(Note, the Introduction to this series is HERE.)

My first day of using Unity for work. I have showed it off to a few colleagues and the “ooh” is strong with this one.

I haven’t hit any major snags yet, but I have added to my wishlist for Unity.

This post will be updated as the day drags on…


The Unity Desktop

The Unity Desktop (Click To Enlarge)

Yep, let me dive into this before I get dragged into the quagmire of “real” work…

  1. Panel Applets in the top panel.
    Yes, I know the top panel becomes part of maximised windows, but I need my applets. The Unity sidebar will not work for this, and there is a lot of space between the window control buttons on the left, and the clock et al on the right. Perfect for stuff like Hamster (the Time Tracker I use at the moment,) or Tomboy notes. (I see now that the Tomboy notification has been added to the clock area…)
  2. The ability to click on the Unity Launcher menu to add programs.
    Currently you need to find the program you want to add to the launcher via the Applications menu (which thankfully has a launcher on the Unity Launcher) and right-click on it, then select “keep in launcher.” This is a bit convoluted and can be made easier.
  3. The ability to open a second window of an application from the Unity Launcher.
    Right now if I have one terminal open, I cannot open another (new) terminal from that button. I know Unity is aimed at netbooks that use one window per desktop, but for the desktop this will be a must. Maybe on the pretty right-click menu you can have a “new $application” option?

Unity Launcher

Multiple Virtual Desktops

Unity comes with FOUR virtual desktops as standard. I usually work on four to six. I have yet to discover how to add virtual desktops.

Another issue is that if you have an application – in this example Skype – open on one desktop. If you are on another desktop and a notification for that Skype window pops up you will not be taken to that Skype window if you click on the notification.

In Gnome 2 you will be taken to that Skype window. Even better would be if the Skype (or other app) window became visible on the desktop you are working on.

Window Management

Sometimes there is a window you want to keep above others at all times, OR there is a window you want to keep active on all desktops.

In Gnome you would right-click on the window border and select the appropriate option from the drop-down menu.

In Unity this only works if the window is not maximised. Right-clicking on the window border has no effect when the window is maximised.

If you have multiple windows open, say more than one terminal, there is no indication in the Unity Launcher of that. I would like to see a little number in one of the corners indicating if more than one window is open or not.

Unity Features I LIKE

It is not all negative, below is a short list of Unity features I like – mostly centred around Unity Launcher.

  1. Holding down the SUPER key brings up a number in the placeholder for open programs, pressing the relevant number key on your keyboard brings that window to the front. Sadly it stops at “0″, so if you have more than ten windows open you will have to click on number 11 onwards.
    SUGGESTION – Bind the arrow keys so that you can cycle all the placeholders with SUPER+ARROW KEY.
  2. If something happens with an open application, the corresponding placeholder will wiggle to get your attention. Unfortunately there is nothing else to indicate that somthing is going on with it. Some of the placeholders are angled, looking like a little cube instead of the normal flat square. I am still to figure out what the significance of this is.
    SUGGESTION – Make the placeholder for an application waiting for attention have a lighter border around it. Once off animation is fine, but keeping it bouncing like MacOS will lead to irritation, so a lighter border will allow you to find the one you need to act upon easier. It may be a good idea to make them different shades of the same color if there is more than one waiting notification, the first one in the queue (the oldest) being the lightest shade and then darker from there on in. (I just noticed that the little arrow indicating an open application turns blue if you need to act on an application. It is tastefully small, but too small IMO.)
  3. I like the Ubuntu Launcher, but I miss the category shortcuts that the Applications launcher that resides on the Unity Launcher has, can we have it on both please?

Woops, phone – back later…

End of day

Overall I am rather happy-ish with Unity. There are some issues that I will explore as the days go on.

Overall it feels quicker than regular Gnome, but there are moments when it really seems to wait for something when responding, like when you open the menu.

Tomorrow I will be looking at how much resources it uses compared to Gnome2, and a few other things.

UPDATE: DAY TWO is up and is available HERE.

Will you switch away from Ubuntu because of Unity?

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Related posts:

  1. Using Unity – Day 2
  2. Using Unity – Another 7 Day Challenge!
  3. Using Unity – Day 7
  4. Using Unity – Day 4 Custom Unity Launcher Colors and Patterns
  5. Using Unity – Day 3