Unity is made of fail

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Sat Mar 26 17:31:22 UTC 2011

On 25 March 2011 16:31, David Gerard <dgerard at gmail.com> wrote:
> The "it's okay" things I said about Natty and Unity? That was in a
> VirtualBox VM. When it's got Compiz to run, it turns entirely to fail.
> It's like the netbook interface except STUFF RANDOMLY DOESN'T WORK.
> I'm trying to get into it, and resisting installing the GNOME 2 shell,
> but jeez it's sucking.
> Also, Natty leaves the netbook (Dell Mini 9 with 8GB SSD) with
> shockingly little disk space. I'm culling things as I go ... anything
> using Mono has been taken out and shot.
> Also, Notes doesn't work for work, but having to use that proves I'm
> dead and in Hell anyway.
> Also, it's Friday.

Since none of my spare or test machines have hardware 3D, I was unable
to try it until recently. Then I was testing an MSI Wind Top
all-in-one touchscreen Atom PC as part of the Simplicity Computers
project. (We've decided against it now.)

(The Wind Top works OK with *buntu, but for one entertaining bug: the
axes on the touchscreen are reverse. Move your finger left, the
pointer goes right; move finger up, pointer goes down. Install the
drivers and config to fix this (which depends on HAL so doesn't work
right on modern *buntu) and the screen image moves offcentre and goes
all blurry, so though the touchscreen now works, you can barely read
anything, it's all ugly, and the picture is offset about 5mm vertical
& 1cm horizontal from where it should be and thus where the pointer
is. At which point, we gave  up & sent it back.)

Anyway, I got Natty alpha 3 or so working on it.

Compiz crashes more times than Aeroflot in volcano season, taking the
"desktop" - not that that word is accurate any more - with it.

The autohiding menu bar is insane, combining the worst of MacOS (menus
randomly changing depending which window is active and having no
spacial association with the windows they control - if any) and the
worst of the Amiga (on which menus are hidden unless you whack the
mouse up to the top of the screen AND THEN right-click.) It's about as
discoverable as Cretan Linear A.

The NotADockHonest™ is weird and feels raw and unfinished, not like
something that shipped as part of 10.04 and 10.10 NBR. I don't like it
as much as the Mac OS X Dock & I don't like that much, but I am
prepared to give it time and maybe adapt to it.

I mean, I don't like GNOME Panels much, either, after all. They're
much more customisable than Windows ones, except not in the ways I
want (e.g. vertical orientation, e.g. large panels but small icons).

Mind you, after a little playing, I like the WindowMaker docks /less/
than OS X ones. (I mean, no labels /or/ tooltips? You are taking the
mickey, right?)

But so far, the new layout, from a play with a flaky, unstable
implementation, just felt like it wasn't something powerful and
capable enough to run a PC with. Not yet.

I have no choice but to stick with GNOME 2 on my laptop. It's 7y old,
but rock-solid and nicely fast & responsive with Maverick. Much /much/
better than XP on the same hardware. But its ATI Radeon Mobility -
actually a 16MB Rage II or III, roughly - doesn't work with Compiz and
to give good performance (& be able to drive a 1280×1024 external
monitor) it has to be dropped to 65K colours.

Which Ubuntu provides no UI at all to do, of course.

So you have to edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf.

Only *buntu >10.x doesn't *have* an xorg.conf file any more. So you
have to write one of your own. (I found a blank one that can be
adapted, which is very handy.)

Once you've done that and got the graphics working, then you might,
perhaps, want suspend/wake and hibername/resume to work. That means
adding "nomodeswitch" to the kernel boot parameters.

That means you lose the graphical boot sequence (which has the colours
corrupted on this machine, anyway.)

So you might want to add "vga=791" to the kernel boot params too, to
get a graphical boot back, in the same res as your desktop.

After doing all this, it works like a dream and is really nice, but
forget any hardware 3D, so forget the NBR or Unity. And also, I think,
that means forget GNOME 3, as well.

The obscure and poorly-supported make of this weirdly non-standard machine?


Not Lenovo, actual IBM. It's from 2004. Thinkpad X31.

Saying all that, I *still* prefer *buntu to the alternatives.

But I think that as of or after Natty, I might be going over to Mint

What happens when GNOME 2 is no longer supported or updated, I wonder?

I mean *shudder* I might have to go over to KDE. But the ugly, it
burnsssssss... I don't want 23452356 options to tweak, I want it to
work, and it really helps if it looks vaguely professional and smart
while it's at it, not like a red/green colourblind 13 year old's LSD

Liam Proven • Info & profile: http://www.google.com/profiles/lproven
Email: lproven at cix.co.uk • GMail/GoogleTalk/Orkut: lproven at gmail.com
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