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.

Trips in 2011

There is one good thing in 2011 year — I know when I will have to travel for company meetings and which conferences I will have to forget due to this…

So in May I will attend Ubuntu Developer Summit which is a place where we discuss what we want to have done in next release. Event is also known as Linaro@UDS-O cause Linaro people will be there for same reason. Location: Budapest, Hungary. Time: 9-13 May 2011.

Then there will be Ubuntu Platform Sprint which I may be attending but this was not yet decided. This event is Canonical internal and this time will be without Linaro people (which were present on two previous ones). Location: Dublin, Ireland. Time: 27th June – 1st July 2011.

As Linaro has grown we got own sprint — Linaro Platform Sprint where we will work for a week in one place instead of being spread all over the world. Location: near Cambridge, UK. Time: 1-5 August 2011.

And finally another Ubuntu Developer Summit will take place (again) in Orlando, Florida. This will be more interesting UDS because 12.04 will be LTS so more discussions about long term things will probably take place. Location: Orlando, Florida. Time: 24-28 October 2011.

So this year no LinuxTag for me (UDS-O time), no ELC-E (UDS-P). I was thinking about attending Desktop Summit in Berlin but I lost faith in both GNOME and KDE so looks like there is no sense in going there. Will have a look to be somewhere and meet some people from outside of Ubuntu and Linaro worlds.

Switched to XFCE

Normally I use KDE 4.6 but recently Kmail started to have serious problems with fetching my email from IMAP so I decided that enough is enough and started checking other options.

As on efika smartbook I am using XFCE I installed it, logged into and configured to be more or less proper environment for me. Also tried Unity and GNOME but none of them fit me.

What is definition of “what fits me”? I use 3-4 virtual desktops:

  1. terminals, editors
  2. web (chromium now)
  3. mailer
  4. short work related apps

Jabber client (psi) is set to appear on all desktops. I switch using +[1-9] keys or by scrolling mousewheel over desktop. I move windows with +LMB and resize them with +RMB. Doubleclick on window title == roll and same for mousewheel unless there is tabbing support in WM (then it switches tabs).

So first which failed was Unity. I saw it before on other people laptops but did not took much time to play with it. Logged into session and after ~hour uninstalled everything. No application menu (I do not like “type a name” type icon launchers), no virtual desktops in old way. I felt lost – no idea how to get rid of storage icons from launcher, how to add new entries.

Next one was classic GNOME. Lot of time passed since v1.4 which was last version used by me (then switched to Windowmaker + rox-filer + gnome-panel, then kde 3 and kde 4). Indicators, settings applets split into user and admin ones, lack of Polish language by default (I thought that I installed it but visit in settings/admin/languages told different thing). Had few hard system crashes but with help of #ubuntu-x guys I found that one of mesa libraries was still from xorg-edgers ppa. After reverting to natty one compiz was stable. But I did not found a way to get +RMB for resizing window. Spent some time configuring system but I did not felt good in this system.

Went back to XFCE as this is simple, clean and fast starting. Now my set of tools is mix of KDE, XFCE, GNOME ones as I use Okular, XFCE-Terminal and Evolution ;D

But Evolution shows own problems after few days. I am unable to use Canonical LDAP for addressbook even it is properly configured. I suppose that some dependency is missing which is fulfilled in standard GNOME desktop. Lack of ability to change keyboard shortcuts is a serious limitation for me as I am used to other then default ones. There is no way (or I did not found it yet) to set same way of displaying emails for all folders (including sort order). Some confirmation requests should have “Do not ask anymore” checkboxes — for example “mark all emails in this folder as read” one. And GMail contacts addressbook is not working — but this can be work around by exporting from web interface and importing VCards.

But the most annoying thing is weird way to decide when mail is read. I set it to 0 seconds as this allows me to quickly slip though emails which I do not found interesting enough to reply but instead Evolution forgets to mark some of them as read. And there is no code to detect repeated shortcuts (as somehow I got to the point where I could change some) so I have “Ctrl-D” as “mark as read” which also deletes email (which is not listed in menu)… And why do I have to configure whole account just to add identity… Or why I can not define one SMTP server for all incoming accounts?

So far I am fine with this setup. Will have to check other email applications again (Claws maybe, definitely not Thunderbird) as Evo is not so good as people are describing it.