A few months ago, looking for a replacement for Windows (which always finds new ways to get on my nerves), I spent a couple of weeks playing with Linux Mint with MATE desktop. During this test drive, one of the annoyances I came across was the inability to drag a URL from Chromium’s address bar to create a link on the desktop. I literally ended up asking for help, and still didn’t figure it out.
In Windows, this is something I’ve been doing for many, many years. It’s not rocket science. You drag the padlock icon next to the address bar onto your desktop and a shortcut is created, pointing to that URL.
Since Ubuntu 19.10 was released a week and a half ago, I thought I’d try it out. The first thing I figured I’d make sure was that I could drag and drop links to the desktop. Ubuntu is one of the most popular and mature operating systems around. Surely they’d support such a basic usability feature, right?
Well, it turns out that dragging links from default browser Firefox to the desktop has no effect whatsoever. Odd, isn’t it? Let’s try dragging that link to some other folder instead.
That’s annoying. I mean, drag and drop is a really basic feature that has been around forever. Let’s try dragging a file from one folder to another… obviously that’s going to work, no?
As you drag the file, a little plus icon appears beneath the hand as if to tell you that something’s going to happen. Alas, however, this also has no effect.
And of course, dragging the file to the desktop similarly does not work:
So we can’t drag links from Firefox, and we can’t drag and drop files. Maybe we’ll have better luck with Chromium?
So it seems, like someone hinted in that original question about drag and drop in Linux Mint, that this has nothing to do with the browser and is something related to the desktop environment.
Once again, I had to swallow that feeling of incompetence and ask for help with this. Aside from the usual Stack Overflow treatment of getting my question closed as a duplicate, one of the comments led to other Q&As that uncovered a bitter truth: that drag and drop support was intentionally removed. Why would anyone in their right state of mind do that?
Incredulous, I decided to try the KDE flavour of Ubuntu — Kubuntu. Drag and drop a link from browser to desktop? No problem:
Was that really so hard? I get it, there were reasons why GNOME decided to do away with desktop icons and the like. But surely there are better ways to solve the problem than to do away with a basic and essential usability feature.
A desktop environment without basic drag and drop support in… almost 2020… is just garbage.