[ubuntu-uk] How I learned to stop bickering and love Unity.

Steve Pearce me at stevepdp.org
Sat Dec 3 20:27:21 UTC 2011

Evening Ubuntu-UK,

Just thought I would post my thoughts about the current release, to 
counteract the flood of negative criticism that's been hitting our 
mailboxes throughout the day.

I should admit that I reacted negatively when first using Unity in 
Ubuntu 11.04. I hopped to the other Ubuntu flavours like several others 
have mentioned and I would often complain about Unity with my techie 

After reading some Ubuntu Planet posts about bickering in the community, 
I realised that I should give Unity a good couple of weeks on my 
workstation to see if it was just me instinctively fearing change, or 
Unity and it's design decisions that was the problem.

Since Ubuntu 11.10, I've been using Unity with great ease and stability. 
I've learned that if you give Unity (and the Zeitgeist backend if that's 
correct?) some time to learn what programs and files you use often, then 
access to these is often quicker and easier than most other platforms.

Here's a run down of some of the features I feel makes Unity (and the 
whole Ayatana effort) great,

1. I love that Thunderbird and Gwibber each tell me how many unread 
messages I have waiting for me.

2. Whenever someone pings me on IRC, the xchat icon wiggles to let me 
know that I'm needed – that's awesome!

3. I love that I can launch applications in a few keystrokes. I can 
launch medit for example just by typing SUPER M RETURN. That's far less 
effort than most other desktop environments.

4. I love that I can reach my files quickly in the same manner. I could 
open my CV with LibreOffice by keying SUPER CV RETURN.

5. I can pin the applications I use most often, which totals to only 
about ten icons. So when I hit my desktop after boot, I can click all of 
them in just a couple of seconds to background them ready for use.

6. System indicators and configuration – they're all in one place! A 
single click to browse them all, and a single click to action something. 
It's consistent and beautiful.

7. Notify-OSD provides subtle and smooth notifications unlike anything 
we've seen on other platforms. Programs like Gwibber which show recent 
tweets or Brasero which tells me when an operation has finished are great!

8. Screen real-estate has been greatly improved. I love that the window 
controls for each program collapses into the top bar when an application 
is full screened. It means that you can gain extra readable lines in a 
document or program and it gives you a sense of total immersion in 
whatever it is you're working on.

9. The Ubuntu font family – lush!

I'm pleased I gave Unity a real chance on my desktop and I later learned 
to stop being reactive whenever anything new hits town.

Unity has made my desktop an exciting place to be. It's a pleasure to 
use and all other desktop environments including the old Gnome 2.* 
series now feel dated and clumsy.  Anybody who isn't using Ubuntu 11.10 
and Unity is missing out in my opinion.

And so we arrive at the initial question, “Ubuntu – Wrong Direction?”. 
Absolutely not! The desktop paradigm needed to change and given the 
developments we've seen in the mobile and tablet space, it's about time 
we took those usability lessons and applied them to the desktop. I'm 
looking forward to Ubuntu's future and I look forward to experiencing an 
Ubuntu TV and Phone.


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