Windows 8 isn't the only upcoming operating system that's kicking traditional GUI models to the curb. Ubuntu Linux is getting in on the paradigm-breaking action with the introduction of "The HUD" (yes, that means Heads-Up Display) in the next version of Ubuntu. No, Ubuntu's HUD has nothing to do with tracking ammo or teammates; instead, it's a new "Vocabulary UI" that aims to crush, kill and eventually replace the standard file menus we've used for over 30 years.
Basically, the tree-branching file menus found in, well, virtually every application ever is replaced by a simple search bar, which updates options in real-time as you type or say what you want the program to do. For example, in the video above, typing "Plan" in Firefox pulls up an option to return to the previously visited "Planet Ubuntu" web page. The video shows Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth displaying how the HUD works with browsing, CAD editing, messaging and media viewing. We highly recommend watching it; seeing how the HUD works is much more helpful than reading how it works.
And before you ask, yes, the HUD can be used to control both the focused application "as well as system functionality; you can change IM state, or go offline in Skype, all through the HUD, without changing focus, because those apps all talk to the indicator system." So sayeth Shuttleworth in an in-depth introductory blog post. And yes, the traditional menus will still be there, too -- at least for now.
Any application that supports the global menu will be able to use the HUD in the upcoming Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. (Hopefully; the HUD might not quite make the cut for the next go-round.) If you want more nitty gritty details about how the Ubuntu HUD works -- it involves fuzzy matching, a learning function, and more -- be sure to check out Shuttleworth's blog post.
The Ubuntu HUD looks nifty, but we'll hold out on any official judgments until we get our grubby little paws on an operating system that supports it. Shuttleworth thinks the HUD will eventually replace all menus in the Unity interface. Do you agree, or do you think it will make long-term Ubuntu lovers yearn for the good ol' GNOME days?