How to install Precise without getting screwed?

Vernon Cole vernondcole at
Mon Apr 2 19:57:05 UTC 2012

Dale makes the case that I have wanted to present, but he says it better
than I.  Unity is still missing key components that some of us have really
come to depend on. Until those gaps are filled in, we cannot be fully
productive using Unity, and therefore don't think it's a good idea to
switch to it.

  I have taken the Unity challenge, and the computer on which I am typing
this -- my daily use laptop -- is running Unity.  After several months of
experience, I feel that I am qualified to give a better evaluation than my
initial response, which, indeed was: "Unity sucks."  No, it doesn't. It's
actually a pretty nice desktop which has a few serious warts.  It works
really well for a user with a limited set of applications -- the number
which will fit on the pop-out bar (whatever it is being called this week)
on the left side of the screen. Your average secretary or software engineer
needs no more than that, and within those limitations, Unity is pretty,
quick, and easy to use.

  But Dale is right, we need to talk about the warts.

Wart 1 -- no menu.
   Removing the pull-down menu from the top bar did save a lot of space,
and makes the screen look cleaner. It also eliminates a neat, hierarchical
organization which lets me locate software that I use only occasionally.
For example,  I use Windows applications regularly, but rarely need to
alter my Wine environment. When I do want to make a change it's easy (on my
old boxes) -- just go down to the Wine submenu, and pick one of the four or
five items there, I don't remember what they are called. But without an
hierarchical organization, how do I find them?  Scroll through screens full
of large icons sorted in alphabetical order searching for something which
might look familiar???!!!  Insanity!   Same for office applications,
multimedia applications, infrequently used accessories...
  I also use Xubuntu 11.10 on a daily basis.  It has a nice little menu
system accessed from a little icon on the upper left edge of the screen --
even smaller then the Blue Ball which appears on the lower left corner of
my Windows 7 box -- which also calls up an hierarchical menu.
  Solution: copy the Xubuntu menu system.  It should also be called up when
I hit the "Windows" key on my keyboard.

Wart 2 -- no way to create a launcher.
  I think that it's really quite comical that when I click on the <Bazaar
Explorer> icon on my desktop that the Windows version of Bazaar Explorer
starts up.  The shortcut (i.e.: launcher) was placed there by the Wine
program loader when I installed bzr.exe.   [Yes, I did that on purpose --
the Windows version does a better job of managing bazaar branches on NTFS
volumes. On this dual-boot system, most of my storage is NTFS.]
  I am used to having about 1/4 of the space on my desktop cluttered with
launchers for things which I my not use daily, but when I want them, I want
them NOW, or want them to have root access.  For example, on my 11.04 box I
have launchers for Thunar and Wireshark under gksu -- so that I can
conveniently move or modify system files, and monitor my ethernet
interfaces. The nicest thing about using Ubuntu for a router is the ability
to use Wireshark to see what application programs on the downstream network
are doing. For that, you need a gui screen with root access.  Easy if you
have custom launchers -- very clumsy, otherwise.
  Solution A:  (as on Xubuntu) left click on an empty desktop, select
"Create Launcher".
  Solution B: left click on an existing program icon, select "Create

Wart 3 -- the active window is visually detached from its control menu.
  It took me over a month to discover that most of the things I was
_really_ frustrated that Unity would not let me do, were actually easy.
The control pull-down menu items that I needed were right there all along
-- except that they had moved to the area formerly used for the system
control menu at the upper left corner of the screen. Even after these many
months I still have to remind myself to look 'way up there" to find them.
Also, it is hard to tell where the active window's controls end and the
system's controls begin.
  Solution A:  (perhaps) make the application's control menu's portion of
the top bar the same colour as the frame on the active application window.
The simultaneous colour change would create a visual and mental connection
between the two screen areas.
  Solution B: Activate the pull-down menu when I hit the "menu" key on my

Wart 4 -- No one-click desktop switching.
  The present method: 1) Move the cursor to the left edge of the screen 2)
wait a couple of seconds 3) move the cursor to the desktop switcher 4)
click on it 5) move the cursor to the desired desktop 6) click twice -- is
NOT one click.  Imagine that I have my bank statement on a web browser on
one desktop, and my financial application on the other.  To do a
reconciliation I must bounce back-and-forth between the two many times.
Will the six-step process work for me?
  Solution A: have a good one click desktop changer widget.
  Solution B: make a training presentation where a user is taught what
<ctrl-alt-right arrow> does.

Wart 5 -- lack of a comprehensive set of widgets.
  Dale mentioned his multi-time-zone clock.  The deal breaker for me is the
system monitor widgets.  My home office router/server has the CPU load and
network activity widgets running constantly.  When things slow down, a
single glance can tell me what is, or is not, wrong.  Click on the widget,
and the system monitor application is right there.  I also depend on the
X-eyes widget to help me find a lost mouse cursor at times when my age
affects my vision.
  Solution: Get somebody busy converting widgets.  Also consider desktop
widgets (like my smart phone has.)

So there it is.  All we want is all the new stuff -- along with everything
we had before.  Is that too much to ask?
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