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Ubuntu is moving to Unity

 
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Colstan
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 7:50 pm    Post subject: Ubuntu is moving to Unity Reply with quote

Hey folks,

I'm not sure if anyone here is interested, but there are some big changes coming to Ubuntu. They're bringing the Unity user interface to the desktop. Previously, it had been for netbooks only. I haven't used it myself, but apparently it's rather rough around the edges. Canonical (the company that makes Ubuntu) thinks that they'll have it stable and usable to bring to the desktop for the next release.

Ars Technica has a good article summarizing the changes being made.

What strikes me the most is how Ubuntu is moving away from all other Linux distros. Ubuntu has become the face of desktop Linux, so they have apparently made a number of moves that they believe will benefit their users, but will probably upset many in the Linux community. While not spelling it out, they're essentially dumping the next-generation GNOME Shell and the related Mutter window manager. They've also decided to use technology that they feel is more useful for their needs, including the Zeitgeist framework and continuing to use Compiz, which they consider more stable. They've also hired some of the Compiz developers.

Regardless of the technical details, it looks like Ubuntu is moving in a direction that will put them in a more competitive position against Windows and Mac OS X. Linux market share on the desktop still remains tiny, but this will at least be an attempt to stop the fragmentation that has plagued the platform in the past.

It'll be interesting going forward to see how Unity will be adapted for the desktop. It looks like Ubuntu is moving away from the traditional window interface that most of us are familiar with, much as Apple is moving away from traditional file management, in favor of some concepts from the iOS.

I bring this up, mainly because it will be nice to have another alternative to Microsoft. I'll certainly give it a try once Ubuntu 11.04 is released. I'm not one of those people who continually claims that this is the "year of the Linux desktop". Frankly, market share doesn't matter too much to me, as long as the software is useful. Sure, Linux is missing many of the apps that Windows and the Mac currently have, but that's not going to stop me from trying things that are new and different. With both Ubuntu and Mac OS X getting major overhauls next year, it should be an interesting time for those of us who want something new in desktop operating systems.

So, I just figured I'd post this in this forum, in case anyone is interested.

Colstan
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Fox
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read about this as well. I am actually using Unity in the form of Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10; I'm posting from this right now. I have noticed some occasional flaws in the operation of UNE, but by and large it works. Having said this, I have some concerns with moving Ubuntu to a Unity default. I think it works well on a netbook because of the limited display size. I wouldn't want this on a desktop. Ironically, I think Mac OS Lion is moving towards the same kind of desktop, a case of them borrowing from Ubuntu! Although the form of icon-based desktops has improved a lot over the years, I think the idea is retro. Anyone remember Launcher on System 7? Much the same thing.
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Colstan
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback, Fox. I wasn't sure how well Unity would work on a desktop, in its current form. From your experience, it sounds like this isn't something we would want to use as our primary operating system.

It appears that both Lion and Ubuntu are headed in similar directions by moving their mobile experience onto the mainstream desktop. I'm really not sure what to think of this. It seems like a big gamble to me. Rethinking the desktop is something that has been a long time in coming, but basing it on an OS designed for a small-screen form factor sounds like they're going backwards. Surely, changes will be made for desktop use, but we'll just have to wait to see those changes. Some folks have reacted very strongly against this general trend. I prefer to wait and see what is released. Both Canonical and Apple have some smart people working for them, so maybe Ubuntu and Lion are headed in the right direction.

Hmm...does this mean that Windows 8 is going to mirror Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform? Microsoft could actually differentiate their OS by not copying their mobile offering.

BTW, you're right that Apple appears to be following some of Ubuntu's feature set. Launchpad looks a lot like Unity and Ubuntu already has an app store. It's funny that, while you'll never get Microsoft, Apple or Canonical to admit it, they borrow features from each other all the time.

Colstan
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Fox
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Colstan, I should mention that you can install UNE without being forced to use their netbook desktop. It automatically installs all of Gnome as well. If you don't like the Netbook Edition desktop, you can chose the desktop edition from the session menu on the bottom of your screen right at startup when you log in. If you set login to be automatic, then log out and log in with the desktop edition. You can make either the default as well.

Only problem with this is that UNE comes only as 32 bit, whereas if you install the standard version of Ubuntu, you have the option for a 64 bit installation. I don't know how much of a difference that makes for most applications, unless you want to access more than 4 gb of RAM. I only have 2 on my netbook (all I need) and 4 on my Macs, so RAM access isn't an issue for me.

I should also mention that one of the ways the UNE (Clutter) desktop differs from the standard desktop or that of the current MacOS X or Windows is that in UNE, the Desktop folder is not visible except if you invoke its window from the file manager. This means that stuff you put on the Desktop isn't visible either. This happens to be the behaviour of the KDE desktop environment as well (although visibility is an option in KDE), and I find this annoying. I'm not sure how Lion will invoke the desktop paradigm.
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Copernicus
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I kind of like the fact that folks are still toying around with new desktop concepts on Linux. For me, fragmentation is not a "plague", but rather a feature; Ubuntu may be the most popular distribution, but (unlike the Mac or Windows world) no individual or group can force all Linux users into accepting a single standard.

Whether this is a better way of doing business or not is perhaps an open question, but this provides a good example of the difference. I'm not enthusiastic about the idea of turning my 20 inch monitor into a glorified iPhone, but I would imagine that when Lion comes out, I'll eventually have to grit my teeth and upgrade to it in order to continue using OS X on my Minis. If Ubuntu is successful at moving people to Unity, though, it'll be because they enticed users to it, not forced them into it. And this is precisely due to "fragmentation"; the same applications that work under Unity will work under Gnome (or KDE, or whatever); the end-user can choose whatever they want without losing access to their most important software.

And, certainly, there will always be some users who you can just never convince to change. Myself, I use the Fedora distribution on my Linux boxes, you'll never get me to prepend "GNU" on to "Linux", and I still use vi in a console window for all my text editing, just like I did 20 years ago. Smile
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Colstan
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fox, thanks again for the explanation. I was aware that you could try out Unity without needing to do a full install. I don't currently have a handy install of Ubuntu and probably will just wait for 11.04 before I jump back into the Linux waters. Also, I've typically used the 64-bit version because of the slight advantages in security and speed implemented in the x86-64 instruction set. It's probably nothing noticeable, but I see no reason not to use it, in my case.

Copernicus, I understand your viewpoint. I shouldn't have used the word "plagued" to describe general acceptance of Linux. I do think that fragmentation is a real problem, if we are talking about a functioning, profitable desktop distro. I think that's where Ubuntu comes in. I don't expect Linux to have a great deal of acceptance on the desktop, but I do think that a platform marketed to a general audience will attract more users that are technically inclined and willing to try something new.

Over the years, other than Ubuntu, I've tried Fedora, OpenSUSE, Mandrake, Slackware, Debian...probably a few others I'm forgetting. Ubuntu is the only one that I'd consider using long-term, not because I have any real issue with the others, but because it's the closest thing to "it just works" on the Linux side of the pond. I switched from Mac OS X to Ubuntu 10.04 for a couple of months. I liked it a great deal and would be willing to switch if the Mac heads in a direction that isn't to my liking such as, like you said, a "glorified iPhone". Of course, where Canonical is heading is a different matter to consider.

So, from my perspective, while freedom of choice in the free software arena is quite nice, it's not something I really want to deal with at this point. I like Linux in general, but also want a distro that presents a unified front that can compete with Windows and the Mac. I think Ubuntu is that distro, and if they head off in their own direction to accomplish that, then that's fine with me.

Colstan
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MacSmack
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:18 am    Post subject: Linux on Mini Reply with quote

I use Ubuntu, and like it, but none of you said anything about what machine you are using it on. Has any one used it on a Mac Mini? Duel boot or complete replacement of OS X?
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Fox
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On my 2.26 ghz mini, I only have Ubuntu installed as a virtual machine (VMware Fusion and VirtualBox), and that is vanilla Ubuntu 10.10, not UNE. I have UNE 10.10 installed on my Acer netbook.
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Colstan
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Linux on Mini Reply with quote

MacSmack wrote:
I use Ubuntu, and like it, but none of you said anything about what machine you are using it on. Has any one used it on a Mac Mini? Duel boot or complete replacement of OS X?


I used Ubuntu on my Mac mini for a couple of months, exclusively, to see how I would manage without Mac OS X. I like Ubuntu very much but I needed to do additional steps to get Ubuntu working the way that I wanted it to. Once I had it customized, it was fine, but most of what I did just made the interface a lot like the way I use OS X. So, I went back.

If for some reason I no longer wanted to use a Mac, then I'm sure I would move to Ubuntu. I'll be curious to see how Unity on the desktop works out.

Colstan
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