Sunday, November 07, 2010

Unity as the default Ubuntu desktop

UDS is over. Maybe the most controvertial announcement to come out during UDS would be that Unity will be scaled up to work on the desktop. Having only too recently used Unity, I'd have to say I doubt Unity's ability to work well on the traditional desktop. But then again, this is Ubuntu we're talking about here.

Ubuntu came to be considered by many as the top Linux distro within a very short period of time and that's no mean feat. The Natty development cycle is just begun, so things are not set in stone. It's not unreasonable to believe the Ubuntu team could make Unity work, somehow. I don't know how but, somehow.

If nothing else, the move to Compiz should significantly improve Unity's currently iffy performance. That alone would make for a better user experience than what's currently on offer but there's more that needs improving in Unity.

Here's just a few things that could do with some serious polishing. Some of them have pretty much been confirmed for improvement during Natty development.

File management - Bluntly speaking, file management capabilities are non-existent. What's currently in Unity isn't sufficiently capable as a Nautilus replacement feature-wise and accessing Nautilus isn't as straightforward as I would like.

Search - Unity's search function doesn't seem to consider the possibility that the user might have more than one hard disk mounted and frequently fails to find files I'm looking for when it's on my second drive. I'm almost sure I'm wrong here since one week is hardly enough to really get to know a new desktop's personality quirks.

Integration - Not all default apps support the Global Menu. Firefox now has two menus: one on the Global Menu, another in it's own traditional menu bar. It's quite annoying, really, but the planned move to Firefox 4 is hopeful. It's little things like these that make the desktop experience less "integrated" to use a currently popular word.

Wine and OpenGL - Compiz and OpenGL games don't always play well together. Same goes for Unity's 3D accelerated goodness. OpenGL games running under Wine tend to just render black screens. And I thought AIGLX solved that long ago...

Those are just a few that comes to mind. I'm sure there's more and the developers are working on it. Looking forward to Natty's journey this six months or so.

Related posts:

Ubuntu's Unity on the desktop