be front and center. It also helps maintain the window template.
  • Quit button removed.
  • Gnome 3 Emblems used with icons rather than placed next to text.
  • Changed the text to be more concise. - Why mention icons, what is the next step? (Should I be doing things in a certain order?)
  • Changed Date & Time to show the the date and time for current timezone. Also changed the wording from "Europe/London timezone" to "Timezone: Europe/London". I think the latter reads better. Showing the time on the summary screen allows the user to skip going into configuring the time if everything is correct.
  • Would be good to get the timezone from GeoIP, and maybe show something like "Time Server:" so users can verify if it's the time server they want (corporate users may want to  use a local time server).

Date & Time

  • Changed to fit the window template (still not an ideal layout, but more consistent)


  • Reduced the size of the added keyboards panel.
  • Removed the show keyboard layout button - redundant as keyboard layout depicted - saves mouse clicks in verifying the layout is what you expect.
  • Testing the keyboard is now text in the text box rather than a label - visually cleaner
  •  For a single keyboard layout switching is not needed/configured extra step that is not needed. Config button should be greyed out)
  • Changed "Options" button to to the gears button - consistent with the NTP settings in Date & Time.
  • Added a visual depiction of the selected keyboard layout.

Adding a keyboard

  • Adding a keyboard, changes the text indicating how to switch layouts. Gears button becomes available to configure a different layout switch key combination.
  • Adding a keyboard brings up similar screen to before, except the selection area is reduced in size, but still has a type-ahead filter. A preview of the selected keyboard is displayed - most intuitive way to see if the layout is correct without needing an extra mouse click on a preview button. 

Installation Source

  • Changed to fit window template for consistency.


  • Changed to fit window template for consistency.

I've missed the "Software Selection" and "Installation Destination" screens as they are the hardest in my opinion.

But I'll work on some ideas and post them here in the future. Any constructive feedback is welcome.

Creative Commons Licence
Mock-up designs by Daniel Davies are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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