Archive for December, 2012

Ubuntu’s recent developments and my opinion on them

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Howdy… one last blog entry in 2012.

Ubuntu has come a long way and in the recent releases has introduced a lot of changes, e.g. the global menu, Unity, HUD, the scrollbar…

My opinion on most of these changes: They do not hold what they promise and I could do without them. It’s thankfully easy enough to uninstall most of them.

On Unity
A lot has been written on Unity. A fair amount of people don’t seem to like it, others seem to get along well. I’m somewhere in the middle: Navigating around can be achieved using a keyboard only, which is great. Other aspects are not as positive: The dash is fixed to the left side of the screen, it’s not possible to attach widgets to the top bar like it was in Gnome2.
One thing I sorely miss: An overview of all installed applications. Other than typing all the letters of the alphabet in the dash to see what applications comeĀ  up, I haven’t been able to find a workaround.

On the global menu
As far as I understand, “GUI experts” explained that the global menu results in less mouse movements and aid the user because the menus are all in the same place.
Unfortunately, I work on a 27” screen at the office. I permanently have several programs and or windows open and the global menu is not only confusing but also requires me to move the mouse around much more than without the global menu.
Good thing though that the global menu can be removed: sudo apt-get remove firefox-globalmenu thunderbird-globalmenu appmenu-gtk appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-qt
They have a global menu and Mac OS X as well. I don’t like it there either. The difference to Ubuntu’s global menu: It can’t be removed.

On the HUD
So far, I’ve only activated this feature occasionally by mistake and closed it again as quickly. Either I know a key combination by heart because I use it that often or I have to look around in the menus resp. I want to look around in the menus.

On the reworked scrollbar
Another one of changes that weren’t really necessary in my opinion. The old scrollbar worked just as well and the few pixels saved don’t justify a new scrollbar which sometimes is hard to click on and move. Even worse, whereas most dialogue windows used to be completely resizable in any direction, some are now fixed in size e.g. the text field below the update application. It’s now so small (and can’t be resized) that no useful information whatsoever can be read there.
The scrollbar can be reverted to the old setting in 12.04 like that:
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface ubuntu-overlay-scrollbars false

On the shopping lens
Well, not much to say about this one. Not only was there an outcry by many Ubuntu users, even the EEF thinks this one reeks. And it does. To remove it:
sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

In conclusion, my feelings towards Ubuntu have become really mixed. Where Debian used to have no sparkle compared to Ubuntu, Ubuntu was just as stable but came with newer software. Now, Ubuntu seems to be running into a direction that many users don’t seem to enjoy who consequently leave the ship for e.g. Mint. Despite everything I wrote here, I’m still reasonably happy with Ubuntu 12.04 (not so much with 12.10) and I’m following the development of 13.04 closely, as ever. I don’t plan on changing the distro (yet), also because I wouldn’t know which one to pick. Fedora is releasing too quickly with too many experimental features and besides I can’t stand rpm-based distros. I’d have to give Mint another try or maybe Debian.

Enough ranting for this year. Let’s keep or fingers crossed for next year!