12 features to improve Haiku

A few weeks back, I posted about the issue of latency. I thought that post merited a topic to itself, but whilst using Haiku, many other things cropped up. I’d be interested to see what you think of these.

1: The lack of a ‘quicklaunch’ bar so I can’t open up (or switch between) my favourite programs quickly. I use this in Win7 and a single click is all it takes to open or switch between programs. With Haiku, I understand you need to double click a program name in the top right “menu” to change between programs. I understand the reasoning, but RMB could be used as the “sub selector” with LMB used to instantly get to the window. As it stands, I can’t swap between programs quickly (for example, say I need to compare two text files, or two pictures.

2: Alt and x/c/v (instead of Ctrl and x/c/v) is horrible to cut/copy/paste because the hand position much prefers Ctrl (try it).

3: I like the way you can drag from the thin window border, but can I have a few extra pixels to do so? I understand screen real estate is important, but one can always solve that by buying a bigger monitor (I use a 26" LCD), or by setting the window to full-screen mode.

4: I was looking for ‘Notepad’ or similar, and it took me a while to find “StyleEdit”. Maybe metadata can be used somehow to associate words like “notepad” “text”, or “text editor”, and one can instantly find programs that way.

5: I know StyledEdit is a base app, but tabs and multiple undo/redo would go a long way. Resizing the StyleEdit window makes all the text flicker (some text in WonderBrush does the same thing).

6: A window needs to be focused to close it. Or indeed to perform any action in it. Sometimes it’s desirable to have instantaneous actions between to open windows. For example, I was in another window, and then I tried to highlight text from StyleEdit. I had to rehighlight again as focus needed to be obtained first. Another example is where I had many disk file windows open, and I wanted to close all of them quickly, but needed to essentially “double click” the close button each time.

7: I couldn’t open an AVI (no programs suggested to do so). Also tried to open a simple text file. Again, it couldn’t and it wouldn’t even let me browse to find StyleEdit.

8: The magnify window contents only update at 30fps. Is this an easy limitation to overcome?

9: The default text cursor (caret) repeat speed is too slow. Trying to edit text by using the cursor keys becomes painful.

10: Fonts look ugly on my laptop in Haiku. Some parts of the letter are sharp, others are blurred.

11: Bug: Glyph hinting in Appearance -> antialiasing is broken, as when editing in StyledEdit, the caret does not correspond to the real editing position.

12: Couldn’t turn off my touchpad in the usual way via Fn and F8 for my laptop. Presumably, the other shortcuts such as Fn+CursorLeft/Right won’t adjust volume.

For an app launcher try BeDock or LaunchBox, downloadable from haikuware.com.

Hi twinbee!

I’d like to address a few of your points.

LaunchBox from the Desktop applets is a way to create shortcuts to launching apps. But then you mention switching between running programs via Deskbar, so I may have misunderstood you. If you activate the Expanders in the Deskbar settings, Deskbar unfolds apps’ open windows, so you can switch with one click.
Also CTRL+^ (the key below ESC) switches through the open windows of one app.
BTW, The Deskbar is often a topic for change, even among long time users and core devs and has evolved in the past. I’m sure over time we’ll get all kinds of interesting ideas implemented.

I disagree. Using my thumb on left ALT is much easier. Also you don’t have to resort to some awkwardness in Terminal: ALT+C is always copy everywhere, no switching shortcuts because of clashes with commands in Terminal like aborting with CTRL+C.
In any case, you can switch ALT<->CTRL systemwide in the Keymap prefs.

I have the same problem only much worse in Ubuntu. I’m almost unable to resize a window there because the borders seem to be a 1/4 pixel wide… Using Haiku’s ALT+CTRL+leftclick/rightclick to be able to move or resize any window without having to aim for a border or corner is a fantastic feature.

I agree. One could use a (deactivtable!) tooltip on mouse-over in the Deskbar provding this info. If you look at the filetype of an application (ALT+OPT+F for the add-on) you see a short and long description. This could be used.

Make sure you have “Accept first click” activated in the Mouse prefs.

If you mean Tracker windows, ALT+Q will close all Tracker windows in the current workspace, SHIFT+ALT+W closes every Trackerwindow anywhere. See items in the “Window” menu of Tracker windows. Holding SHIFT offers some extend functionality, see also in the “File” menu there.

Maybe it’s filetype was incorrect. Sometimes an “Identifiy” (or with SHIFT a “Force identify”) from the files context menu can help.

Not sure I understand what you mean exacly, but the Keyboard prefs offer settings for key repeat rate and delay.

These kind of keys work with my notebook, but don’t with my other netbook. I suspect some ACPI issue.

Feedback from new users are always precious. As we learn about the difficulties and wishes of new users, I hope I could at least show that some points of yours are already addressed in one way or another.


I totally agree with twinbee about the alt+x/c/v thing. Sure it avoids confusion with Terminal commands, but really, pressing alt+v requires your left index finger to reach over the left thumb, and if anyone says that it feels easy, I have to disagree because to me it is very unnatural. You never have to cross you index finger with your thumb when you are eating/sleeping/driving, do you?

I know the awkwardness of having different key combinations for Terminal – and conflicting shortcuts is of course a sign of a bad design, but there should be another way to avoid it. I mean, I’m pretty sure that for most users, cut/copy/paste is used more frequently outside the Terminal than inside. Why sacrifice convenience for something you rarely use anyway?

(On a side note, I don’t suggest to swap the shortcuts either, i.e. alt+c for aborting Terminal commands and ctrl+c for copying. I can already feel the wrath of command line gurus towards the idea.)

I think this particular conflict is hard to solve in computing usability. Kind of makes me curious, how do other users feel or think about it? I think we need more opinions.

You can switch to CTRL if you like but it will never become the default. Go into Preferences->Keymap push button that says “Switch shortcut keys to Windows/Linux mode.” Now you can use CTRL instead of ALT.

ALT feels more natural. The distance is shorter. If you take your hand off the keyboard then put your thumb on ALT and index (first) finger on x/v/c you see it feels better than putting your thumb on CTRL. With CTRL, I like using my pinky.

CTRL-V is very long stretch to do with thumb + index finger. ie, more strain on the hand and feels uncomfortable. That is why pinky is supposed to be used with CTRL. If you use thumb, then ALT is better, if pinky then CTRL.

Do CTRL-V & ALT-V about 50 times using your thumb and you should notice the difference between them.

With alt, the distance is shorter, but the V key is placed on the right side of alt, while the left hand’s index finger is placed on the left side of the thumb. That’s why I said that it was unnatural.

About the ctrl key: back in the teletypewritters era, some manufacturers designed the ctrl key to be pressed using the side of the left palm, so it is indeed not natural to use with thumbs. I always use my little finger for ctrl and my thumb or sometimes index finger for x/c/v.

Anyway, perhaps the discomfort I felt when using alt+x/c/v is mainly because I’m not used to it. Other reasons might include hand shape and posture differences. I will try using alt+x/c/v more often to find out which combinations feels more comfortable for me. :smiley:

Yep, I use pinky (little finger) for CTRL & index finger for v/x/c too on Windows. Using thumb for CTRL would make it more difficult. ie, ALT is easier and more comfortable to use with your thumb

Anyways, Haiku offers a way to switch to Windows shortcut so not a big issue. People can choose to use CTRL if that makes them happier but ALT as default is best choice.

People can also see Axel’s comment in this ticket about it: