A new UI for System Testing

During the Precise cycle we have been working in building a new UI for System Testing, the desktop application to test your hardware with Ubuntu and report results to Launchpad and Ubuntu Friendly.

If you are running Precise, you can test the new UI searching the Dash for “System Testing”. The new UI is now feature complete and you can start using it to test your hardware and submit your results to Friendly.

Here you can find the differences between the old UI and the new one:

Old UI


New UI

I think it looks much better, doesn’t it? The most important thing is that it builds the grounds to be able to keep making improvements to the UI, which were blocked in many cases by the old one.

Now we need to a lot of testing to make sure it is fully working when 12.04 LTS gets released. So, if you are running Precise, I encourage you to give it a try and report as many bugs as possible.

To file bugs, run the following command in a terminal:

ubuntu-bug checkbox


  1. Hmm… Not sure if I like the new UI, but I grant you that it allows to easily make improvements to it. Thanks for the update and keep the awesome work up!

    • Thanks for the comment! Feel free to add suggestions as bugs or even propose your own changes!

  2. Dark grey on dark orange is not really a wise choice for readability

    • Thanks for the feedback. It would be great if you could file a bug about it.

  3. Do you really think it *looks* better? I might agree that it has a better layout (those scrolled text boxes of the old UI are really not good), and it probably has a way better backend. But the new UI does not *look good* in my eyes. On the contrary.

    1. The top banner of the old UI really looks good. It states what the app is for (Ubuntu system testing), it gives a visual hint (the icons indicate that it is about hardware), and the quality icons with the subtle reflection give a bit of shine without overdoing it. On the other hand, the new UI simply has a large dark grey banner. What is that good for, except for wasting space? And does dark grey *look good*?

    2. These “Tab buttons” in the middle look like someone just fired up inkscape to draw a quick mockup. They are flat, have a 1px black outline and generally do not match the UIs visual style. They should at least look like buttons, or somehow resemble button style, and if you want to add some elegance, they should join with straight edges and not have rounded corners on the inner sides.

    3. The enumeration circles are simple awful. Anon is right regarding readability, but also beyond that they are a design nightmare. They even don’t seem to be proper circles, but look cut off on four sides.

    4. The buttons at least mimic GTK style. Maybe I am prejudiced here, but I would totally agree with Jon Meek who described the toolkit situation in Ubuntu as the “uncanny valley symptom”: QGtkStyle is a great tool to give Qt apps a not-so-alien look in a GNOME/GTK based environment, but it is far from being a replacement for native GTK apps. The GTK buttons are higher, the button label is rendered slightly different, and the Qt version lacks the orange highlight of the next button.

    If Canonical really pushes Qt as its toolkit of choice (Ubuntu One, anyone?), which might make sense with regard to a multi-platform strategy, it should really care more about visual style and coherence. Maybe develop a set of QML components and design guidelines, as Nokia did for Harmattan. Or something like that. But I think that both checkbox and the Ubuntu One client now look much worse than their GTK predecessors – and it seems I am not the only one.

      • Thanks a lot for the mock up! Are you able to code that and submit a merge proposal? You have to take into account that the place where you have put “system testing” is the same area for the progress bar.

        • No, unfortunately, I am not able to code that. I am totally unfamiliar with Qt and only have little time for development in my spare time. I just wanted to give a visual hint to support my criticism with something constructive. I am afraid I have to leave it to you to make something out of that (or not).

    • Hello,

      Thanks for your comments.

      This is the first attempt to create a new UI and we know there is room for a lot of improvement. But, actually, the new UI has room for improvements, while the old one, and the way it was hacked, didn’t.

      We know that before several iterations, there is going to be people who prefer the old one, and that is why the old one is still available in the repositories.

      To install it, you just have to do:

      apt-get install checkbox-gtk

      We will be asking for help when the Q cycle starts to make the improvements to the UI, I hope that you will be able to help.


  4. i’m voting for the old UI, better look & feel.

    Who said that ux was for techies ?
    You are talking about “system testing” but the package is named “checkbox” **** first bug ***** why doing simple when you can do it complicated ?

    Will scan my systems then report, last time i’ve checked it, last month, checkbox itself was buggy.

    • Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, your comment is not very useful. You don’t specify why the old UI looks better and what do you mean by “buggy”. Bug reports will be much more useful

  5. I think the new UI is a big improvement when I look at it from a high level: the layout and the workflow. It feels a lot nicer to use.

    I just wish it didn’t have all these weird custom styles. Lots of people, in the Ubuntu project and beyond, have invested a lot of time and effort so other developers don’t need to micromanage widget style to make their applications look good :(

    At the moment, this looks completely wrong when I use anything but the Ambiance theme, and if I use the Ambiance theme it still looks wrong to me. It looks almost right, but it still doesn’t look like any other application on the Ubuntu desktop. And fixing that “not quite right” stuff is just completely out of scope for Checkbox. I wouldn’t want anyone to waste time doing that when they could instead be making Checkbox the best hardware testing tool ever.

    So, what does this look like if you just go with Qt’s native look? Is it really that painful?

    • As far as I’m aware stylesheets are kept to a minimum. The main one used is to get the tabs to look decent.

      I have to say I have quite a bit of past experience with the default Qt style and I can’t really agree that it’s not quite ugly to look at.

  6. Just a bit of bikeshedding, but i think it would be nicer if the answer buttons (yes, no) would be below the questions to keep in the natural reading flow.

    Maybe even the “test” button could be located right in the ordered list with it’s step in the testing procedure.

    I believe Qt allows placing normal Qt widgets in html text (if using QtWebkit) so i should be technically possible.