Tag Archives: Netbook

Ubuntu Unity Not Quite Unified

Ubuntu
Ubuntu

Today I decided to upgrade my Netbook from Ubuntu 10.04 to 10.10 so that I could test out the Unity interface without having conflicts from my custom settings I had going on with the previous interface…

The Good

On one hand I have to say it is a lot cleaner and more crisp than I had first thought. The glitchy/buggy issues I was having with the menu/title bar were gone and the launcher bar seemed to work correctly this time. Also the overhead hub (or whatever they call it) for viewing files and applications seemed to be better as well.

The Bad and The Ugly

So what didn’t I like? Getting to my files was a major pain! I have multiple partitions and like to keep most of my media files (audio, video, and even digital comics) on a separate partition and it took me  a solid 5 minutes before I could figure out how to access them.

Here’s what I had to do:

  1. on the launcher bar, select the grey/white icon for “Files & Folders”
  2. wait 10 seconds for the overhead hub thingy (I’m just going to call it that until I figure out what the official name for it is) to show up.
  3. Then click the “Documents” folder at the bottom-left (any folder would work I suppose, but the options are limited to the main 4 or 5 folders in your Home directory).
  4. Look at the upper-right corner (just below the powerbutton icon) and click on the folder (again, grey/white) and FINALLY the “File Manager” will show up!
  5. The “File Manager” should look familiar, so browse files & folders and mount drives as you normally would.
  6. I highly recommend this step: in the launcher bar you should now see an orange/pink icon that looks like a folder with an arrow cursor on it. right click on that bad-boy and then select: “Keep in Launcher” so you don’t have to go through this mess all over again!

Why did that have to be so stinkin’ difficult?! They better fix that before 11.04 when it hits the Desktop version as a default interface!

**And No, you can’t just go to “applications” and search for “File Manager” because it wont show up!**

Other Problems?

You can’t use print screen when the overhead hub thingy (told ya lol) is active. Also, looking for applications is a little annoying… sorting through the system applications is even more annoying as now they are all grouped into one “System” category instead of having sub-categories of “preferences” and “administration”. There are a few other “minor” issues, but I can look past them for now.

Conclusion:

The first 3 minutes I thought – Oooh Shiny!
The next 20-30 minutes I thought – GIVE ME BACK THE OLD NETBOOK INTERFACE! (or even Gnome)
After that I thought — Meh… it’s not bad once you figure it out, but that’s not a good way to kick things off… I may be more forgiving than most… Anyone coming over from Windows or Mac for the first time is probably going to hate it and curse Ubuntu and perhaps shun Linux altogether for it…
That’s just my thoughts…

Thoughts on Unity

Ubuntu Unity Interface
Ubuntu Unity Interface

Mark Shuttleworth announced (back in May) that Ubuntu is going to begin phasing over to a new user interface called “Unity”. There seems to be a lot of talk about it now for some reason — probably because it is starting to become a reality with Ubuntu 10.10 going official just weeks ago and in less than 6 weeks 11.04 will go official, which is when Unity will become the default GUI for Ubuntu.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention… Unity will work with multitouch gestures… that’s kind of a big deal 😉

Why is Unity such a big deal?

Well basically it is taking a new approach to how users interact with their operating system. Instead of following in the shadow of Windows and Mac (as Linux has for so many years), Ubuntu is taking a bold step to break free from that shadow and go a new direction.

Fanboys will love it, Haters will hate it — that is to be expected right?! But the real test will be with the rest of the world (and especially newcomers who are curious)…

What’s My Take On This?

I think it is a gutsy move and I really hope they do this right. If they really focus on getting it right, make it polished and smooth, then I think great things will follow… But if they botch this it’s not going to be pretty at all… Here’s hoping for the best!

Want a Preview?!

You can get a 1st hand preview of the Unity interface right now! Here’s a nice handy guide to get you through that: How to Install Unity in Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

I tried it out on my Netbook (running Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Edition) and I think it has a lot of promise, but as-is needs a lot of work before I will accept it as my main/default GUI…

After Further Review:

**Start Update**

OK after playing around with it some more, here are a few more thoughts on improving the Unity experience… (I actually wrote this section to Ubuntu devs on Facebook in response to their asking for feedback on it, hence the “you” refers to Ubuntu Developers)

1.) Whatever you do, make sure it is absolutely polished before you make it default. Any bugs or issues with it may kill any momentum you might otherwise have built…

2.) Allow some customization and make it easy to access. Make a “Unity Settings” program/app/whatever and make it easy to find.

Allow adjustments for:
– sidebar position (left/right)
– icon size in/on the bar
– icon size in the shell (or whatever you are calling the overhead menu interface)
– color / theme
– which file manager to use
– and etc.

3.) Give some options to show/hide all windows for an program/app using the launcher (perhaps double-click to show/hide, or some other method).

4.) Make sure users can easily manage the launcher — i.e. allow us to drag/drop programs to the launcher and to move them around (to change their position/order).

5.) Make sure users can view multiple windows at once without hassle and without messing up the menu. When I tested Unity it would mess up the menu bar if the window was not maximized…

I’m not sure if this last one applies or not (I have only tested Unity on my Netbook, and I have Maximus disabled because I can’t stand it)….

**End Update**

Other interesting Reads:

Article by Mark Shuttleworth (with pics)

ZDnet Article about Unity (with pics)

Digitizor Guide to Testing Unity in Ubuntu 10.04

How to: Initiate a Timed Shutdown

On Friday I was downloading some files on my Netbook (running Ubuntu Remix 10.04) and was not planning to stick around for the downloads to finish (it was already close to 7pm, I needed to get home for the weekend). I didn’t want to leave it running all weekend and I still had another hour to go before my downloads finished…
What to do?

Well I decided to initiate a delayed shutdown of my system. Since the downloads had about 1hr and 15 minutes left, I decided to be extra safe and set the shutdown for an extra 30 minutes after that… Here’s how I did it:

In your terminal, run the following command:

sudo shutdown -h 20:45 "See you on Monday!"

you can change the time to fit your needs and change the message (between the quotes) to whatever you like or leave it out as the message is optional.

You could also set it to shutdown by using a slightly different format, like this:

sudo shutdown -h +120 "Shutting down in 2hrs -- or 120 minutes"

This works on Linux and Mac. If you want to do this on Windows you could try something like this (if you are an admin):

at 20:45 shutdown /l /r /y /c

But I cannot vouch for how effective this will be (on Windows I mean) as it may only shutdown the OS not the machine/computer…

Better late than never…

Well I know I promised this a while ago, but I finally had time to complete the tutorial for installing the Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix. You can check out the guide here: http://alexsantidote.com/ubuntu/install-ubuntu-904-netbook-remix-dual-boot/

Let me know how it went for you in the comments here!

If you have any questions or run into any problems let me know, I’d be happy to help.