Posted by: reformedmusings | December 4, 2011

Improving Unity in Ubuntu Oneiric 11.10

I’ve been trying to live with Unity now since upgrading to Ubuntu Oneiric. As I reported earlier, Unity has become more stable but remains minimally configurable. If that were the end of the story, I probably would have moved on from Unity. But the beauty of open source lies in the ability of the community to enhance software.

I made a couple of modifications which kept me using Unity. First, I found a panel indicator application with which to monitor my hardware. That has been an excellent tool. I also found a decent menu application for the Unity dock, which mitigated the text-based Dash silliness. My screen then looked like this:

I since found a reliable panel weather indicator called my-weather-indicator. The stock GNOME weather-indicator keeps crashing, so I sought an alternative. And that’s where I sat until today.

OMG!Ubuntu! posted about a great alternative to move the Unity dock to the bottom of the screen, which was one of my top complaints. I had my AWN dock at the bottom of the screen, which worked out great. I didn’t make all the changes that OMG!Ubuntu! presented, though. I only moved the Unity panel to the bottom of the screen and toggled the icon backlight and edge illumination on the panel.

After following the installation instructions on OMG!Ubuntu!, the appropriate screen in compizconfig-settings-manager (ccsm) should look like this with Ubuntu Unity Plugin Rotated selected:

Clicking on Ubuntu Unity Plugin Rotated brings up the Behavior tab, which I set to this:

Going to the Experimental tab, I set it up like this:

That produced a usable system that now looks like this:

Such a simple move of the Unity panel from the left to the bottom makes a big difference in usability for me. For one thing, it eliminates the constant annoyance of inadvertently triggering the Unity panel when using All-in-One sidebar to access Firefox’s favorites. This drove me crazy, causing me to move Firefox every time I executed it because Oneiric apparently doesn’t remember window locations like Natty and other predecessors did.

Given this new development, it looks like Ubuntu Unity may be continue to increase in configurability thanks to third-party open source developers. I’ll keep you posted!



  1. those settings should be proposed by Unity de facto, like a “drag and drop the bar” where you wish it to be. Many users blame Unity for the rigidity of this annoying left bar and the lack of options.
    Nice tweaks, thx.

    • Thanks for stopping by! Agree that moving the bar should have been a basic feature in the stock Unity. Unity’s rigidity and instability led me to abandon the first attempt in Natty. I’m becoming more comfortable with Oneiric as more 3rd-party tweaks are released. In some respects, folks are basically doing Canonical’s job for them.

  2. […] Move the Unity Panel from the left to the bottom of the workspace […]

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