Ubuntu Unity review - it is Windows 8, 10 crap

It was my first with Ubuntu Unity after having used Linux Mint Cinnamon.

Mint Cinnamon was great, but following the recent hack of their website, I read discussion regarding the hack and I also saw some background information about Mint itself. Points were made that Mint "breaks" certain things in order to get itself to work. This includes kernel security updates, for example which a Linux Mint user does not receive thru the built-in online update. Since Mint is based on Ubuntu, I have wondered whether I should use Ubuntu itself, instead.

So, I have burned yet another (the number of blank media I wasted on Linux images burns is nuts...) DVD of Ubuntu with Unity (which is the default and only officially supported desktop environment). Then I tried. I hated it immediately.

Unity is exactly what I hate about Windows 8 and 10. These put a lot of effort into hiding any productivity feature that I have come to rely upon. Any tiny task requires lengthy searching. Even when I find that I was looking for, the functionality is often crippled and limited, requiring further lengthy searching and Internet research.

Let me illustrate this behavior of not allowing me to do anything useful, and hiding of  everything from me with several examples:

1. Upon initial install of Ubuntu, it comes with a virgin clean desktop. My immediate instinct is to load up that desktop with shortcuts to programs that I want to try out, create some shortcuts to the filesystem, and so on. Guess what? The ability to do this is very well hidden from you. Using GUI along, you cannot create any shortcuts nor place anything on desktop. That isn't so hard to do in Cinnamon. Just to find a shortcut you can copy to desktop requires you to manually navigate to /usr/share/applications and copy over the .desktop file(s) for applications you want to have shortcuts for on your desktop.

2. I hit the Win/Start keyboard button, expecting to see the full list of installed programs. Guess what? It is impossible to find this list in GUI. You can only search your list of programs. There is nothing like a full listing of Start Menu of Windows or Linux programs menus.

3.The "taskbar" of Windows has been moved to the left of the screen, and it is now vertical. It is confusing as well. I cannot tell what programs are open from the Unity launcher, because it confusingly combines shortcuts and running programs, with very little graphical distinction. The online upgrade icon, for example, looks like it is always running!

4. It does not recognize basic Windows shortcuts such as Win/Start+D for Show Desktop. Cinnamon has no trouble keeping up, because it was built with the objective to make the transition to Linux easy for Windows and noob users. I can't even find a GUI button for the "show desktop" command!

5. Placing the window actions (minimize, maximize, close) on the top left is confusing. I have been trained for many years to expect it on the right.

6. You want to uninstall a program. Guess what? I have not found the ability to uninstall any programs.

7. Unity has no GUI option to safely remove / eject external storage like USB hard drives, flash memory, etc. That means I can never pull it out of the computer unless I do a textual command. If I can't remove it safely, I am never putting in my media in the first place.

8. After I manage to find a program by searching my list of installed programs (see bullet 2), I right click on it, expecting to see an option to pin it to the "task bar" or the desktop after all the hard work of finding it. Guess what? There is no such option for creating a shortcut or pinning it.

9. The software manager is very confusing. It keeps offering option to "install" a program that has just been installed.

10. The combined menu bar is very confusing. It changes its contents constantly (from title of window) when mouse is not over it, to a menu bar associated with the same (active!) window as soon as it gets a mouse over it. It is also very confusing as to which window is now in charge of the top shared menu bar. I find myself moving the mouse up and down constantly to get anything out of it. I'll keep my traditional menus that are stuck on the top of their respective windows.

11. The "default open with" application does not want to change. I keep trying to get VLC to open media by default, but no matter what I do, "Videos" (re-branded Totem) keeps launching instead.

12. Any alternatives have been removed. The "2D" version has been removed from options.

Bottom line: if you love Windows 8 and 10 then Unity is for you. If you hate 8/10 and see your productivity suffer, then stay away from it!

There are alternative desktops available (without full official and commercial support from Ubuntu), with GNOME, KDE, MATE, and some ligthweight desktop environments. Either use that, or use Mint Cinnamon. I'm aware it breaks things, but at least my productivity is not broken.

Note: GNOME is same crap as above with the exception of points 5, 10. But, they have decided to not have a taskbar at all, and to not show windows actions buttons such as minimize, maximize by default at all (it is a right-click option). Is there a conspiracy to tamper with my productivity?

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Page last modified 06-Sep-16 23:04:48 EDT
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