Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » Dash takes shape for 11.10 Unity


Oh. My. God.

So. Pretty.

Now that my Ubuntu fangirling is out of the way, I wanted to post this to my Posterous, so I actually have something on it.

Well. I see what Mark is getting at here. The idea of “scopes and lenses” is a brilliant one. I’m looking forward to the new panel, the new dash, and this whole glassy look. I like simple clean styles like this, and this is a really nice evolution from what Ubuntu was in 6.06 when I was using it (more) regularly (I used 5.04 or so, but not as much as Dapper).

Some people may not like this new way of dealing with the desktop, but I think an integrated search and inherently simple interface is a great way to differentiate Ubuntu and Linux from Windows.

Yeah, it’s kind of Mac-ish, but Apple has some nice things going on with it’s interface. Bring the best things over from Windows and from Mac and make Ubuntu better than both of them.

I’m just completely wowed by this picture. It’s amazing. Don’t forget to read the link under the picture for what Mark Shuttleworth thinks.

nVidia is Trying to Kill Me



nVidia is trying to make me die from crazy antics to make it work.

I reinstalled.  I was still having an xorg-being-eaten issue, so I started fiddling with the settings (again) and did the following:

  • Turned off “Sync to VBlank” (In the OpenGL Settings)
  • Turned off “Allow Flipping” (In the OpenGL Settings)
  • Change the “Image Settings” to “Performance”… the slider will be about 2 notches down from the last “Quality” (In the OpenGL Settings)
  • Turn off “Sync to VBlank” in the X Server XVideo Settings
  • Make sure the PowerMizer settings are on “Adaptive”

Now, I think part of my heat issue is the fact that it’s insanely hot here (90F) and our A/C is barely keeping up with removing the humidity from the air.  But, with these changes, I’m running Unity with no problems, and my system performance applet (SysPeek) is not bouncing up to the “red zone”.  This is good.

So, I’m not running my preferred dual-head setup, but that’s ok, because my actual monitor space is decent (1680×1050).  Also, I feel more focused on what I’m working on with the one screen.  Oh, and I still have 4 workspaces, so it’s easy to separate my tasks out (browsing and writing on #1, microblogging/chat/irc on #2, and audio/video on #3.  Number four is my free workspace.).

I’m sticking with this setup.  I’ve finally got it working, with minimal visual degradation to my games (mainly SuperTuxCart).  Also, I have increased desk space due to not having a second monitor.

I’m so looking forward to Oneiric and hopefully this issue with nVidia will be fixed.  2012 will be bringing Wayland, and I’m not relishing the changeover and the problems that will surely ensue.

Ubuntu 11.10 Says Goodbye to the ‘Me Menu’ | OMG! Ubuntu!


Please read the article at OMG!Ubuntu linked under the picture for details.

This is a great idea; it condenses down the top bar, and makes it easier to log into chat.

I also second getting rid of the “post to” section. Partly because I never saw a reason for it. I mean, I go right to gwibber and type my message there. Having too many places to type messages is confusing for users.

I don’t use it to set IM status, but it makes sense to set status from the messaging menu rather than the me menu.  I might actually use this to set status; I can see how it’d be handy when empathy is on a differnet desktop.

I also like the idea of hiding it. Some people don’t want the envelope there because it doesn’t fit with their workflow; they should be able to hide it without having to completely remove the message menu via the package manager.

More nVidia Fiddling

All right.

So, I’m sure everyone who reads this blog (or at least the ones I haven’t scared off yet) know I’ve been having issues with my nVidia drivers.  I was using the nouveau drivers, which is fine, but they have a bad “blocking” effect with embedded flash videos.  Also, I didn’t think I was getting full 3D acceleration.

When I ran the nVidia drivers, Xorg would peg my CPU between 10 minutes and 3 hours.  “top” would show xorg taking up all of my CPU; compiz wasn’t far behind.

I don’t understand why this is happening, but I just know that it is happening.

So, I was doing some searching on the Ubuntu Forums (which is hit-or-miss regarding issues) and found this thread.

I tried the commands in comment #19:

sudo apt-get remove –purge nvidia*
sudo apt-get install nvidia-current
sudo nvidia-settings

I saved the xorg, rebooted, added my external monitor, and configured it (along with the gamma).

I seem to have a working setup right now…  Let’s hope it holds for awhile.

Music Management and Music Players

This is not about music, per se, but about music managers.

I run Banshee on Ubuntu.  It’s great and for the most part is pretty easy to use.  I love the playlist features, and the ability to create filters for my music (like having a playlist of everything minus my holiday music) and the queuing features.

I don’t like the fact that it doesn’t exactily have a good way to edit my tags or sync them to a database (CDDB or something).

I’ve actually tried to fix things with MusicBrainz Picard.  It worked a little bit.  I guess I’ll need to work with EasyTag or something to try to get things set.

Anyway, the whole reason for this grump-fest is because I’ve been trying to get my music to show up properly on my Walkman.  I’ve been working through most of my music, tried to clean things up, and am still having issues with most of it showing up under “UNKNOWN”.  Exactly like that, all caps and all.

It’s infuriating.  I even tried iTunes *shudder* on Windows.  Foobar2000 is awesome on Windows, but it doesn’t do anything related to tags.  It’s all folder-based, which is fine, but my idiot music player goes by tags.

This whole thing is so infuriating.  I’m about ready to go buy a Sansa Clip+.  It might actually work.

Does anyone have a solution?  Serously.  I don’t know why, but this kind of thing really bothers me.

Looking at 11.04 Natty/Unity – Good or bad? « OpenBytes

Certainly more so in the past, I’ve seen a select few regarding Ubuntu for “newbies, newbs, lamers” et al.  In todays Linux world I think this elitism exists only in rare circumstances.  Its completely silly too, just because Ubuntu wants to assist in setting up your system and get you up and running as quickly as possible does not make it “for newbs” I know many very experienced Linux users who favour Ubuntu purely because they have better things to do then mess about with their OS just to become functional.  Anyone can install proprietary drivers, its simple, but if Ubuntu takes that task away by automating the process, I’m all for it.  There was a time where I enjoyed the challenge of getting one of the more “exotic” distro’s functioning on my system, but now with several projects on the go, what I want in a new distro is to be up and running as quickly as possible.  I’ve deployed (and used off and on) Ubuntu since 8.04 and can happily say that this has always been the experience I’ve had.

This is one of the reasons why I use Ubuntu. Granted, there are always going to be issues with software ($deity knows that I have plenty of issues with Windows), but that’s not always the underlying issue with the OS.

I guess I just want my blankity-blank stuff to work. Ubuntu “just works” and I don’t have to mess with goofy drivers, or strange software, or anything else. Especially now, since I’m running hardware that was designed for Ubuntu in mind.

Anyway, I just want stuff to be decently configured so I don’t have to spend a ton of time getting everything the way I like it. I used to spend lots of time “tweaking” my desktop, but now I’m more than happy with the default configuration of Ubuntu and Unity. Ambiance and Radiance are both beautiful and come with Ubuntu.

(Slight) Ubuntu Woes, and CONKY!

So.  I was having loads of issues with my Ubuntu install.  It was acting up; slowing down, crashing on reboot (which I don’t understand), and some other randomness.  I did a reinstall, went through my software, and decided that I didn’t really need to run the daily of Gwibber, the beta of firefox, or the newest Banshee.

So, I stopped using those PPAs.  I still love PPAs, don’t get me wrong, but I guess I wanted stuff to just work and not crash.  Gwibber is finally at the point where it does what I need it to without being a huge memory suck.  I’m using a bunch of PPAs, but the software is not provided in Ubuntu (like the weather indicator I’m using).

I thought maybe some of my issues were related to the alpha/beta software I was running, but I guess it was from the holdover from the cruft I was carrying around from Maverick.  I grabbed all of my files (NOT my hidden files) from my /home, copied them to my external drive, then reinstalled.  I blew away my /home too, and then restored all my files and reinstalled all my software.

Well it seems like it’s fixed now.  No crashing, no slowdowns, and no unexpected shutdowns when I’m doing something else.

How about a screenshot?  Don’t mind if I do:


As you can see, I have conky running on the right.  Pretty sweet.

The conky file, if anyone wants it can be found here.  You’ll have to change the names of your drives and all that, but it’s pretty simple.  For the record, I grabbed the original from ebupof from deviantart here.  I did some modification, but it’s not all that different.

Back to two monitors, because I can’t seem to live with only one.  I’m spoiled.

The netbook got a conky setup too:


You can find the conkyrc here.  I’ve already done some changes; I moved it over to the left, but that’s easy enough to change.

Conky is fun to play around with.  Give it a shot.  I like messing with it, and since Ubuntu doesn’t have panel applets anymore, this seems to be the way to go.

Unity: 3 Rants And A Tip | Linux Journal

A rebuttal:

  1. The launcher auto-hides when you have windows maximized or over the launcher.
  2. I find it so much easier to find things in the unity dashboard as opposed to menus.
  3. The global menu is more consistant, but it’s probably the thing that took the most getting used to.

Overall?  I like Natty.  It’s gotten more stable since I installed the beta several weeks ago.

I’ll be doing a longer write-up about other features and whatnot over the next couple of days, but I wanted to share this video and my thoughts with everyone.

Updates, Fixes, and a Re-Install

… Or, how I fixed my issues by shutting up and reinstalling.

Yes, you heard right.

I reinstalled Ubuntu the other day (not bad; I was back on my feet in less than 3 hours, updates and everything included).

I have figured out what is causing my sudo GLib error: my fingerprint reader software.  It’s interfering with the way sudo works in the terminal.  Or something.  I’m not sure how to fix this, but it might be fixed in the next update from the Fingerprint GUI folks.  For awhile, sudo worked, but it wasn’t til I added the Fingerpring GUI PPA and installed it that my issues started.

My graphics card is still kind of acting up, but I think that’s a problem with the drivers, and not anything related to my setup.  I’ve installed and enabled the nouveau drivers, so that’s a temperary fix right now.

I do an audit of the software I’m running/using every time I reinstall, and I usually find that I don’t need half of it.  It’s something that should be done every couple of months.  It’s nice to get rid of programs that I’m not using, as well as PPAs.

Anyway, it’s working much better now.

I’m not sure why things always work better with a fresh install (even using the same /home, which is what I do), but they do.  I guess for every upgrade, I should do a fresh install.

So, I recommend you download the .iso, burn a CD or make a bootable USB drive, and give this a spin if you haven’t upgraded or installed yet.  See how it works, try out Unity, and find out of you like Uinty or not.  Me?  I’ve established that I like it.  It’s different, and I think I like that.  I used a dock/launcher anyway, so it wasn’t that hard for me to get used to the new way of doing things.

I still would like some more flexability to change the theme and move the launcher around, but that might be coming in the next version of Unity.

Unity environment in good shape, on track for Ubuntu 11.04



Please read the full article on Ars (linked under the picture).

I do think Unity is a neat way to work with the desktop, and most of the bugs I dealt with upon installation have been fixed. I will continue to report bugs when things crash. That’s one of the reasons I run the beta.

This is shaping up to be the most ambitious release yet. I hope it brings in some new users and impresses the old users. It’s impressed me with the way it’s changed since I installed it a couple weeks ago. And I’m seriously impressed in the changes since Maverick Netbook Edition.


Natty Beta: Xorg using excessive CPU? Try this.

For some reason, I was having massive spikes of my CPU which rendered my computer almost completely unusable.

Well, I filed Bug #751477 on Launchpad, and got a response that I didn’t like; basically saying that it wasn’t Xorg’s problem.  I fumed and grumbled for a few minutes, then decided to actually investigate the problem.

I went to their wiki, which wasn’t much help, but then I decided to look into my nVidia card.  Well, it turns out that using the binary drivers can cause the exact same problem.  So, I installed the nouveau drivers (after accidentally uninstalling the nVidia ones, and some other issues), enabled them, and rebooted.

Well, that actually took care of the problem.


  1. Install Nouveau drivers (through Synaptic or Software Center)
  2. Open the “Additional Drivers” dialogue
  3. Enable the “Experimental 3D support for NVIDIA cards” option (see picture below)
  4. Reboot.


Additional Drivers dialogue.

It’s now working; hopefully the binary drivers will be working when Natty releases.

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.