Linux optimize

Ubuntu Unity: Making the desktop seriously efficient again

Contrary to the popular opinion, Jack Wallen has found Ubuntu Unity to be one of the most efficient desktop designs on the market.

I've noticed something lately. Since Ubuntu 12.04 was released, and I migrated over from Linux Mint, I'm working much more efficiently. This isn't really so much a surprise to me, but to many of the detractors who assume Unity a very unproductive desktop... well, I can officially say they are wrong.

But, let me get a bit more specific.

The general public are used to a desktop metaphor that dates back to Windows 95. They open up programs only to minimize them so that they can open up more programs. This continues until (and I've seen this countless times) a nearly unmanageable amount of windows are open, and the user is bouncing back and forth between pieces of work.

For some, that model seems to get them through the day. But at what cost? A while ago a survey was done (and I cannot remember who sponsored it or ran it) that indicated multi-tasking at that level is good for the brain. I have found, over the years, that working in such a fragmented way did one thing -- made me do fragmented work. I could work with numerous windows open -- do a bit of work here and a bit of work there, only to find my work slowly but surely losing focus, specificity, and a necessary level of tightness.

Ubuntu Unity has, for the most part, solved that problem. Oh sure, you can have as many windows open as you want. But unlike many window managers, you can't click as easily to minimize and maximize the windows. With many desktops you can click on the opened window's icon and either restore or minimize the window. With Unity, you can only restore. In order to minimize the window you must click the minimize button.

Now, using the Alt-Tab combination you can cycle through your opened windows (and even select the Desktop entry to minimize all windows). But what you don't have is what Linux-land calls a Winlist -- a small applet, in a panel, that houses all minimized windows. Instead, you have your launcher icons that show (with a nod to OS X) a highlight or indicator to inform you there is an open window for that application.

What I find myself doing is not keeping nearly as many windows open. I am working with much more focus and actually getting more done quickly.

Now, this isn't really much when taken alone. But you couple that with the HUD (Head Up Display) and all of a sudden, you're working more efficiency -- and with more focus. Back with standard menu systems, you can (at least initially) spend a good amount of time searching for the correct menu entry you need to pull off a task. With the HUD, you simply enter a search string to be returned options to select from. What this has done for me is make me far more familiar with menu systems than I was before. So now, instead of having to search for a specific menu entry, I just have to know something about the menu entry. For example:

Using LibreOffice, if I open the HUD and type "align" (no quotes), the HUD reveals to me:

  • View > Toolbars > Align
  • Format > Alignment > Center
  • Format > Alignment > Right
  • Format > Alignment > Bottom

All I have to do is either click on the entry I want or use the cursor keys to select and then hit Enter to apply. So I am interacting with my applications more efficiently.

Finally, there is the Dash with the included Lenses. This tool basically takes the Start menu and gives it the ability to work for you, instead of against you. You open the Dash up, search for something, and everything related to that "something" will appear. No more digging around in Start Menus for whatever it is you need. And with the inclusion of Apps, recent documents, and multimedia, the Dash has become an incredibly efficient means of interacting with your OS.

I realize that many people out there have spurned Unity (I was one of them for a long time), but the more I use it, the more I realize that Canonical really did their homework on how to help end users more efficiently interact with their computers.

Change is hard -- period. For many, the idea of change is such a painful notion they wind up missing out on some incredible advancements. Unity is one such advancement. If you are looking for a way to help you focus on the task at hand, and make more use out of your day, you owe it to yourself to give Ubuntu Unity a try. When I first used it, my connection was mostly on a "novelty" level. It was cool, it was different. But now, after giving it plenty of time to really sink in, I fully understand the "why" behind the design and execution.

It'll be interesting to see how people react to Windows 8 when it arrives, as it attempts to pull off the same task as does Unity. Let's see which desktop does the better job of helping people work, instead of keeping people from working.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

50 comments
rpr.nospam
rpr.nospam

For me, Unity works quite well on Ubuntu 12.04. But there has been a problem in integration of LibreOffice Calc and Draw with Unity launcher and Alt+Tab switcher -- see https://bugs.launchpad.net/unity/+bug/1026426 and https://bugs.launchpad.net/bamf/+bug/842566 I find the problem quite annoying because I use the LibreOffice apps quite often. I'd say Ubuntu/Unity lacks good testing before releasing a new version. Taking into account that Canonical provides commercial support for business users I wonder how they deal with the problem (business users use LibreOffice a lot) and why it hasn't been solved for months.

celw
celw

Hi I have used various variants of Unix for many years and Linux for a few. Thought I would look at using Ubuntu 12.0.4 desktop in place of an old version I use 50% of the time. One thing I like to be able to do easily is find a program/ app easily and quickly. To try it out I installed Oracles virtualbox on an old laptop and then Ubuntu desktop 12.0.4 LTS. After getting it up and running which worked pretty ok, I wanted to open a terminal and look at a few things quickly. I hit the Alt key to bring up Dash and typed terminal. It did not appear. Checked on the internet in case I was not using dash correctly. Seemed to be doing the right things so tried again. It did not appear. Used the keyboard shortcut to bring it up, exited and tried dash again. This time it showed up in list of applications. Now this took me 1 minute to type, but I spent a long time trying to work out why terminal was not showing originally. I like the idea of dash etc. I must admit am very used of having menus to follow with items naturally grouped together under something like System>Printing etc etc, so would take a while to get used to. However the one thing that I think is the advantage to users, new ones as well as established, with the ability to access such menus at times is that it helps improve your knowledge of items that naturally sit together in the current way that most OS's work. By this I mean certain things need to place for an OS to function. e.g. certain things to set-up ok for you to be able to access the internet, to print something, to use a webcam etc. Whatever current OS you use, there are things which need to be met. The ability to access system menus at times is very useful to check these things and also familiarise yourself with some basics. So I think dash is a really good idea. You see similar things in many other os's really, but it would be very handy if you could display a traditional menu system when you need to. I know that there are many variants of Linux and that many use the traditional menu approach so the great thing is you have a choice and use a different version, but I like ubuntu in general and really appreciate that it is open-source, that I can use older hardware such as a six year old printer (which I don't consider old although hardware vendors obviously do these days), that I do not have to pay £100's to use it but I think Ubuntu's interface would be more popular if you were able to switch on some sort of navigable menu if needed. Cheers Cel

ktogias
ktogias

I have used unity on my desktop from its first appearance in ubuntu 11.04 until last Christmas when I dropped it for Cinnamon. While I love the design and approach of unity, it has been a disaster in terms of speed and utilization of resources. On my Athlon X2 desktop with ATI Radeon HD, after an hour of uptime some unity component like compiz or unity-panel-service or indicator-service was caught using constantly over 10% of the cpu. Memory usage was also quite hight. On an Athlon Neo X2 mini-pc with also an ATI graphics chip I have connected to my TV, I was unable to play any kind of movie (even DVD quality) with no lost frames with unity. My ATOM based 1GB RAM HP Mini netbook is unusable with ubuntu 12.04 and Unity. It starts extremely slow and 5 minutes after boot it starts swapping until it is frozen. I recently switched to Mint Linux 13 + Mate Desktop and I can again use my computers. I love HUD, I love Launcher, I love Lenses, but I am not willing to throw away hardware that is more than adequate for my needs, and spend money for High-End, only for being able to run unity. We have to optimize and make unity light and efficient to mid-end h/w if it is to be adopted by the middle user.

Craig_B
Craig_B

I am a long time Windows user and I've dabbled with Linux variants from time to time. Recently someone gave me an old laptop, which I installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. I???ve been playing around with it, I???m still learning and I really like it. The nice thing with the Unity interface is that my family (non-technical) has picked it up very easily. The concept that I really appreciate with Linux is that of choice, there are multiple ways of doing things and you can go with the defaults or remove/add/modify whatever you want.

avonin
avonin

I spent a good while trying to get used to the philosophies of Unity and GNOME 3, but, as a developer, I found its limited multitasking design crippled my efficiency. I found KDE 4.7 a bit ago and I haven't looked back. I understand that different things work for different people, but it seems like this new design philosophy is all the rage now across platforms. I only hope KDE doesn't follow the same path. It's great to have change, so long as you maintain choice.

Himagain2
Himagain2

As a trapped Windows user ( too old a dog to fall for Apple trolls) this write up did get me excited a bit. Sounds ideal for Windows escapees. (Mac users are terminal - too late) when added to the jump arrow above about converting files to HTML which leads to all sorts of things wanted by users. I am setting it up forthwith PLUS all the addon goodies! thanks guys!

m@rcel
m@rcel

Having tried a couple of (K)ubuntu versions and Suse versions. I'm on Cinnamon too. First impression: It's verry fast, not spoiled with compiz and stuf you'll be using once.

wyattbiker
wyattbiker

I use Mac OS X. I have moved from Windows about 4 years ago and I never regret it nor looked back. Mac OS X makes the whole windowing experience breeze. One thing that they do and Windows doesn't, is the ability to hover your mouse over any partially hidden window and use the mouse wheel (or on the Mac the finger swipe) to scroll. You may think this is not a big deal until you start using it and figure out how much easier it is to manage all your open windows without having to click on each one to bring it forward just to scroll and then go back to the previous one. And by the way we are talking not just top/down but also left/right. I was wondering if Ubuntu Unity does this?

hometoy
hometoy

If Unity is not your "cup of tea", then there are a number of other desktop environments (KDE, Xfce, Lxde), window managers (open box, black box, fvwn, fluxbox) or shells (Cinnamon, Mate) to choose from. The latest version has included some common customization which makes a huge difference. It may not be as customizable as people have gotten used to with Gnome (2), but it is and will be improving. It's still young, and feedback (actual feedback, not just people whining) is still being worked through.

personne99
personne99

I am very happy with a full list of windows. It does not lead me to open many windows. I typically have two shells open, two browser windows, and occasional other applications. I like being able to switch between them using a Gnome-2 style interface. Unity forces a lot of junk on the screen, and even when one is only using a few windows with the same applications. It doesn't work for everyone. Some variations allow the individual to select when additional instances of the same app show their own selector. What's wrong with that? I tried Unity for several months, but am using Mint now. This is very annoying to me, because I'd like to be using a mainstream Linux desktop, so I can support others, but now there is none. It would be great if writers could stop trying to "officially" make this way of working seem like it's not useful because it compares to some other operating systems.

enricogalli
enricogalli

I'm used to drag and drop a lot of things. For example a PDF file to an email or one or more pictures from a website to GIMP. That is such a simple thing to do since there is a graphical desktop but thanks to unity that's not simple anymore. I need to resize a window to drag something in thunderbird because i need to see the source folder and the target application, same story with dragging images. Why i cant just drag stuff to the sidebar to push up the application i need? So now to do the same thing i need 10 times more time than before! Is that efficient? To see the desktop you need to tweak unity and have that wonderful "show desktop" button revealed. It's like hacking an iphone just to see what files are in YOUR phone. Extremely stupid. I remember at the begin both unity and gnome3 didnt allow you to have icons on your desktop. I still don't have a clue to understand the reason for such a choice. So ... now i'm using cinnamon on my suse laptop. Suse because is much more fast than ubuntu (50% faster on my compaq c700) and cinnamon because from first day gave me back my productivity. There are things dont need to be changed. The old gnome 2.xx desktop was the best of all.

foringmar
foringmar

Using LibreOffice, if I open the HUD and type ???align??? (no quotes), the HUD reveals to me: Really? You have to type something? You, can't do it with a mouse-click? Sounds like good old MS-DOS.

__mikk__
__mikk__

... is way better and useful than unity in daily work - sw development.

downtoearthman
downtoearthman

I rove around in some of the most prominent LUG groups where some of the real old school Linux users hang out. These guys are so sharp at what they do, they are basically in a different league than the majority. I would say they are the in the top 90%. They used to be so in love with Ubuntu it made me sick. I use Ubuntu myself, but whenever I had a chance I poked fun at them. It's like they had their head so far up Ubuntu's "where da sun don't shine" that they couldn't see the light of any other OS. No matter what, it was always ubuntu, ubuntu and Ubuntu. Ubuntu was top gun and nothing else was worth mentioning. Now that Unity is the default Desktop, they all hate it. When I read posts about Unity it's nothing but complaining. From one end to the other. It doesn't matter if it's the 20 year sysAdmin or the newbie, they all complain about Unity. Not once have I ever seen anyone talk good about Unity except Jack Wallen. Why is Jack Wallen so hooked on Unity? I doubt if he's in Mark Shuttleworth's pocket (I don't think Shuttleworth has a budget for that). Maybe Unity just happened to be the perfect work flow for Jack Wallen. I guess maybe Shuttleworth got lucky in that his desktop was a perfect match for a prominent Linux blogger. But as far as I can see, everyone who commented on this post are just like the guys I see on the LUGs. They hated Unity so much that they won't even give it a try. All the guys who wrote about it on the LUGs tried to like it (some actually said that they tried to like it), but it turned out that they hated it so much that they won't even give it a second chance. They just deleted it and installed gnome3. They Eighty Sixed Unity and slammed the door on the way out. Sorry Jack, I don't think your Unity blogs resonate with the real Linux community. It might be wonderful with the duffus newbie who doesn't know his nose from a hole in the ground, but when it comes to real world Linux Users, I think they would all join Mell Gibson in his "Freedom Call." We don't want another dictator like Steve Jobs telling us what we can do and how we can do it. There's too many good alternatives to all fit in Shuttleworth's little head. It seems to me that Shuttleworth envisioned his OS overtaking the world like Apple, but the Linux community is a different world. The big difference is that he doesn't have any big manufacturers pre-installing them on systems. Before he made Unity the default desktop, he might have had a chance at dominating the Linux world, but now statistics show that Mint has over-taken Ubuntu's lead. So will Shuttleworth learn his lesson, or will he come out shinning because he was right from the beginning (NOT). We'll see. The other thing is that Ubuntu has become a behemoth. Linux users don't want 10.000 programs that you never use hogging resources. Linux is do it yourself. It's just what you need. It's performance. Ubuntu has become a Window/Mac wannabe. Ubuntu has gone down the path of all the big OS's. They want to please everyone, so in the end no one is pleased.

brunogirin
brunogirin

I'm a bit surprised that a number of comments above claim that Unity is "single window". I currently have 4 window open on my Unity desktop, all visible. Unity doesn't force you to maximise windows. It even has nifty gestures and key/mouse combos to allow you to partially maximise them. For example, un-maximise a window (you can click the maximise button or double click on an empty part of the menu bar) and try the following: drag it left until your mouse cursor meets the side of your screen: the left half of your screen turn orange, release, the window now occupies the left side of the screen. Same on the right. With an un-maximised window, also try to right-click on the maximise button: it maximises horizontally but not vertically; middle mouse button maximises vertically only. Now for all those who say that they do tasks that use multiple windows like development: Unity allows you to do that should you want to. The way I do it is by using workspaces. Set up task number 1 on workspace 1 with as many windows as necessary. Then task 2 on workspace 2, etc. Switching task is a simple case of doing CTRL+ALT+arrow keys to go to the right workspace. I would also suggest you try out the Super key shortcuts: Super-W, Super-S for window management; Super-0 to Super-9 to launch apps; Super on its own to open the Dash; Super-A and Super-F to open the applications or file lenses, etc. With all of this and with the launcher on auto-hide, it means that Unity completely gets out of my way and uses very little screen real estate so that I can really concentrate on the task at hand. Of course all of the above are my personal opinion and YMMV.

Tanner1294
Tanner1294

I've used Ubuntu Unity enough times for schoolwork and I can't say that it's helped me work better at all. In all honesty the only part of Ubuntu 12.04 that's helped me is the part that it's Ubuntu with support for many different types of documents and systems. As for work, Unity was terrible on my PC. It was slow, and lagged at simple things such as opening the Dash. This could've been just because my computer is from 2007, has 1 gig of RAM and a dual-core 1.46ghz Intel Mobile cpu but even KDE 4.8 runs faster and smoother with the graphical effects activated. Personally, my school life turned around when I got a 2005 PowerBook G4. Upgraded the RAM to 2 gigs and the OS to Leopard and it's been much more efficient with work than Ubuntu Unity and Windows. A few of the features you mentioned about Unity that made it more efficient for you is exactly what makes this Mac efficient. If I'm having trouble finding a menu item, click the help menu (there's a hotkey but I can't remember it) and type a search string. It will list what it finds, and when you hover over each item it found (or scroll through them with the arrow keys) it opens the corresponding menus where the item is located, highlights the item, and points a big blue floating arrow at it. You can then click on the item, or click on the item from the help menu. Either way, now you've visually seen where it is. Looking for an app, document, setting, drive, email message or iCal event? Spotlight it. Simply hit Command and the Spacebar and it opens so you can search for anything. Just like the Dash in Unity. It's very quick at finding it, and you can change the preferences so it prefers certain items over others. I have mine set so Apps appear first and then any music it finds. The final nail in the coffin for me is that Apple has guidelines set to make applications easier to navigate. Something simple for instance is how to change an apps settings. It is always under the apps name menu (the menu item that says the apps name) and is labeled "Preferences..." in almost every single application made since 2001. Or just hit Command and comma and voila, there it is. Not like on Windows where it could be under almost any menu haha. Sorry but I don't find Unity that special at all really, the features that make it more efficient have been around for years. I am however glad that somebody decided to put these features into a Linux operating system for once. It is definitely a step forward for the open source community but I believe the dock needs work still. The fact that it is as difficult as it is to view multiple windows that are open is the biggest problem I had. Compiz runs terrible on Integrated graphics and it was the only efficient way to view multiple minimized windows. And like somebody said above, the GUI locks up way too frequently compared to GNOME and even KDE (which you can at least kill with a key command and then restart with KRunner no problem.). Yes I do prefer Mac, but I have used Mac less than Windows and Linux which I used for nearly 10 years. Sorry if this sounds biased but the unified GUI of OS X and the fact that every application looks and behaves the same and can interact with one another through simple things like dragging and dropping makes it efficient.

Himagain2
Himagain2

Every day I'm hit with dozens of "New ,New Things". What we don't see enough of is real users results/comments. I don't know why this is ..... all too busy? I go to very promising websites offering new things and options, but after all these years, people in general still don't post useful comments. The catch is always, time. Lots of the time they are free programs/solutions, but it is the time to test that is the killer. I'd like to go back and have "another go" at Ubuntu, but - as the author says - we have problems leaving the comfort zone. THIS just might get me to try it out - and if I do I'll go post about it! :-)

frankieandsusie
frankieandsusie

i have been using Ubuntu now for about 5 years and i can say it is so much easer now with the way you can 10 Firefox open at ounce and any other app as well, my family took a bit longer to adapt but with the 12.04 they have a bit more quickly.

mark
mark

the missing taskbar is driving me crazy (short trip, I know) I actually like to have open apps laying there for me to click on w/o opening up the launcher bar. in addition all windows OS's have had the search feature for years. In Win 7 Start Menu on the run bar type notepad or word and it opens up just like the Dash Launcher. Ubuntu calls it one thing Windows calls it another same thing in usage. I do like the stability and speed of Ubuntu but it is still a work in progress as are alll os's

tdrane
tdrane

... is a whole bunch of "This is MY choice".... isnt that the bottom line of the Linux Community, offering more choices? (I use Mint 12 with the KDE desktop myself, works fine for me.)

rcugini
rcugini

Unity hides even more system tools and is even less "tweek-able" then xp or vista. I'll take lxde or kde with multiple desktops any day over unity. With multiple desktops, you can organize stuff. One can have documents that you are writing, another browsers, another with X-terminals and so on. You don't have to have 20 tabs cluttered at the bottom of the screen like windows does. Linux Mint is my current distribution on my laptop and I'm happy with it. I will probably put PC-BSD on my next desktop. Currently, I just have a laptop and a blackberry playbook bridged to my phone, also a blackberry. I don't even like gnome classic a whole lot even though mint has a good implementation of it. The start menu and taskbar model isn't broken, especially with multiple desktop environments and multiple desktops possible within the same session. Unity attempts to fix a problem that doesn't exist and makes it worse.

Dr. Fowler
Dr. Fowler

It rather depends on whether one does multiple single window tasks or one or more multiple window tasks. Taylor T&M theory would indicate that Unity does work better for the former but worse for the latter than a Gnome 2 type GUI. In effect, Unity is a penalization of those who have to do tasks that require multiple windows in simultaneous use. There is a weak correlation between the size of the fraction of tasks that are multiple windows and the intelligence of the worker. In this context Unity is a dumbing down. At this point there is inadequate verified experimental data to substantiate the general claim that Unity is more efficient. Even so, the question of whether it is more effective is much more difficult to deal with. I am happy for you that your tasks are simple enough that Unity is more efficient for you. For myself, I installed U 12.04, used with a timer client for two weeks and then installed KDE. Subsequent data indicate a 0.17 reduction in mean time to accomplish tasks.

trajamohan
trajamohan

As a developer I need to work with multiple window to refer to various things, the new unity single window model really hinder my productivity

CFWhitman
CFWhitman

When I'm in Linux (which is pretty much all the time I'm using a computer away from work, and some of the time at work), I run related apps in the same workspace. If I need to switch to another task, then I switch to the workspace where I have those apps running. I don't minimize and maximize windows very much at all. I've never used Gnome much, though. I've only used KDE a little more. The environments I've used have been mostly Xfce, Fluxbox, IceWM, Openbox, or Enlightenment.

phil
phil

Jack: I'm glad you like Unity: good for you. But just because you like it : this does not make it better for everyone. Fine: point out what you like with it: but don't assume your reasoning will translate for other users. I find Unity is a memory hog and gets in the way of what I want to do. Each time a new version comes out, I try it, but I soon run back to KDE or Cinnamon: this does not mean KDE is "better" : I just like it more at the moment.

jwbales
jwbales

I have Ubuntu 12.04 on my laptop and am in the process of upgrading a pre-calculus tutorial I wrote in 2000. This involves doing a lot of Alt-Tabbing between the editor and the browser for copy and paste operations using the mouse. It would be much more efficient for me if there were an icon I could click on with the mouse instead of putting down the mouse and doing Alt-Tab for every copy/paste operation.

Odipides
Odipides

If you're using Unity as a replacement for a proprietary GUI maybe it works as well or better. As a developer it sucks because I use a lot of system level tools which are hard to find (let alone run) in the clutter Unity (and many Gnome 3 implementations except Mint's Cinnamon or MATE) seems to thrive on. If you're a word processor operator or a spreadsheet jockey then maybe Unity is wonderful. I'm not, therefore I assume I'm not the market Canonical is interested in maintaining. Bear in mind this is despite the fact that much of Ubuntu's original success was the result of users like myself who just wanted a Linux UI where you didn't have to fight with the OS to get it running on diverse platforms. I like to USE Linux as a development platform. I don't want (or need) to be a systems administration guru to use Linux effectively. However, Mint now caters to my needs and Ubuntu doesn't any more. Given the recent download statistics of the latter platforms it seems a lot of people think the same way.

wolsonjr
wolsonjr

I have 5 desktops for specific task areas with about 26 applications constantly available (including 12 functionally dedicated cl terminals). These are just the things I need always at hand. Other things get opened as needed. Desktop switching and app tabbing get me quickly where I need to be at that moment. Why would anyone minimize something instead of just changing focus? I don't get it.

malcom.jackson
malcom.jackson

To change back to the old Ubuntu desktop click on the 'power' button at top right then --> system settings --> (Control panel , System) Login Screen --> Select "Ubuntu Classic (no effects)". I didn't have to change from Ubuntu to another OS, and have the original simplicity of Ubuntu as it was, and which was so appealing.

Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com
Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com

Working with Windows was the first experience I ever had with a computer, so of course when something different comes along I balked, but after years of doing it someone else's way I made a complet turn around and went with Linux, I have different desktop environments that are as different from one another as they are from Windows, and even though there are some things I can and cannot do in a pafrtucular distribution, I still find myself working efficiently and not missing Windows at all. As for as the different desktop environments go....if you're unhappy with a particular desktop...because this is Linux you can easily install and use another one. You could NEVER do that with Windows....yo ucould change the color of the window borders,...clear the dektop of icons...change the appearance of the icons....even auto-hide the taskbar, but to ALTER the desktop ITSELF!?....Never happen....and that was the #1 reason for to ditch windows.....it made sense when I first started using a computer, but as I got older, it started to become more & more of a hassle, and even worse, there alwasy seemed to be a B.S.O.D. lurking around ever IE freeze. For those that don't like Unity...(I find it highly usable...I wish it was a desktop environment that you could use in ANY version of Linux! Imaginw what Mint would look like...or Peppermint....or CEntOS!) as for the people who think it's counter-productive...well then....just find one you DO like.,....and USE it!

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

I like to see what windows I have open (and their names). I [b]always[/b] change the W7 Taskbar setting to "Combine when taskbar is full", instead of that awful "Always combine, hide labels". The icon plus "glowing dots" in Unity, is just as bad as "Always combine, hide labels" in W7.

janitorman
janitorman

I tried Unity on Ubuntu, it was worthless. It's not configurable, and the included software center crashed repeatedly. I removed Unity and the software center by simply installing Xubuntu. That's the beauty of Linux. Choice. Unity tried to remove that for me, and failed, because I got rid of it. Also, since when is NOT having the option to do something a strong point. Removing features is NOT the way to attract people to new features. I personally never open too many windows, and I want to be able to find them easily, on a taskbar, which will tell me what's open. I also want to be able to use them in whatever size I want, side by side, minimize them, move them, or whatever. I don't work well within only ONE window doing one task, just as well as I don't work well multitasking with numerous things going on. You do, however, want to look up an address while typing in a document, or use a reference source, and not have to dig around to find the "other" open window. Tiling and transparencies do this for me. I even installed transparencies on my XP unit to make it more productive, which ms never saw fit to do. Removing the traditional task bar, notification area, and start menu will only drive typical users away, either in Unity, or Windows 8. Personally I don't use the "start" menu very often as, either in Linux OR in Windows, I have a floating toolbar on the left with shortcuts to commonly used programs, and another on the right with the file system in an expandable view, with folders I commonly access in plain view on it. I've never seen someone else use this system, but it works for me. I'm not proposing that EVERYONE use it, however, and make it industy-wide!

Robynsveil
Robynsveil

...more than one programme open to accomplish a task. I can have as many as five open to address various aspects of a project. I tried Unity, but it made doing things *my* way so exceedingly difficult I gave up and went with a simpler Gnome desktop that allowed me to work *my* way. No one piece of software is complete in itself. Unity does not enable me to configure my desktop to allow for that fact. It assumes everyone should work one way. Linux is about personalities as much as it is about workflow. Unity isn't.

michaeljking
michaeljking

I hated Unity when it came out, It sent me running to Linuxmint which I set up to look and work pretty much like Ubuntu had done since 2005. Ubuntu's unity was so slow on my hardware and Mint was somewhat better but I ended up running a lightweight LXDE desktop to get some speed back. I distro hopped and ended up on Crunchbang for some time launching programs from the terminal with a few key clicks... It was using this that allowed me to seamlessly go straight back to Ubuntu 12.04, Now pressing Alt , Or the Windows Key and typing is so much simpler and I get to run a fully functional and modern desktop. I am quite surprised myself just how much I am happy with it.

gak
gak

"It will be interesting..." Sorry, when and where are you living? Lots of people already have expressed their opinion on Windows 8 in thousands, maybe millions, of posts. Metro and Windows 8 are not doing anything Unity attempts to do. They just help PCs 1) to be useful both with and without input devices making Surface Pro possible, and 2) to do simple things brain dead easy preventing the disruption of the "post-PC era".

SKDTech
SKDTech

How I interact with my programs has not changed. Of course I don't bother minimizing windows most of the time, I just make the one I need to change to active. I do run into the occasional problem where i try to type in the name of a program or utility that I know is installed and it does not show up as one of the available items in the menu. Overall I don't despise Unity, but I am not in love with it either. I do not see myself being in any hurry to upgrade to Windows 8 and its Metro interface. I think Metro is a perfect solution for tablets, but trying to cram it in as the desktop for actual PCs is a mistake. It was obviously designed for touchscreens and attempts to make it work with a mouse and keyboard are kludgy at best IMO.

Ralph124
Ralph124

Back when Unity first appeared I was somewhere between "give it a chance" and "this is cool". With 12.04, however, I seem to be running into problems with the program integration. I'm having to reboot daily because some program gets caught in a loop and freezes the GUI. If I can't get to a console to use non-graphic tools to recover my environment - reboot. I'm not used to needing to do that with Linux. Hopefully by 12.10 this will be fixed.

Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com
Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com

I agree with you on that avonin! I don't think that all the OS'es should be the same KDE should STAY as what it is, this way you can always use it as a reference (e.g. it has a "KDE" type of look/feel) Unity should stay Unity.....Gnome as Gnome....LXDE....XFCE and the list goes on & on!

Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com
Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com

Congratulations Himagain2! You'll be surprised at the amount of things you'll be able to do! But don't just install it and then go playing with stuff....be sure to sign up for the mailing lists that will keep you up-to-date on patches, bugfixes, upgrades, newer versions etc. Also try to "test run" a whole LOT of the many different versions of Linux, you might find that there's a certain distro that suits you even better than Ubuntu! Check out http://www.DistroWatch.com and you'll see just how MANY different versions there are! Happy computing!

Slayer_
Slayer_

I know I frequently move my mouse off the screen when I am using the wheel so its not in my view when reading. If it only scrolled the window it was on, I wouldn't be able to do that. It annoys me that this no longer works in firefox.

Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com
Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com

I agree with you on that! I'm curious though, I've only ever used GNome 3.x...(Linux Mint & Fedora 17) and Unity (Ubuntu 12.04) I keep hearing about Cinnamon, MATE, and the others', but I'm not sure I can get them to run on the Ubuntu box or the Fedora laptop...how would I get them to install if they're not in the repositories? Just one of those "HowTo" questions...I wouldn't mind changing the Ubuntu bo's desktop environment....nor the Fedora one's either!

Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com
Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com

EnricoGalli, I tried to use openSuse and to me it seemed a lot slower than Linux Mint, and this was for a newer computer with an AMD processor and 2 GB of memory, could it have been that I got some form of "developer's" version or something? the install tok a very long time, as opposed to when I installed Linuc Mint the installation completed in under 30 minutes.....wonder what that was about? maybe Suse just had a whole lot of software to install?...

zyzygy
zyzygy

Sounds like Jack is a child of the 90s and can touch type in his sleep. For us hunt-and-peck ers the simplicity of a few mouse clicks or keyboard shortcuts is a clear winner.

SKDTech
SKDTech

Linux has always been a Windows/Mac wannabe, especially Ubuntu. Otherwise the majority of its users wouldn't spend so much of their time trying to convert users of the other platforms and trying to provide everything MS and Apple do.Do they want to be exactly like Win/Mac? No, but they do want their users and the distro creators realize that the majority of user converts are going to take what comes as default, the same as they do on Mac/Win, add what few items they need that aren't there and never give it another thought.

Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com
Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com

While I agree with you that some of the features of Unity might not make "sense" in a typical user's routine, I will say this: After leaving Microsoft for Linux I have found that I can do more with less resources, and more efficient;y than before. The things that some people don't like about Ubuntu's Unity interface are small issues compared to the "bigger" picture of being locked into a certain format, a certain procedure, and icons, walpapers, and visual qeues that came from someone else's head. I would prefer the ability to make Linux what I WANT & NEED it to be, than to succumb to the dictator-like mindset of Microsoft (This is your web browser LIKE it or NOT!) I can't tell you how refreshing it is to be able to do things with the dockbar, the way my files are stored, the locations of my media files and such without being constrained by the "usual" Windows mantra. I'm not denouncing your opinion, because in the Linux community everyone's opinion is valid, there's no "right" way...or "wrong" way for things to be done, because if you want something done a certain way, in the world of Linux you can DO it! It's sad that so many people think that their way is the "only" way of doing things, and this is what drew me to Linux to begin with, the fact that "It's MY WAY"! Even if you don't like Ubuntu...or Fedora (what I'm currently using on a ten year old Gateway laptop that was literally DYING under the cumbersome Windows 7!) or any other flavor of Linux you have the "freedom" to choose whatever OS you like and even better? the fact that if the OS you like comes with a Desktop Environment that doesn't suit you...you cna CHANGE it to one that does! SO I'm all for hearing opinons like yours, it makes me appreciate the Linux computer community even more. I have two other PC's that are running Linux Mint (12) and Ubutu (12.04) and they're both older machines that were completely useless under the Windows regime. Now?....one box if my Media Center (Mint) and the other is my file/print server! Long Live Linux! LoL! Just my two cents....

ActionParsnip
ActionParsnip

Not tried that? How is Mint+KDE different to Kubuntu, besides the tiny Mint community when compared to Ubuntu's...?

Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com
Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com

I can only say I WISH I had enough time to actually do comparisons like this! I would also of course need the resources to have...I dunno...maybe five or sixe differently configured laptops and desktops so that I can make the comparisons more level and equal (and Intel machine vs. an AMD...SO not equal.....or a laptop with a ATI graphics card vs. another one with an NVidia HD/1080p processable type...again not fair!) You wouldn't happen to need an "assistant" would you!?...LoL!

james.vandamme
james.vandamme

...tried Unity, E17, LXDE, various Mints...I have a hard time remembering what app does what, so I like a menu-submenu. Seems like Ubuntu is more "finished", though, and usually up to date, so I installed Cinnamon on it, and I'm cool.

Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com
Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com

I don't think Ubuntu is trying to "be" like either Windows OR Mac. I feel that they are following in the "Open Source" footsteps of the people and OS'es that came before them. A few comparisons: With Ubuntu you're not FORCED to use Evolution as a mail client, or Pidgin as a chat program, nor Are you stuck using the office suite that comes with it, (I've seen people who are more comfortable to the "KOffice" suite install it and remove LibreOffice) They don't really impose their will on you in any way! Right down to the desktop, if Unity doesn't suit you you can install Gnome, Cinnamon etc. Windows: it doesn't matter the year ('2K...'03...XP....'07...Vista etc.) you're only getting what Miscrosoft decides you should get...and even though there are a lot of applications you can install with it, not all of them work properly and sometimes it's not just a "driver" issue (I once had a HUGE problem with an application/program that we had to install for the users, and no matter WHAT we did it didn't work..the reason? there was a file that was "locked up" by the registry, and there was no way to access it...not from the GUI because once you logged in the file was held hostage by the kernel/os/registry) The office suite that comes with Windows has always been Office, and there's not going to be another application that takes up so much space on a client-side computer! The resource hogging culprits are the stalwarts; Word, Power Point & Excel!) And these aren't even the bigger issues that I've seen with Windows. In regards to Apple, they're just an "Elite Club" mentality, there is no open sharing of anything in the Apple world! If it doesn't have an "i" in front of it, it probably wont work. And most of their applications...well at least the ones that are geared towards Media/Music/Movies etc are all Apple-centric as well.....iTunes...iShare....iThis....or iThat. There's really no right or wrong answer here, but for me....I've had enough of my fill of the B.S.O.D's....the mysterious errors you get from doing NOTHING at all! (Open Word Documet.....Type Something.......Click To Close, asked if you'd like to save?....Select Yes. Go into work the next day, Open Word Document....Error Microsoft Word cannot open this file, please be sure the file name hasn't been changed or the file removed) and the "frozen" Internet Explorer screens! I don't argue that Microsoft is either "better" or "worse"...I just feel that for all the money they have been making all these years, then Windows and Office and all their other programs should be FLAWLESS! How can that be done? how about NOT releasing software that still has bugs in it? Surely they can make a living with the income "earned" (used VERY loosely!) from previous sales, while using every available resource to perfect the next OS to the point where it works....EVERYTHING works....no glitches, no erors, no BSD's instead of having to ALWAYS release a "Service Pack" with the fixes for things that shouldn't have left the shop broken in the FIRST place!. In the world of Linux the frequent patches, kernel updates, and software updates & improvements etc. are a little more to be expected, since it's an Open Source community and sometimes things get "lost in translation" but in the end it's really all just a matter of peronal taste and ease of use....and let's not forget the FINAL point in regards to the "three way OS wars"...of ALL of them Linux is FREE! LoL!