Ubuntu 14.04 experiences
I’m used to the Ubuntu installer, so I obviously think it’s SUPER EASY! I do wish it was smarter about the locales, I select a Swedish keyboard but an English language for the OS, it should install both the Swedish and English language packs. The Swedish is needed because I want to have international standard date times.
The overlay scrollbars
I wish I could get IBM SAA CUA Scrollbars. They were the shit. You can page up and down with them for example. Ubuntu however has invented some sort of “overlay scrollbars”. I do not like them at all. You can disable the overlay scrollbars, but the “normal” mode isn’t great either. It for example can’t page up and down.
System Load Indicator is in the standard Ubuntu repositories. The Fedora version allows having separate indicators per processor. Yes, that’s 8, but that’s much more usable than having only 1. Running one process at 100% is barely visible as it’s only 1/8th of the indicator graph.
Compiling Python on Ubuntu is a bit of a pain, generally, as you need to patch older Pythons to compile, because library files are not where they expect. However, pyenv contains “python-build” a tool to make it easy to build any Python on pretty much any Linux. As a result, this is no longer a big issue.
Issues with Unity
I like the ideas behind Unity and Gnome Shell. I like them a lot. But the move there is not always smooth. In mouse-driven UI design, corners are important. This is because you can “throw” the mouse into a corner without aiming. Move the mouse fast and vaguely in the right direction, and it ends up in the corner. Unlike Gnome shell, Unity has all the window buttons that should be there: Minimize, Maximize and Close. They are on the left, so that Unity can move them into the top bar, hence taking less space. This is one of the things I like with Unity, it leaves the screen space to the applications. This also means that throwing the mouse into the top left corner and clicking closes the window. This is a good behavior, it makes it easy and fast to close windows. But it means that to open the main Unity menu with a mouse, you have to actually aim at the menu button, as it’s up there in the top left, but not actually in the corner. The top right corner is for system settings, logging out and rebooting. The bottom corners are not used for anything, and that kinda seems like a shame. Did they choose the top left corner just to not have people call it “The Start Menu”? I don”t know, but it seems to me that bottom left was not such a bad place after all. The decision to move the window buttons into the top bar also sees the application menus moved there. This causes problems with some applications, for example in some applications the text will continue to be black, and hence invisible on the black menu background.
How it compares with Gnome Shell/Fedora 20
I stayed on Ubuntu 12.04 for a long time because I wanted to use Unity 2D, as Unity 3D was buggy. This was mostly because of driver issues. I’ve now used Unity 3D on 14.04 without a single problem for more than half a year. While Gnome Shell is an exercise in being bombarded by annoyances, Unity is smooth and friendly. The notifications work well, they show for a long time and they go semi-transparent if you hover the mouse over them, so you can still click on whatever is below the notification. Status icons show up in the icon bar, where you expect them. You can choose to auto-hide the launcher or not. With today’s modern wide screens there is plenty of space on the side, so hiding it is really not necessary. Almost any open source Unix software you can think of has repos with distributions you can install. The update manager actually works. It will show updates once a day, and ask to reboot when needed after an update. You can scale the menus and title bars separately for separate screens, that’s a real nice feature. Unfortunately of course this is not a setting of DPI, and applications themselves will ignore it. It wold be really nice if you could use both the laptop screen and an external screen without getting a headache. I have no problems with my processors running on 100% for no apparent reason. OK, fair enough, right now while typing this one core is on 100% doing “nothing”, but the process running that is qemu running some sort of virtual machine. I don’t know what THAT machine is doing that is taking 100%, but the main OS isn’t doing anything anyway.
Ubuntu 14.04 is so nice. It and OS X are the only real contenders for “Top Desktop OS” in my opinion. Much of that is thanks to Unity. Fedora, and especially Gnome 3, has a lot of catching up to do.
Related: Fedora 20