Monday, April 14, 2008

Thoughts about Ubuntu Hardy - GUI

As I wrote in the post Upgrading to Hardy, I decided to go and try the beta version of Ubuntu. It is a bit of a surprise but apparently the main changes in this release that are visible to the user are GUI improvements. There are of course many other changes, but the amount of small but very noticeable visual changes is somewhat unexpected.

The first such change I noticed is that when I click on a launcher it "pulses". I wanted to include a video of this happening, but the program I usually use for this refuses to work in Hardy, for now at least.
The effect itself is nothing new, it was available in kde (but not in Gnome) before. However this is a nice improvement. It is very easy to see now on which launcher you clicked - people with weak eyes will like it especially.

Another change is a bit unofficial. For a long time the default theme in ubuntu was "Human". They changed it to "Human-Murrine" at some point, and then reverted back but kept the new theme available in the Appearance manager. The main changes can be seen in these screenshots:

The scroll bar is orange now, and the buttons have more blur.

Selecting a button in Nautilus

A new progress bar style

My personal impression from this new theme is very positive. I liked the old one, and yet I see this one as an improvement. Except for the orange scroll bar...

Anther small change is that the 3D windows plugin for compiz finally started to work. It didn't work for me on gutsy, but it started to work after the upgrade. Unfortunately not all is well with compiz even now. Two days ago after I installed some updates compiz refused to work. For some reason there was a dependency problem which caused synaptic to remove the compiz package. I fixed it but adding two extra repositories:
deb hardy main universe
deb hardy main
Compiz is working now but not emerald - I don't care much about it, so it is not fixed yet.

Another change is the addition of Screenlets to the repositories. The version in the official repositories is not the latest - you will need to add the repositories mentioned above for the latest version (and yes the changes worth it). This is how my desktop looks like now:

Front view
Side view - using desktop cube

There are two other photos (where the squares are), but they are copyrighted so I put a pattern on them.
The two photos that are visible are in fact slideshows - I have a collection of over 200 photos I found on the web, so I configured these two slideshow screenlets to show this photos at 10 seconds intervals.
It is also possible to put some or all screenlets into a widget layer provided by compiz. All you need to do is to enable this layer in the compiz manager, and then to choose the widget option for the screenlet (right click on it and then click window->widget).

Overall I think I like all these changes - they make the system look nicier. Hopefully Ubuntu will be able to continue with this trend of improvement in the future.
For those who bothered to read this post to the end - a little bonus. I just discovered it is posible to view Star Wars for free in the terminal. All you need to do is to type this comand:
Color not included.

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