User:Woozle/Unity desktop manager

from HTYP, the free directory anyone can edit if they can prove to me that they're not a spambot
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This was originally posted on Google+ on 2011-10-24; there is some further dialogue there.

A Thoroughly Objective Non-Rant About the Very Lovely Unity Desktop Manager

1. Where's the menu?

The Left-Side Floaty Thingy (LSFT) tries to serve as both menu and taskbar, but lacks any hierarchy -- so you're strictly limited as to how many things you can add, and the more things you add the more cluttered your taskbar becomes.

The "Dash" (the semi-transparent thing that pops up when you click on the top icon of the LSFT) seems like it could have been a menu -- e.g. when you click on the "more apps" icon, the set of buttons on the right seems structured very similarly to a standard menu -- but there is no apparent way to configure it:

1a. You can't add, delete, or rename buttons.
1b. You can't add or remove applications from the list displayed when you click on a particular button.
1c. You can't reconfigure the applications that are shown (e.g. to run an app with specific command-line options -- this being Linux, where such things are often important, and not Windows, which tries to pretend it doesn't have a text interface anymore).

2. Where's the taskbar?

The LSFT combines (a) things I am currently running (i.e. the function of a taskbar) with (a very limited number of) things I might want to run (i.e. the function of a menu), making it cluttered and confusing.

The process of switching tasks - a brief comparison:

  • Gnome: Move mouse down to bottom. Click on desired application.
  • Unity: Move mouse to left. Wait for LSFT to appear. Look for appropriate icon. Hover over possible icons if unsure, so popup text will appear. If desired icon is not showing, move mouse to bottom left so list will scroll. Wait for scrolling to stop. Click on desired icon.

3. Why is nothing configurable?

In Gnome, you can right-click on almost anything to configure it. (This has now been changed to Alt-right-click, which seems unnecessary... but that's Gnome, not Unity.) You can right-click the menu to edit it. You can right-click the taskbar to change its behavior. You can right-click the top bar to add applets or rearrange them or change other behaviors.

You can right-click (or ctrl-right-click or shift-right-click or alt-right-click or ctrl-left-click or shift-left-click or alt-left-click or ctrl-alt-left-click or ctrl-shift-left-click or... I could go on) on the LSFT all you want, and Nothing Happens... unless you click an app icon, and then it either runs the app or gives you the option to remove the app from the bar. Those are pretty much the only options.

The top bar cannot, as far as I can determine, be configured at all -- neither by clicking nor through System Settings. I can't add or remove items from the task tray -- which further implies that all the functionality formerly available through installable applets (and not installed by default) is no longer available.

I can't even move the LSFT to another part of the screen -- which would be nice, because it's always popping up in front when I'm trying to scroll through my tabs in Firefox (I use a plugin which puts them on the left).

4. Why do app menus appear in the top bar?

This is a relatively minor gripe, but it was a real problem at least once -- when my system was being a little laggy, and it was telling me that Application A was currently active even though I had switched to Application B, so I tried to close App A to speed things up a bit -- and closed App B instead, because the [x] for both of them was on the same real-estate rather than being kept separate by the convention of remaining attached to the app's window.

This strikes me as not just an attempt to imitate MacOS, but an attempt to imitate one of the few things that MacOS actually got wrong.

5. Where's the screensaver?

That seems to be gone from Unity and Gnome. I realize the trend now is to do a power-down instead of running a screensaver, but I miss staring at ElectricSheep. (More practically, there are some screensavers that do useful work that is best done when the computer isn't being used as a desktop.)