Posts Tagged ‘unity’
I tried the new Unity interface with Ubuntu 10.10′s Netbook Edition when it first came out and wasn’t very impressed. The Unity menu bar used up a large amount of screen real-estate and even with windows maximised, wouldn’t actually go away, so it was there on the left constantly eating up precious screen room. It was also very slow and buggy and didn’t in any way seem to be suited for the devices that it was aimed at (netbooks, natch). I switched to the normal GNOME desktop and didn’t really look back.
So when Canonical announced that the next version of Ubuntu – 11.04 – would use the Unity3D desktop by default, my heart sank.
However, I was willing to try Ubuntu 11.04 on my netbook simply because my netbook has always run a version of Ubuntu since 9.04 and is really used as my “primary” Linux desktop. So, with a certain amount of trepidation, I clicked the “upgrade” button on 10.10 and waited.
Now, I’ve been using Ubuntu 11.04 LTS on my netbook since it came out and y’know….it’s actually not all that bad. Canonical have cleaned up my two major complaints with Unity – firstly that it would never get out of the way when a window was maximised and secondly, that it was slow as hell. It’s still not super – the animations are not as smooth as I would like. However, this is apparently being addressed by Canonical in the next version – 11.10 – which will include Unity2D which is further optimised for netbooks and other low power devices. As it stands, Unity3D is usable, but like any version 1.0 product, needs a little more love.
The Unity interface itself is pretty usable albeit not exactly intuitive to start with. For example, when opening up a console window, it’s not clear how to open another command line window. This is actually performed by looking further up than you’d expect at the top panel where all the menus used to be. This is a context sensitive menu that appears and gives you the usual menu options for opening new windows and the like. Once I had this figured out, things were much easier. The scroll up and down the interface is also slower than I would like, but you don’t have to scroll from top to bottom. As the interface collapses down to all items on-screen, you can simply point the cursor at the general area of launchers you want and go straight there rather than scrolling. For adding new items or applications to the Unity launcher, you simply click on the Applications launcher and either type the item into the search and then drag the item to Unity much like you would in Docky. There are also expanded menus further down that gives you access to the complete list of installed applications and settings which allows you to add whatever you like to the Unity interface.
So, all in all, my worst fears for Unity (Unity3D in this case) were unfounded. It still has a certain amount of rough edges, but I’d imagine that Canonical will iron these out with time. Generally, I’d call this release a success. I guess we’ll see how the Fedora Project fairs seeing as they’ve gone for GNOME 3.0 windowing system. Time will tell.
The next version of Ubuntu, 11.04 is released. This is a controversial release for Canonical, possibly the most controversial in it’s history as it scraps the old GNOME interface and goes with a largely untested and in-house developed interface called Unity, which was first released with Ubuntu 10.10 in it’s Netbook Edition spin. However, it drew complaints from Ubuntu users about being clunky to use and slower on netbooks than it was designed for.
Since then, Canonical has stated that it will be using the Unity interface for it’s Desktop Edition spin and ditched the Netbook Edition entirely. Considering the almost alpha-grade performance of Unity in 10.10, there has been much speculation about the suitability of Unity rather than going with GNOME 3.0/Shell like the Fedora Project appear to be doing with Fedora 15, available in a couple of months.
The success or failure of Unity for Canonical will mean the success or failure of Ubuntu as a top-tier Linux distribution in my mind. I’ll be interested to try it when I have time. If you want to beat me to it, you can download Ubuntu 11.04 here.
Update 26/01/2012: As pointed out in the comments, this was not an LTS release. Article edited appropriately.