How does look Ubuntu without convergence unity?

Ubuntu Convergence

Mark Shutterworth announced today that Unity the default desktop enviornment which comes with Ubuntu will no longer be developed. It was based on the concept of convergence which to be fair was a good idea.

I personally didn’t really like Unity for desktops and never really got to play with Unity on a smartphone or tablet. I needed to make a lot of changes to make it more useable although I did find it slightly quicker than Gnome Shell under Ubuntu. But Gnome shell is just great to use for many reasons including its many extensions and lack of clutter is just right.

The bigger news is the concept of convergence seems to be under some doubt too, which I assume puts Ubuntu phone, tablet and tv at some risk? Weirdly enough just like the Boot2Geko/Firefox phone project?

In the meanwhile, for those thinking this is the end of Ubuntu… they are very wrong.

GnomeShell is one of many including KDE and more…

Unity comes into focus

ubuntu login screen with alternative environment

On Friday I tried using Ubuntu’s Unity interface, which some people rightly pointed out I really didn’t like.

When I first saw Unity and tried to use it, I didn’t like it but over the last few months I’ve seen more of what Unity has to offer. The HUD, Lens/Scopes, Ubuntu on Android and now Web App Integration.

I’m not totally switched over yet, however…

One of the first things I did was hide the dash and menu because I don’t like it eating up my desktop space. I still hate the fact the menu for each application is at the very top right but I’ve started using one application full screen every workspace. It kind of works but still drives me nuts.

I have changed Unity so its workstations are stacked on top of each other just like Gnome Shell, however I miss having a dual screen setup with one which stays static. Having dual screen and workspaces seems a little too much? Sure I would get use to it after a while.

The Dash or overlay is a bit messy compared to Gnome 3’s and I frankly find the way you navigate around a bit poo. But that was before I learned about Super + S and Super + W. I haven’t got the hang of the Hud yet but we’ll see how things go. I also find the gnome extensions very useful which seem to be missing under Unity.

I do still find Unity very noisy, I much prefer the Gnome Shell look, so if there was a skin which looked like Gnome Shell and acted like it, I’d deploy it in a heartbeat.

No matter what, I find the Ubuntu Unity Web API really interesting and I’ll be looking forward to seeing if Gnome Shell adopts some of Unity’s features or Unity chills out in the future.

Rescue time meet Arya


Rescuetime are meant to be working on a Linux version of their plugin but while we wait others are eating into their area.

We’ve already seen how Zeitgiest and Project Hamster could work together really nice. But this time theres another contender with some interesting ambitions…


Arya is a simple Gnome 3 Shell extension that adds up how much time you spend using each of your applications. It’s not very fully featured yet, but in the future it will hopefully be a useful extension.

Things to come

  • Pretty graphs to show app usage over time
  • Activity level monitoring to suggest when you should take a break

Sounds like something else I’ve heard before… right? Rescuetime…?

If I was rescuetime I would get my hooks into Ayra now and either support Rescuetime inside of Ayra or use the source code to create your own plugin…

I know its only Gnome3 but maybe like Unity App-indicators it can work across different linux shells?

Which Desktop Environment?


OMG!Ubuntu is running a poll on what desktop environment linux users are using

The results are actually quite surprising on two counts…

  1. Gnome 3 is actually quite high with over 28% of the vote (over 4000 users). Even though you have to install it separately in Ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10.
  2. Gnome legacy is surprisingly low (lower than XCFE and KDE) for all the fuss about moving forward…
I know its not anything scientific but its a good sign… not quite sure what it says about Unity?

Revolutionising your desktop one step at a time

Desktop Agosto 2011

Recently I’ve had the joy of taking the tram into work everyday. I keep meaning to buy a monthly pass but having to get a photocard done at the GMPTE (greater manchester transport, like TFL is to London) but forget. Anyway some people may have noticed I’m tweeting a lot of links and passages from my Kindle. This only works due to the wifi hotspot on my rooted HTC desire, because of course the Trams don’t have wifi but have the advantage of being above ground and crossing Manchester City centre.

One of the posts I read via Linux Magazine was about the design choices going into the next generation desktops.

The post talks about the outrage by different communities involved with the next generation of desktops.

This is something I feel very strongly about because of my disdain of Ubuntu’s unity desktop. I understand some of the reasons which make it opinionated software but it doesn’t mean I have to like it 🙂 So I switched to using the very much beta Gnome3 desktop which is a breath of fresh air but also has problems (even on my new thinkpad x220).

At work I tend to switch between the two because I’m driving a 24″ full HD display along side my laptop screen, so keep logging in and out for reasons I’ll explain another day.

In the post, it talks about how Gnome3, Ubuntu Unity and KDE4 have had problems because they all have made some difficult changes. But to be honest this is consistent with Microsoft Windows 8’s move into Metro and OSX’s move into a more iOS type platform. All are tricky and full of people upset and confused.

To be honest they could all learn from the points of the post…

  • Don’t change too much too quickly
  • Build user testing into each stage of the development
  • Whenever possible, leave legacy features in place
  • Don’t impose work-flows from above
  • Beware of designer fads
  • Don’t view function and aesthetics as separate
  • If a design is too noticeable, then maybe it’s too clever to use
  • Talk to your readers as you work
There all valid and good points. I’m sure most of the linux desktops are doing most of these. Interesting point however is the tension between
opinionated software and the last point talking to the users of your work. Being too proud or too precious will ultimately put you in a worst position overall in my book, but I’m sure others would totally disagree…?

Gnome 3, its got some issues…

Ubuntu 11.04 running Gnome3

Since I switched to Gnome3 I’ve been finding some weird inconsistencies. The problem is, I can’t be sure its actually Gnome3 or something else?

My first ignorance is the vertical only workspaces. I’m use to using ctrl+alt+left/right to wizz around the work spaces I have open (usually about 6). Now the left and right does nothing and you can only wizz around the available workspaces by doing ctrl+alt+up/down. From reading the web, it seems the only reason for it is because of the Activities mode.

If they could rearrange that it would work quite well.

Gnome-Do is also a little lost now, because of the total change in Gnome 3 shell. I do still use it over the windows/super key which brings up the menu and other stuff. But had to change the mappings to ctrl+space instead of super+space to avoid conflict with Gnome3. If you do hit the super key and start typing it will find stuff for you but its no where near as clever as Gnome Do. What needs to happen is Gnome do needs to be a plugin for Gnome shell or something. Not heard anything from the author about this yet. The last update was quite some time ago to be fair, so I’m not even sure its still going or not. I also noticed that the dock option seems to have gone from Gnome do, which I wonder is to do with Gnome 3’s Dash or not?

Alt+Shift+Tab no longer seems to go backwards when selecting windows which is a real pain (and yes I do have that set in my keyboard options). What makes things maybe worst is you can’t seem to easily select windows within an application from the Alt+Tab menu. So instead you have to hover over a sub window menu which shows the application windows. This is a real pain when using something like Evolution with lots of sub windows of old and new emails. Even using Dolphin (file manager) with multiple windows is a nightmare.

The Activities menu/Window Picker is a nice style exposure type system but selecting windows is a nightmare because you can’t tab or shift+tab. Instead your forced to use your mouse to select windows and applications. You can type in what your after like Gnome Do but that only selects new applications not applications/windows which are already running. There’s this easily overlooked highlight which shows you whats open already and whats not but its too easily missed.

I’m hearing Gnome 3 is not very good about handling multiple screens and I can believe it if you can’t move left or right. I’ll find out for sure tomorrow when I return to work and plug my laptop into a 24″ LCD monitor which sits on my desk.

Inline replies

I certainly think something is up because I’m not getting the lovely way Gnome 3 should look going by the Gnome 3 Design page.

I do still miss my Compiz 3D rotating cube but if they can get some of these issues solved I’m willing to change and kind of embrace the new style of Gnome 3, specially if they can sort out the horizontal and reversal stuff. I’m very interested in some of the other stuff I’ve seen like Gnome Shell with Zeitgeist (gnome activity journal) replacing part of the shell.

Its also worth pointing out Webupd8 which I thought was a spammer site but actually turns out to be a good site for the latest to do with Gnome Shell and Unity.

From Ubuntu Classic to Gnome 3.0

Ubuntu 11.04 running Gnome3

I recently got fed up of running Ubuntu classic and decided to give Gnome 3.0 a shot.

Unity had already left a nasty taste in my user experience and didn’t really work correctly, so I thought whats have I got to lose by installing Gnome 3.0 on top of Ubuntu 11.04.

Generally the instructions are simply…

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

Gnome 3.0 worked great except all the fonts are not right. I’m tempted to reinstall or do something to my preference configs.

Ah but then I solved the problem with the following commands

sudo apt-get remove gnome-accessibility-themes
sudo apt-get install gnome-themes-standard

Generally I am missing Compiz and that rotating cube but I just couldn’t deal with Unity. Actually I quite like Gnome 3’s interface… I also like the way there going with it. This is from the Gnome site.

Distraction-free computing

GNOME 3 is designed to reduce distraction and interruption and to put you in control. Our new notifications system subtly presents messages and will save them until you are ready for them, and the GNOME 3 panel has been styled so that it is part of the background, not the foreground. These changes allow you to focus on your creative tasks.

Exactly what I what I’m after, I always turn on auto hide on all menus because the last thing I want is stuff clouding my viewpoint. I Unity is distracting and requires too much screen space. And to make things worst, it doesn’t seem to scale for multiple monitors like I have at work.

I do find Gnome 3 application menu a little odd and more like an answer to Unity but its a lot more logical. The only thing which did my head in was the tie to the Super key (Windows key) because I tend to use that key for Gnome-Do. Which makes me wonder where Gnome-Do fits in Gnome 3?

Will I be installing Gnome 3.0 on my work machine? Well maybe… We shall see. I do miss Compiz but seeing how Gnome 3 doesn’t support Compiz and Compiz is now tied to Unity, I’m kind of between a rock and a hard place. I was looking forward to installing some of the experimental plugins including the screensaver.

Now all we need is a new distro which is built on Ubuntu but runs Gnome 3.