back to article YES, I have ridden the Unicorn: The Ubuntu Utopic unicorn

Ubuntu 14.10, nicknamed Utopic Unicorn, is coming in just a few months. Alpha releases have been available for some time but beta testing started last week, meaning code is generally stable enough for virtual machines and other testing scenarios. Ubuntu's current release cycle means that the main Ubuntu line usually sits out …

  1. Joseph Haig


    Is the name in honour of the (possible) Scottish independence?

    1. WonkoTheSane

      Re: Unicorn

      No, it's just a coincidence.

      The development codename is always an alliteratively described animal (Warty Warthog, Dapper Drake, Utopic Unicorn, etc) chosen by Ubuntu's SABDFL* Mark Shuttleworth.

      The next codename will be chosen this month, ahead of next month's release and will be something like "Velvety Vole" or similar.

      See for details

      *SABDFL - Supreme Absolute Benevolent Dictator For Life.

      1. Spoonsinger

        Re: Dapper Drake

        Ah!, now that was a good release. Happy days.


    Mate is an ADVANTAGE of Linux Mint but not the reason to move...

    .. The reason to move is that Canonical has lost the plot, whereas Mint gets it.

    1. Kevin Reilly

      Re: Mate is an ADVANTAGE of Linux Mint but not the reason to move...

      I have an old Toshiba NB200 netbook. This has had Lubuntu, Xubuntu and Unity on it in the past. A couple of weeks ago I tried Mint 17Xfce. so imressed am I that I have ditched plans for a new Chromebook and bought 2GB of RAM + a 128GB SSD instead.

      A better computer for an 80 quid investment. Mint + Chromium, it's a no brainer. Mint is a lot nicer XFCE than Xubuntu.

    2. Fungus Bob

      Re: Mate is an ADVANTAGE of Linux Mint but not the reason to move...

      Now that Mint can do full disk encryption at install there is even less reason to consider the mutant 'buntus

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    You must be a virgin to ride a unicorn?

    Isn't that a win-win situation?

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Here's hoping

    that when they get to 'Zany Zebra' the whole thing can become extinct?

    I second the point about Mint and Canonical losing the plot.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I guess all the designers worth their salt are already working at Apple, but why can't they make the interface look good? I have never seen a Linux desktop that isn't gaudy or in some other way extremely unappetizing, it makes Windows look good by comparison. As always, the open source crows will try to copy someone else, and fail miserably at that too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: why?

      Sorry about the downvote you got, but I concur. IMHO, there are 2 main barriers to that lofty goal of a Linux desktop: design, and no sensible replacement for Outlook. Sadly, that's a difficult message to bring to the tech crowd which is IMHO a shame as there ARE some bloody good design people amongst them if I look at deviantart and such.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: why?


        Your complaint is that there is no outlook clone?

        How many people outside their office use outlook/exchange? I can't think of many people who use a mail client at all, pretty much everyone I know uses webmail (gmail, outlook, hotmail, take your pick).

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: why?

          Plus there is Outlook OWA (i.e. Webmail to MS Exchange Server), which is not half bad.

      2. Mystic Megabyte

        Re: why?

        > and no sensible replacement for Outlook

        You must be joking! When I last had the misfortune to use Outlook I regularly clicked the "Archive" button but when I needed to restore some emails found that it had archived nothing. POS

      3. Windrose

        Re: why?

        I'm not sorry for the downvotes.

        -a- There is no "Linux Desktop", only "What I want my desktop to look like". If you want decisions made for you, there are alternatives. Linux-with-a-GUI ain't one.

        -b- Sensible replacement for Outlook? Mutt. No, thats not a joke. You don't agree? Thats ok. To me, mutt handles mail in such a spectacularly better way than Outlook I wince when forced to use the MS "mail client" (hello? Doesn't even handle adressing right?) You might be looking for decisions to be made for you again. See -a-.

        Linux isn't, never was, and despite the work of Gnome et al, never will be a drop-in replacement for Windows. If THAT is what you want, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by looking elsewhere. Telling off DeLorean 'cause it's a poor substitute for your stationwagon isn't productive.

        1. CAPS LOCK

          Re: why?

          >Linux isn't, never was, and despite the work of Gnome et al, never will be

          >a drop-in replacement for Windows.

          It is for me and my business. (Mint 17 XFCE user here. Vee satisfied.)

    2. frank ly

      Re: why?

      " ... open source crows ... "

      Do you think of them as flocking and feasting on the fruit of the Apple tree? You've got some deep symbolism going on in there. Lie down and tell us more.

    3. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: why?

      That's a bit like saying people shouldn't be able to choose their own interior decor because you don't like the inside of any of your friends' houses.

    4. lurker

      Re: why?

      Because money is a thing? All that good looking design you see? It cost a LOT of money, I assure you. Apple spend a LOT of time and money on aethetics, probably more than any other company on the earth, so it would be a catastrophic failure if they didn't have nice looking products.

      As for never seeing a linux desktop that isn't gaudy or undesirable - linux desktops are pretty much infinitely varied - the number of different environments - often assumed to be a weakness - can be a strength too. Just do a google image search for 'pretty linux desktop' and you'll find a massive variety - some of which even look almost exactly like OSX.

      1. tony2heads
        Paris Hilton


        But people have different aesthetic feelings; My taste might be more dadaist, and yours more Vermeer.

        Similarly some perfumes irritate my nose.

        What is 'nice looking' is not a universal value; some people don't even like Paris - see icon

      2. Fungus Bob

        Re: why?

        " Apple spend a LOT of time and money on aethetics"

        Explain iOS7, please...

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: why?

          Not all investments are good ones.

    5. John 110

      Re: why?

      Sadly, you're right. I chose a lightweight distro to put on my chromebook based on two things - does the trackpad work and does it look good (LXLE in the end if anybody's wondering)

    6. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: why?

      "I have never seen a Linux desktop that isn't gaudy or in some other way extremely unappetizing"

      Gaudy: dwm. No bling. Just an expanse of Zen like pixels with one very small information only panel. No icons. No effects. I used to set the background colour to #33335E

      Extremely unappetizing: You'll have to define terms a bit more.

      Personally, I'm bucking the trend and using a *default* Debian Wheezy/KDE on my work laptop. Quite nice. Other people can work out how to start programs without long explanations.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: why?

      > I guess all the designers worth their salt are already working at Apple, but why can't they make the interface look good?

      It's funny but we used to be an Apple shop where I work and I can't stand the look of OSX and I do prefer simple, basic, consistent interfaces. Nothing is where I intuitively think it would be and every application seems to use an entirely different script as to look and feel.

  6. Steven Raith


    "If you've never tried anything but Ubuntu, the first 14.10 beta releases make a good time to test alternate waters - especially if you're concerned about your privacy.

    Unlike the Unity desktop, which sends your search data to Canonical for matching with Amazon search returns other flavors of Ubuntu have no such features."

    Sigh. Every fucking time....

    System preferences, Privacy, untick the 'online search results' option, and it remembers that option between updates - I unticked it the first time it appeared and I've not had to disable it again since. That was several revisions ago now. You don't see people whining that Windows 8 tries to force you into making an entire online account just to log in (the 'local account' options are snuck away into a corner well out of the way so that they get missed by lots of people).

    This is pretty tame by comparison.

    That wasn't so hard, was it? It's not like they hide it away.

    1. thames

      Re: Privacy.

      The Amazon thing was a sample search lens or scope. It was the prototype to show third party developers how to create their own versions. There are loads of them available now to do things like search the Ubuntu help pages, or Wikipedia, or Flickr, or whatever you want. There are also ones to do things like get the local weather, etc, You can install or remove them individually, or just use the big switch as you said to shut them all off.

      As to what each one does, that's up the individual developer. The lens is simply an "app" format that has restricted access to resources. I've never seen an article or blog post outside of the Ubuntu site which actually understood what they are though.

    2. Blitterbug

      Re: You don't see people whining...

      ...that Windows 8 tries to force you into making an entire online account just to log in...

      You are joking, right?

      1. dogged

        Re: You don't see people whining...

        > You are joking, right?

        There are two answers to that -

        1. Yes, he's joking. It really doesn't try to force you to do anything and the "skip this crap" link is not hidden - it's on the same page as the "enter an MS account" dialog box.

        2. He is actually Gavin Clarke and just clicked "next" rather than bother to read the text, thus believing that Win8 won't run without an MS account. It will. It does.

        And all of these look pretty but I prefer my debian set up my way, thanks anyway.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: You don't see people whining...

          It's so obvious and clear that one of my fellow engineers ended up unplugging the system from the network and rebooting to skip it (before asking me about it, natch) because they couldn't find the option to create a local account.

          I'll admit, if you know what you're looking for and how it should be worded, you can find it (and I was genuinely surprised they didn't), but it's not exactly a clear path.

          The fact that it's deliberately coloured to look similar to the background and as 'informational link' or a tip/hint rather than being in white text like everything else doesn't exactly help. It's not hidden, but it's far from obvious to the average user. Or, apparently to some engineers.

          I find that more insidious than the canonical search lens, by a country mile.

          Steven R

        2. Blitterbug

          Re: You don't see people whining...

          I was referring to his assertion that people don't moan about it...! Half the posts about 8.1 (including mine) moan incessantly about the removal of the ability to create an offline account when setting up a new PC.

          1. Steven Raith

            Re: You don't see people whining...

            Ah, I get you now!

    3. Anonymous Coward

      How To Disable Unity Online Search Feature

      'Unlike the Unity desktop, which sends your search data to Canonical for matching with Amazon search returns other flavors of Ubuntu have no such features.'

      "How To Disable Unity Online Search Feature"

  7. John Deeb

    "If you love Ubuntu for the Software Center, Kubuntu might disappoint. Kubuntu uses Muon for GUI package management, which lacks some of the hand holding that made the Ubuntu Software Center friendly to beginners."

    Muon? As Kubuntu user of a few years old I've always ignored that name and just started Software Center. Not sure how more options could disappoint! And as an aside, I'd happily try something else than KDE but every time I try any other sane flavour I end up running into major bugs or insane impracticalities. But I really would like something else, simple, clean yet powerful. Lets hope something "mateures" sooner or later!

  8. thames

    Ubuntu 14.04

    I am currently using Ubuntu 14.04 with Unity, and I'm quite pleased with it. I have been using Linux for more than 10 years, originally Mandrake (later Mandriva) with KDE. When Mandriva started going down the tubes I switched to Ubuntu with Gnome 2 since the KDE version wasn't very good at the time.

    When Ubuntu first switched to Unity I sat out the first couple of iterations because I expected it to have problems like any new software and I'm more interested in using my computer than I am with fiddling with it. However, after a couple of cycles I eventually decided to give it a try because I wanted to be able to cite very specific reasons as to why I didn't like it rather than just say "it's pants because someone on the Internet said so".

    After about 15 minutes I found that I liked it better than Gnome 2 and didn't want to switch back. The things that I like about it are that:

    * it was easier to find windows (I work with a lot of open windows),

    * the big launcher on the left side of the screen is a lot easier to use than the tiny icons at the top that Gnome 2 had,

    * I can tell at a glance if I already have an instance of a program open,

    * some programs will use the icons to display current state (e.g. Lifrea will show the number of unread items) so I don't have to open the window to check for updates.

    Unlike some people, I've never bothered to fiddle with my desktop other than to change the wallpaper and to add or remove packages or shortcuts. This was true regardless of what version of Linux (or Windows) that I've used. For people who want to modify everything, Unity might not be to your taste. However, if you're more interested in just using your computer, it's very solid and polished.

    I haven't had a chance to try 14.10 yet (I started downloading the beta when I read this article), but I don't expect big changes from 14.04 so I may not bother with an actual upgrade.

    1. Richard Lloyd

      Re: Ubuntu 14.04

      The GNOME 2 issues you've noticed are mostly fixed with some simple tweaks. Right clicking on the GNOME 2 panel and choosing Properties allows you to increase the height of the panel (I use 48 pixels myself), which then auto-scales the icons too, making them much bigger.

      Make sure you have the "Windows List" running (panel right click -> Add to panel... if you don't have it), which gives you the list of windows, even if they've minimised, plus a "glow" if there's an update to the window.

      Don't forget that GNOME 2 can have 2 panels as well, but I've never seen the point of that (lots of mouse traipsing?) despite a lot of distros bizarrely configuring GNOME 2 that way - at least you can delete the unwanted panels! In fact, what I do with any GNOME 2 install is remove *all* panels and create one at the bottom to my liking (e.g. the GNOME main menu icon in the bottom left, a set of app icons, Window List, notification area and then a clock with seconds [something Windows can't do :-) ]).

  9. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    so many versions

    This article refers to a number of versions/variants of Ubuntu, and Ubuntu is just one of so many different versions of Linux (all active at the same time, I'm not talking about older/depricated versions).

    It kind of does my head in a bit. What is Linux? Windows I understand - I have versions for different platfiorms (server, PC, phone, etc.)...iOS I understand, OS X I understand, but with all the Ubuntu/Debian/RedHat/Mint/etc/etc. stuff, just what the heck is Linux supposed to be?

    I'm sure I'll now get down-voted to oblivion, but I just wanted to say it.

    1. DanDanDan

      Re: so many versions

      You'll only get downvoted if people think your question is rhetorical.

      Your main problem with lacking understanding of "What is Linux" comes down, probably, through lack of experimentation and experience of it.

      Linux is, at its core, just a way of bringing together hardware interfaces with software ones. That's the kernel: it manages memory usage, separation of separate "programs", etc. It's all the invisible stuff that you don't think about. On top of that, you can place whatever you want.

      Most people place free and open source (FOSS) software on top, which has sort of been known as "Gnu/Linux", since a lot of software that falls into this category and is used is made by Gnu. It was originally intended as a unix clone, but has now grown its own wings and deviated significantly.

      A collection of different software and configurations is known as a Linux distribution ("Distro"), of which Ubuntu is one, Fedora is another, Red Hat is a 3rd, Debian, Gentoo, etc. They're all just subtly different ways of pulling together a whole system, which is useable by someone like you to run things like a Web Browser or Office program.

      The main topic of this article was "Window Managers". These are what you would recognise as "The Desktop + Start Menu". There are a few of these about, the main traditional ones being KDE and Gnome. Basically, different people have different preferences, so they prefer different Window Managers. If you think about the difference between Windows 7 and Windows 8, the main differences that you see will be in the Window Manager used. Android could be argued to be another window manager, designed primarily for mobile application.

      The best way to find what you like is to install a couple of versions (probably in a virtual environment for ease) and give them a go. You can even run many different versions from USB stick; no installation required!

      1. Dr Paul Taylor

        @ DanDanDan on "so many versions"

        We don't often get straightforward tutorial posts here, so thanks for writing that.

        (I have used Unix/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux for 28 years so I personally didn't need it, though I would appreciate tutorials on other topics from time to time.)

    2. Tom 38

      Re: so many versions

      There are two things, "Linux", which is the kernel itself and "GNU/Linux", which is the combination of the kernel and the userland (programs that the user runs).

      Each distribution (Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat) will take the Linux kernel source, maybe modify it with special sauce (note: NOT secret sauce, it's all out there), compile it, take user software packages, perhaps modify them with special sauce, compile them, package them all up in to bundles that can be installed, and provide an installer to install those packages.

      Each distribution is responsible for providing packages of software, and backporting security fixes from that package. Each distribution makes its own choice about that; things like Gentoo will simply provide the most recent version of a package, eg Apache httpd 2.2.29 is the most recent release of Apache httpd 2.2, and Gentoo will provide that.

      Other distributions, eg Red Hat Enterprise Linux, will have chosen a specific version of Apache httpd 2.2 to stick to (in RHEL 6, it is 2.2.15), and each time a new version of Apache is released, Red Hat engineers merge back any bug fixes and security fixes back to that version and release a new package.

      The contrast to this is the BSD approach. Each of the BSD projects provides at least two things, a kernel and a "world". All of the software is "owned" by the BSD project, even when it is actually "vendor" code (code taken from elsewhere), and is developed and distributed in sync with each other. You can take a single export of source code of FreeBSD and build the entire kernel, userland, installer etc. There is more of a distinction between OS code, and 3rd party code.

      Eg, gzip is part of the OS in FreeBSD. The program binary lives in /usr/bin/gzip, its source code can be found in /usr/src/usr.bin/gzip, and it is maintained by the FreeBSD project team. Apache httpd is not part of the OS, you must install a package to get it, and the binary lives in /usr/local/sbin/httpd.

      On RHEL, both gzip and httpd are packages you can install (gzip being installed by default) or remove, no different to any other program.

    3. thames

      Re: so many versions

      The Unity version is the main version of Ubuntu that Canonical puts out. The others are by third parties, some just being hobbies. Canonical provides server space for them to work on, but they're not official versions and their user base is fairly small compared to the Unity version. The reason the author is mentioning them is because there's not much new in the main Unity version of Ubuntu itself, mainly just incremental improvements and updates.

      Getting opinions on Linux desktops from a computing forum is like getting opinions on cars from a car nut forum. If you ask a car nut for advice he'll tell you to rebuild your engine every other weekend with different parts to make it "better".

      If you just want to use your computer, then just download the Ubuntu Unity version (I would suggest the 14.04 LTS version) and install it and crack on with what you want to do. Unless you have some very specific hardware requirements that you know about, don't worry about "lightweight" desktops. The common ones are all about the same size.

    4. Lars Silver badge

      Re: so many versions

      No reason to down-vote you, but I am sure you manage to choose a car, a wife, somebody to vote for too. Part of the fun with Linux distros is that there are always something to try out.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      Re: so many versions

      Just pick the one distro and stick to it ..

      "Ubuntu online tour"

      "Ubuntu Desktop Demo"

      1. James Anderson

        Re: so many versions

        I was quite happy with Ubuntu -- until an upgrade to unity broke all me virtual machines.

        Please everybody get behind Linux Mint -- it just works, and is workable by anyone who has used a computer in the past ten years.

        There is a serious opportunity to make a dent in windows market share.

        XP to Mint is far easier and less of a jolt than XP -> Windows 8 you can even use the same hardware.

  10. wahankh

    I use MATE on Debian, probably for the similarity with GNOME 2. I did try xfce a couple of times, however it missed some basic functions for myself to use daily.

  11. agricola

    It's too late to make up for all the years of ...

    Offering Ubuntu with Mate because of all the defections to Mint Mate, are they?

    Purely and simply a red herring.

    Mint is just simply better, and the gentleman behind Mint is sterling. Two things which cannot be said of Ununtu, or Canonical.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not all rainbows and unicorns

    @agricola Has mint fixed that snap to the left hand display window focus bug yet? Live with that on 3 displays. Simply better, more like a fucking pain in the rear. It was enough to make me switch to something else. But I was young and naive. I could of just installed a new DE without all the reinstall nonsense. I probably should have filed a bug report instead of just bitching about it when people mention mint. oh well

    According to the mate wiki. mate-desktop is in the 14.10 official repositories

    Also For what it's worth [ which is precisely fuck all ] both xubuntu and lubuntu although community driven releases are officially recognised by Canonical ,

    Although I'd probably favour lubuntu which doesn't come with Zeitgeist. An application which is designed "to bring the element of human contextual awareness to computer systems" [ ] erm no thanks. I don't want human contextual awareness in my technical. Now if they had said it uses machine learning to figure out what pr0n I like then maybe I'd have given it a chance.

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