rigid GUI

Asked by jason tang on 2011-10-15

One great thing about the GUI is that people can enjoy what is perceived as "beautiful" and great to work with. However, after I just upgraded from 11.04 to 11.10, I realized that I have been forced to swallow other people's idea of what is "beautiful". To me, the not only ugly but also wasting. Why can't we choose what we like any more ? Thanks.

Question information

Language:
English Edit question
Status:
Solved
For:
Ubuntu lightdm Edit question
Assignee:
No assignee Edit question
Solved by:
Eliah Kagan
Solved:
2011-10-16
Last query:
2011-10-16
Last reply:
2011-10-16

"Why can't we choose what we like any more ?"

Unless you are referring to a specific limitation of Unity, like the annoying "feature" that it is always on the left (unless you use an RTL language), you certainly *can* still choose what you like.

If you don't like Unity / Unity 2D, then you can install the GNOME 3 Shell via the package gnome-shell, or you can install the GNOME 3 Fallback (which is very much like Ubuntu Classic was in Ubuntu 11.04) via the package gnome-session-fallback, or you can install KDE via the package kubuntu-desktop, or Xfce via the package xubuntu-desktop, or LXDE via the package lubuntu-desktop. These packages can be installed in the Software Center. After installing packages providing whatever session type you prefer, you can select between them on the graphical login screen (click the gear icon and you get a drop-down menu).

Chris (fabricator4) said : #2

Unity (and Gnome 3) has certainly caused its share of controversy, however the fact is that Gnome 2 is no longer in development. Canonical have made the correct decision to not make it the primary DE for their flagship Ubuntu. Gnome 2 was provided as the fallback DE in Natty 11.04 primarily because Unity 2D was not ready and the main reason for providing the fallback was for hardware that was unable to cope with the requirements for accelerated graphics. Now that Unity 2D has matured a little, it is the fallback DE.

Regardless of this, I think you'll find that Gnome 2.X is still in the repositories and you can install and use it if you wish. As with all things open source no one is forcing you to do anything at all. By all means install Gnome 2 and use that if you wish. You could also try Gnome 3 which should also be in the repositories, however Unity is based on the Launcher paradigm that Gnome 3 uses.

There's also current 'buntu releases that you might consider as alternatives if you want a ready-made alternative to Unity:

Kubuntu (using KDE)
Xubuntu (XFCE)
and Lubuntu (LXDE) is not yet an official release.

Of these Lubuntu is the lightest, but also the most minimal. I've seen positive reports of it running on a Pentium with 128Mb of RAM. My personal favourite of the alternatives and possibly the closest to Gnome 2 is Xubuntu. Kubuntu seems to be the most popular alternative generally.

Chris

Or just use GNOME 3 Fallback, which is very, *very* much like GNOME 2 ...

marcus aurelius (adbiz) said : #4

@jason tang
to you it is ugly. to other people it is not.
do people use software because it is beautiful? no. they use it for the functionality it provides.

Jon Foote (jonfoote) said : #5

@marcus aurelius
It's rather disappointing that a GUI which was functional and unobtrusive is no longer provided *within* the latest version of Ubuntu. It takes time and a certain degree of knowledge/confidence to install a different DE. I, and presumably jason tang, have to mess about with installing and learning (and probably configuring) a different interface in oder to *keep* the functionality of Gnome 2. Unity just doesn't have some of that functionality as far as I can see - for example, Application and System menus - as well as being clearly designed for touch screen devices.

Unity is (for me) neither functional nor unobtrusive. It's not functional because it forces a radical change in my workflow, which was not the case when I switched from Windows to 10.10, and relies on mechanisms like hidden menus and autohiding which I find unhelpful in the extreme. It's actually worse than not unobtrusive - it's extremely obtrusive, with its massive icons which can't be reduced to a reasonable width even with CompizConfigSettings, and various other eye-catching "eye candy". Some of us hate sweet things!

As it is, I am trying out Xfce, and maybe that will solve my problems, but it's certainly highly annoying to have to do so. I used to expect such behaviour from Microsoft, and it's disappointing to find that Canonical can be just as dismissive of people's concerns.

jason tang (jasonjtang) said : #6

Thanks for your response to address my concerns. Whether your answer solved my problem or not is not really the point. If I decide to use the new version, I can find ways. It is just my wish that a great product like Ubuntu won't hurt itself and drive people like me away. I cannot agree more with Jon Foote who really spoke my mind. To me, the new GUI is rigid, inconvenient and waste of space for the HUGE icons I don't need. I used to have icons of my own on the bottom panel and the desktop. I had all the tools I needed just one click away or easy to drag-and-drop. With the new GUI, all I can see are just the stuffs I don't need located at places I don't want them. Yes, some people like the new design, that is great for them. As to rest of us, should we just walk away from it ? I hope not. I don't think everyone has the same needs or the same feelings about what is "best". Some flexibility of inclusion should do all of us good.

"Whether your answer solved my problem or not is not really the point."

We're still going to try to provide answers, because this is an answer tracker. I feel that you post *is* quite appropriate for this forum, but you might get a better, longer discussion at http://ubuntuforums.org.

"Yes, some people like the new design, that is great for them. As to rest of us, should we just walk away from it ?"

Walking away and using a different operating system would be one option, but another option would be to **install a single package providing the GUI of your choosing**. If that is what you mean by "walk away" then yes -- if, in the final analysis, product B (in this case gnome-session-fallback) is better than product A (in this case Unity / Unity 2D), you should use product B. There may be many considerations that go into deciding which is better, including non-technical considerations and cost of migration, but once you have decided that using B is better for you than using A, you should use B.

Since installing a GUI like Ubuntu Classic only requires installing a single package that is provided in the official, community-supported packages, I am wondering what the problem is. gnome-session-fallback, which provides that, *is* included in Ubuntu, just not installed by default. gnome-shell is also included, just not installed by default. Is the problem that...

(1) ...you wish they were installed by default so you would not have to install a single package?

(2) ...you wish you had been better informed that the Ubuntu Classic session type would not be in the list by default?

(3) ...you wish Canonical, Ltd. still itself supported a GUI that looks like classic GNOME, rather than it now being supported by the community but nonetheless formally included in the official software sources?

(4) ...you wish you had been given the opportunity to automatically install different GUI's when you upgraded to or installed Oneiric?

(5) ...you wish it were even technically easier to install an alternative GUI, so that everyone would immediately see how to do it? (I wish that.)

(6) ...you wish that the Ubuntu Classic interface, using GNOME 2, were still present, even though GNOME 2 is no longer being developed upstream, such that the time and effort for developers to support it would be enormous and would detract from support and bug fixing almost everywhere else in the system?

There are some serious problems with Unity, and I would use the adjective "rigid" to describe some of them. It is in many ways uncustomizable, reflecting Mark Shuttleworth's beliefs about how people's GUI's should work more than it seems to reflect users' beliefs (see bug 668415). But that and other limitations of Unity that are sometimes identified as bugs (like bug 733349) affect people who **choose to use Unity**. What you are complaining about seems to be just that the default interface happens not to be to your liking, and you don't like having to install another one, even though there is another one that is (I am assuming) to your liking that you can trivially install. This is of course my opinion (in the same sense that your subjective evaluations are your opinions), but that doesn't seem like a very substantive objection.

If your objection comes down to something other than "change bad!" then you may want to make that more clear. By doing so, you might get more people, such as myself, to agree with you.

Jon Foote (jonfoote) said : #8

By all accounts, gnome-session-fallback is not identical to Gnome Classic - I have read, but cannot confirm without trying it, that it doesn't provide the configurability of Gnome Classic. Ironically, I have mine set up with a side bar (on the left!) which is one of the things some people dislike about Unity. So before going to 11.10 and burning my bridges (because I really don't want the hassle of going back to 11.04 or 10.xx) I have to make sure I have something usable. I can't say my first impressions of Xfce are wonderful, but I suppose it will probably do as a fallback position.

Is the problem with Gnome 2 not being further developed that either the kernel or applications could be developed such that they are no longer compatible with it?

If I could set my operating system to use Gnome 2 for evermore (and perhaps retry more recent GUIs every now and again, to see if people have seen sense), that would be OK with me, provided that it and applications continue to work. Or will some future version of Ubuntu remove Gnome 2 from my laptop, and I then find that the packages are no longer in the repositories?

And a third question: where is the best place to post suggestions for Unity customisability options (with reasons why I would like them)?

"By all accounts, gnome-session-fallback is not identical to Gnome Classic - I have read, but cannot confirm without trying it, that it doesn't provide the configurability of Gnome Classic."

It is not the same thing as Ubuntu Classic. On the other hand, Ubuntu Classic itself changed from release to release, so this might or might not be a problem.

"So before going to 11.10 and burning my bridges (because I really don't want the hassle of going back to 11.04 or 10.xx) I have to make sure I have something usable."

I recommend testing Ubuntu 11.10 from a live CD/DVD/USB before installing it, and seeing if it looks and behaves in a way that is suitable for you.

"Is the problem with Gnome 2 not being further developed that either the kernel or applications could be developed such that they are no longer compatible with it?"

There is no kernel compatibility issue. There are application compatibility issues in the sense that applications must be ported to use GTK3 libraries which are provided with GNOME3, but you can have both GNOME2 and GNOME3 on the same system. This is the case in Natty, but not in Oneiric (where GNOME2 has been removed). GNOME2 is not being developed further (neither upstream nor downstream in Ubuntu) because of the enormous developer resources that would be required for maintaining and further developing both GNOME2 and GNOME3 at the same time.

"And a third question: where is the best place to post suggestions for Unity customisability options (with reasons why I would like them)?"

Probably http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com, but you can also file bugs as feature requests. If you do file bugs, please make sure to read https://help.ubuntu.com/community/ReportingBugs carefully first and search to see if a similar bug has already been filed. If you both post at http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com and file a bug, then it would be good to post a link to each in the other so that everybody can see all the relevant discussion.

Jon Foote (jonfoote) said : #10

@Eliah
Thanks very much for the answers. Though they do beg the question, "if Gnome 2 will continue to work for the foreseeable future, why not leave it (as Gnome Classic was in 11.04) in Ubuntu as a option, but state clearly that it is out of support?". I wouldn't worry about a DE being out of support until something happened that broke it - by which time I hope Unity will have evolved into something configurable and worth learning to use. So I suppose I had better look into re-installing Gnome 2.

I personally would have been much less taken aback by Unity in 11.04 if I had had decent (or indeed any) warning, and had been informed of the alternatives back then. As it was, it took some research to find out that there actually were alternatives. I'm quite new to Ubuntu and hadn't delved into the direction it was taking. Foolish perhaps, but I didn't see any need for drastic change so wasn't expecting it. I will certainly try to keep up in future. The strange version number convention certainly doesn't help in flagging up which versions to take care with!

jason tang (jasonjtang) said : #11

I have been an Unbutu fan for some years and of course I always look forward to newer and better version of it. I'd like to make it clear that I can't even tell the difference among the packages or versions of the GUI's you were talking about. To me, a good GUI presentation reflects the best of an engineer or even an artist (I think this goes to the leader of the design). It is detail oriented , thoughtful and considerate. A "rigid" and incomplete approach is certainly the opposite of that.

If you people believe the older package should be gone, you must have enough reasons. For people like me, we have enjoyed your hard work. I really didn't mean to criticize the work. For now, although it is not ideal, I will live with what I can get. Thanks.