back to article Ubuntu Unity desktop back from the dead after several years' hiatus

Good news for especially determined fans of Ubuntu's formerly in-house desktop: there's a new version. Unity 7.6 just appeared, although there is a more complete list of changes in the earlier announcement that it was in testing. Unity Click to enlarge It has been quite a while since the Ubuntu's Unity desktop was updated …

  1. bofh1961

    Unity

    I preferred Unity to Gnome but I'd much rather move away from GTK and anything else Gnome-related if possible. KDE Plasma looks like a better way to go.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why bother?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why bother?

      WHY BOTHER??!?!

      Because the open-source community needs another shite, bloated desktop. That's why!

      Its all about choice. No-one said any of the choices had to be good!

      I joke. Hopefully when Linux desktops get back on track, this might evolve back into something good.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      It's an interface which resembles a phone or tablet desktop (if thet's the right term for such UIs) in that it presents a palette of applications. Some people prefer it. I'm not one of them but I realise some do. And there may be some environments where it's by far the best fit, perhaps combined with a touch sensitive screen for some sort of embedded control system.

      It's the Linux desktop equivalent of Windows 8 - or possibly the other way around as Unity was released first.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

        [Author here]

        It really isn't.

        I can only compare this statement with the oft-heard one that ElementaryOS is a copy of Apple macOS. It isn't. There is the barest superficial resemblance: a panel at the top (with no menus) and a dock at the bottom.

        That doesn't mean it resembles macOS unless you've never actually used macOS: it is the same degree of resemblance that a pedal-powered go-kart has to a F1 car. A wheel at each corner, steering wheel and pedals: same thing, innit?

        Unity is not and never was a mobile OS or a mobile UI.

        Unity 8 was _intended_ to be but got cancelled. UBports are still working on it, but the main OS is still based on Ubuntu 16.04 because running a pure Linux OS with no Android bits on smartphones is *hard*. See my previous articles on UBports, and Armbian, and postmarketOS.

        Unity is the result of Microsoft threatening to sue because all the main Linux desktops at the time (which meant KDE and GNOME 2) resembled Windows 95, and MS invented the Win96 UI *and patented it*.

        I wrote about that a decade ago:

        https://www.theregister.com/2013/06/03/thank_microsoft_for_linux_desktop_fail/

        The main KDE vendor, SUSE, settled and paid up.

        The main 2 GNOME vendors, Red Hat and Ubuntu, said no and started work on new, non-Windows like desktops.

        Canonical tried to get involved in GNOME 3; the GNOME project refused; so Canonical walked away and did its own adaptation of the Ubuntu Netbook Launcher.

        Unity is basically a version of the macOS desktop. The macOS Dock can be moved, and the best place is on the left, because on macOS (*unlike* NeXTstep) scrollbars are on the right. So if the dock is on the right, when you try to access the scrollbar of a maximised window, you get the dock instead.

        Unity just hardwired that into place.

        It's got a dock; it's got a global menu bar (unlike GNOME); it's got a global system tray/notification area at top right (unlike GNOME); it has window controls on the left (unlike GNOME), partly because this means they don't clash with the system tray when a window is maximised.

        You will also note that Apple's own touchscreen devices do not have a macOS-like desktop. They have no menu bars (like GNOME) and no window controls (rather like GNOME).

        Unity is a keyboard-and-mouse desktop. I am using it on a triple-head system with a portrait monitor, and it works superbly. I have a plain old wired mouse, no side buttons, no touchpad gestures, no touch support, nothing. It is very good in this role; it has good window management, with snapping, virtual desktops with a keyboard-driven overview, traditional menu bars, many of which are operable with the keyboard (and they once all were).

        *Please* stop repeating this canard. It wasn't true in 2011 and it isn't now.

    3. gerryg

      It's his choice

      I have never used Gnome with no plans on starting but it seems to me you might understand better if you (re)read "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" by Eric S Raymond.

      The great thing about FOSS is freedom

  3. NATTtrash
    Thumb Up

    "The Unity remix is progressively replacing GNOME components, such as the text editor and file manager, with ones from other desktop projects, in order to get back features which GNOME has removed – notably, menu bars."

    Hurrah! Although not a Unity person myself, I do slowly get fed up with this GUI "inventive", "modern", "re-imagined", <INPUT>FILL IN YOUR CREATIVE MARKETING HOT AIR ADJECTIVE</INPUT> fiddling that seems infect all (productivity?) environments more and more.

    What is regrettable though is that it takes a 12 year old to push back on the GNOME "improvements" everybody is moaning about, they (succeed to) push though no matter what, and few do something about.

    So good on you Rudra...

    1. thosrtanner
      Flame

      Why do people need to continually change UIs? I like my menu bar, and it's easy to navigate with the keyboard when my mouse hand is feeling tired. I liked the pretty colours on the icons. God help me, I liked the transparent effect on the title bar in windows 7.

      But everything has to be flat and minimalist now with NO VISUAL CUES AT ALL.

      And as for dragging around the title-bar less menu-bar less chrome on my desktop. Arrrggghh. Its a nightmare and more often than not I'm left trying to work out why this tab has suddenly detached itself to somewhere else on the screen

  4. GuldenNL

    Mint Thanks You For The Memories

    Unity - the single reason for a mass movement from the Ubuntu distro to Mint.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Mint Thanks You For The Memories

      One of two reasons I think - the other being Gnome 3.

    2. Kurgan

      Re: Mint Thanks You For The Memories

      In fact that was the time when I switched from Ubuntu with Gnome2 to Mint with Cinnamon. Never got back.

    3. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Mint Thanks You For The Memories

      Unity - the single reason for a mass movement from the Ubuntu distro to Mint.

      It's a good reason to switch desktop, but not a reason to switch distro. Ubuntu is available with other desktops.

      So, if you want a reason to switch away from Ubuntu I suggest you look at systemd or snap instead!

      1. GuldenNL

        Re: Mint Thanks You For The Memories

        Agree with you. You know this as do I, but many Linux newbies started around then and they just made a wholesale move to Mint for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it was the most simple if you were just starting out with Linux.

        It was around this time that I decided after 15 years of getting into the depths of Linux, I just wanted something that worked and that I didn’t have to spend any time fiddling with my desktop because my company was managing tens of thousands of RHEL servers. I sold my company, so have a wee bit more free time these days. I still haven’t spun up the latest version of KDE, but hope to soon.

    4. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

      Re: Mint Thanks You For The Memories

      It was, yes.

      A lot of people now know nothing other than the Win9x desktop. I have met many users who cannot even cope with a vertical taskbar, because now the Start menu is at the top and this confuses them.

      Which is probably why the feature was removed from Win11.

      But Ubuntu _had_ to do this, because it was being threatened with legal action and refused to sign.

      https://www.theregister.com/2013/06/03/thank_microsoft_for_linux_desktop_fail/

      By 2006-2007 the Linux desktop wars were basically over. GNOME 2 had won. Everyone used it, even Solaris. Everyone was OK with it, and all the main Linux apps targeted Gtk.

      So MS took action, and it worked.

      The only big vendor which paid up was SUSE.

      https://www.theregister.com/2006/11/03/microsoft_novell_suse_linux/

      And anyway, SUSE's owners had bought a GNOME vendor and forcibly merged them.

      https://www.theregister.com/2004/01/07/novell_marries_suse_to_ximian/

      Now SLE comes with GNOME and nothing else. No option of KDE without unsupported external non-SUSE-supported repos.

      Microsoft got what it wanted: massive fragmentation. Now there are dozens of small half-finished Windows-like desktops without big company backing, and none of them provide a full complete Win9x like UI.

      https://www.theregister.com/2022/05/17/linux_desktop_feature/

      Mint is a relatively small outfit, it only does desktops and has no interest in the server. It's no threat to MS.

      Yes, Unity is what drove Mint to success. But this is not an argument against Unity. It's an observation that a lot of people like the familiar and dislike change.

  5. DomDF
    Thumb Up

    Looks promising. Hopefully the final rough edges will have been ironed out by the time my 20.04 install is retired.

  6. cardich

    Rising from the dead

    Does anyone believe in rising from the dead?

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