Carrying on from my previous rant about Ubuntu’s new Ocelot release, another highly frustrating aspect of the recent major releases is their move to using Unity’s “improved user experience” shell. If you’ve used one of the major releases from the last 18 months (maybe longer), you’ll have noticed that out of the box there’s a vertical bar filled with application icons on the left hand side.
This bar, aka ‘Unity’, is meant to speed up and slip-stream the process of finding and launching applications, as well as keeping them easily accessible once they’re open. However to me it’s very slow, awkward to use, hides even the most basic controls and removes several large ‘customisable’ aspects of the older Ubuntu systems.
Here’s the fairly acceptable look of Unity running on the left hand side of my screen, click for a closer view.
So it doesn’t look too bad, but half those icons I don’t even use… so that immediately annoys me. Plus what was wrong with pinning icons to the dead space along the top between the old drop down menus and the clock? Nothing in my opinion, especially as there’s still dead space there. More annoyance.
Plus if you look at the zoomed in image below, (taken from the top left), you can see that behind the black bar there’s another series of menus hiding there, heavily blurred by Unity’s semi opaqueness. I suppose that’s one way to maximise used space?
Don’t get me started on where the clock, WiFi, battery or sign out icons have gone! Anyone know where these are to be found?!
Probably the biggest aspect that really makes me question who had the final say on Unity’s GUI is the sheer size (of which you can’t easily change) of the launch menus, shown below:
I mean seriously? You could land a plane on those icons. If you compare the size of those icons to the ones on the desktop behind it… you should hopefully be able to see how absurd the size of Unity’s GUI is! For the record I like my desktop icons to be 10-20% smaller than shown, but was too eager to print screen and immortalise my annoyance.
So its slow, stupidly over sized, clunky, set-in-its-ways and hides other menus… anything else? Why yes, actually there is! The windows bar (the horizontal bar that runs along most screens showing which windows are open, also in Microsoft’s OS it has the Start bar and time) has been completely removed. In its place tiny white smudges appear beside the relevant icon in Unity’s bar, hard to see at the best of time, impossible to spot if the desktop background is brightly coloured in places. So we’ve gone from being shown what windows and programs we have open, to now having to hunt through a large stack of icons in hope we can remember what ours looked like! Sounds like a dull game to me.
As you can tell by the one-sided bashing I’ve done, this post is a rant over some of the most basic problems I have with the Unity bar… it isn’t a well-balanced discussion.
Thankfully I’ve found a very easy way to remove Unity.
Am I missing some basic setting options that everyone else knows about? Can you easily reduce the GUI or bring back some of my beloved and trusty horizontal bars? Please drop me a comment and let me know.