Is Unity bashing a hobby?

I am writing this article to dispel some myths about Ubuntu and Unity.

The reason I have chosen to do this article now is in response to an article in Linux User and Developer magazine which gives a glowing review of Linux Mint 15 whilst making some fairly derogatory and unnecessary comments about Ubuntu.

Is Ubuntu bashing a new sport? Are the issues with Ubuntu and Unity well founded or are some people living in the past of 11.04 and not giving Unity a chance.

First of all I would like to say that Linux Mint is a top operating system and I like the things they are doing with the Cinnamon desktop, however some of the remarks in the linked article are a little bit economical with the truth.

Linux Mint 14 was one of our favourite desktop distros of the last year. While there were some initial hiccups that required a 14.1 release, it was generally a much better release than the then current Ubuntu 12.10, which had been marred by the controversy over the Amazon searches in the dash.

I ran Linux Mint 14 and I am not going to lie, Cinnamon and Linux Mint 14 was a good operating system. I was also running Ubuntu 12.10 as a dual boot and I could boot into either one and feel comfortable. The term “much better release” is stretching it a little bit. Cinnamon in Linux Mint 14 looks a lot like the Windows 7 interface and is very familiar to everyone who has ever used Windows. Does that make it innovative? Like it or loathe it Unity is unique and it attempts to solve desktop computing problems in a new way.

I have tried Linux Mint 15 and the new version certainly has moved on somewhat with the HTML 5 theming and so it is going to continue to grow and get better but I think Unity has been improving year on year as well. The version of Unity today is a far cry from the Unity in version 11.04.

Heading to the Mint Software Manager to get some more applications is always a great experience, as unlike the Software Centre in Ubuntu, you never feel like you’re being babied with recommendations or “Technical Items” turned off.

Whilst I think it isn’t a well kept secret that the Software Manager is in need of a makeover the Linux Mint software center isn’t that far removed from the Ubuntu one. The term “being babied with recommendations” is a little over the top. When I buy an album on Amazon I am provided with a list of other albums that I might like. Are Amazon babying me by providing this service or are they actually making reasonable suggestions of other items that I might like to purchase?

It also seems to run with fairly low power requirements. Testing it on a laptop, we found it gave us up to 30% extra battery life than Ubuntu running Unity would doing similar tasks.

I have Linux Mint 15 and Ubuntu 13.04 running on my laptop and I can safely say that the battery drains at a similar rate no matter which operating system I am using. Is the above statement scientific fact or just a finger in the air “well that seemed to last longer this time”.

Frankly, we work faster on Linux Mint as well thanks to the variety of simple keyboard shortcuts for all kinds of desktop exposing and app switching operations, as well as the fairly smart hot corner that won’t just activate if the mouse looks like it’s moving there.

I am as comfortable using Linux Mint Cinnamon as I am running Ubuntu with Unity. My previous article provided a list of keyboard shortcuts for Unity which makes it easy to navigate around the launcher, the dash and the heads up display. The comment about hot corners is also a bit confusing. If you go into the system settings you can adjust the sensitivity of the Unity hot spot which is used to display the launcher when it is hidden.

We haven’t found a single problem with the distro, and the only thing we were disappointed at was the lack of desklets at the time of writing.

I have used Linux Mint 15 for a few weeks and I can say there has been the odd little issue. For example if I enter the wrong password in the login screen the system sometimes hangs. I have also been in the position where Mint has loaded with the screen completely zoomed in making icons huge.

Have I had problems with Ubuntu? I am not going to lie, there has been the odd thing where a message has popped up saying that there was an issue and did I want to report the problem.

As a regular reader of Linux Mint User and Developer magazine I have to say that I like their articles and tutorials immensely but I do think that it is also a good thing to review a distribution without being disingenuous and disparaging about other distributions. It feels a little too much like playing to the gallery.

Thankyou for reading


47 comments for “Is Unity bashing a hobby?

  1. shyster
    July 10, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Unity sucks. I had to use it long enough to download and install xfce on a chromebook, and I could not even figure out how to bring up a terminal. It stymies the total and free use of the desktop tooks.

    • July 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      I think the point there is that Unity is not for you because you like to customise and it is a fairly fixed interface. Some users will find that a good thing. Everything always appears in the same place and it therefore becomes easy to navigate and use. The point therefore is not that Unity sucks but that Unity is just not an interface that fits the way you work.

      • Neil
        July 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm

        Your point is reasonable, however the number of GNU/Linux users that don’t want the freedom to customise is vanishingly small. Those types of people strongly tend to be MS Windows users, because thats where that whole mentality came from.
        The fact that GNU/Linux is a powerful, custmiseable, useable OS is purely because it has avoided being locked down, and is exactly what attracts most of its users. Shuttleworth clearly just doesn’t get that.

        When Ubuntu literally forced Unity as the only option in its distro, it overnight went from being by far the most popular distro to an also-ran to Mint (which is pretty much just Ubuntu without Unity). That fact speaks volumes. People voted with their feet. Thats not Ubuntu-bashing, its a mass migration taken to avoid a stupid change that just makes things worse.

        • July 10, 2013 at 6:42 pm

          “When Ubuntu literally forced Unity as the only option in its distro”

          When did this happen? I must have missed it, because there are still like a dozen different DEs and WMs available to install in 13.10′s archives.

          • keksys
            July 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm

            When Mir come along please remember what did you said here. There won’t be any DE you can install except of Unity.
            I saw this happening hundreds of times. People like you do not see further from there nose, do not see whats on next corner. And on next corner is Mir.
            So goodby DE’s, goodby Games on Ubuntu, goodby choice, goodby freedom.

        • July 10, 2013 at 11:28 pm

          Giving choices to newcomers is an old-and-tried concept that will push a product to total failure when :

          1) You have to establish a brand
          2) You need the product to just work
          3) You need a preconfigured environment to give support

          Back in the days of choise (early 2003-4) when you installed a linux distro, it would ask you more than 20 questions, that bugles your mind and then ask you to choose a “desktop environment”, that you don’t understand what the term means in the first place. Then later on, if you succeeded on installing the OS, you would get 10 softwares that would do exactly the same thing.
          Then Ubuntu happened and changed everything. 5 Questions for install, Default Desktop and 1 App per job. Then came along a community that could give support due to the points (1-3) I mentioned earlier.

          Fast forward to 2011. The Gnome environment was not evolving, hence the developers had to create a new desktop environment that will use new technology of today and provide a distribution agnostic working environment. Due to the 1) point Canonical had to sustain their brand and differentiate Ubuntu in a way that will be recognisable. eg if I put in front of you 4 computers with a metro like UI, Mac OS, Unity and Gnome, you would instantly recognize the 3 of theme but not the one with Gnome (you have to check which distro is it, if you first know what distro is in the first place).

          Microsoft did the same. A UI for any screen size and almost architecture. Ubuntu with Unity is pushing it even more, having the same OS for every device.

          So, in essence Ubuntu is not the third most popular PC operating system by merely a matter of chance. They have a distinct plan for creating the OS and building upon open source technologies. Choice is a matter of opinion and not a feature that a particular OS must definitely has to have. If you are an experienced user you can find your way around and add the DE that serves you well, but that doesn’t mean that this should be a default behaviour for every user

        • July 11, 2013 at 7:39 am

          Hi Neil,

          The thing I find interesting is that Google has a fixed interface for Android yet they get none of the criticism that Ubuntu and Canonical receives for developing a similar interface.

          There are plenties of incredibly customisable distributions including Ubuntu community distributions like Xubuntu and Kubuntu. The main Ubuntu is aimed at the masses which doesn’t necessarily mean the Linux hardcore users.

        • Gerhard
          July 11, 2013 at 11:47 am

          “Those types of people strongly tend to be MS Windows users, because thats where that whole mentality came from.”

          I beg to differ. Those people tend to be those people that use their computers to do stuff instead of fiddling with the interface. I work as a statistician. I use Linux because it supports all the tools that I need professionally out of the box (Setting up as statistical computing environment on Windows is just a pain). I use Ubuntu because I *don’t* have to twiddle and fiddle for hours on end before I can get productive. The interface stays out of my way, yet it is power user friendly (keyboard shortcuts). I don’t see a mass exodus from Ubuntu in real life. It’s just that the people who I increasingly see adopt it (fellow statisticians, informaticians and mathematicians mostly) don’t tend to hang out on Distrowatch.

        • August 24, 2013 at 3:58 pm

          You could always install a tweaking tool like “MyUnity” which increases customization options greatly. Overall, the options provided by default do just fine for casual users – the majority of PC users by far, who just want to get to a browser and some occasional offline work and who are not concerned with making a rig beautiful with conky and such.

          • August 24, 2013 at 4:01 pm

            Why is my comment not getting published? It says I am blacklisted in But when I test my IP on the site, it says not found in blacklists. Please help.

          • August 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm


            I use a Cleantalk to prevent the hundreds of spam messages that come through everyday from various sources. Unfortunately sometimes that means genuine comments get caught by the spam filter. I apologise for this.

            I have approved your messages.



    • Steve
      July 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      ” I had to use it long enough to download and install xfce…” Unity is an “acquired taste”, and not something you’ll love right away. When Unity first came out, I spent a couple months distro-hopping, looking for alternatives. While I did so, I left Unity on one of my PCs. After a month of using it and getting used to it, I realized I actually liked Unity. I have all my frequently-used apps on the launcher and find that using the lenses to search for others is not as hard as it seemed at first.

      Of course, it also depends on how you work as well. I’ve never been one to feel I have to customize every aspect of my desktop. Customizing my background picture and the apps I place on the launcher is enough customization for me. I also prefer to work with buttons or graphics instead of shortcuts (e.g. I can never keep my vs straight in my mind).

      Unity is not for everyone, but some of us actually like it more than Cinnamon and don’t agree that it “sucks”.

    • July 10, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      I hated unity for like two weeks, and then I loved unity. When I got over the fact that it wasn’t very configurable and that it was different than what I was used to, I started to embrace what was good about it.

      I loved the minimal window chrome, and the fact that the windows blended into the task bar.
      I loved the dash, even though I felt it was inferior to the Gnome 3 dash.
      I loved that I could open any program with a maximum of four key pressed without needing to use my mouse.
      I loved that I could navigate the program menus in the same manner that I search for applications in the dash; a few key presses and I have whatever I need.

      Unity isn’t perfect for everyone. I dislike much of what Canonical is doing, but what canonical is doing doesn’t mean that the interface concept itself is flawed. However, saying that is sucks as a general rule is very narrow-minded, ignorant, and bigoted. The exact behavior we need to move away from as a community.

  2. July 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    The excerpts you’ve pulled from the Linux Mint review sound quite childish. I never found Unity to be too good or too bad. I think it’s a decent middle road between a Windows-esque interface and a Jobsian interface. As for Ubuntu as a whole, I never thought it too spectacular as I dislike Debian.

    • July 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      Yes the point of this article is to highlight that there were comments in the linked article that attack Ubuntu and Unity when I don’t think that is required. Mint is good enough on its own and doesn’t need to be compared to Ubuntu even if it is derived from it.

  3. July 10, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Well, everyone say mint is the best. But, without Ubuntu, is there ever gonna be mint? NO. The fact is, Ubuntu devs worked hard to make it user friendly and also quality system. Canonical is a company. They are doing business. So, they take many decisions. But, without thier core system, there’s no other distros like, mint, deepin, etc. And also ubuntu god normal peoples attension. They manage to snoop it into many governments and thus it makes Linux desktop more popular.

    Now let’s talk about technical things. Mint’s two DE’s are not bad, but not good either. They are not mature enough like Unity, Gnome, KDE, etc. I found them like cartoon interfaces. And, where’s the innovation went? Where’s the quality. I saw more bugs in mint than Ubuntu. (I mean DE related bugs..)

    And Linux users MUST be greatful for them. Because they made a product which normal people can use. That never happened in our history. Because of them, we now have AAA computer games. (yes because Ubuntu and canonical. Do u think without Ubuntu, valve consider doing all those things that they do now?) And, when someone make any innovation, we see demos running on windows or mac. But now we see many videos in utube that use Ubuntu. We see CEO’s using Ubuntu for thier keynotes. We see people talk about Linux more than ever. ONLY because Ubuntu (canonical) made a decent product for consumer market.

    U guys must remember this, Ubuntu made for general consumer. Not for power users. So, power users should act like grownups when talking about Ubuntu. Because ubuntu’s default things are meant for general consumer. (NOT for geeks etc.)

    I live in 3rd world country where many general users live. Most of our users are very genaral users. So, yes they use windows. I tried various ways to bring Linux to them. But only Ubuntu was able to provide solid solution which normal users can work. So, please don’t insult them. Support them to do more things. And they will. Then power users can change things if they want. (Like mint do) But, if we kill them. We are doomed in desktop world. That’s the reality. (sure u will say we have many other solutions. Fedora, openSUSE, and of course even Arch. But do u think they will be succesful in general consumer market? NO.)

  4. Guy
    July 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I agree that bashing unity is uncalled for, and most arguments center around ‘it’s different’, just like for KDE4 and Gnome3.

    I also left Ubuntu and Unity myself, the reason is the inclusion of what I arguably call spyware: the commercial lenses.

    I fully expect my Free Software desktop to keep my private matters private, and Ubuntu hugely disappointed me in that respect.

    • Scott
      July 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      This was the first thing quoted by this blog post, and the guy didn’t even address it in his rebuttal. It’s fine that people who love Ubuntu do not care about Canonical’s invasive policies, but those same people seem to be clueless about how much it matters to the rest of us. His rebuttal illustrates this perfectly.

      • July 11, 2013 at 7:45 am

        Hi Scott,

        The only point I made about commercial lenses and product recommendations is that I don’t necessarily see them as a bad thing. My point was that if you buy something from Amazon they recommend further purchases and I don’t see much difference between that and when I search for a piece of software, Ubuntu also shows me products I might like to buy.

        As other people have mentioned you can turn this off anyway. My article that looks at the Unity Dash also makes a lot of comments about privacy.

    • Daniel
      July 10, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      Do you know that the commercial lenses could be disabled? Is it not so difficult.

  5. poros
    July 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Since Unity existed, I had more problems with Ubuntu than with Windows.
    I changed to Mint and it’s perfect now.
    It’s not Unity bashing, just loking for tranquility

  6. July 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    As long as there is NO drag and drop from file from nautilos to minimized windows like a browser Unity has NO chance for me. This is a dealbreaker, really. XFCE, LXDE, KDE, GNOME, Windows, Mac … everybody has this functionality. BUT not Unity.

  7. July 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    The thing that I really like about Linux is that it is has a high degree of customization. To my mind, Unity largely misses out on this aspect of the OS. Unity doesn’t work the way that I do, and I can’t tweak it to a reasonable level of acceptability. However, the good news is that I can effectively replace Unity with another user interface (e.g. Gnome Classic through gnome-session-fallback).

    The other really great thing about Linux is that there are so many variants – distros, desktops. etc. So, blasting Unity – or Ubuntu – is a waste of effort. If a particular OS/UI isn’t for you, move on and find something that really works!

    I have used Ubuntu for a number of years, but have (very) recently switched to Mint. Interestingly, this wasn’t because of Unity – it all stemmed from difficulties with support for various video and wireless cards. Ubuntu had all kinds of problems with some of these devices on my machines whereas, for some reason, Mint (which is notionally a close cousin of Ubuntu) supported everything flawlessly. Ubuntu used to do the same – but, I don’t think I can put the blame for the changes on Unity – after all, I had effectively turned it off. And, in any case, the specific problems on my hardware were evident before the UI loaded!

  8. Moose
    July 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I really gave unity a try, like windows 8. And seriously, its not user friendly at all. I do not want to guess whats installed, I want a lean and mean menu system showing me whats in the box. And not a guessing game.
    The computer or OS must serve ME doing stuff easy and with comfort.

    • mcinsand
      July 10, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      I tried Unity because it does look pretty. However, after struggling with it for a week, the software ergonomics simply did not work for me. I would like to hear more from people that like Unity, to maybe see what I missed.

    • wyz
      July 10, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      @ Moose …. Amen! My computer is to serve me. It must allow me to be productive in an easy to use and stressless way. Neither Unity or Windows 8 do that.

  9. wyz
    July 10, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    People can and will badmouth Unity. Some of their complaints are valid, however to put it down on comparison to the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint 15 is a joke. Since when is Cinnamon, a spinoff of Gnome 3 also, such a great release. True, it’s garnered praise in a number of reviews but not all is peaches and cream with this distro. Many people have commented that it is a bug riddled mess and shouldn’t be put on any pedistal and worshiped. While Cinnamon keeps getting better with each release IMHO it’s still not there yet. It’s a distro under “heavy development” and thus prone to lots of bugs.

    Regardless of Cinnamons own problems Unity isn’t such a great distro either. Yes it’s gotten better from the time of its inception, but I’ve never ever felt all that comfortable with it the times I’ve tried various iterations on my system. Coming from a more traditional desktop setup was there sizeable learning curve. Yes, it was sizeable enough that I could never feel at ease using it. Doing work on it was not intuitive and took longer for me. Could I customize Unity anywhere close to the way I could other desktops? No way! Is the six month release schedule enough time for Canonical to adequately test all the new changes they’re making to their distro? I think not. Reviewers complain of unresolved problems, and users are seeing these problem passed on downstream to distros based on Ubuntu. Well, if Unity can’t cut the mustard on these issues I would think a lot of folks are going to bash it, not just those comparing it to Linux Mint Cinnamon.

  10. Sarah
    July 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I gave Unity a fair crack of the whip I really did. When it was the UI of “Netbook Remix” it actually worked quite well, a little rough around the edges but it got the job done on a EEE 701. So I tried 12.x on a virtual machine, I fed it all the vbox drivers so I know it wasn’t that… it stank. It ran a Core i5 hard enough that simply sitting on the Unity desktop would drag the host system down with it.

    That’s bad. Beyond all the broken design choices, the lack of Drag n’ Drop, taking something vastly more powerful than a Core i5 to render the desktop is BAD. Just to make sure it wasn’t something I’d done I installed various other UI’s and tried them out: worked fine.

    I bash it because it’s abysmal.

    • John O'Keefe
      July 10, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      That’s really been fixed. Unity CPU usage has gone down significantly. However VirtualBox rendering and extensions are still a little shady. Try it on metal, Unity as far as speed and heaviness is concerned is on par with the other “heavyweight” DE’s.

  11. AC
    July 10, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Unity is useless. It’s fit for nothing.

    People hate because it’s garbage.

  12. John O'Keefe
    July 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Overall I agree with you. I’ve actually found a few more bugs in Mint than Ubuntu, but they are both really great distributions.

    I do have one quarrel with your article and that is you misquoted the article you referred to.

    It also seems to run with fairly low power requirements. Testing it on a laptop, we found it gave us up to 30% extra battery life than Ubuntu running Unity would doing similar tasks.

    Hopefully tags work in this. :)

    Anyway the 30% battery increase they were referring to was based on MATE not Cinnamon. Mate has no compiz, and no 3d rendering. It’s reliance on GTK2 libraries is significantly diminishing as well. Therefore MATE provides the 30% battery boost, not Linux Mint.

    Their article probably should have mentioned that. I bet you would see a 30% battery boost installing MATE without Compiz in Ubuntu as well.

    However, after using MATE for a while, my biggest complaint is that I really miss snapping windows. However, that feature is scheduled for the nest release of MATE. Should be nice.

    • July 11, 2013 at 7:49 am

      Hi John, I accept your point about the comparison of battery life was between Mate and Unity and I was comparing Cinnamon and Unity. What I would say is that the original article therefore was comparing apples and oranges. I think it would be fairer to install Xubuntu and compare it with Mint with Mate and then have a comparison of battery life.

  13. George
    July 10, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Well Canonical is also responsible for a fair bit of upsetp and fragmentation in our Linux Desktop universe. So a bit of bashing is to be expected. I for one have stopped using the distribution for my personal stuff.

  14. Ondřej Doněk
    July 10, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Good article!

  15. Hans Bezemer
    July 10, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Get it in your head: most people don’t care about “innovative”. They want something that works for them – just a plain workhorse. As Microsoft learned the hard way, people don’t care for something “new”. And that’s exactly what Mint delivers. As for “scientific”, your statement is as good as theirs. It depends on various circumstances. But Ubuntu just has a BAD track record where reliability is concerned, so I wouldn’t be too surprised. BTW, I’m not running anything mentioned here, SuSE with Trinity. I’m very much into workhorses as well. ;-)

  16. Arup
    July 10, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Linux Mint is Ubuntu with a alternate DE and some tweaks so in all sense, it remains the good work of Canonical. Having used all DEs I find Unity to be the most unobtrusive and functional followed by KDE which has improved by miles over its previous version. So called Linux geeks who write for these journals truly need a life. Linux folks are their own worse enemies and therefore there is no rise of LINUX desktop that folks keep lamenting about. Ubuntu has never locked anyone for DE, it comes in many different flavors and in super stable LTS version that I and thousands of others are happy to deploy at our workplace, educational institutions and elsewhere, what is so wrong about that may I ask?

  17. Eric
    July 11, 2013 at 4:12 am

    Actually I have started to like Unity. There are choices Canonical makes that I do not like, but I do think Unity is pretty nice. I’d like to see them consolidate /bin /sbin /lib for example under /usr and also Systemd seems like it might actually be nice. But on the Wayland / Mir front, I am starting to see why maybe they made the choices they made. We just cannot wait until 2019 (yeah, being a bit dramatic here) for Wayland to be ready. I actually think the competition lit a fire under Wayland’s a**, and that is not always a bad thing. Again, starting to like Unity. I would actually say that the desktop on Linux has a future, the pieces are coming together. By the way, have you seen how the fonts *still* render on the just released Fedora 19? Hello, Fedora, the Apple hinting patents have expired already and you can enable better font hinting in Freetype for Fedora. It is this kind of crap (and ugly icons, themes, etc.) that are holding the Linux desktop back. Good on Canonical for at least pushing the envelope a bit.

  18. Paul
    July 11, 2013 at 5:20 am

    Why I Left Ubuntu
    I was a great fan of Ubuntu and Canonical. I loved the pre-Unity versions of Ubuntu. IMHO, the last Gnome 2 version was very functional and polished.

    When Canonical switched to Unity on 11.04, I tried it and mostly liked it. There were things I did not like but I really liked the fact that Unity did a better job of maximizing screen real-estate than any other DE I’d used (I’ve been using Linux since 1998 and computers in general since about 1981). I was hopeful that the wrinkles in Unity would be worked out in the next version and was just about ready to pay for support from Canonical for all the systems in my home, mostly as a thank you, when 12.10 came out.

    12.10 seemed to be a whole log buggier overall. Unity would do weird crap to my applications, sometimes making the desktop unusable without dropping down to the shell and restarting X. Pulse audio on this version was a dog and would simply not work with a sound card I’d been using successfully on Linux for about 5 years. I also discovered a number of library compatibility issues that broke commercial software I needed for my job.

    The final straw for me was when Canonical dropped support for OSS and added Amazon search.

    I now use Scientific Linux with Trinity desktop (I really liked KDE 3). I find that I can easily get everything to work with that distribution and it’s extremely stable. At this point the only thing I miss is the old Synaptic package manager and some features of the debian package file format.

    Why Mir Concerns Me
    1. I do a significant amount of technical computing. I could care less if the same OS runs on my desktop and on my phone/tablet. I need a desktop that gives me a good environment for code development, modeling, as well as CAD. I do this work both on machines at work and, to a lesser extent, on my home systems. Until my phone or tablet can support 16GB of RAM (or more), supports 12 cores (or more), and can plug into a keyboard and large monitors, I don’t see myself migrating away from a desktop. Canonical’s direction seems to be to water down the desktop experience in order to make it more like the phone, same bad mistake Microsoft made with Windows 8. Developing Mir is an result of this direction. I expect to use my desktop and phone for very different things and really could care less if they use the same OS. As a user, Mir offers me nothing of real value.

    2. Given the direction Canonical is taking, I am very concerned that NVIDIA/AMD will make X/Wayland second class citizens in favor of Mir. I would love to used Nuveau and similar open source drivers; however, they’re not functional enough yet either for the software I use for my job or for recreational use with the games I’ve purchased over the years (some from Loki Games dating back to the late 1990′s).

    3. Given that Steam and other game developers are beginning to embrace Linux, I would like to spend some money on these games. Assuming these games are coded to work exclusively with Mir, then buying Linux games is not an option unless other distributions such as SL also migrate to Mir and Mir emulates X sufficiently well.

    3. Given the direction of the rest of the Linux ecosystem and the concern over OpenGL support, I really wish Canonical would have worked with the Weston/Wayland team to reach their goals rather than going their own direction. IMHO, trying to make the same exact OS and tools work on both big iron and small phones/tablets is just silly at this point so fragmenting the ecosystem to save a little power is just plain stupid (maybe less so in 5 years but then phones will have a lot more horsepower). I mostly understand their argument for the other issues; however, Canonical should have been able to work through these issues with the Weston/Wayland team.

    • July 11, 2013 at 7:51 am

      Hi Paul,

      This was a really good comment. Would you mind if I pulled this out and made it a separate blog post as a guest article?



  19. Eric
    July 11, 2013 at 5:29 am

    Well, here it is –

    Out of all of the Linux GUIs, all of which are absolute crap (I say this as a user of Linux since 0.98 at least), Unity is quite probably the crappiest of them all. A business that I’ve done contracting for is seriously considering changing their standard desktop environment from Ubuntu because of it. Because not one person in the entire 1000 person or so company is using Unity, and sure, you can always switch to the Gnome or KDE or whatever else you want, but it’s not what Ubuntu supports. Ubuntu wants you to use Unity, and anyone that wants to sell you bad software (or support for bad software) is not someone they want to do business with.

    You don’t promote crap and expect people to stick around.

  20. Jon
    July 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Initially I struggled very much with unity. It was just like trying a new genere of game (e.g First time I played Halo, Nexiuz, Portal all of them caused me nausia). Unable to do basic things, not knowing what to do to do the obvious things. After one week or so, forcing myself to using Unity, I was more comfortable with it.

    Then, I decided to use it daily.

    Now, whenever I install any other Desktop Environment (except gnome 2 e.g in gentoo) I really can’t get anything done as efficiently as Unity. One of those interfaces is Gnome 3, which I really want to like and use (without any plugins), but I have never been able to use it. May be if I force myself on using it, I will be as comfortable.

    In unity all of my things are fixed. Here is my general use case
    1. Launch Firefox = Win + 1
    2. Launch bookmark = Alt + keyword

    I will not lie, I also have gnome-do installed, because I don’t trust the dash (for its speed and online search). But for a person who likes to be in home-row for major tasks, unity is the best of all the interfaces out there.

    And when I want to sit back and watch youtube videos, there is onboard (I use mouse to type search terms then), if I am not on my regular subscriptions.

    Yes Ubuntu still has bugs e.g when you move mouse on fullscreen videos whole laucher gets displayed. Smplayer does not behave as it should when unmaximizing and there are random gliches and crashes.

    However unity still is far more stable that cinnamon (freeze, unresponsive, panel icons move unnecessarily, and generally bugs here and there).

    I never really liked xfce (because it did not look that great). KDE, I did not like even when I used to use version 3. Once in a while I install KDE to remind myself, why I didn’t like it in the first place, and I am always proven right. I like tilling window manager more than these (however they are not good for all usecases), but for me there are only two interface, that looks more natural (gnome and unity). Cinnamon is good for WIMP interface, but it is very much buggy (even on Mint).

    My only options are gnome and unity. Currently, I can not say, I like gnome 3.

    I like Unity, but I would like to point out couple of things I am suspicious about Ubuntu and canonical.

    1. User privacy (Even when I turn off online service, it continuously connects the server), so I had to uninstall all internet facing services
    2. Yes canonical has to make money, but the direction they are taking e.g their Licence, their apple like tone, makes me really uncomfortable.
    3. Their actions in a way defeats the purpose of Linux, just like what Google did. Actions like these proves, you can make money only by exploiting free software, which Mark Shuttleworth was once opponent of (free vs open source).

    However, work canonical currently doing is truly impressive. Lots of people from community are blaming canonical for not doing their share of work (lazy people). Yes Unity was unique to Ubuntu (since gnome 3 guys did not comply with Ubuntu people). As a result we now have unique interfaces for most major distributions (even new ones like zorin and deepin). I am so happy now, because at least each distribution has their own identity (even on gui level).

    As for Mir, haters gonna hate. Even if Mir becomes incompatible with rest of Linux. If I have to use Ubuntu, I will use Ubuntu. If I have to use others, I will use others. So what’s the bickering, all about (people who sell Nvidia supporting one or other, needs to seriously wake up).

  21. Eddie G.
    July 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    In my opinion…I love the current state of Unity on Ubuntu, and I’m not just some displaced Windows user looking for a thrill…I honestly feel the Unity interface is pleasurable to use daily, and along with my Fedora running MATE…..and my Linux Mint running Cinnamon…I have all the apps…toys…games…and tools I need to perform my work daily without complaints….

  22. July 12, 2013 at 1:55 am

    People should give a chance to Unity. Its hard to change your ways but Unity is something really cool. The only problem I find in unity is the slow performance. I wanted to switch to am different distribution because Ubuntu is getting a lot of crashes and its a bit slow. But its hard for me to give up Unity. It make things a lot easier. Its designed well to meet the user’s needs. But it will be useless if the user is not willing to try it out. It take time to adjust. You can’t do it overnight. But when you are adjusted, you’ll love it!

  23. Pete
    July 14, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I like more about the newer DEs than I dislike, but I’ve found Unity is by far the most polished and handles the occasional curveball much better. For example, I wanted to run a 20 inch display of my laptop and use it as my primary display. In cinnamon, you can’t move the panel to the display.

    The only quibble I have now with Unity is the dash. If the super key launched the gnome3 overview with dynamic workspaces, I’d reach desktop Nirvana.

  24. laite
    July 15, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Thing that bothers me about Unity is that it’s so much embedded into Ubuntu. Why can’t I install Unity (unlike *any* other major DE) on my Fedora or plain Debian without some terrible hacks?

    As I have my reasons to dislike Canonical and Ubuntu, it seems that I’ll never get to even try this awesomeness and perfection of Unity.

    Oh well, I think I can live with it.

  25. Eric
    July 16, 2013 at 1:53 am

    This is a follow up to my post above (first Eric post @ July 11, 2013 at 4:12 am).

    I like Unity in many ways and am frustrated by lack of attention to the small details in the Linux desktop, that said even if I think Mir may have given Wayland some healthy competition, I am still pulling for Wayland and in addition to the some of the existing DE’s and WM’s being ported, I think it will open of some creating new development in that space. I am encouraged as to what is possible.

    Debian even elected a new leader who wants to see Debian move towards more of a “go to” distro than on used as the foundation of another (e.g. Ubuntu and others.) I think that would be totally cool. Yes, I know many people run Debian, but I bet anything the user base leans towards those with more Linux skills, not because it is hard, just because.

    Imagine a Debian that had periodic “rock solid” stable releases, but also did something like say a more rolling release (I know some say Testing is this, but the freeze messes this up.) What about a Debian that cleaned up the file system, switched to systemd (yeah, I know there are detractors, but so many people after using it have given praise.) There are other things that could be done.

    The Linux desktop could really happen in a big way. I think part of it is a matter of organization, and I’d love to see Debian be the place where things “got organized.” Things are slowly moving towards a better direction I think, but I believe we are still in a place where there is just too much disconnect and “cobbling” together of things. That doesn’t mean we should move aware from the modular nature of Unix/*nix. But some coordination on some level, some fine-tuning of things could really pay off.

    After playing a bit with Gnome 3 extensions in Fedora, I did a Ubuntu Gnome install and seem to like that as well. I like Ubuntu simply because there are so many packages and many are up to date, and many of the more important development tools (like databases) provide repos of the latest stable for Ubuntu. Imagine if Debian could fill this niche, actually doing things way better? I’d switch in a heartbeat.

  26. Eric
    July 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Sorry to keep posting here, but since this stuff is set in the internet stone, I want to clarify. Been running Ubuntu Gnome 13.04 on my desktop for over a week and just swapped “vanilla” 13.04 (Unity) with Ubuntu Gnome on an older laptop, and hands down Gnome 3 is way better for me.

    My experience with Gnome 3 was with a Fedora 19 install. Little things like not enabling good font hinting (patents have expired) or using good fonts or what ever make a difference. Aesthetics matter.

    I still think the whole Mir thing created a conversation that helped bring the attention of Wayland to more people and will probably create some motivations to push the envelope. What I am for is the best solution that is as best possible future-proof. Time for X to go (but not the underlying pieces that were pulled out to create a foundation for the future) other than to be run “rootless” on something else to provide compatibility. Time to bring forward a much better experience, and I am pulling for Wayland, but I am okay with what competition brings to the table.

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