Unity Works

I read SJVN’s review of Unity, the new UI on Ubuntu beta1 and thought I would try it. The installation in a virtual machine was quick and easy. The hardest part was getting the .iso. I had to use a torrent and find a way through my paranoid firewall… I could not connect to download the .iso by HTTP. Too popular I would guess. By torrent, the download was my fastest ever, 16 minutes. Thanks, world.

The Unity interface works for me. It is tidy and simple enough for any newbie to figure out. It is not as easily configured as GNOME normally is but about the same as XFCE4 which I often use.

Unity, showing a Terminal window

Unity, showing a menu over the Terminal window

Unity, showing a browser window open over the Terminal window in a virtual machine on my GNOME desktop

Apart from some lag in my mouse, the installation and test run were very smooth. There is nothing very scary about Unity. X is still there underneath, giving me some comfort. I feel it lacks the configurability and features of GNOME, for example, but the UI is better designed for the newbie. There is far less clutter/choices up front. It is cleaner. It also looks like a good beta. I expect Ubuntu 11.04 to come in on time if not under budget.

Oops! My menu froze and my widgets at the top disappeared. It is a beta… Booting is incredibly fast, about 6s in my virtual machine. People will love that.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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12 Responses to Unity Works

  1. I had no trouble poking around the menu and I am an old dog.

  2. JairJy says:

    I tried Ubuntu Beta as soon it was released and I found it very unusable and less intuitive than GNOME 2. I bet 10 bucks to 3 of my friends (who along me, they study computer science and know about both Linux and Windows graphic interfaces) if they show me without open a terminal (ouch!) and only using Unity DE: the touch pad configuration UI, any window that show info about the CPU and the power usage options configuration tool.

    They spend 1 hour and they only find the information of the CPU. None of them notice that Gnome Control Center is on the menu on the upper right corner, and because that the application menu on Unity shows all the elements without any organization they couldn’t find the mouse configuration dialog. Worse that, GNOME and Unity doesn’t have any power usage options configuration tool.

    On the other hand, Windows 7 have all these dialogs easy to find in Control Panel.

  3. lpbbear says:

    “John Bilderback Apr 5th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I am so blah blah drool slobber dribble blather snivel whine retch snivel drool sputter yada yada …..”

    MS Troll translated to English.

  4. Richard Chapman says:

    “Why are trolls tolerated here?”

    They betray their desperation every time they click “Submit”.

  5. Jake says:

    Why are trolls tolerated here? They serve no useful purpose other than to clog up the discussion board with nonsense and lower the signal to noise ratio…

  6. “”I don’t think it will possible to make a lot of money, or maybe any money, selling the desktop,” Shuttleworth said. “We’re not going to try to make money selling the desktop. We force ourselves to look to services-oriented business models. I remain confident this is the right business model for the industry. Linux is the forcing function that (means) the broader software industry will shift in business models away from licensing the bits and to services.”

    That’s about the same as RedHat’s view but RedHat still sets up thousands of seats because customers want it and there is a server running those thin clients. If you can get $1000 for setting up one computer instead of $100 for each PC, what would you do? I am making a video that will show setting up a neat server in less than 10 minutes. That’s about $100 per minute… whereas many PCs are slower than servers and need about the same amount of work. With thin clients, most of the work is on the server anyway so give the software away for free for the desktops. It makes sense.

  7. I have several times requested CDs via ShipIt for schools. At one place, they were given to students as graduation presents. It was a lovely gesture getting their foot in the door all over the world.

    ShipIt is largely unnecessary these days as relatively few have no access to local CD burning and downloads.

    Here is the announcement from Canonical:
    We are going to make large numbers of CDs available to the Ubuntu Local Communities (LoCos) through a shipIt-lite program. We are asking the LoCos, who are much better placed than Canonical in many ways, to find creative ways to get CDs to those that need them.

    So, it seems to me the volume has increased so much, they need a “channel” for the free CDs, rather than shipping them from a single source. This makes sense. Almost every successful business does use distributors.

  8. John Bilderback says:

    Here’s an even better example:


    Look at what Shuttleworth says.

  9. John Bilderback says:

    Pertaining to our conversation earlier in a previous post about Canonical bleeding money.

    They’ve cancelled their Shipit program:


    Losing money will do that.

  10. This is a beta. Bugs will be fixed. For M$, it would be RTM.

  11. John Bilderback says:

    I am so looking forward to this epic failure. It’s going to be fun to watch the death of another Linux distro based on a failed brittle and failed OS.

  12. Mats Hagglund says:

    Friend of mine tried to install it but failed just in the final stage (after language package). He’s computer is i7. I think i’ll jump over this release and keep on enjoying surprisingly fine Open SUSE 11.4 KDE. I dunno is it SUSE, KDE or kernel 2.6.37 which has changed my attitude towards SUSE. Last year i tried 11.2 Gnome and it was disaster. Now – with KDE, a great one.

    The real test for Unity will be 12.04 LTS. Hope it will work fine then. It have to. Another question is how some of the people who are using Ubuntu/Mint with Gnome2 (installed by me) will get used that new desktop. Some of them are old people who don’t like changes very much.

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