Ubuntu Desktop Choices

I updated my little Dell 10v to Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meercat”, and so far all seems well. Because I upgraded rather than reinstalled, everything pretty much looked the same. I was curious  to see what the Unity desktop looked like, especially with the Mac-style global menu. Funnily enough, I had to deliberately install it separately to make it work.

I don’t like it. And I’ll tell you why.

It’s too mouse dependent. I use a tiny little laptop, with a terrible little trackpad. Actually it’s not so bad, for a trackpad, but I hate them. I usually use a regular external mouse, rather than try to click and drag using the trackpad, but for launching, I much prefer to use a launcher like the excellent Gnome-Do. Docks like Docky, AWN, etc etc etc are all very well, but they take up room on a small screen. A keyboard launcher just feels quicker to me – a couple of keys and I’ve launched an application, opened a file, or searched the web.

Side note – I’m always amazed at how much dragging is a key interface method in OSX. Drag to move stuff, drag to eject a drive. I have terrible trouble with Cassie’s Macbook – dragging an icon from the desktop to the bottom right, for example, takes several attempts, and both hands.

It appears that this new desktop will be the default on the next version of Ubuntu, 11.04 (due out in April 2011, hence the number – although it does use the ass-backwards date scheme this country is cursed with). As long as I can switch it off and use what I want instead of what Canonical thinks is a good idea, I’m happy. Otherwise perhaps Lubuntu is the way to go.

It’s a pretty dumb idea really. Netbooks and small laptops have limited power and screen size, and small trackpads or trackpoints. These Netbook launchers have graphically-intensive, intrusive, mouse-dependent screens. It’s the opposite of what is required.