I posted here on my initial impressions of Ubuntu’s new Unity interface, then on my trials trying to get it working for me on a production system here. Well, I’m still giving Unity a chance…with help. In the process of Googling around, I’ve also learned about some of the underlying system changes in Natty.
First, I noticed that I’m not getting things that I expect in the notification area. It turns out that Canonical limited the apps that can use the Natty notification area. I found the answer in this post. Using the technique mentioned there, I added ‘update-notifier’ and ‘Shutter’ to the white list, then logged out and back in again. Worked like a charm. You can see in the screenshot further below that Shutter now appears in the notification area.
Update: I just found a more inclusive approach. Simply type this into the terminal:
gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist “[‘all’]”
then log out and in. That will open up the notification area to all compatible applications. When I just did this, compiz-fusion-icon showed up.
Next, I wanted my hardware monitor back. I decided to reactivate Avant Window Navigator (AWN), but remove most of my prior applets. I only really need my CPU3 and GPU temperatures and the menu system. The Unity “lenses” represent perhaps the worst aspect of the Unity interface. The whole idea of having to type in a GUI to get to programs seems absurd and is far less efficient than clicking through. You can click through the lens system, but it takes forever compared to a simple menu system. So, I used that in AWN as well. I set AWN to always visible with the Edgy scheme. With its great icons and reflection, it looks way better than the Unity bar itself.
I also want to replace the awful Unity Workplace Switcher. I thought that AWN’s Shiny Switcher would do the trick, but sadly, it only recognizes one desktop. This is the same issue I had with the Ubuntu Classic setup. And no, changing the number of desktops in CCSM’s General Settings doesn’t make a difference. [EDIT: Fixed! See this post.] There must be something strange about the Unity/Compiz setup that messes up third-party desktop switchers. I’ll work on that later, and welcome any and all suggestions.
The next question is where to place the AWN dock. I tried it “on” the top panel, but that didn’t work out. Although it looked OK on the top panel, it seemed to be blocked by that panel after a restart. After toying around, I decided to put AWN “on” the Unity dock at the bottom with the trash can. It looks good there and does some of what I wanted:
So, this provides minimal functionality.
I’m still working on workspace switching with just mouse buttons and small movement. No joy on that yet. My initial attempts caused Unity to crash every time I used the Compiz Configuration Settings Manager. Please comment here if you have achieved success in this quest. [Solved: see this post.]
Ubuntu 11.04 Natty looks more and more like a rushed product that moves in a bad direction for users.