[TriLUG] Onerous Ocelot
maxlists at maxwellspangler.com
Sat Oct 15 01:22:16 EDT 2011
On Fri, 2011-10-14 at 08:41 -0400, Chris Knowles wrote:
> OK, I installed 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot yesterday.
> And I get why unity is the way it is. Tablets and touch screen devices are
> cool. Looks like if I were navigating with a touch interface this would be
> Or is there a tutorial out there on using the onerous ocelot on a desktop
> without scratching my eyes out?
A month ago at the Boulder Colorado LUG meeting I asked for a show of
hands: Who's using Unity? Who's using GNOME Shell? Very few hands went
up, probably less than 5%.
This was shocking to me because I'm normally someone who doesn't chase
after the latest programs or features. I like firefox, for example, and
don't bother with Opera/Chrome/Safari etc. Firefox doesn't have a
problem that causes me to try another browser for a solution.
I've found this is the argument against Unity and Gnome Shell. The old
ways are fine, why change them.
What's got me worried about this is that we might just become complacent
with old ways of doing things and not be open to *better* ways of doing
things. A lot of good systems in the past suffered from this and they
got replaced by younger, fresher, *better* things. Like Linux over
Unix, GNOME and GTK over Motif, etc.
So to test the theory, about three months ago when I upgraded to a new
laptop at work, I installed 11.04 on it instead of a "safer" choice like
10.04 or 10.10 and *I kept Unity*. I've been forcing myself to try it
and find out where I like it and where I don't.
What I like:
Tapping the Windows/Start key with my left thumb to get to a prompt
where I can type "fire" or "term" and have it launch a new firefox or
gnome-terminal is nice. It's simple, easy, quick and the same method
finds and runs other programs very easily.
And that's about it :) Unity is actually a small but important part of
the overall Linux environment. Gnome's GTK is still doing a lot of work
and the most significant change to visual and interactive Linux
experiences is the compiz foundation that handles 3D presentations.
Unity is just in your face enough that it feels like everything's
Here's what I didn't like:
The dashboard, the big set of icons on the left, is not as good as
adding a bunch of icons to a traditional Gnome panel. I configured my
dash to always be visible -- having it come and go exposed video driver
issues and just didn't feel right (for now.) When you click on something
like firefox in the dash, it launches the dash. When you click a second
time, it takes you to your already running firefox instead of launching
a new fox. That's wrong and I haven't found a way around it. Power
users want lots of terminals and browsers and we shouldn't be held back.
When I launch that firefox, chances it will be maximized which requires
me to take another step to un-maximize it. (waste of time) I've read
that if you close an app, like firefox that's using 70% or more of a
screen, when you open it again Unity will open it full screen. Haven't
been able to change this behaviour but I can live with it.
I don't like the Omnibar or whatever it is that causes your traditional
File|Edit|Print|etc menu bar to be at the very top of the screen, Mac
style, regardless of where your app's windows actually are. When you
have two large monitors (or even one!) that's a waste of time as I have
to move my mouse from the bottom left to the top left just to choose
something. I was able to disable this in Unity --without it, I would
have had to stop using Unity.
The two other things I lost are the traditional gnome applets that can
be added to the top panel. I normally add a workspace switcher that not
only shows me how many workspaces i have and lets me easily move amongst
them, but it uses thumbnails to show me what spaces are filled with what
and what are empty. I haven't found that in Unity. I've also tried
using a desktop with workspaces 2 rows x 2 columns instead of 1 row by 5
columns. I find without the workspace applet hints I go searching all
my desktops a lot. Configuring a hot key for the compiz's "Scale" and
"Expo" plugins helps a lot to overcome this.
The other applet is a system monitor with small graphs. I was able to
find a replacement of this that does the same thing, but slightly
I don't miss the hierarchical menu of applications. The launcher works
well to take you to what you know you have, to suggest things that can
be installed, and show you options for different apps. That's a nice
change in the right direction, IMHO.
So if you've read this far, here is the important take-away:
By forcing myself to use Unity, I've forced myself to consider the
status-quo of my ways:
* I now defend some old ways with principled arguments as to why things
should be a certain way. (Each window having its own menu bar is one.)
* I got to know compiz a lot more in order to find solutions to problems
Unity introduced. Since compiz works in Unity, GNOME3 or "Classic
Gnome" I've gained skills to help with any of them.
* I've learned that some new ways of doing things -- the windows key
launcher -- are something I'm happy I found. I ignored Gnome Do which
probably does similar, but now I'm hooked.
If you have the opportunity to try Unity or Gnome Shell, I would
encourage you to do so for the benefits it provides to you and because
we need to try innovative things and provide the developers with
feedback. They're making these changes because they want something
better. It's not there yet, but it's headed in the right direction.
Novice users will like Unity and Pros will like it in the future when
the developers embrace their wants as well.
I switch from Fedora 14 to Fedora 16 next month and will fully embrace
Gnome Shell and see if I can keep it without tearing my hair out.
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Fort Collins, Colorado
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