More Thoughts on the Natty Beta

I just read this article from The Register.

The author brings up some important points about Unity, but he has to realize that this is a beta.  If it was full release, then harsh criticism would be warrented, but I don’t think it is right now.

I’ve run into some bugs.  Specifically; xorg seems to (randomly) take up 20 to 60 percent of my CPU, compiz likes to crash, and Empathy likes to crash (though it hasn’t today, knock on wood).  I’m not sure if these crashes are caused by issues with the actual programs, or if they are issues relating to the way the OS is working with those programs.

No, Unity is not completely polished, but I can hardly compare it to the KDE4 debacle.  KDE4 was beta software released as stable.  I tried it, and was wholly unimpressed, partly because Plasma crashed.  All the time.  I can actually use Unity; I could not use KDE4 when it came out.

I haven’t completely tested all of my software yet, but from what I’ve seen, things seem to work really well.  I like having everything from each workspace accessible from the launcher; I can click on that program and go right to it.

I wasn’t sure how I’d deal with searching for programs I want, but I’ve found that it’s faster than going to a menu and looking for something.  For instance, gpodder is in the “media” category in the menu system, but I tend to search for it in the “web” category, because it makes sense for me there.  I got tired of this, so I added gpodder to web, so it appears in both categories, but the user shouldn’t have to do that.  With Unity, I just search for “gpodder”, click on it, and I’ve launched the program.  Much faster than clicking on the menu, going to the right category, and then moving the mouse to where the program is that I want, then clicking.

This idea could also help with tech support.  Linux, by nature, allows you to customize your desktop.  This can make it difficult for someone to give tech support.  It’s easier to tell someone to “click on the Ubuntu logo in the left corner of your screen, then click in the search box and search for ‘x'”.

The author brings up adding programs to the launcher as difficult; if you’re using the program anyway, you can easily add the program with a right click.  I usually don’t add a bunch of stuff to the launcher without running it first anyway, but that’s just my use case.  

Regarding applets; I love them, so I’m not particularly unbiased.  I think I get more information from them, and there’s a lot of drive to make new ones that fit the new way the panel works.  Please see OMG!Ubuntu for evidence of this.

I was skeptical when I saw what Maverick offered as Unity, but I can safely say that the Maverick and Natty experiences are completely different.  I still would like to be able to move the launcher to the bottom and keep it’s auto-hiding goodness.