Accepting Canonical’s Ubuntu Unity

Accepting Canonical’s Ubuntu Unity

17 Comments on Accepting Canonical’s Ubuntu Unity

I have not been a fan of Unity and I had a hard time accepting it. I am a full time Linux user since Red Hat 3 which was around 1996 and had a hard time with the new user interfaces Gnome and Ubuntu were introducing.

Not Accepting the Future
The old Gnome interface was not going to be continued by Gnome, there were some forks such as Mate. As soon as Gnome and Ubuntu made the decision to change their user interfaces so dramatically I was disappointed and made the move from a Gnome based operating system to KDE. Being a Mono developer I started looking at tool kits that support KDE. This became very hard as there is no supported GUI designer for KDE in Monodevelop and the tool kit of choice for Qyoto was not documented and supported very well either (I have written an article on C# Mono user interfaces here).

Making a Change
I stayed with KDE for quite a while and after an upgrade and a buggy Plasma Desktop I decided to make the change to a Gnome based distribution again. Mint 13 was the choice with a Cinnamon desktop. Cinnamon was still new and had it’s problems and I was willing to stick with it as they worked them out. I really enjoyed it and talked a friend into trying it but was starting to wonder what all the hype was about with Gnome Shell and Unity.

Starting to Accept the Future
I downloaded Ubuntu Gnome Remix and installed it in Virtual Box to test it out. I still had a hard time accepting it as it was new and different and decided to install it as my operating system so I would be forced to use it full time. It took a while but I started to really enjoy using it after finding the Gnome Extensions page and how easy it was to install them. I was even able to edit the Javascript code of one of them to look the way I wanted. I stayed with Gnome Shell for a while and completely customized it with themes, extensions, Gnome Tweak and Code. I thought to myself… if I was able to enjoy Gnome Shell after disliking it so much, maybe I should give Unity a fair go.

Ubuntu Unity
I tried Ubuntu with Unity in Virtual Box for a couple of days before making the decision to install it as my main operating system to force my self to use it and give it a fair go. I moved the close, minimize and maximize buttons to the right and added a menu button to the left of the windows. I disabled the global menu so the applications host their own drop down menus. I used MyUnity and Ubuntu Tweak to adjust the button bar transparency, remove the color from behind the buttons on the bar and change the size of the buttons.

I like the Lens feature of Ubuntu Unity and the arrows on the bar. This is what is keeping me from switching back to Gnome Shell. The ability to add new lens applications to the dashboard also is a plus.

Accepting Ubuntu’s Unity desktop is like having your first sip of Guinness Beer, you may not like it at first but it will grow on you.

About the author:

Bill Payne started working as a paid professional software developer at the young age of 12 years old developing simple games and other applications for pre-packaged computers. Bill has since developed software for many industries such as direct sales and the the stock market. Bill has now started sharing his many years of software development experience through a blog on the MPSHouse website and one on one lessons.


  1. Carlton Hobbs  - 14 September , 2012 - 5:29 am
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    Ha! The first time I tried Guinness, I said it was like licking an oak tree. But before too long I preferred it and dark stout beers, except after jogging.

    Same with Unity, and with switching to the Dvorak keyboard layout. All are improvements if you are willing to use a keyboard.

  2. Paul Hubert  - 14 September , 2012 - 6:06 am
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    Well, since I loathe the large icons AND the unified menus.
    Since Unity looks like Windows 7
    Since it simply doesn’t work for my 2 24″ monitors
    I never plan to ‘make the move’ and WILL install Gnome 2 when I get around to installing Ubuntu 12.04 and from there I WILL NOT upgrade for 5 years!

    If Canonical had any sense at all, they would continue to make the classic interface a simple choice – as it is under Ubuntu 11.04.

    • Fred  - 14 September , 2012 - 7:09 am
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      Paul, you have to remember that Ubuntu’s hand was forced when GNOME decided to ditch the GNOME 2.x series, which was beyond Ubuntu’s control. I think it sounds like what you’re looking for is MATE, which essentially keeps GNOME 2.x alive, which is available in the Debian and Ubuntu repos.

  3. istok  - 14 September , 2012 - 6:35 am
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    “Accepting Canonical’s Ubuntu Unity”

    Sounds like some sort of submission fantasy. Not sure I want to read through.

  4. bjd  - 14 September , 2012 - 6:50 am
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    “I drank the Kool-Aid and now I feel happy.”

    News at eleven.


  5. Hunkah  - 14 September , 2012 - 6:54 am
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    I use Fedora with Cinnamon. It is the best combination of OS and GUI. If Mint came out with a Fedora-based system, I would used that, but they’re using Ubuntu, and since Ubuntu doesn’t do a lot for the community as a whole, I don’t want to use an Ubuntu-based distro. Yeah I know all the arguments, but I like fedora on the commandline too.

  6. Daniel  - 14 September , 2012 - 7:00 am
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    The only way I can use Unity is with the Unity-Revamped patch… I’m happy using it with my notebook and 19″ external lcd…

  7. Ronnie  - 14 September , 2012 - 8:21 am
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    “Accepting Canonical’s Ubuntu Unity” you woos, you don’t accept anything that you not comfortable with,,, thats giving up and a cop out,,,

    i personally dislike unity myself and think its a few steps backwards in many way, and I refuse to Accept the future…. how weak, get a backbone and

    use a different desktop enviroment, like xfce, or lxde or whatever you like best, or custom design something out of existing tools..

    Don’t just “accept the future” shape it with your decisions and refusal to use whats forced on you if you don’t like it…. thats lame

  8. Brian  - 14 September , 2012 - 9:01 am
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    You talk of “accepting the future”. But the future is decided by us. Not by the whims of Canonical.

    And in case you haven’t noticed the future has is being decided. And it’s decidedly not Ubuntu. It’s Mint with Cinnamon.

    There’s no need to force yourself to do anything. Do what you do because you like it.

  9. Gary Newell  - 14 September , 2012 - 9:36 am
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    This is a good article.

    I too have tried Unity and whilst it takes a little getting used to, once you do you can really enjoy using it. Your Guinness analogy is perfect. Unfortunately it is like Marmite as well. You either love it or hate it.

    I recently had another go at Cinnamon as well and I have to say that I think that Cinnamon is probably my favourite now. I love how easy it is to switch workspaces and copy items onto other workspaces. It also looks very tidy.

    I think Gnome 2 is looking dated and having tried Gnome 3 in Fedora I didn’t mind using that either.

    The only desktop I’m not that keen on is KDE. For me KDE is the equivalent of driving a truck to take your kids to school. It is big and cumbersome.

  10. Juan  - 14 September , 2012 - 2:24 pm
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    Fortunately Linux has lots of Choices. Unity is OK if you want to take the time to learn it and put up with its limitations. I installed LUNINUX and it is great. I have it looking just like 11.04 except with the Icons for my applications on the dock in Intellihide mode instead of on the panel. The main menu looks almost like Gnome 2.X except the System stuff is under the Applications menu like Ubuntu Studio, which also is a great distro..

    LUNINUX, Try it, you will love it!

    • grapse  - 14 September , 2012 - 3:11 pm
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      sudo apt-get install gnome-panel
      log out then log in Gnome Classic
      thats all you need

  11. grapse  - 14 September , 2012 - 3:27 pm
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    you may also do the following:
    – install medibuntu repository:
    sudo -E wget –output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get –quiet update && sudo apt-get –yes –quiet –allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get –quiet update

    – Medibuntu repository to appear in Ubuntu Software Center:
    sudo apt-get install app-install-data-medibuntu

    – install restricted extras
    install synaptic:
    sudo apt-get install synaptic

    – search in synaptic “zeit” & remove all except “libzeitgesit-1.0-1”
    – search “crash” and remove all

  12. Deekshith Allamaneni  - 14 September , 2012 - 5:02 pm
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    In fact, I feel Unity is much better than the other desktops. It is very productive. The Lenses, HUD, etc make my life so easy that when I switch to Windows7 or cinnamon or any other desktop, I ahor them. The only problem with Unity is people think it is problematic without even trying it.

  13. Merlijn  - 14 September , 2012 - 5:33 pm
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    Hated it at first, hunting for programs i did not know the exact name of drove me insane, ClasicMenu in the panel brought my mental health back 😉 Stil not a big fan, using KDE now on my MPC in the livingroom, but starting to get used to it.

  14. Jediafr  - 14 September , 2012 - 7:01 pm
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    Some people accept what comes their way and some make it happens the way they want it to be….

  15. jamie  - 31 December , 2012 - 9:29 am
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    Well, I tried several times and still can’t stomach what ubuntu is feeding me. Not everything should be a tablet pc. I did switch to linux mint and use cinnamon desktop, but heavily customize it so it doesn’t look, feel and operate so much like the the windows OS (not that I’m saying it should act like a Mac — I dislike both).
    There’s lot a I don’t really like about Cinnamon — not too flexible for customization unless you dig a bit. The user base seems to be all ex-windows newbies who expect things to work like windows (and demand it). These are generally whiney, “PLEASE HELP ME…” users, but putting up with them is better than putting up with Ubuntu devs attitude.

    In general, with all the warts, it is still better than the alternative.

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