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I decided to post a little introduction to myself here: Ask me who I was last March, and I would have had WinBloze 7 Beta on my main computer and would have been part of Micro$uck's test project for WinBloze 7 and would have been excited about it. However, that changed as soon as my network adapter changed and the new one worked with Linux. As soon as I tested the new adapter with Mint (I'd say about a year ago, in July 2009) I began to really value Linux for what it is.

However, I knew about Linux long before that. I started with gOS 2, which was my first distro. I had tried it back in about February 2008. I first learned about Linux back in mid-2007, from an article in PCMag that spanned several pages. I had quite a hard time back then, and Ubuntu Hardy was no different than gOS.

So then what took me so long from knowing about Linux to finally becoming an active user? My house was nothing but Wi-Fi. My mother set a secure wireless network up back then, and I couldn't connect to it because my adapter (Linksys WUSB54GSC) wasn't recognized by Linux. I had the patience to continue.

Then, in June 2008, my family got hit by the economic collapse here in the USA: The mortgage on my old house doubled and my family had to leave because of the rate increase. So, we were stuck in a hotel room until my family and I could end up in a new house. That Christmas, I wanted a netbook, and got my wish (the one I'm typing on, an Acer Aspire One AOA110-1545). It came with Linux preinstalled, and I liked it all around.

From then to June 2009, I still had WinBloze on my desktop, as Linux still didn't work with my wireless network adapter. Then, in June 2009 as I said, I got a new wireless network adapter, and in July decided to test it with Linux Mint 7. It worked, even from the Live CD! Now,

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Ubuntu 11.04's Unity: What's new

Posted 01-21-2011 at 07:21 PM by Kenny_Strawn

Since Unity has been introduced in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition, there have been many changes in it just since 10.10's release. The switch from Mutter to Compiz is one example: Compiz, unlike Mutter, has more animations and other effects that allow some incredible things like autohiding of the Unity Launcher, Launcher transparency, and familiar things like the world-famous desktop cube enabled by other Compiz plugins that can run alongside Unity (also a Compiz plugin).

The switch from a Clutter-based UI to a Compiz-based UI also means that people will be more familiar with it than they will with GNOME Shell (also considering that Ubuntu Netbook users are also used to Unity) and be able to use the visual effects they are already familiar with, know, and love without breaking the desktop.

It has some incredible effects already, including autohiding of the Unity launcher (which just got introduced):

It also has the colored application icons back. It honestly looks just like something that came off an iPhone, not a Linux desktop, the way its visual effects are.

However, Ubuntu 11.04 is alpha software, and its version of Unity sure lives up to the alpha name with some of its quirks. For example, click on the Ubuntu button in the upper left corner of the screen and instead of getting Dash you get Nautilus in /usr/share/applications.

What?! Seriously?! That cheap? Sure it's alpha software, but apparently opening a directory where the app shortcuts are instead of creating an easy-to-use Dash is absolutely insane.

There also is a bug reported here where enabling or disabling other Compiz plugins while Unity is running seems to cause Compiz to crash with Signal 11 (a.k.a. SIGSEGV a.k.a. Segmentation Fault) and leave the user with no window manager. It seems as though the issue is that the Compiz-based Unity doesn't disconnect signals which causes conflicting signals to occur and therefore signals get thrown into the mix, like this one.

Overall, the Compiz-based Unity looks very promising. However, it is still a work in progress and will take at least until Ubuntu 11.04 Beta to become stable enough for everyday use. The bottom line is that alpha software is, despite being innovative and ahead of the curve, still a work in progress that in a lot of cases needs serious debugging before it can be considered a mainstream release.
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  1. Old Comment
    Thanks for the review. I'm thinking Unity looks a bit more promising than Plasma (KDE). However, I haven't actually tried Unity yet. I'm a wait and see person :P

    However, some issues with what you said. "Clutter-based UI to a Compiz-based UI" Compiz isn't a user interface. Infact, Compiz in the most pure form is a window manager that accepts plugins to complete all its tasks and at the base simply only allows you to move a window to the top layer by clicking on it. It also allows the plugins to access the composit manager effects.

    Also, "people will be more familiar with it than they will with GNOME Shell ... use the visual effects they are already familiar with" is arguable. I know nothing of either but I found the plugin system annoying when starting compiz with an empty configuration. Especially considering you have to enable window movement ;P
    Posted 01-21-2011 at 08:02 PM by lumak lumak is offline
  2. Old Comment
    What I meant was that Unity is a Compiz plugin instead of a Mutter plugin, meaning that it can run alongside other Compiz plugins.

    And especially in Ubuntu, most of the visually appealing plugins that have become very popular (Desktop Cube, Rotate Cube, Shift Switcher, etc.) will still be able to be used. These visual effects plugins will still be supported by Unity, but not by GNOME Shell.
    Posted 01-22-2011 at 12:41 AM by Kenny_Strawn Kenny_Strawn is offline


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