I have mixed feelings about the newly introduced (well it ain’t that new anymore) Ubuntu Unity desktop. In Unity we have the menu-bar moved to the upper “panel” called the “top-panel” and the bottom task bar which used to let users switch between opened & minimized windows (or docking in general), workspace switching etc in Gnome Classic is now implemented to the left which is called the “application launcher”.
Personally there are few good things about the left “application launcher” but like many others I too see it’s drawbacks more than the useful features to be honest. For instance when I have more than one window of the same application minimized (say a web browser with multiple windows rather than “tabs” or nautilus, etc) then I no longer can easily bring one of the minimized window to the front.
First I have to double click on the appropriate icon and then Compiz would open all those minimized windows into a one larger full screen view. And from that I have to choose the one that I want to bring to the front. Now this is not bad but it’s feels like too much work for bringing a minimized window to front, that’s all.
So I’d very much prefer something like the old way of restoring a minimize window as simply as clicking on the minimized window title (as with Gnome classic bottom panel for instance) or by using the never approach of minimized windows with previews as implemented in Windows Aero interface for instance.
It could be quite interesting if they could come up with something like that for application launcher because then we wouldn’t have to double click and get the full screen “overview”.
So anyway, right now you cannot customize anything in Unity (other than a very few) but there are few emerging ones that one can use and this one called “MyUnity” is a pretty good looking application that lets you customize a reasonable amount of settings in Unity.
*. Change Application launcher based settings: size (small, medium and large), show devices always or when mounted, few window related dock behaviors, icon back-light settings (my favorite) and set two animations (fade or auto-hide) for the dock hiding.
Using the ‘Fade’ animation for hiding seems to have helped for reducing the GPU usage.
*. The Dash : Disable the “Blur” effect, always ON or use “Smart” (so it’ll decide whether to Blur or not depending on the occasion, if you have an opened window in the background then it’ll Blur it otherwise no Blurring I suppose).
*. Top Panel: Switch between four types of transparency settings.
*. For the”Desktop”: By default Ubuntu doesn’t show any of Home or Computer icons on desktop but using this tool you can change that.
*. Change fonts: Which is also available via the “Desktop” settings by default nonetheless.
You can install MyUnity in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot and 11.04 Natty Narwhal by using its PPA (if you want the latest builds). For that open your Terminal window and use the below commands.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:myunity/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install myunity
Although after changing the theme to “Radiance” the transparent top panel’s fonts started to look ugly (which could be due to Radiance theme incompatibility) but it does integrate well with the “Ambiance” theme. That’s it.