Unity? Thanks, but no

Tried Unity, Unity 2D and GNOME3 today. Removed each after <0.5h of playing with them.

Unity? Lack of visible settings. Tried CCSM — chaotic attempt to keep all Compiz settings in one place done in a way to make user say “WTF?”. Managed to crash Unity panels (left, top) after clicking something. Started Gnome-tweak-tool — this one allows to set theme and decoration. Selected least ugly ones, no way to get rid of orange title bars. Did not manage to get rid of icons from desktop… Ok, maybe it has to be that way (sorry for big pictures):

Launcher always lists my permanently mounted partitions (playing with “keep in launcher” option did not changed anything).

Funny situation happens after pressing (aka aka ) key — it should open window with all -installed- recently used, installed, suggested-to-install applications. But what if you did not notice it due to clicking on other window? Panels will switch to transparent:

Transparent Unity?

The whole “let me show you list of apps” looked as strange idea for me — too many clicks required and lot of space wasted. ADW Launcher on 1024×600 screen presents applications list in much better style.

So I logged into Unity 2D — but here I got one box over all windows (I could click though it and it disappeared after re-login):

Ugly box in Unity 2D session

Clicked few times and decided to avoid — normal Unity had better look.

GNOME3? No comments — I have only FullHD monitor so will not waste screen space for panel which does not even give me usability of older one. Harder to run apps even then under Unity.

So I decided to stay with XFCE. It is not perfect as I have few “sorry, unable to find icon” applets shown (GNOME Bluetooth, NetworkManager, sound) but this bug is known and who knows… maybe will get fixed before release (was fixed before 11.04 and broken again after).

UPDATE: I run Ubuntu 11.10 ‘oneiric’ on all my systems which have some kind of display (other is router which runs 11.04 with 11.10 kernel). I never run stable release cause my systems migrate to next release at start of development cycle as this makes my work easier for me (with 10 years of using Debian ‘sid’ I am able to deal with upgrade problems). Trying other desktops from time to time, usually around Ubuntu beta phase when all features are frozen even if they do not fully work, was fun and allowed me to find new tools for my daily use. But each time I expect some way to configure a look & feel and this is where Unity fails for me.

32 thoughts on “Unity? Thanks, but no

  1. Jan

    If unity is the future of Ubuntu, then please advise me of an alternative to ubuntu – I will change. I tried unity and it is terrible. KDE is to slow on my Ubuntu

    1. Marcin Juszkiewicz Post author

      I use Ubuntu with XFCE desktop. There is also LXDE as alternative and many others.

      Ubuntu is good distribution and contains lot of X11 applications so user can setup own session.

  2. ike

    I actually love Gnome3 UI. I know it’s not polished enough, but Gnome Shell is what made me switch back from OSX.

    And FWIW – it’s hard to estimate those environments after only 30 minutes! You were searching for the “good ol’ Gnome2″ so I’m not surprised you didn’t find it. Both Unity and Gnome3 try to show us different paradigm of using desktop. You’re used to the old one. It takes time to get used to the new approach.

    1. Marcin Juszkiewicz Post author

      Sure, half of hour is not enough. But it was not searching for good old gnome2 (which I never was fan of) but rather disappointment of environment which I can not even configure to fit any of my expectations. Come on… Times when ‘one config fits all’ are gone.

      1. maestro

        No, times where everything was configurable are finally gone. Which is a good thing. You should get used to that.

        1. Marcin Juszkiewicz Post author

          Ein Reich, Ein f├╝hrer?

          Sorry but my XFCE desktop does not remind default Xubuntu. Panel has my set of applets/activators (and is vertical), default apps are often KDE apps. Desktop has only wallpaper — no icons on it.

  3. monkeyfoo

    If I had played only <0.5h with Linux, I’d still be using Windows. Give it a real chance and invest more time into testing – maybe it will change your opinion. :-)

  4. RolandiXor

    What was the point of this post?

    If you are using anything on 11.10 at this point it will be broken. I’m using 11.10 and I expect the breakage I get.

    I suggest you try again after release. Look at this way: I dislike GNOME Shell, but I’m waiting until the finally release lands this cycle before passing updated judgement on it. With Unity, I didn’t like it at first (11.04), but I gave it time to grow and now I like it. Yes, I criticized design decisions in both (still do) and really gave GNOME Shell as an overall decision the thumbs down, but now both are stuck with us, we should give them a chance (especially development versions)…

  5. Zap

    You’ve tried the alpha/daily release of Oneiric haven’t you? There are A LOT of known bugs there, simply because they planned to start fixing them starting from now. The only thing that won’t change (for this release at least) is the lack of a customization interface different from ccsm. The dash won’t require less clicks but will work much better (at least I expect so!!!) I’d suggest to try a stable release of a software before complaining because it’s unstable/does not behave as intended :-)

  6. sebsauvage

    I have ditched Ubuntu for Linux Mint. That’s a very polished distrib.

    They have Ubuntu-based and Debian-based versions, with Gnome 2, XFCE or LXDE. And they use the Ubuntu and Debian repositories, so it’s all good.

    Oh.. and they have all of nitfty features (red background for Nautilus in root mode, medibuntu repositories enabled by default, getdeb only a click away, etc.) And no pre-installed non-sense like UbuntuOne.

    http://linuxmint.com/

      1. Anon

        I don’t think I’m the only one who would say that Debian sid (a.k.a. “unstable”) can often be less buggy than “stable” releases of Ubuntu. I wouldn’t compare sid and Ubuntu. I think most people here are right: waiting before complaining about buggyness might be a good idea.

  7. Philip Ballew

    It took me a solid week and a half of continuous Unity use to be able to feel comfortable with it.

  8. mano

    i don’t understand your logic ! if lack of customization keeps you away from gnome3 and unity then xfce is less customizable than booth and less stable too!! kde is fast if you use compiz instead of kwin .i think you are wrong about unity ,it is very stable if you don’t mess around much with compiz but even then every thing is normal after logout/login and sure it is more usable and more customizable and have a clear potential .shame you failed to see that!!

    1. Marcin Juszkiewicz Post author

      Sure, right. But…

      Unity panel lacks systray applet – so 4 of apps which I am running daily are not accessible (keepassx, gnote, lastfm, psi-plus). And this is a thing which is by design so I would have to run them and keep windows opened or move to other applications.

      KWin from KDE4 was fast and easy to setup. There was huge amount of options but grouped in sensible way — ccsm is not even close to 10% of it.

      Logout/login is not a solution for me — my X11 sessions have uptimes counted in weeks as I reboot only when really have (usually due to kernel updates or too many system updates breaking some subsystems).

      XFCE settings are easily reachable — three clicks and I can configure everything. With Unity/Gnome3 I first have to install extra ccsm, gnome-tweak-tool and who knows what else (as they are not part of ‘ubuntu-desktop’ dependencies).

  9. Normand Bissonnette

    I hated both Gnome Shell and Unity when I first started using them. After using them for four months I now enjoy using both, along with KDE. There is always room for improvement and there always will be. I have been recommending people to give both gnome shell and unity a chance and try them for a few days before making the choice to revert back to what they used before. Most users want what they already have but “shinier” and “bigger” and “faster” and “0 calories”.

  10. Devlin7

    I switched to Bodhi Linux last year. Highly configurable and extremely rapid! Super LOW resource use.

  11. Anthony

    Complaining about free, incomplete, unpolished and unreleased (officially) software makes you look like a ignorant ass.

  12. Forensic Penguin

    Love the ol’ gnome 2. Will be going to Lubuntu once its official, or Mint. Right now I’m still using 10.04 LTS.

  13. Paul

    I don’t think this could be considered a serious consideration of Unity etc. Really I think one needs to use it “as is” for a little while. If you start trying to customise it right away then I don’t think you are going to see what they offer.

    The thing I really like about Unity is how it keeps out of the way, most of the time my desktop is entirely dedicated to apps I’m using rather than the OS.

    That said Unity as it currently exists in the repos clearly isn’t ready (nor should we expect it to be at this stage in the cycle). I get lots of crashes (particularly with Unity 2D) and also get stung by the lack of systray icons.

    I think it’s too soon to be worrying about customisation of Unity. It seems there is still significant core work to be done and it doesn’t make sense to have options everywhere complicating development. They need to get to a solid base and then they can look at what options might be relevant. Perhaps somewhat like Metacity which focused on simplicity first and then accreted reasonable options while trying to avoid too much crack.

      1. Paul

        Sure, I would guess though that that is the result of a reasonable amount of customisation. The Unity solution “just works” while providing several advantages (such as bigger mouse targets, etc etc.)

        I’m not saying your way doesn’t work well enough for you, rather that we should be “open” to the possibility of better ways that don’t require end user tweaking.

        After all the whole point of computers is for them to do work for us. Someone writes some code and people have an easier life when that code and their computer does something behind the scenes to make the persons task easier, faster (or even possible). It is no great stretch let the coder and computer make reasonable decisions about how a desktop should look rather than requiring the user to work to make it as usable as possible.

        In some ways you feel the same way, ie your objection to having to install extra apps to tweak things shows that you too think there should a be a limit to the amount of effort you have to put in to get things working nicely. Your “effort limit” is just a little bit higher than mine as I think it should pretty much just work!

        Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t like tweaking things, it can certainly be enjoyable (whether it’s car customisation, sticking led fans in your computer case or micro-managing your desktop, whatever floats your boat as a hobby).

  14. marp

    I’m glad that on linux you can just choose/use what you like, you don’t have to install a different distro. E.g. I also was unable to get used to Unity, even Gnome3 is not my thing. So I just use XFCE now (sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop, that’s all), also tried LXDE, did like that too. I can still go on using a very good and stable distro (Ubuntu), but don’t have to bother what’s currently hip in desktop design, instead I just use a desktop that’s fast and that I can work with efficiently. I’m sure Unity will get better (and less bug-prone) over time, but to me it seems to be more a “showroom desktop” (like OSX) and less aiming at the needs of techies (developers, admins etc). But, no problem, since I don’t have to use it…

  15. Guest

    To be fair, this does not appear like a well researched opinion. Within the first half an hour I disliked Unity, but kept on using it, and after a while (1 or 2 days) I disovered it is not that bad. I didn’t really like Gnome3, but that is because it kept crashing on me then, and was rather slower than anything else (mutter or clutter or whatever performs poorly on all I’ve got).

  16. Luca Cerone

    Hi guys, I’m not a big fan of Unity myself. The problem is that to get work done (fast) it is difficult to change habits of work, shortcuts and so on… When I switched from Win to Linux (10 years ago?) I wanted a stable, clean and fast environment. But what really captivated me was the possibility to CUSTOMIZE my environment. If I want something that works out of the box I’d buy a Mac (or even Win if you’re careful enough). If now Canonical is adopting the strategy of not letting the the user decide what to customize.. well I’ll end up switching to some other distro.

  17. HTD

    Unity? It’s a worse kind of Gnome 3. But Gnome 3? It IS customizable using extensions and gnome-tweak-tool. Mine looks beautiful, and it’s pretty usable too. You can change all in Gnome 3. Yes, window decorations too. Latest gnome-tweak-tool allows to change Gnome Shell theme, window decorations, GTK theme, fonts and icon theme.

    Panel / menu? It’s redundant. Dock? Why if you can see all opened windows by moving cursor to top left corner. It’s faster than click. And well, you see them.

    Why not XFCE? Thunar does not show remote filesystems. And if you use mc, it’s like using nc (or far) in Windows 7.

    BTW, gnome-tweak-tool works for Unity too. But Unity seems less stable and a little slower than Gnome 3.

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