Call for Natty Feedback!

Dylan McCall dylanmccall at
Tue Mar 1 21:56:03 UTC 2011

On Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 11:58 AM, Jason Warner
<jason.warner at> wrote:
> Hello!
> Natty Feature Freeze is here and A3 is upon us! Anyone following along
> closely should see and feel a fairly stable and usable system, complete with
> Unity and classic Gnome.
> I'd like to hear people's thoughts on Unity...and I'd like it to be pretty
> unfiltered and raw. In particular, I'm interested in seeing how people feel
> about:

> * The look and feel

I like that this is somewhat consistent with the look and feel we have
in Maverick, which should really help with upgrades. As far as
prettiness, I don't know if I am looking at the final art assets or if
a big change is still coming; that makes it a little difficult to
I think it's fairly pretty in general, though the dash obviously is
still a WIP in that regard. I'm a little bothered by our half title
bar / half top panel. We can end up with some really ugly visuals with
maximised windows that are completely inconsistent with unmaximized
windows. (Especially with themes that don't style the panel like a
title bar, which is most themes because styling the panel like a title
bar is a weird thing to do). The merging itself is quite natural, but
the visuals hurt it for me.
Alas, that one is a tough nut to crack so I can probably live with it
for now, but is there any ongoing work in that direction?

The glowy backgrounds on icons are interesting. Has anyone else
noticed a strange tendency towards a really ugly, greenish yellow? I
think that particular design is actually a little tired; everyone has
been doing it since Windows 7 did it. (And Windows 7 still does the
best job with it).

> * Usability

There are always little bugs to report, but it's coming along.

I LOVE the stuff with holding Super to launch things in the panel,
especially how that works with Places. A visual representation of the
common keyboard shortcuts is something I have wanted for a long time.

The arrows in the launcher! I don't think we are doing our users a
favour when their applications start looking like pin-cushions. Lots
of things are being presented by that one idea.

I had a bit of muttering here about the widgets in the dash, but I
filed a bug report on the text field
( These have really been changing a
lot so I'm sure it will be quite a bit better soon :)

Configuration stuff is really weird to get to now. (Though it can be a
little easier depending on how the search stuff looks in the end). I
know we can't have Gnome 3's Control Centre yet (*sad face*), but
maybe there could be a nice launcher that brings up the Application
place pointing at the System category. That could also smooth the
upgrade to 11.10, where I assume we will want to stick the Control
Centre somewhere ;)

> * Stability (knowing that we are entering a heavy bug fixing time!)

It's seems to be getting there with the latest update. I have my
reservations about the global menu being implemented over dbus — it
sounds like a weird, roundabout route for that window-specific data to
take — but it is being much more reliable lately so I guess I don't
need to worry about that hitting actual users.

> * Highlights and favorite features

Dragging a file to the launcher is really cool. We've had the ability
to drag and drop to applications for a long time and this actually
makes it useful. It's neat what a little thing like that can do, and
it's wonderful when such things can plug in to existing standards so
they already work to their fullest.
This is particularly useful with an open application. I frequently
want to drag and drop a file to an entry in the window list, and
finally I can!

> * Perceived shortcomings and/or "wishlist" items

That dash feels a little netbook-ish. Some of the strings on it feel
awkward — very specific and task-oriented. To me, that projects a
feeling of the system itself being limited. Lots of comments people
write about the dash seem to imply the same thing. This probably has a
different effect on simpler users who really do want to just “browse
the web,” “view photos,” “check email” and “listen to music,” but I
wonder if this could use less loaded descriptions, and maybe just
application names to communicate that these are regular application
launchers. (Of course, I'm assuming by the “Shortcuts” heading that
the eventual goal is for these to be user-configured).

Finally, and I know I already filed a bug report on this but it's my
favourite wishlist item: Quit does not actually quit applications; it
closes windows and hopes that means quitting applications. Given
Ayatana has been working on that relationship, this feels distinctly
unhappy to me. For example, music players don't HAVE Quit anymore; you
close the player's main window, and the application stays running if
it needs to.
Bamf does pretty well, but I think Unity is trying to present a
knowledge of applications (as opposed to windows) that it simply does
not have at the moment, and cannot have without a proper system for
applications to register themselves at runtime. Hopefully when we have
GApplication in 11.10 this can be taken on directly.

That's it!
For the most part, I'm pretty happy with Unity. I can totally see
myself using this in a month, probably with a few geeky
customisations. (And I hope to contribute a patch or two once school
settles down). At the moment, though, I'm glad it just lives in
VirtualBox :b

Dylan McCall

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