May 04

Ubuntu 12.04 and Unity


Ubuntu 12.04, what’s new?

Having used Ubuntu since 9.10, I was pretty disappointed with the release of 11.04, as were most of the other people who were already users, to find that Unity was now the default interface. In 11.10, Unity was still default, but had gone through some work to make it a little more usable. Still, though, there were constant reminders of how horrible it was to use in comparison to the good old, well loved, Gnome 2.

Ubuntu 12.04 has just been released and I recently upgraded to it.
I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is that there is still a massive lack of standard settings menus for the Unity settings, which I hate, because the main thing I like about using Linux is the customisability.

Sensitivity Options

The goods news, though, is that Unity seems much more usably now, and there are some settings that can easily be changed now.

For example, if you’re often pestered by the panel popping up when you’re trying to click something on the left of your screen, such as the back button in a browser, there is now a great solution.
In the settings menu there is an option called “Reveal Sensitivity”. This allows you to change how sensitive the panel is to being shown. For example a low sensitivity allows me to hang the mouse there for a very long time before the panel pops up, and the high sensitivity it’s there as soon as the mouse arrives.
Also, the default settings seems to word pretty much perfectly for me.


The biggest new feature is the new HUD. This allows you to access the taskbar menu items using the keyboard much faster than before.
Pressing Alt brings up the HUD search area, which allows you to type in what you’re looking for, similar to how the Super (Windows) key works at the moment to search for applications.

Still Not Liking Unity?

Me neither. I’ve put up with it until now, in spirit of patiently waiting until the LTS release where they finally make Unity good. They haven’t.

So, instead I’m now using Cinnamon, a fork of the shell from Gnome 2, that uses the Gnome 3.

Cinnamon Screenshot

Cinnamon Screenshot

You can read more about Cinnamon here: http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com/

Installing Cinnamon on Ubuntu 12.04 is really simple, just open up a terminal and run the following:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cinnamon

Then next time you log in click the little icon in the corner of the login menu and select Cinnamon.

If you don't like Cinnamon, there are yet more you can try. XFCE is one of the most popular lightweight ones, which even has it's own spin (Xubuntu) and is my next recommendation.

There's a pretty good list of good ones here: http://askubuntu.com/questions/65083/what-different-desktop-environments-and-shells-are-available


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