I am a man of the digital age. I try to keep up with modern trends in technology and I do this because generally I find the movement forward in technology to be a good thing. When something promising comes out, I do tend to wait a little while and let them put the spit and polish on it before I jump in. Windows 7 was head and shoulders above Windows XP and I did give it a try as my home OS for a few weeks before going back to Linux. My latest foray into trying to keep up has been making my peace with Unity, the current desktop manager Canonical is using for Ubuntu.
A couple of years ago Canonical switched Ubuntu from Gnome 2 to Unity, I like many users were outraged by this and switched to Linux Mint. I chronicled some that here, and ultimately Mint was not as polished and usable as Ubuntu and had several issues I did not have to deal with when using Ubuntu. So I came back to Ubuntu and I could have installed Mates, a fork of Gnome 2, but I decided instead to try out Unity, see if maybe I was not missing something, embrace new technology and all. So for the last several months I have been using Unity.
Unity over all was not that bad. It did what it needed to do. It provided me with a way to easily access my programs and it took some novel approaches to carrying out this task. My problem with Unity though was I seemed to be stuck in the methodology and usability that Canonical decided was best for me and remove virtually all meaningful customizations. Frankly, my needs are relatively small, I prefer my taskbar at the bottom of my screen. Okay I get it, most people, myself included have more horizontal space than vertical space, so putting the taskbar on the side rather than the bottom, makes sense. Except that I really don’t like it there, it sat on the left side of my primary monitor. Visually this broke up my desktop in an unpleasant way and they would not even let me move it to the other side of the screen. I also did not really like having a universal menu bar at the top of the screen, again, I get it, by having all the menus on the one bar and which menu is available is based on the active window, provides the program with more screen room. Again, this did not appeal to me on an aesthetic level and I would end up trying to access the FireFox menu when I wanted the Virtualbox menu. Finally, because I use Windows 7 at work, having the Minimize, Maximize and Close buttons on the top left rather than the top right slowed me down because I had to think about it.
So, finally last night, I decided it was time to go back to Gnome 2/Mates. It is sort of like putting on an old shoe, it feels right, it feels good. This is the one big advantage that Linux has that Windows will never have. Reconfigurability at the system level, if I am dissatisfied with the way my window manager works, it is near trivial to install one that does work the way you want it too, I am not locked into the Canonical way. It took me less than half an hour to get Mates installed and set up the way I wanted it. I talked a bit last week about Canonical switching Ubuntu from Xorg to XMir in the next update, there is of course an internet shit storm as usual with even Intel acting the fool. To me, it matters very little, if I don’t like XMir, I will simply install Xorg and life will go on, if I do like XMir, then I will get on that train and and life will go on.