Archive for the ‘Unity’ Category


Install Gnome3 on Ubuntu 12.04

In Gnome,Gnome shell,Linux desktop,Ubuntu,Unity on June 23, 2012 by oli4444

You like the nice configuration defaults of Ubuntu but not Unity?

Add this to your /etc/apt/sources.list

deb precise main 
deb-src precise main
deb precise main 
deb-src precise main

Now run

sudo apt-get update && apt-get install gnome-shell

and you have an up-to-date gnome-shell. Even many of the pretty extensions are packaged as well.

As a bonus I found out that Gnome 3 runs much snappier than Unity on an old IBM T43 laptop (which has 6 years old Centrino technology).


Gnome shell starting to become my favourite

In Gnome,Gnome shell,Linux desktop,open source,Unity on August 19, 2011 by oli4444

I have several different computers, running Gnome 2, Gnome 3, Unity and Mac OSX. New interfaces always take a while to get used to, so after the initial launch of Gnome 3 and Unity the “classic” Gnome 2 interface was still my favourite to get my work done.

Gnome 3 has the best looks (yes, I like it better than OSX), but to get my work done I don’t need the best looks. A long time ago I ran Enlightenment with the aliens theme to have a very cool desktop, but I always switched the Sawfish when I had some real programming to do.

So what is making Gnome 3 making my first choice? The main reason for that is the keyboard control. Hit <alt><f1> or the <windows> key and start typing some characters of the program name and hit enter. Better, start typing the name of the bluefish project file that I used recently and hit enter, and I have my project open. I don’t have to type the exact name of the command (typing “te” already selects “gnome-terminal” for me, “tru” selects my “bluefish_trunk” bluefish project file, “fi” selects firefox, etc.) which makes it very fast and convenient. Switching virtual desktops (called workspaces in gnome 3) is <ctrl><alt><up> or <ctrl><alt><down>, and when I need a new desktop it is automatically created by hitting <down> one extra time.

Some other things I like a lot: tiling widows side by side by dragging a window to the right/left, and restoring the original size when moving the window again. However, I would like to be able to widen the windows after tiling, the left window can be widened on the bottom-right corner, but there is no way to make the left window a bit wider. I like <alt><`> for switching between windows of the same application (it feels natural because it is so close to <alt><tab>). I like <alt><f2> to start new commands, especially when using <ctrl><enter> to start that command in a new terminal.

What would make things even better for me:

  • <Alt><tab> behavior per desktop per window. I just doesn’t make sense to me that switching between two web-pages in two firefox windows is different from switching between two web-pages in chrome-and-firefox. I often <alt><tab> between a couple of terminal windows and bluefish windows. The default just switches applications, and I usually need a specific session of that application on the same virtual desktop. The alternate tab extension however, makes me tab between all open windows on all virtual desktops (which usually is a long list).
  • Easier mouse access to virtual desktops. The hot corner is left, but to switch to a different virtual desktop without key combination, I have to move the mouse all the way to the right (which is a long way on a widescreen display). I have the workspaces menu extension installed to have the virtual desktops in the top bar, but it needs two mouseclicks to switch between two desktops. An improvement could be to make the top-right of the screen a second hot corner that activates the workspaces area by default (I have the right-hot-corner extension installed, but I first have to move the mouse to the top right for the hot corner, and then to the middle to activate the workspaces area).
  • Better use of the vertical screen space. The top bar of each window is quite high, and it only has a close button and you use it to drag the window. Especially when maximising a window the top space of the screen has a lot of unused space. This is an area where Unity tries to do good things (except that the menu thing in unity is slow and buggy as I posted earlier). Luckily Bluefish has a fullscreen feature!
  • Make it the default to open a new window. For most programs I use I have multiple open windows (terminals, bluefish sessions, firefox sessions etc.). If I want to switch to an open window it is much faster to select that window in the overview mode than clicking the icon in the dash (which selects just one of the open sessions which is anyway usually not the one you need). I want to use the dash to start a new session, regardless if I have a session running already. Having the hold <ctrl> while clicking is annoying. Same for starting a program using the keyboard control: if I type “fi” and hit enter, I don’t want any of my existing firefox sessions, I want a new session!


Ubuntu Unity breaks Bluefish

In Bluefish,Linux desktop,open source,Ubuntu,Unity on July 13, 2011 by oli4444

Slowly more bug reports are arriving that can only be reproduced on Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity. Ubuntu 11.04 with the Gnome shell, or with classic gnome are not affected. This is kind of difficult for an application developers perspective. I personally don’t care too much about Unity, I like Gnome shell better so I switched to Fedora. But a lot of users do use a default Ubuntu install, so they will have to deal with Unity. And that’s why I have to deal with Unity bugs…

Menu synchronisation is broken

If you open two documents in Bluefish, and you disable for example “Show right margin” for one document, and you switch to the other┬ádocument (which has show right margin still enabled) , the menu toggle option is disabled. It seems that unity was not designed for applications that change menu toggle options without the user clicking on it.

Snippets menu is totally gone

If you use the snippets plugin, Bluefish has two menu bars. Unity seems to disable all menu bars to show them on the window border. But the snippets menu bar isn’t showed in the window border… It seems that Unity was not designed for applications that have multiple menu bars.

No menu when full screen

A popular feature for netbooks is the fullscreen mode of Bluefish. But if you hit F11 with unity, there is no menu. Not really a killer bug, since unity already optimises the vertical screen space, so fullscreen makes little difference.

All recent menu entries open the same file

… which renders the recent menu quite useless. Always the top-most entry in the recent menu is activated, regardless which entry is clicked.

Weird user interface shifting

This one puzzles me. I can’t really describe it, so I made a screencast. Every click on the user interface moves the user interface from left to right. You can’t open a file by doubleclicking. You can’t click a button, you’ll end up with the buton next to it.

It doesn’t happen all the time, but once it happens it is really annoying!

What to do now?

I filed some bugreports for unity, but I haven’t seen a response yet (there are quite a few bugreports, so I can image the developers have a busy time). What should I do as application developer? Tell users to avoid Ubuntu with Unity?