Unity: 3 Rants And A Tip

Shawn rants a bit about Ubuntu's new Unity interface, and gives us a couple tips on how to adjust.


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I use android on my HTC

Maxymus's picture

I use android on my HTC desire Z, and i think that Unity is trying to bridge the gap between ubuntu, tablet devices and telephones, if u used an android phone or a tablet then you would see how this OS is a step forward,

Well done to ubuntu for being brave enough to try something new, i changed to unity because i got bored of the old layout and it looked like something cool to play with.

I have currently had it installed on my system for 3 or 4 hours.

The thing i miss about ubuntu 10 is that you could put launchers on the panel at the top, on this one you cant, ive had problems trying to configure the unity bar the way I want. Apparently this is possible from compiz so ill look at it later, but at the moment im having alot of fun not knowing how to use my computer lol (theres always the terminal if u get lost lol)

I agree Unity isn't a move forward

Joseph G's picture

I tried to find the positive in Unity but no matter I find it unusable. With the removal of Gnome in the next release I will be going to another distro. Can't understand how Ubuntu/Canonical are so out of touch with actual users.

I'm a customisation-and-looks

JoshD's picture

I'm a customisation-and-looks freak ever since thus I love how KDE is such. Since I started using Gnome/Ubuntu back in 10.04 it's been more than ok so far. Loving it! Adapted to it when before all I could say by anything Gnome is plain UGLY I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole. I guess it's a matter of perspective, preference and adapting. Not to mention CHOICE.

I used to be one of the "I hate Unity group whiners" but after several days, even weeks, of trying it out I've come to love it. Been using it since it came out. Sure, lots of things not too polished but the major things work - and what I need works - which is what's important (at least for me it is). To each his own I guess.

The one thing I've notice about people in general, not just when it comes to Linux distros, is that when they don't like something and don't want to do anything about it, then they'll never see it in another way no matter how you try to make them understand. This is the same with a food you don't like but so many like/eat it. You will never get it why so many people love/eat that food but you can't overcome the dislike. That simple.

The good thing about being a Linux user is you always have lots of options before you. Change distro. Change DEs. Heck, even build your own distro from scratch. Imagine if you were a Windows user and whine a lot about how Windows 7 is terrible. Too bad you can't change to another DE or distro short of downgrading to Vista or XP, right? You just have to suck it up and use it for the rest of your life. (By the way I don't hate Windows.)

Unity 3 rants and a tip

John e Kerr's picture

Hello Shawn

I have written two articles regarding Unity on my blog at http://cookingwithlinux.com/blogs/john-eddie-kerr.
So rather than cut and paste the whole shebang, here are the links:
Give Unity a chance (with reasons why) http://cookingwithlinux.com/content/give-unity-chance.

Another Tip!

Unity: Running the same program on many desktops http://cookingwithlinux.com/content/unity-running-same-program-many-desk....
this includes a link to my how to video

Is this a shameless plug of my video and blog? yes, sort of.

John Kerr

My Two Cents

crh's picture

Perhaps it's a little late for my two cents since this was posted in April but I use Fedora for my desktop and Ubuntu for my Laptop since it was so well supported. Originally starting with 9.10 and then upgrading to 10.04 LTS without event. 10.04 has continued to work well for me so I hate to make change.

It seems that change just for the sake of change kind of goes against what open source should be. As Shawn points out, the desktop is different but certainly not better. I've noticed that even the new flavours of Fedora seem to be dumbing down the default user interfaces, making it necessary to add many of the previously standard tools and utilities to get everything working the way I want it to.

Given that many are becoming disenchanted with some of the new 'out-of-the-box' distros that are coming out, perhaps LJ can start offering some How-Tos on building your own Linux Install from the kernel up. I have to say it has been just to easy to pop in a distro disk and do an install. Upgrades on the other hand, that's another story.

an LJ article that starts out with out the phrase 'sudo apt-get'!
I like it.

opposite direction

obx_ruckle's picture

One of reasons (but not the only reason) I went with Linux was to have more system control and better understanding of how my system works.

I'm beginning to adapt to Ubuntu Unity, but I see U/U as a step in the opposite direction.

I'm looking at Linux From Scratch now.

Wow, from Ubuntu to LFS,

Anonymous's picture

Wow, from Ubuntu to LFS, that's quite a massive leap.

Like anything else, there will be repositories hosting gnome or whatever other desktop environment you are missing.

Rather than moving to a "distribution" with no upgrade path, why not hit the middle ground and try Gentoo. With it, you still get the fine control of packages / options, and you get the benefit of 1) a package manager and 2) a rolling release, so you never have to reinstall, just update and everything on your system is current again (no lock in to specific firefox or desktop versions because of the cd version you installed from). Unless you are building for "exotic" build-once and never change systems, LFS is not a very good choice.

Good luck, though, in your moving forward.


obx_ruckle's picture

Looking . . . only. Some good points there I had not thought of. Not sure where I'm going but reading the install guide is an educational experience. Gentoo is not out, just have not given it a lot of thought.

- My Opinion

catinger's picture

First of all, I don't think this is the most efficient way to manage the contents of a desktop like windows, menus, running application list. If they would make a combo of Enlightenment 16 Pager and a good Nautilus implementation, with a window list, that would be the best. Just do some GUI/UI engineering!

Why should I _lose a whole screen_ for application management?
Why should I _process_ a screen change for application management?
Why should I _type_ the name of the application what I looking for?

Just a few examples of the lack of the design in this concept. I think to make an
easy to use design is not means to loose smart things, just 'coz "those are boring".

I think this is the same misleading conception what M$ made. "Ok just remove all usable applications from the OS, and just blow it up with totally not visible and
not directly used stuff, to fill a dvd. And if the user wants to edit sound or image, let him/her reach that package via internet. Why? I don't understand, next time just drop out a web browser. Come on! :)


Ricalsin's picture

It seems you are missing a lot of the features and flexibility of the Natty release. Sorry to see you so frustrated. I know that I use it quite effectively and I am an advanced user. Take care.

my frustration

catinger's picture

Since 1997 I have seen some systems, and I know something about the flexibility. I think, if I can't reach some significant information with one click, somebody missing the point. If I am forced to switch a screen to check my running applications, I can't call it a practical or flexible user interface. It's like the 80's, sitting before the TV and checking the newspaper's tv coloumn,"what ois going on the other channel?...." and than look back to the TV and than back to the paper and again and again..... no thanks.

Flexibility in this case means for me a highly customisable user interface with a lot of option, and multiple ways to do what I need to do. _For Me_


obx_ruckle's picture

I must be missing something because I do not see the flexibility.

Having my say about 11.04

Ohsnap's picture

I'd like to say a few words as a NON-computer/Ubuntu Geek. I love Ubuntu. Not going back to Mr. Gates. BUT, one thing I find discouraging is the constant searching, searching for answers. Don't get me wrong, I like learning new stuff about computers, how it works, etc. But I'm not a programmer and trying to get answers about 11.04 has been awful. I now have a useless MP3 player because 11.04 doesn't recognise it. Didn't have the problem before. Cube? What Cube? That doesn't work either. I love the idea of the workspaces, in fact, I need it. But where is the 'how-to-use-it' info? I have tried to figure it out to no avail. It's not that I mind the apps not working...I know I can always find the answer. But it shouldn't take weeks of searching to NOT find the answers. Posting on several Ubuntu sites has not helped. Very discouraging. I think it's one of the reasons why more people do not stick with Ubuntu. This has nothing to do with having a Microsoft frame of mind, where you click and everything is done. I like searching, but this has been ridiculous. Not everyone is a programmer.

Keep your perspective...

Ricalsin's picture

I understand your complaint. Being open-source it usually requires a bit more effort to harness the power. And being that there's much more power to harness that means there's much more to learn (but you don't have to learn it all). Your searching online has probably increased your skills at finding the right answers more quickly.

The people that leave Linux are those who simply want simple thing provided simply - hence, Windows and Mac. Linux is the race car that you can customize. The Natty release takes Linux closer to the simpler side and - I think - does it in a way that retains the power user abilities.

The final straw is that the "simplicity" of Windows comes at the expense of security. Linux is a true permissions-based OS. That's why 80% of the Internet is served up on Linux computers. So when you develop your skills using Linux (ubuntu, in this case) you are building a knowledge that should help you for a lifetime of effective and powerful computing.


I'm a programmer, albeit not

Anonymous's picture

I'm a programmer, albeit not a hardcore Linux *cough*moron*cough, and I have the same issues with Ubuntu. They break something new every release, and upgrading is almost always a 10 hour adventure to get everything working again. Applications dying is understandable, but drivers? Why the frick does my hardware have to have some new problem every freaking time?

Ubuntu is a waste of time. I save way more money by buying Windows and avoiding the hours lost when using Ubuntu. And why would I want to "search and learn" for knowledge about some program's source code and an operating system that, 1) people made and 2) will one day become obsolete? That's just stupid, useless knowledge that I'll never need.

Ubuntu is crap, and I hope it dies. Linux for human beings my $#%@.

same story for all linux

JoshD's picture

I AM a programmer, albeit not a hardcore Linux *cough*moron*cough, and I DON'T have the same issues with Ubuntu as you. No pun intended.

Never had major issues with my computers and laptops that makes it unusable. You must be one unlucky dude. And I've been on Linux since 2001. It's a good thing you are using Windows. Why else would you be using another OS anyway, right? :)

Unity is the future

Kyle's picture

"Ubuntu is crap, and I hope it dies" ?

Wow that was harsh - let' see - Windows 98 - ME - Vista - to name a few poor OS's provided by Microsoft. Windows 7 is nice - but so expensive and Windows 8 look nice too but again - you will have to buy all new software - where as 'crapy' old Ubuntu/FOSS will provide (mostly) better software - free of charge.

So have fun with your expensive habit -

learning curve

obx_ruckle's picture

I tend to agree with some of the post by cantormath. Never disliked 98 but ME cooked my processor so I would agree that ME was a waste of time. I find Ubuntu difficult when it appears to me it should not be, and Unity not as flexible as I like. There are people out there that love Ubuntu/Unity so I'll let them have it. I want/need something more flexible without a learning curve that resembles Mount Everest.

Whatever LOL

cantormath's picture

Then just stay with your Window$....

Unity another comment

mglimpsee's picture

I see where Mr Shuttleworth is going I believe. The world seems to think that the future of computers is in the tablet. If you look at the interface of Unity it appears to me to be designed for a tablet and a touch screen. I own a tablet myself, albeit a Nook Color. I understand that the future may be for portable computers. But when I want the power of a desktop to perform video editing or audio editing I want a Desktop with a keyboard not a touch screen.
Could it have been so hard to put out a tablet Ubuntu and a Desktop Ubuntu?
I understand I can load the default gnome desktop for now but not in the future.
Like I said I believe this is to try and develop a desktop for tablets, but you could have done that and left us with a choice.

Natty Narwhal == Linux Vista

Ernesto Posse's picture

OK this is another anti-Unity rant, and therefore it will likely be ignored by Canonical, but when 11.04 came out I decided to give it a fair try and after trying it out for a long while, I'm dropping Ubuntu, and I think Canonical should listen to the many users that have been alienated by this move.

Natty Narwhal == Linux Vista: That sounds a bit harsh, but it is the first version of Linux which has stalled for me while shutting down. And more generally, Unity has some serious problems that make you wonder "what were they thinking?"

First let me start by saying that there are some things I do like about Unity:

* I like the workspace switcher
* I like the control panel, er, systems settings dialog
* I like the simplified indicators replacing the old applets.
* I like some of the features of the dock/launcher except for its location and size

But there's a bunch of things I hate about Unity:

* Lack of customizability. LACK of CUSTOMIZABILITY!!! Sorry for shouting, but this is a trully WTF issue. This is by far the biggest flaw. It goes directly against the philosophy of letting the user decide what the user wants and likes. OK, you want things to look and behave differently fine. But why do you take away from me the ability to configure it? That's one of the very reasons why I (and many people) hate Windows: it doesn't let you customize it. With Unity you have to install the Compiz Configuration manager, go to "Desktop" and select the "Unity plugin", and you get a very limited number of possibilities. Mr. Shuttlesworth, you prefer Unity to the Gnome shell, fine, but why are you taking away our freedom? If I don't share your taste why are you forcing yours on me?

* Global menus: this shameless Mac rip-off is a really ill conceived idea for the desktop. Might work fine for a netbook, but 20 - 24 inch screens are now quite common. With the global menus the user has to move the mouse cursor from one end of the screen to another just to choose a menu item.

* The unbelivably cumbersome Dash: Before: if I wanted to access, say a game X, I would click on "Applications" drag to "Games" and click on X (2 clicks, one mouse movement). Now: I click on the dash icon. Then I click on "More Apps". Then I click on "All Applications" on the opposite end of the screen. Then I click on "Games", then since I don't play it often, and its name doesn't begin with an 'A', I have to click on "Installed (see 38 more results)". Then I have to scroll down (even though I have a 24 inch screen, and click on X. 6 clicks, at least one very long mouse movement and scrolling. In what universe is that better? Why are all the categories burried so deeply? This is downright idiotic. And ironically they said they hired "design people" to focus on user interfaces. What???

* Inconsistent look and feel. The way you interact with the dash is different from the way you interact with everything else. One click opens. The lower-right icon to increase the size, maximises and does not support a drag. It looks OK with the standard theme, but if you change the theme, the dash still looks the same (Lack of customizability again).

* No right click on the dash or the launcher, or the workspace switcher. Well, the launcher allows right-click, but the resulting menus have a look that's inconsistent with the normal context-menus. What's wrong with context menus? Context menus are a great idea, which allows you to quickly see a menu of operations on an object to which you are pointing. They are very intuitive. But with the dash, and the top bar you cannot right-click. The result is an inconsistent UI: in some places you can right-click, but not in others.

* Alt-Tab no longer shifts between windows: I have to explicitly click and move windows around now... Ok, you can click on the launcher, but still, no key combinationj to switch fast? what the ...?

* The dash shows a section for "Apps for download". What the F? I have to endure ads everywhere online and now it looks like they are coming to my desktop too? Sure, they might not be ads now, but how far behind can that idea be?

* It's buggy. They said the Unity team felt it was ready to be shipped. Well, the Unity team must be very small and didn't test it as extensively as they should've had. Honestly it feels like an unfinished product. Like something they rushed and shipped out without being ready, to meet an arbitrary deadline.

* Compatibility: one of the great advantages of the Linux world over Windows and MacOS X is the mutual compatibility between different Linux versions. Maybe it will still be possible to run things the same way, but the rift created between Canonical and GNOME leaves us with questions regarding how well/smoothly will applications for one desktop run on others. More to the point, to the inexperienced user, the Linux newcommer, the whole situation looks like a mess: which distro/desktop shall he choose? If he chooses one he will miss out on applications for the other? This whole thing is making such decisions much, much more difficult, and therefore more difficult for people switching to Linux from some other OS.

Honestly, I'm worried Mr. Shuttlesworth is getting a bit too cocky for Canonical's own good.

Here are some things he said according to the article at


"[...] developers are already supporting Ubuntu's indicator system and other custom integration points [...]" So what? The indicator is just a tiny issue compared to all the rest.

"files and folders way of thinking is completely broken" Say what? I'm sorry but that's just rubish. That's a really arrogant thing to say. Some people might be too disorganized to work with files and folders, but for a lot of us they are a very useful organizational tool.

Mr. Shuttlesworth claimed it improves performance over GNOME Shell. (https://blueprints.edge.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/other-dx-n-unity-compiz) I have an ATI/AMD 5770 graphics card and GNOME Shell on Fedora 15 running from a LiveCD behaved much more smoothly than Unity in the hard drive! They claim that the move was based on the fact that GNOME Shell is based on Mutter which is (according to Canonical) not as good as Compiz. Exhibit A: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/compiz/+bug/709461. That is just plainly ridiculous.

Then he even said they are dropping the Gnome classic UI altogether for 11.10!!! (http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2011/04/ubuntu-11-10-will-not-ship-with-class...) Again, going with the philosophy of reducing choice. And if Linux has ever been about something is about choice.

What concerns me the most is Canonical's dictatorial turn. It's as if they were saying: "this is how it's going to be and if you don't like it, too bad. Suck it up or go elsewhere". Well, they are pushing a bunch of us, formerly unconditional Ubuntu supporterers to go elsewhere. Canonical seems to be following the footsteps of Microsoft and Apple.

I understand that they want to attract more OEMs and other users, but what I do not understand is that they want to do this by alienating half their existing user-base.

Unity == dis-unity. Pardon the obvious and lame pun, but the name Unity has been incredibly ironic, as there hasn't been such a divisive issue in the Ubuntu community and maybe the Linux community at large.

I am writing this rant now on Linux Mint. Yeah, I know it's based on Ubuntu, but there's one key difference: no Unity!

I am looking forward to see if 11.10 fixes these issues. I may return to Ubuntu if Unity goes past the alpha-stage.

You sure made it clear and

Dale L.'s picture

You sure made it clear and your points are well brought out. And yes, the "dictator" style is not the way to go. And what I hate the most in all of this is the fact that "they" don't really listen to their users. That's the way it is - take it or leave it. Ok, the door is wide open for me to go... it's at a point where I'm considering dropping Ubuntu alltogether.

If you produce the OPTION to use Unity instead of IMPOSE it, you're in a safe zone, but when you FORCE the issue, you're in a danger zone.

Your desktop is YOUR world - not theirs. Their approach is a complete invasion of user privacy.

There is no better solution to anything (in the software world) than customization. Ofcourse some might disagree with that, but the truth is, we all have different ways to set up our desktop because we all have different needs, etc.

I don't need anybody forcing me to do things "their" way - what nonsense! And I agree with the well-said statement that UNITY is dis-uniting us....

Goodbye Ubuntu...

sticking sidebar

Nigel's picture

I have the sidebar occasionally refusing to retreat into invisibility (as per "anonymous", 10th May). Does anyone have a "fix" for this, please.

I hated Unity and retreated to 10.04. Thought I should give it a fairer go, so am now on the 64bit version and am growing more used to it. I agree with the comments that I prefer choosing applications from a customised menu list rather than trying to remember names. (I'm the same at parties - can't remember names, but good at faces (and figures!)).

Roll on October and 11.10 is what I say!


cantormath's picture

You could make Gnome your default Desktop GUI.


obx_ruckle's picture

There are several fixes:
Tiny Core . . .

The encouraging news is...

BobSongs's picture

Gnome2 is still available and will continue to receive minor tweaks over the years.

The discouraging news is: Gnome2 is discontinued. And I suspect developers will be looking into the new features Gnome3 has to offer. After a time it may be difficult to run software under Gnome2.

I suspect Gnome and Unity will undergo a number of changes by the time we more reluctant users switch. By then we may have several of our features back.

Just to name a few...

cantormath's picture

Fixes: I would +1 this if we were on Google Plus...

Several Fixes.....

QuietType's picture

Yep! And I'm back to Mint, since 11 was released. Happy again!

Windowmaker was better

pgk's picture

I totally agree, with Shawn, this "new" tech is totally wasting the time of user, power of computer. Gnome and Unity stepped on a wrong way. this is not clean, and I thing for example window maker or blackbox where and are better user interfaces if we look for simple and beautyful user with power efficient code. Somebody should think about the green computing when designing those bloatware-like apps. Don't misunderstand me, I don't wanna stuck in the 2000's but if something is good we don't need worst. And not all user is a single task user. I think there is a wrong direction now, and as I see it's just helps the Apple to get more users, with the clean and not so efficient gui against the not so clean and totally unusable desktops.

sorry for my bad english

personally i love unity

FoolishFox's picture

first im going to say I agree its not very customisable but you can get compizconfig settings manager and change the size of the icons to 32 at least but for more customising you need like gunity or conifty

i strongly disagree about it being less usable and having less screen real estate.
if you have a full screen app unity hides automatically (window dodge also) and puts the close buttons in the top bar so you actually have 24px more space.

its got super fast switching too,if you hold down super it give you the number of your launchers so you can switch between Writer and firefox with super+2 super+3 so if your writing a paper you dont even need to touch your mouse.

Ok the dash i dont understand what is wrong with it? if you want to go to Internet app its on the front page? or go more apps then installed and it lists all installed apps and once you know the name you can search it later super fast or pin it. its also creates an isolated atmosphere so the user can focus on there current task "finding an application"

I used the same setup in

wayne's picture

I used the same setup in classic with everything on the single bar. The launcher is OK, you can reduce the icons down to 32 pixels with Compiz, and I like the multiple window/workspace maipulation it has. The file menu and title bar combined at the top is nice with a maximized window, but they should have set it up so the file menu follows the title bar when it's not. As is it's awkward.

With that said, I gave it a chance, the dash sucks big rocks off the ocean floor. If the menu is truly going away, than so am I.

Nautilus-Action - Unity3D Desktop

kylea@itvss.com.au's picture

I have managed to get Nautilus-Action working with Unity3D Desktop - it required a compile of the 3.1.2 source and a process to convert the gconf stored menu item - very happy now.

Basically I am very pleased with the overall result. There a wave of excellent App Indicators coming thru and these are really adding to the overall experience. I agree its a WIP but at the rate new apps are being added 11.10 will be excellent.

I did not like Unity

Anonymous's picture

I did not like Unity either.
I'd prefer a side taskbar only, but with rapid menus like Gnome.
Sided taskbar would be nice because most documents are portrait formatted. Bars on the top or the bottom of the display reduce the visible area of the document, while are a lot of space unused on both sides. Why do not put task and/or menu bars on the side?

Unity and Ubuntu

Anonymous's picture

I couldn't agree more with 'Shawn Powers' and his video on 'Unity'. It is slow to navigate especially when multitasking. I also prefer the bar at the top but I also use 'Docky' at the bottom with 'intellihide'. My Docky menu includes all of the most highly used items I use in hierarchical order from left to right. (i.e. Browser, E-mail, k3b, terminal etc.etc.)At the top of the screen is where I place and use desktop switcher using Compiz cube, for visual effect but it also is quicker at the top for changing sides if more than one program is open as I usually use it this way when doing photographic manipulation, touch-ups etc. and need to quickly switch from one program to another. I've used 'Unity' for about 2 weeks and it is just poorly thought-out and configured IMHO. My other peeve is Gnome 3 which I also used for a short period of time in 'OpenSuse' and 'Fedora' and it too is poorly organized and just plain ugly. The icons were way too big. Workspaces on the right side margin is just awful. It seems to me little though has go into both of these hurriedly designed program shells.

Unity and Ubuntu

Anonymous's picture

One other point I forgot to make is that the mouse is by far a superior means when navigating screens than using keyboard scripts and key combinations when moving about doing different tasks on the screen. It only requires the use of one hand and not both.

With all of the packages out there such as Compiz, Dockey, minimizie and maximize buttons etc. It seems to me a better approach to this whole mess would have been to in cooperate these features into 'Unity' because

(1) they are available and provide some flexibility
(2) Workspace is no different to me with bar at the top and Docky with intellhide at the bottom. Left side menu launcher offers no advantage over 'Docky' with intellihide at the bottom of the screen.
(3) Forget the keyboard shortcuts and concentrate on just the mouse which is by far faster and only needs one hand to use.

Some positive thoughts...

Ricalsin's picture

I'm liking Unity - even though it has some performance flaws (it binds vim) that I'm sure will get worked out soon enough. I use the computer for advanced 3d modeling and high-end web programming. The web programming I do forces the need for many windows to be open - and that's in addition to the many buffers that I have open within vim. So, whereas Shawn wants his "launchers" in his 24px high bar across the top or easier access to the preferences and system folders (I get that one.), I am much more interested in handling the many windows that are already open - as they will be open for days on end and THAT is where all my work is occurring. The "Windows" button now launches a quick desktop "wall" where I can drag my windows into position. Better yet, I can see how many Firefox windows I have open by looking at the icons - and then clicking on that icon gives me an immediate view of all those windows regardless of which panel they are on. That's a very nice help. That means I can go from one FF browser in one panel to another one in an entirely different panel in one button and one click. Nice. that holds true with all programs that are launched. Put your Banshee music player on the fourth panel and when you want it simply scroll over to the left side to get the icon display, click the icon and the panel flips to the open gui for that app. That's nice, people. That's one click.

Keyboard shortcuts are very nice. Remember, linux has it's roots in software programming and programmers don't like to move their hands away from the keyboard as it takes time to reset their fingers back onto the home row for typing. The popularity of VIM is all about this phenomenon, even enabling all sorts of mouse actions to be done with special keystrokes that are accessed through different modes that the keyboard can be placed (mode) into. The fact that you've got to (usually) use the mouse to activate another another app is frustrating enough that some people install apps that over-ride the mouse! So, playing games and using the mouse is a relatively new thing - especially for Linux.

I still like Gnome and would resist not having it. But if Unity helps to bring more "Windows" and "Mac" users to Linux then I say so much the better. What we really need here people is more main stream apps that are built on the Linux kernel. Let Adobe Photoshop sell a suite for Linux - for those unwilling to learn the free software of Gimp (for example). Let Dassault Systems build a Solidworks or Catia for the Linux kernel. The open-source community can only benefit when it becomes so popular that it drives the investment of money in order to play in our world. The only reason Linux is not dominating the PC market is because it needs to look more like a MAC or Windows 7. "LOOK" is the operative word, people. The system is so much more stable and safe it is ridiculous. If Unity gets us more conversions towards that "safer world" then I'll give in a bit and simply work around the "graphics" in order to recruit more to our side.

If I were Microsoft I would be very concerned right now. Ubuntu's stability is motivating the hardware people to align themselves with Linux systems in order to improve user satisfaction by way of stable systems that are getting more inter-connected. The Internet Explorer browser has been exposed as a hack job made to placate untalented programmers by getting them addicted to MS. I believe it's now 80% of the world's web pages are served on a *nix based OS. Google is a Linux powerhouse. Ubuntu sees the same writing on the wall as Microsoft and they are reaching for the novice-pc dagger (Unity) to bring the lion (Microsoft) down. Gaining hardware manufacturer support happens just before more software developer support. What we really need is a way to get linux software app programmers some money for their time. I hope you guys are "donating" when and where you can.

unity has it's problems but it isn't so bad.

just some guy's picture

like you said if you're just using the mouse then unity's dash is annoying. if you're just using your keyboard it's really not bad at all.
also, i haven't looked too hard but i'm not sure if there's a way to add things that you've installed from source code into the stuff that appears in and can be searched for using the dash. you can make your own .desktop files to add them into the launcher though so at least there's that.

i don't know if the launcher did this when you made the video but it auto hides when you move an active window over that space and you can shrink it's size down if you install ccsm. just don't mess with any compiz settings outside of the unity add-on or it will likely spaz out on you.

the thing i like most about unity is being able to add right click quick lists to the different launcher icons by editing the .desktop files in /usr/share/applications/ or by making new ones. i made my own for nautilus that had all the basic home folders (documents, music, downloads, etc) as well as a gksu nautilus option.

what i hate most about unity is the top bar. i really hate the global menus, not being able to auto hide the bar and the way that anytime i maximize a window the close/min/max buttons are stolen away the left side of the bar even if my window theme has the buttons on the right side.

if i could just replace that top bar with a gnome panel i'd be fine with unity but that top bar is dangerously close to being a deal breaker for me. i have disabled the global menus though a method in an article someone has linked to already.

my gnome setup was actually pretty close to unity's setup just not as obviously there as unity is to start with. i had a gnome panel up top and on the left with quick launch icons. biggest diference is that neither gnome panels were set to extend across the screen and both were set to auto hide.

Unity and Ubuntu

JRZ's picture

I prefer spending time learning how to use the programs that I accomplish my work with more efficiently. The OS and the Desktop should allow me to launch programs quickly and run them without crashing. How about MORE attention on fixing bugs, some of which I find unresolved with complaints dating back to Ubuntu version 6.06 or earlier?

Is KDE going to go the Unity route also? If not would it be a good choice Desktop in place of Gnome/Unity?

The new scrollbar was another problem that required returning to normal, not to mention Firefox changes that had to be restored.

Unity - its a journey to another place

Kyle Amadio's picture

Firstly everyone is right on this - we have the advantage of some new and exciting software that will be developed and shaped by the community and if you and enough people don't like it you can change it or select another dist that suites.

That said - I have been testing unity since Alpha 3 - and I agree its a bit different. I really love Nautilus-Actions - and they are missing from the right click context menu - have filed a bug on that - no movement on that - maybe they have been busy (:.

The Super key is fine - I can use that now and there are all kinds of add-ons coming out that are extending the dock and the panel.

Where Unity and I assume Gnome 3 (maybe) will 'shine' is with new younger users and older folk. I have seen older family members struggling with the traditional desktop format small icons and text and it is terrible. They have no idea where to find things and have difficulty reading the screens. Having the menu in the one place makes the user experience consistent for these guys and gals, "its on the top panel, the black bar at the top of the screen".

My experience of Unity on a

Ivan the terrible's picture

My experience of Unity on a netbook was really fine.
After upgrading my "desktop" (actually, a powerful notebook), dual monitor machine to 11.04, my Unity experience lasted less than an hour. I switched to Gnome (classic).
Some tweaks:

Upgraded to 11.04 and Unity

Leon Paternoster's picture

Upgraded to 11.04 and Unity yesterday.

My setup was exactly the same as Shawn's (except the taskbar was at the bottom, a la Windows). This is the one thing Windows beats OSX on, and the flexibility Gnome allowed in replicating this set up was a really good thing.

Frankly, Unity is fucking nonsense. What is it with all this reveal on hover stuff? It is a usability nightmare if you use a mouse and click on things (i.e. like 99% of the world).

My other big issue with it is that right click does nothing a lot of the time; so, if I right click on the launcher — nothing! I can't move it, modify it or anything.

How is the launcher saving space? It's huge!

Even XP allowed you to hide the taskbar, but people don't do this because they like to know where things are *all the time*. In Unity, there is no choice at all; it's always hidden until you hit the left edge of the screen.

Close/minimise/maximise buttons are not even in a corner.

Really, really poor. And I don't understand the thinking behind it at all.

Agree 100%

Anonymous's picture

The Unity Launcher has to be one of the most unfriendly of all. Yes, you can minimally customize it, but it's ugly, big, and can really get in the way. Yesterday, while using Firefox, I moused over toward the location of the launcher (not really on it), while it was hidden behind Firefox. Suddenly, the bar came out on top of the window, and I couldn't do anything to get rid of it. I tried opening several other applications, and the launcher held its position over the open application windows in every case. Restarting the computer returned it to normal (hidden under the app window), but once again, it poked out over the window while I was using Firefox and, once again, I couldn't get rid of it without a restart.

I've been an AWN user, as I got used to using a dock running RocketDock on Windows. AWN is much more stable, can be customized out the ass, and looks good, too. The Unity Launcher seems like a half-baked attempt to re-invent the wheel.

Why Unity is better than Gnome 2

MduTours's picture

What I discovered in the years of trying to find an answer to the question: Why should Windows users try Linux? I found that the only thing an OS does (in a fancy way) is launch and run applications. The saying: "It's the apps, stupid" is very much true.

People like what they are USED to. Therefore everyone who is USED to Gnome 2 will like it more than Unity. It takes effort to learn a new User Interface. Even if the changes are small. This is the reason that Windows users are not switching to Linux. They know how to use Windows and it works for them. So if it works; why change?

But sometimes change is for the better. Hardware is evolving and is graphically more capable. Why not use this graphical power to create an interface that is attractive to use? This year Linux has changed. With KDE 4, Gnome 3 and Unity, Linux is once again competitive with Windows 7 and Mac OSX. And it's all about launching and using applications.

1) The most important improvement is that KDE 4, Gnome 3 and Unity are now able to search for applications. This saves a lot of time.

2) Another important improvement with KDE 4, Gnome 3 and Unity is the ability to 'tile' windows.

3) An advantage of Unity is that it saves horizontal screen real estate.

All in all, Unity and Gnome 3 are improvements. But they are also changes to your current workflow. So if you are not ready yet... keep using Gnome 2. It works, so why change?

But to everyone who prevers Gnome 2 over Unity and who has 'blamed' Windows users that they are afraid of change, look in the mirror.

Best regards,

Why Unity is better than Gnome 2

Ernesto Posse's picture

> 3) An advantage of Unity is that it saves horizontal screen real estate.

This is patently false. The Unity launcher takes up a lot of space that is free in Gnome 2.

By default it is always there, and you have to install the customizer to be able to auto-hide it, and auto-hiding itself is quite annoying.

I'm 0kay with it

Mozai's picture

I've taken some of the design changes in Unity, and brought them back to GNOME2. It's worked out well.

- Shawn's "OMG where are my application menus?" was a feature in GNOME2 for a long time: 'wajig install indicator-applet-appmenu', 'pkill -HUP gnome-panel' to make sure GNOME notices the new applet, and then add to one of your (horizontal) panels "Indicator Applet Appmenu".
- The dock/launcher thing on the side can be a vertical gnome panel. Put some application launchers on it, and add the applet "window list."
- the Unity "dash" (which Shawn is weirded out about most of all) is just Gnome-Do with additional eye-candy; the same Gnome-Do that was praised as a big improvement in interface design... though Gnome-Do is themeable, I don't yet whether Unity's dash can have it's appearance changed.

There isn't anything in Unity that we haven't already had at our disposal when using in GNOME2 nor KDE.

After griping like an old fishwife in the Ubuntu Forums with the usual "how do I do X in Unity?" questions, someone waved this collection of Unity guides and HOWTOs under my nose, and I've been parusing it: http://castrojo.tumblr.com/post/4795149014/the-power-users-guide-to-unity

from a windows7 user

Crocobaur's picture

I don't understand why some people compare the Unity interface to Windows 7. They got (almost) nothing in common. The Windows bottom bar, in addition to the pinning feature, also includes the clock/calendar/etc. features. So, both the left bar and the top bar in Unity exist in one single bar in Win7. Also, Win7 bar got the button for app launch (like classic desktop) plus the search (like the Unity dash).

I gotta tell you, coming from Win7 to Unity was not at all a super smooth experience like some of the people here claimed and I don't think they designed Unity with this in mind.

From my POV, having the left bar on autohide is not so productive. I work in the automotive SW business and any colleague of mine who ever had the intention of using an auto hide bar gave up on it. Having the bar visible makes the app switching much faster. The 30-40px are irrelevant. You don't just open 10 apps and remember the keyboard shortcut to it. You alternate the apps alot, they get closed, then reopened, they change order... you need to see them to be able to switch between them fast.

And my answer to the guys complaining about people complaining and telling them to switch distro or DE: stop trolling please. Legit claims about things people don't like are not supposed to be replied with "switch distro!". Maybe someday when half the user base of some product you make walk away from you without saying anything, you will want them to have said something beforehand.

I used to feel the same way

dfv78's picture

I used to feel the same way but then I saw these videos from Jorge Castro

How I multitask in Unity
How I use the Unity Dash

and they practically convinced me to give Unity a try. In Unity you don't move around like on Gnome, you have to think a little different.

What a ripoff of OS X. Anyone

Anonymous's picture

What a ripoff of OS X. Anyone who has used OS X before will notice how bad a ripoff this is.

They just went from the Windows model to the OS X model, except Ubuntu is still far more difficult to use.

These videos show a different type of use

JohnP's picture

If you are a point and click user, I can see where Unity would suck beyond the 10 apps you dock.

OTOH, if you check out those videos, you will see a power user on Unity. It got me excited enough to load it into a VM, get 3D-Accel working and try it for 30 minutes.

No more stupid mousing. It has keyboard shortcuts that actually make sense.

Is it perfect? Definitely not. I dislike that the dock/launcher thingy doesn't let me control whether a new instance or the old instance is displayed. I don't like most of the default apps shipped either, but a few of them ok, only gwibber, firefox and LibreOffice, I actually use.

Use the super-key (Windows-key) to make your life easy. My main keyboard doesn't have that key (IBM 101M from the late 1980s), but I'm hopeful I'll be able to select a different "super" key, perhaps the CapsLock?

I just found how to change the setting to have the window focus follow the mouse. Wonder if that will screw other things up.

Unity is worth a few days of trial for anyone, but especially power users.

Power Users

cantormath's picture

Power users can exist with most GUIs for Linux. It seems that Unity, in its current state, is only reasonable for those that have minimised their mouse usage with a list of short-cut key combinations. The same efficiency can be accomplished with Gnome+hotkeys. Decreasing the number of point-click-engineers that can use the GUI effectively is not an improvement IMO. My parents use Gnome and love it. They will have no idea what to do with Unity, especially with a lack of submenu navigation.