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Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook review

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Unity lacks a context menu. That means that right-clicking on Launcher itself, the top panel, and the main desktop area, will have no effect. Right-clicking on icons on the Launcher will show a context menu.

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Launcher item context menu

Some built-in icons on the Launcher may be removed when you right-click on them and select “Removing from launcher” in the context menu.

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Removing launcher item

Unity Home?:
This is what you see when you click on the Ubuntu icon, located at the point where the top panel and the Launcher meet. At first glance, you will think that it is an iconified menu, similar to what is available on the KDE Plasma Netbook interface. But it is not, and I cannot tell what role it is designed to serve. Looking at the names of the icons, you would think that clicking on “Web” will bring up a list of Web or Web-related applications on the system. That would be wrong. Clicking on “Web” will launch Firefox, in a new window, even when Firefox is already open and the “Open new windows in a new tab instead” is enabled in the Tab preferences. Clicking on Music will open another page with Kino and PiTiVi listed. Rather than being music applications, Kino and PiTiVi are used to create, record, edit, and play movies.

Rather than post a screenshot of what clicking on the other icons will yield, I will just list them here:

  • Photos & Videos – will also bring you to the Kino and PiTiVi page, the same one you get by clicking on Music.
  • Games – will bring you to a page showing the game applications installed installed by default. These are AisleRiot, Mahjongg, Quadrapassel, and Sudoku.
  • Email & Chat – Empathy, Evolution Mail, Firefox, Gwibber, Transmission.
  • Office – OpenOffice.org components, Dictionary, Evolution Calendar, and Evolution Contacts.
  • Files & Folders – A list of recently viewed files and all the folders under the user’s home directory.
  • Get New Apps – Launches the (Ubuntu) Software Center

So you see, there is no consistency here. I think this was supposed to be similar to what is available on the KDE Plasma Netbook, but it seems that it was rushed out of the gates before all the rough edges had been taken care of.

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Icons

Searching in Unity: The search feature of Unity is another part of it I think was rushed out the door. It is, in some respects, similar to the Search and Launch (SAL) feature of the KDE Plasma Netbook interface. Unlike SAL’s, Unity’s search results are, in a sense, inconsistent. It all depends, it seems, on how you gained access to the search box.

If you click on the Applications icon in the Launcher and then searched for, say, “firewall”, the search result will depend on what tab is active. If the All Applications tab is active, you will get a listing of all graphical firewall tools in the repository. None, by the way, are installed by default. If the Internet tab is active, the search result will show just Firestarter, Firewall Builder, and Guarddog, and Firestarter, Firewall configuration, and KMyFirewall, if the System tab is active. The search showed nothing if other tabs are active.

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Searching for applications

If you gained access to the search box by clicking on the Files & Folders icon, the search result will, again, depend on what tab is active and what the search string it. The key to searching on Unity is to know where you are and what you are searching for.

search

Search results

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21 Comments

  1. netbooks says:

    If you hover, you see a caret indication looks like a tool tip. You can not add a new link here but remove an item with dragging it by left click and from the right click sub-menu. You can rearrange the launcher icons by dragging them to up or down with left mouse click.

  2. Tristan says:

    It’s great to finally see an honest review of 10.10′s Unity.

    The initial reviews (all released on Oct 10) were all praising the interface, and centred around the additional software changes.

    I actually use a Netbook (unlike the designers of Unity) and it took just 10 seconds to realise that my upgrade from 10.4 was a mistake.

    Not only have they wasted screen space with a non-customisable chunker, they’ve got this search thing running to waste CPU cycles and memory!

    An absolute joke of an upgrade. They must have got the worst Aspies in to get ideas and implement it.

    To Josh, who wrote
    “I don’t think the public in general should be so upset about the change because if Unity is not for you, you can always put your preference of DE/WM shell back on your system. Its not that big of a deal.”

    Yes, it is that big a deal. Ubuntu is meant to be one of the more user-friend distros. They go and make this ugly unusable POS the default for netbooks, then some nerd tells them that they should just put a WM shell on! What the hell? How is an average user going to know what that even means? What about the limited disk space on Netbooks?

    If Ubuntu want people to use them, they should may their software good. An often ignored, but I think crucial, rule of business.

  3. G.J.Rijnsma says:

    Ext4, Grub2 to distroy your dual- or more-boot configeration, Unity, they are afraid of something and going strong.
    A good moment to choose PCLOS or something other also beautiful. But no Ubuntu here until calmness and enlightenment has returned in Ubuntu-land.
    Btw. Mint LMDE is also a very good choice. Lefevre saw something coming…

  4. Josh says:

    I haven’t tried Unity yet, though I’ve heard very good and very bad about it. I guess this will be one of those things where you have to use it for yourself and make up your own mind about it.

    I don’t think the public in general should be so upset about the change because if Unity is not for you, you can always put your preference of DE/WM shell back on your system. Its not that big of a deal. Personally, I’m excited to try Unity. If it works out, great! If not, I’ll go back to GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, or any one of many little window managers.

  5. Ughhh. This thing is going to become the next Ubuntu? And now what are we supposed to do if we don’t want a 3D accelerated destop, or don’t have hardware that supports it?

    • Paul says:

      From what I’ve seen so far, the choice is there. Although Unity is the default, you will be able to select the proper Gnome desktop when you sign on.

  6. jackd says:

    I agree with your conclusions. I’ve had UNE 10.10 on my netbook for a little less than a month. Wanted to give it time to see if it grew on me. But I really don’t want an ugly button bar welded to the side of my screen.

    Honestly I don’t see much good software coming out of canonical. Had a lousy experience with Ubuntu One, which was buggy and horribly unreliable for months. I eventually gave up on that too. And upstart appears to have only been half done, with no standard way to configure startup applications and many (?most?) packages still using the old init scripts.

  7. khiang says:

    i try it once and switch back to 10.04 netbook remix. i hate the new menu…

    menu at 10.04 its better and easier to understand

    really2 hate this new one!!! T.T

  8. Scrubby Creek says:

    I tried 10.10 on my netbook and didn’t like it. I reinstalled 10.4 which is much more my style – and besides- it allows me greater flexibility to set up the desktop the way I want it. I sincerely hope that 11.04 will not lock the user out as it does in the netbook edition.I was disappointed with Unity on my netbook but look forward to the Ubuntu team being my sensible about it on the desktop.

    Regards
    Scrubby

  9. Marie says:

    You can get similar effects and more flexibility just using AWN or Docky. I see people moving to Debian, Mint, or Xubuntu unless they really improve upon this. LOL

  10. Sam says:

    I see tablet interface written all over this.

  11. Chris says:

    Well, Mark said it.
    Users and OEM’s love it so its staying.
    Nevermind that ~90% of the users who have been expressing feelings about it said they dislike it and OEM’s arent even shipping it.
    They love it!

    Personally, i tried the 10.10 netbook interface on my netbook a couple of days after release.
    Didnt seem like something id like to be working with neither on a desktop, or a netbook.
    Maybe it would be a great inteface for a smartphone or something like that, that i dont know.
    Having tried the GNOME shell around early August i think on the same machine, i found it MUCH more useable.
    IMO Canonical has stopped caring about the desktop market.
    For the record, i am a KDE user, so GNOME is only a technology provider for me. I honestly couldnt care less what Canonical (read Mark) decides to use on his products.

  12. Paul says:

    the Unity Launcher takes up valuable desktop real estate, without adding any real significant advantage to the interface.

    That was my first thought when I saw the Unity interface. It strikes me as insane that a UI, supposedly designed for smaller screens, should insist on hogging so much screen space.

    I’ve yet to see anything that suggests that Unity is an improvement on the standard Gnome 2.x interface and I do think that Canonical will be making a huge mistake if they persist with Unity in its current form.

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