back to article Ubuntu 12.04 hits beta, brings smooth Unity for marching masses

The beta for Ubuntu 12.04, or Precise Pangolin as Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth would have it, is upon us. This is the fourth major Long Term Support (LTS) release and the first featuring the Unity desktop: LTS. That means that while the rank-and-file Ubuntu users may have already made the leap to Unity, many of Canonical's …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    if it lets me eventually upgrade to GIMP 2.8 stable, Wine 1.3/4 stable and new stable versions of other apps (when released) without

    - Doing my own download source and make,

    - Adding some PPA of sometimes doubtful vintage, or

    - Upgrading to the next Ubuntu release (Querulous Quagga???)

    I'll be happy...

    Else I think I'll just wait until someone gets this application version update thingy right... When the bloody repository only has some ancient version of Blender and I find that I can just download and run the latest version from the user space I tend to get irritated.

    Yes I know about dependencies etc, but I mean even WINDOWS can do this... Except IE you still do get most apps' latest versions supported on Win XP for example.

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      Long-term support vs normal distro vs bleeding edge.

      You made your choice. If your choice was wrong, that was your fault.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Well...

        Why should long term support preclude application upgrades? In fact, shouldn't long term support imply application upgrades?

        "We support this for five years, which means you're stuck with the current version of Firefox until 2017" is not the greatest selling point ever.

  2. Norman Hartnell


    Should "ELUA" be "EULA"?

    1. Ian McNee

      Re: Typo?

      Don't be silly - as any fule kno ELUA is a Hawaiian license agreement.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. NB


    I gave up on the standard Ubuntu setup shortly after Unity came out, it and Gnome 3 are utter dogs and just get in my way. I'm absolutely loving Xubuntu at the moment as it gives me all the configurability that a Linux desktop ought to have and doesn't try to dictate anything to me but I'm considering switching my netbook over to Lubuntu just to squeeze a little more performance out of it.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: meh

      I've had the same thought myself as I myself consider a jump, as my Win7 desktop gets a bit sluggish after over a year of use. Most of my current windows experience I can now duplicate in Linux (new games are the holdout), so I'm waiting on 12.04 to make the jump, but my current choice is Xubuntu, which will combine Ubuntu's strong backing with the slimmer, simpler XFCE.

      1. Shanghai Tom

        Re: meh

        The Ubuntu Distro is usually good and solid, once you have tweaked back the versions you want rather than the old stuff they supply, but the UI and Shell are in my face and just plain annoying, technically good, visually ... don't know what to say that won't be censored :)

        I went the XFCE route by doing the install of XFCE myself rather than starting off with a new distro, now I run my aging WINXP as a VM under Virtual Box ( not the one from the repo, go to Oracle and get it ) and I can pass through my USB devices - which is about the only reason I use windows - updating some 600 phone contacts etc is still very much a Windows based tool, oh yeah, and my printer/scanner works just fine connected as a usb pass through too, so that's saves defining remote printers between XP and Linux too, I just switch it as I need it.

        Gnokii etc just don't have the interface for multiple numbers, addresses, etc etc and nothing I have found syncs my phone calendar.

        Please don't mention google calendar/contacts etc , why should I put my personal data on the 2nd most snooping platform ( FB being the first )? . Not only that, I live in China, accessing anything with the words "google" in it is asking for dropped connections etc, FB/Twtr/G+ are all banned here.

        I am quite happy syncing my calendar and contacts from a PC app where I can back it up easily, I wish I could do that with Thunderbird, but it's not been a success so far..

        I am running Ubuntu with Xfce and two VM's with XP, one connected to my office VPN, one for anything I need to do where I don't have a Linux equivalent yet.

        Go for it, think about keeping a Windows VM around "just in case", or go the dual boot route and define some shared data space in case you want to VM your Windows later.

        The best thing, Windows performs far far faster under linux in my opinion, so 2 * XP + Xubuntu is just great.

    2. henrydddd

      Re: meh

      I am running 12.04 alpha on a VM. I really didn't like the Unity desktop so I immediately changed it to the Gnome. Although this version of Gnome is not as flexible as 2.x, it is useable. I am using this alpha version to get to know 12.04 before I put it on my server. It is really easy to change the desktop. As long as Ubuntu supports this easy change, I think that they will have a winner. When I first started using Linux,

      (early Slack) I was using Unix at my work, so learning Linux wasn't as bad as it could have been. I didn't even use a desktop. I used programs like nn, rn, lynx, mail, tin, pine, to do my internet surfing. In short, although a desktop is nice, whether it is Unity Gnome, or for that matter KDE, Xfce or what ever, I can make it work for me. I do 99 percent of my server configuration using a Bash shell anyway. Ubuntu is still the easiest Linux that I have ever used and thats what counts with me. Instead of wasting hours of making an operating system work, I now spend my time using that operating system

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: meh

      If U install Ubuntu 12.04, try

      sudo apt-get install xfce4

      works for me

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm more on the fence about unity than I initially was. It's definitely a shift away from the traditional environment, but if the Windows 8 consumer preview is anything to go by, it's not that greater shift in comparison.

    I'll be trying this in virtual box...

  6. Iain Griffiths

    Hiding Launcher ?

    It s been doing that since Molested Marmoset.

    Personally don't get the hate about Unity - its simple enough to use - and I can find most things - the search in Nauseuous Newt/Obese Otter works as you'd expect (and I'd expect it to find GVim ok) as far aas I can tell . Occassionally therese been something i couldn't get it to do in an obvious manner - but its not like you don't get that in any other UI .

    I'd like to be able to move the launcher somewhere a bit less in the way as hitting back on the browser can cause the search to pop up if you aren't paying attention - but configuring the mouse keys sorts that.

    A few more configurable things with it would be nice , but its not terribly essential to me - its a browsing/gaming machine with the odd bit of developement dicking about .

    If I was using a bit more heavily then yes I can see it being annoying - but for the role I use it for, nothing wrong with it .

  7. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Some bits of unity are OK, but there are glaring holes in the usabilty of the damn thing...

    * Usability has fallen off the wrong end of the scale for a large chunk of the functionality. WTF do we need to remember arcane key presses or mouse locations just to do standard functions.

    * Huge chunks of preferences have disappeared from the normal system. This makes doing basic configuration a bitch when it should be made easy. Yes, you can still access the old tools but you have to rummage around the file system or use the (not obvious at all) launcher.

    * Windowing is a bitch. Windows are placed over the idiot launch bar, which periodically appears and hides as it feels fit. Move to click on a window button (i.e. close) and often you'll find you've just launched (or switched to) the app that happened to be in the same position on the bar that's just popped up. If the launch bar could be made to be there permanently and was separate to the windowing space for applications the system would be hugely more usable.

    * Try using an idiotic "move mouse to X side of screen" in a virtual machine or remote session that's not running full screen on the local system. Yep, another interface fail.

    * Applications - would be nice if it were actually possible to find the things after installing from the software centre (should it feel like working during this particular phase of the moon). Instead you have to do the ninja-fu keyboard shortcut, start typing the application name and then you can run it. Yes, you can pin it to the application bar but that's only after finding it. Whatever happened to browsing installed applications?

    Not that it's all bad, but the usability failures and general level of frustration meant that I gave up after a month and switched to the classic interface instead which solved so many problems...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. loopy lou

      totally agree

      I've tried to give it a fair chance, but unity has been the source of more expletives in my household than anything I can remember, even including Windows Vista. The windows leaping around at random and then hiding themselves like demented ferrets really takes the biscuit.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Martin
    Thumb Down

    Have they still got those stupid disappearing scroll bars?

    If so, I'm staying with Mint.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have they still got those stupid disappearing scroll bars?

      They can be removed by literally uninstalling one package.

      Simply search "overlay scrollbars" in the software centre and remove it...

    2. Shanghai Tom
      Thumb Up

      Re: Have they still got those stupid disappearing scroll bars?

      you can turn them off, have a sniff on the net, there are several quick "HOWTO" about it, took me 5 mins to get back to "normal"

  9. Jame_s

    this looks familliar

    unity looks a looks a *lot* like nextstep/afterstep/openstep/windowmaker with newer icons

  10. squilookle

    I'm getting on alright with Unity. My only real gripe is the launcher on the left. I'm happy for it to be on the left and probably wouldn't move it even if the option were there, but knowing the option isn't there irks me. I think the placement of the launcher makes the desktop look strange overall, but it is convenient and well placed for use.

    I find the dash efficient as efficient as any start or application menu I ever used, although I'd rather not have to click the extra link to list all items in a category

    The global menu thing took some getting used to but I get on alright with it now. I'm actually looking forward to HUD - I have seen some videos and it looks like an interesting approach.

    I am looking forward to 12.04. If I have some spare time over the weekend, I might grab the CD and give it a try, but I'll probably wait until a week or two after release to take the plunge and install.

  11. Mark #255

    vim vs gvim

    How would you prefer it to work? Do you want a special case for "g", or do you want a general "find all matching character sequences no matter where they appear"?

    Note that the Win7 start button search strongly prefers matching character sequences at the start of words:

    "writ" finds LibO Writer

    "riter" doesn't

    1. magnetik

      Re: vim vs gvim

      I'd like it to work intelligently like Quicksilver, ie. if I type "PISS" it matches playlists, as in PlaylIStS :-)

  12. system11

    Unity will sink Ubuntu over time

    I deployed quite a few (well, 40-50) Ubuntu workstations to users here, and results were very positive - however that was 10.04 LTS. We also deployed some 11.04 builds which were configured for the classic Gnome interface, purely because Broadcom like to change their chipsets monthly. The 11.04 ones have ... been lacking. Even basic things fail like the session manager failing sometimes on login and vanishing the theme, or random X crashes. None of this happened on 10.04.

    Then 11.10 hit, and a few users upgraded their machines.

    I had to rebuild them, the upgrade totally hosed the machines - one even came back with a strobing display, I thought it was hardware failure at first.

    Having shown a Unity desktop to some of them, the result was overwhelmingly along the lines of "but it worked before, this is primitive and unusable". I can't see us staying with Ubuntu at all going forward - which is a pain in the neck as I'll have to go away and make new build images.

    Unity strikes me as a vanity project with nothing to offer end users. Even Gnome 3 is better, and that isn't brilliant either.

    1. cloudberry

      Re: Unity will sink Ubuntu over time

      You can use Ubuntu without Unity: Kubuntu has the KDE desktop, and Xubuntu the XFCE desktop, which I've heard praised. I've avoided upgrading my Ubuntu distribution since 10.04, and now plan to get Xubuntu for the 12.04 release.

    2. cd

      Re: Unity will sink Ubuntu over time

      Try Pinguy...

  13. nederlander

    I use unity all day every day and I like it.

    I do have some niggles though.

    I had to turn off the disappearing launcher because I kept accidentally invoking it and that (unconfigurable) 2 seconds before it disappears is a long time when the button you are trying to click is underneath it.

    The fucking scrollbars. They wouldn't be so bad if they worked but sometimes, like in eclipse they just don't appear when you want them. (Thanks for the tip anon, I'll try it. If it works I'll love you long time.)

    Why does the global menu go invisible? What possible good could that do? Maybe this will make more sense with the HUD but right now its just irritating.

  14. The last doughnut

    I thought it was just me

    I hate the UI ever since upgrading to - what's it called? - UNITY? Sounds like the title of a crap Star Trek episode. Plus its running dog slow now. And its always bleeding updating itself. All in all a proper windows experience and no mistake.

    How do I get it to use a Gnome-like UI?

    1. John Fielder

      Re: I thought it was just me

      Log out, click on the settings cog wheel icon, select Classic Gnome and log on

  15. John Fielder

    I find Unity great on mu Netbook, where I only run a few programs normally anyway. Not sure about a desktop where I would run more programs. 12.04 power usage MUCH better than 11.10. Battery lasts about 50% longer. Still does not always suspend when I close the lid, but this seems to be an Acer problem with Ubuntu generally. Acer do some funny things with their hardware. Unity seems a bit snappier.

  16. tardigrade

    I've already an iMac.

    I've never liked Unity from day one and I'm fed up with all the regressions and broken video support. So I've already upgraded to a 21.5" iMac. I couldn't be happier.

    I've been with Ubuntu since Daper Drake. Bye, bye!

    1. aThingOrTwo

      Good for you

      It is great to have choices.

      Apple of course providing a choice to people who want to run something other than Windows or Linux.

      A choice. That's all people. No need any down votes on this comment.

      1. tardigrade

        Re: Good for you

        From my perspective, the down votes are completely expected and totally predictable. I was a bit flippant, but what saddens me is that hardly anyone in the Ubuntu community will look at this and ask why someone (and a long term advocate of Ubuntu at that) could be so disaffected by the changes post 10.10 that they would walk away completely and march into Apples walled garden.

        There is a core group in the community that insists that, if you don't like Unity or Gnome Shell, then you are a dinosaur that doesn't like change. The suggestion is that you then buy a pipe and slippers and download XCFE or click on Gnome Classic. Thus they completely ignore the fact that the reason you are so disappointed and you wouldn't wish to stay with these alternatives is precisely because you do in fact want change and improvement and not the status quo. But they cannot consider that fact, to them there logic is indefatigable. I've never been so disappointed in any Linux community in all my life. The desperation for a new direction has led to regression with Gnome3 and Unity, that has affected my work flow to such a degree that it became easier to just go out, spend some money and get on with things. Rather than wait for Gnome3 and Unity to reimplement, in a few years time, all the features that were removed with the "update."

        I'm wasting my breath of course, but you're right, ultimately choice is good for everyone. The ultimate irony in the down votes of course being the fact that Shuttleworth's ambition for Ubuntu is to create an Open Source OS X.

  17. Tristan Young

    Why does Mark Shuttleworth/Canonical even bother anymore?

    Ubuntu went from being a fairly healthy distro (based on Debian) to a terrible distro that requires too much effort.

    I loved Ubuntu 6.06 through 8.11, but grew tired of how Ubuntu's support for my machine went from good to absolute crap. I switched to Kubuntu, which seemed to be better - for a while, then it too went to hell in a handbasket. I spent increasing amounts of time fixing things to make the system functional. It went from being a slight headache to being a full-blown migraine.

    I turfed Canonical's crappy distro as of 11.11. Unity - screw it. Gnome? Screw it.

    I may try a different distro some day, but Mark Shuttleworth's distro has left the worst taste in my mouth. I don't have time to fart around with a distro that needs to be fixed right out the starting gates anymore.

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