Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Desktops

For the last few months I've been mumbling about the new styles of desktops. Ubuntu has moved on to Unity (I still think this is a HUGE mistake). Gnome has moved on. KDE moved on ages ago. Even Windows 8 is sporting an all new desktop style.

Previously my complaint has been that I don't want my computer to be treated like a lowly tablet/cell phone device. Large icons and the like aren't really what I'm after. I like things to be categorised.

Then yesterday I started looking at the various options. Every single one of them just yelled out "we're not an out of the box experience!". There's been quite a bit of discussion on the Linux lists about it. Loads of people sharing hints about the various uses of the super (windows) key. Personally I don't like things to be that magic. If you're going to go graphical, then everything should be accessible in a graphical way.

Anyway, by far, the worst of the choices out there seems to be Unity. It has no customization options. It's a dead end if you ask me. In fact, it's already become a bit of a joke at work.
"It's got to be better than Unity"
"Yeah... but if that's what you're setting your standards to, you're not saying much for it"
The new desktops make me think of the old quick launch bar in Windows 98 in favour of the start button. I always disabled the quick launch bar. I found it horribly unwieldy. Even more so than the Start button (having to know the vendors of a particular piece of software before being able to access the application).

Gnome shell to the rescue. By default, it's just plain awful.

The hot corner? Definitely needs to go. My biggest gripe with it is that it changes the state of the desktop. Suddenly your shortcut keys don't work. I still don't see what's so wrong with having categorized applications either. I mean, it's suited us up till now hasn't it?

It turns out that Gnome 3 does have options by way of extensions. And these are written in javascript... If you're like me, you could make it a bit more old fashioned. Disable the hot-spot. Throw in an applications menu.

What does this really mean? The Ubuntu Netbook Interface is no longer developed/maintained. But it doesn't need to be. It turns out we could have the ease of that interface built on top of Gnome3/Gnome-shell.

The question is, do I continue to use Ubuntu? I can get rid of Unity and put in Gnome-shell. But then, it does feel as if they're going out of their way to make it difficult to customize the system. It kind of reminds of me this story I read today - the line
"The desktop is wrong! None of the icons are in the right place!"
Can Ubuntu be considered a difficult personality?

I've just been giving the latest beta version of Ubuntu a try. I find it a little ironic that the application responsible for reporting crashes kept crashing. I've removed it.

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