I'm surprised xmonad got a mention. I interpreted it as a window manager that didn't have much traction outside of the Haskell community, particularly with all the configuration being done in Haskell. Perhaps it was just an example of an one of the more strange requests.
That said, I love xmonad. People keep asking me for help with their Gnome desktops and I have to shrug and point out I don't really use Gnome if I can get away with it.
A few employees in particularly security-sensitive positions don't have full root, and have to use "sudo" with a whitelist of commands, allowed packages, and so on. It's fairly easy to get packages added to the whitelist, by filing a request with the security team.
Users who need to run insecure operating systems, or need to install arbitrary packages, use heavily sandboxed VMs.
Two members of my current team used xmonad before I got here, and I've helped two more to convert. I anticipate there will be more conversions after Precise comes along and forces everyone off GNOME 2. To my knowledge, none of them know anything about Haskell.
This is why I have moved my laptop to Debian, and will move my desktop and server when I have the spare time.
The other question I asked myself: "If they are going to make changes in this manner, what else will they do?"
I figured there'd be less hassle in future with something more stable. I put Debian on out of curiosity as to how different Debian is from Ubuntu. I'd gone with Mint before but the one I got logged me in with no password required, which was a bit unsettling.
It's... a Google thing.
I haven't gotten around to planning around Unity yet, but I'm not surprised by this. It's classic Google culture to just throw the baby out with the bathwater and build the damn thing over, (presumedly) better. Funny to see it happen on an individual level!
Would Gnome 2 -> XFCE or Gnome 2 -> Gnome Classic not make more sense?
Or is it more along the lines of: we have to change anyway so lets have a look at a workflow that really fits how we work?
I say this as a humble end user who has gone dwm/dmenu -> Unity with 12.04
XFCE and KDE just aren't very popular in my area, though I don't know why. I have seen people discuss moving to KDE on internal mailing lists, so there is some interest elsewhere in the company.
The two people I helped convert have, to my knowledge, not bothered with customising xmonad. They just copied my config, changed a keybinding or two, and then left it alone.
I switched from GNOME 2 -> GNOME 3 -> GNOME 3 fallback + Xmonad. I tried to find a suitable alternative to GNOME 3 (Cinnamon, Unity, KDE, XFCE) but was excited to find out about fallback mode.
It essentially behaves like GNOME 2 for me, except now I use Xmonad for WM instead of Mutter / Metacity.
1. The applet to inhibit screen sleeping went away. Without it, I often look up from working on a hard problem to discover that my screens have been blanked out.
2. Something GNOME-ish keeps grabbing my mouse, and won't let it go until I log in with SSH and start killall-ing anything with "gnome" in the process name. It happens once a day or so, I haven't been able to purposefully reproduce it, and it's really annoying.
3. The settings applet was neutered. It now looks like a cheap knockoff of MacOS's system settings, except somehow with even less functionality. It also seems like the GNOME developers simply forgot about it until about a month before the release, because many features that appear to be present are barely functional. For example, Appearance -> Theme only changes gtk3 themes, and most of the gtk2 themes don't have a gtk3 counterpart, so now about half of my apps don't look like the other half. Another example: the new settings applet stores network proxy settings somewhere weird now, so neither Firefox nor Chrome find my proxy settings any more.
4. About half of the GNOME configuration has moved to gconf to dconf, but there's no rhyme or reason as to which half. When I discovered the new settings applet, I tried to change stuff with gconf/dconf, except I have no idea how to figure out which applications use what settings storage backend.
5. A lot of applications don't have key bindings any more, or had them greatly reduced. GNOME 2 was pretty good about this, but many GNOME 3 applications are completely unusable without using the mouse.
The Presentation Mode shell extension fixes this - adds an option to the drop-down menu on the power meter to turn on presentation mode, disabling screen blanking & locking.
> 4. About half of the GNOME configuration has moved to gconf to dconf, but there's no rhyme or reason as to which half. When I discovered the new settings applet, I tried to change stuff with gconf/dconf, except I have no idea how to figure out which applications use what settings storage backend.
I think finishing this migration is a work-in-progress.
Don't have immediate solutions for the rest of your gripes. Gnome 3 seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it thing; I find it to be great (modulo a few bugs and quirks, but it isn't everyone's cup of tea.
That is a bug, I've not seen that on Ubuntu 12.04 using Unity or GS all through the testing period.
Is there a tool (akin to xev) that would display which process currently has control of the mouse? I would think that tracking down the process that has grabbed the mouse would be the necessary first step toward stopping it from doing so.
I like vertical real estate (would like to merge them into one, like I could with Ubuntu 10.10). And I like no toolbars on on top (to make it easier to click on my firefox tabs (see below)).
My favorite GUI customization is to remove the "decorations" (window frame, title bar etc) of maximized windows (to get a little more vertical space). This also makes firefox's "tabs on top" feature look the same on Linux and Windows.
You can do it with Compiz+XFCE (which I did in 10.10). Compiz isn't working for me under XFCE in 12.04, so I'm using a PyGTK script I found on the Net to do this.
Say an engineer is a a daily user of ten particular GNOME 2 features. GNOME 3 removes four of them, and hides three more. At that point, the engineer is wondering what will happen to the rest when GNOME 3.3 comes out.
In contrast, environments which are explicitly intended to be customised very rarely disable or remove features. Someone who's been using the same configuration for ten years can know that if it works in release N, it'll probably work (maybe with a few minor tweaks) in release N+1.
It's worth noting that XMonad has many more features than Metacity; it's not bare-bones by any means. Converting to it isn't like converting to a minimalist WM.
I take your point about Xmonad, and if you know Haskel you can add stuff as needed
Using a bare bones window manager doesn't cause the same issues. It's not as integrated, but you can mix and match parts more easily.
In my experience, the more minimal window managers such as XFCE, Open Box and so on required lots of configuration to get right. Furthermore, they don't give you a big advantage over something like Gnome or KDE, except for being more configurable. I'm using the tiling window manager dwm with minimal changes to the default config (added 2 shortcuts and changed some colors) for almost 3 years now. I think the pure simplicity and stability of the software is compelling compared to a minimal version of Gnome.
Ctrl-Alt-Numpad 7 - Place window in top left corner of screen.
Ctrl-Alt-Numpad 8 - Place window in top half of screen.
Ctrl-Alt-Numpad 9 - Place window in top right corner of screen.
Ctrl-Alt-Numpad 5 - Center/Maximize the window in the middle of the screen. In 12.04 this toggles between maximize and restore state
Ctrl-Alt-Numpad 1 - Place window in the bottom left corner of the screen.
Ctrl-Alt-Numpad 2 - Place window in the bottom half of the screen.
Ctrl-Alt-Numpad 3 - Place window in the bottom right corner of the screen.
Ctrl-Alt-Numpad 0 - Maximize the current window.
sudo aptitude install xmonad suckless-tools gnome-session-fallback
sudo vim /usr/share/gnome-sessions/gnome-classic.session
Also, awesome used to crash a lot.
Musca, my window manager of choice currently (though I am beginning to try out others too, just in case I'm missing something), is a very small WM with very few features, but a very simple way of extending it through scripting (in any language).
Musca itself is tiny: little under 4K lines of C (including whitespace and comments), the binary is about 190KB. It delegates its "menu" to dmenu. If you want anything else, you use external scripts or programs.
The default widgets in awesome are nice, but if I'm going to be using a tiling WM as a drop in replacement in a desktop environment I just have to remove them in the config file.
In the past, I've found that compositing desktops (as implemented wit Gnome over the years, and now Unity) would interfere with some applications. I would assume they also interfere with games that want to use the GPU heavily. So, I spent quite a while trying to use Unity2d. While I was able to badger it mostly into working, it always felt very second class. On 12.04, it feels even more second class, and of course it is going to be removed in 12.10 anyway.
I do like the idea of a side bar. When I use OSX, I put the dock on a side. When I use Windows 7, I put the start bar on the side. I also love the idea of the HUD. On OSX I use Quicksilver, and on Windows I navigate the start menu by searching it. In the past I've used Gnome Do. When it comes to Unity's implementation though, I've found making .desktop files for applications I want to use that don't already come with them to be cumbersome and error prone. If I don't make a .desktop file, I can't launch it from the HUD, nor can I lock it to the launcher.
When it comes to altering the menus to place the menu bar at the top, this is a decent idea, but again the implementation feels poor. I don't like that the menus disappear until you hover over the bar. That makes it hard to know where I will want to point the mouse until I get over the bar to make it show me the menus. I suspect that this is one of the changes that makes this such a large fork of Gnome 3 BTW. I would have prefered that they put out a proof of concept first, then try to work with Gnome and GTK to make it an option that is merged in.
Despite all that, I still use Unity since I like Gnome3 and KDE even less. I recently tried LXDE and XFCE, but I they seem like an unpleasant jump back to the 90s. For one thing, I don't want to go back to managing my Start/Application menus, I want to keep search. For another thing, I like largish icons on the left or right.
I am currently watching the Cinnamon project. I think they look promising. I haven't gotten around to trying it out in a VM though.
I've stuck with it mostly out of inertia; I don't actually know much Haskell.
I avoided awesome because I'm not a fan of Lua. Not as a matter of ideology; I just don't enjoy working with it.
If I would switch (from XFCE) to xmonad, would it do such strange things to small modal boxes? I don't like to split my screen, I always have windows if full screen.
But I still plan to test xmonad and see if it be a good fit for me.
(I'm very happy using IceWM without taskbar, but with simdock, conky for date/time and cpu/network-monitor and stalonetray)
So yeah, Google gives their developers plenty of control over their workstations :) And Xmonad rocks for productivity.
I found xmonad not so pleasant in multimonitor setup where it saw each monitor as a separate workspace.
This allows me to dedicate a workspace to communication (email, IM, etc), server, development, documentation, etc and move among them easily.
I have about a thousand different windows opened at the same time.
I don't know too much about the Linux desktop scene, and I'm plenty productive as-is, so I didn't even bother looking. Thanks!
I really love that my company supports Windows only, because if they would support Linux it would mean that they would force me to use packages that I don't want to or take away my root access.
Not "easy", but a real, functional option- compile from source in your home folder, targeting ~/bin, ~/lib, etc. The onus is entirely on the user, of course.
Google is exactly the company that would use Ubuntu. They're not the company that would want unity. So WTF were they thinking?
Basically, some time on the earlier 2000's, someone decided the "secret" of a good Linux UI was a UI "for dummies". Whoever decided this was wrong, pathetic and contemptible. As alternative OS for an alternative desktop, Linux needs to be easy yes, but also powerful enough to give an exciting experience to those smart and adventurous people willing try something new, not a shitty copy of cartoonish UIs intended for morons. IE, the idiots who are targeted by Unity will not lift a finger to actually install it. The people who would try Ubuntu on their own deserve better than Unity.
FWIW I recently switched to using Unity with 12.04 and overall have found it very useful and efficient. From a classic usability perspective (e.g., Fitts' Law), moving the application menu bar to the window is much more efficient. And I appreciate the speed and ease-of-use of the HUD.
My wife had an oldish laptop running Windows that was becoming increasingly slow and unreliable. Since 99% of her computer use is in a web browser, I installed Ubuntu and Chrome and it's as good as new.
My wife doesn't want an "exciting experience", she just wants the computer to work reliably. Same for me. Generally I don't particularly care what changes are made at the desktop level since most of my time is spent in applications or the shell, but for the record I appreciate and applaud the work that Ubuntu has put into Unity, and kudos to the designers for their good work.
The problems some people have with Unity might be bugs or simple design mistakes (that kind of stuff certainly appears in any large application and I'm sure Unity's developers were highly competent, well-intentioned and deserving of appreciation despite any bugs). However, the problem I have in particular with Unity is that it's intended to solve making easy stuff easy by making even slightly hard stuff impossible. I don't believe that's a good philosophy for an OS that's going to spread by word-of-mouth, that will inspire loyalty in its users. (if you read my post carefully, my vitriol is directed as those who put forward the "improvement by removing options". I'm sorry if I went a bit over the top. Linux does seem to have a heritage of blunt-to-the-point-of-rudeness expression).
I also believe that it is quite possible to create a graphic shell that satisfies both minimal users and more sophisticated users.
Linux in particular tends to dumb things down rather than simplify them, as if the distinction is completely lost. Then it buries all the complexity in these configuration files or in obscure nooks and crannies of the UI that only the most determined can find.
The "secret" is to bust your ass and come up with ideas that make sense, to lead with consistency. Unfortunately open-source tends to be design by committee of designed at all because of the collaborative nature of it.
If Linus Torvalds can have final say for the kernel, where are the others who hold similar sway over UI? Maybe it's that it's very hard for a designer to earn the respect of programmers because their skill sets are under-appreciated.
And I find it very frustrating because I have no intention of touching any of my desktop screens.
But on other machines that I've set up (for my self, and others), with a normal size screen, used primarily for web browsing and basic word processing, Unity is great. Widgets aren't "fat for touching", they're fat targets for easy clicks.
Unity has its flaws. It shouldn't be the only option. I do, however, believe it is getting better for a non-techie user.
But I'm not a programmer. I am an end user. Perhaps we will now see increasing differentiation between those who code and those who use?
I personally hope for the opposite.
However, I suspect Canonical need to move the interface into a coherent, fairly tightly integrated stack appropriate to consumer devices so they can make some money and continue to provide a convenient base install and repository system (and pay wages).
1. The ia32-libs package uninstalled itself somehow, causing all my 32bit programs to fail start back up if they restarted.
2. @reboot cronjobs ran 2 minutes after the machine booted in kern.log. I accidentally started the programs manually because I thought they wouldn't run.
3. On a fresh install, the byobu network display doesn't show up.
Moving to python3 wouldn't be too hard, except we have some really complicated cheetah templates, and cheetah apparently has no plans for supporting python3 any time soon.
At the same it is nice to have a nice client as a binary package just to kickstart the efforts, but it never a good long term plan.
Otherwise I don't know what "Linux[...] protocols" you're referring to or how it's relevant to GTalk vs. Skype, etc. Skype integrates poorly because it's locked down and has been neglected for... 4 years?
>>> I am glad to hear Google is considering offering Google Drive for linux.
My point is that Google should not focus too much on developing yet another synchronisation program locked on Google Drive; what they should do is publishing and maintaining a detailed set of protocols that can be implemented by the existing synchronisation programs that are already well integrated in some Linux desktops (DejaDup, for example).
Skype integrated poorly in Linux desktops because there are no publicly accessible and complete Skype protocol specification. This makes it very hard to integrate it into current applications (the telepathy frameworks, for example). There are nice hacks like pidgin-skype: a bridge that interacts with Pidgin and relays user actions to an hidden Skype window, but they are unreliable hacks because they aim at a constantly moving target. (Well, not so moving now that Skype seems abandoned on Linux.)
If they were indeed running Linux (which boots at least 5X faster than Windows) you could easily make an argument for the exact opposite.
They must have a turd that size somewhere ;-)
I think that is true if you control when the reboot happens. If it just happens then it might be at exactly the wrong time.
Maybe it is personal, maybe it is cultural, or maybe it isn't: I don't like (an understatement) fully planned trips where you are told "the 8th of July at 10:45, you will get an artistic ecstasy in fron of the Taj-Mahal, the 9th [...]". I won't work on anything that has no risk to be hard to control and nothing unexpected can happen. I don't mind if my PC has to be off for 10 minutes.
("Disclaimer": I live in China, not in Switzerland.)
Uptime on the VNCs lasts as long as physically possible (e.g., a full IT shutdown, or hardware failure on the machine)
(Context: I'm the lead on hardware qualification for Goobuntu)
But like drbble said, laptops for engineers are mostly for Chrome, terminals, and NX/VNC sessions, since you can't code on them directly.
Although I should note that certain security systems are notoriously annoying to say the least.