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posted by Fnord666 on Friday June 30 2017, @02:56PM   Printer-friendly
from the unity-was-so-cumberbatch dept.

Ubuntu's Unity interface is gone, which means there's one less desktop to choose from in Linux-land. And while dozens remain to choose from, Unity was one of the most polished out there. Many will miss its detail and design.

One of the desktops that is nearly as well polished, and therefore worth Unity fans considering, is the not-quite-as-new-kid on the block, Elementary OS.

Elementary OS actually began in 2011 as a theme for Ubuntu. It has evolved well beyond that now, with its own homegrown desktop environment dubbed Pantheon, 13 custom apps, and a distinct and very nice set of custom icons and themes. Under the hood it's still very much Ubuntu/Debian, so all the commands and basic apps you're used to will be there, even if you have to install them yourself. The Ubuntu/Debian underpinning also means you get the security and stability of those projects.

I've tested Elementary OS quite a bit over the last few years and I can say that, if you were put off by the bugginess of early releases, it's worth another look. The latest release, called Loki, has been very stable in my testing and features some really nice homegrown apps. The Elementary OS team is very good at getting the core of an app right and then polishing up the details over time.

Awesome. I really miss how Unity would slow my desktop to a crawl.


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  • (Score: 3, Touché) by Taibhsear on Friday June 30 2017, @03:26PM (11 children)

    by Taibhsear (1464) on Friday June 30 2017, @03:26PM (#533493)

    What alternate reality is the author from?...

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Friday June 30 2017, @03:43PM (1 child)

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday June 30 2017, @03:43PM (#533502) Homepage Journal

      I hate it, too, but I suppose it's a matter of taste and need.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Friday June 30 2017, @03:49PM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 30 2017, @03:49PM (#533508) Homepage Journal

      Agreed. Ubuntu certainly wasn't my first *nix, but it was the wife's first. She was pretty happy with it, until Unity - and I didn't mind doing the little bit of support she needed. Basically, it was Debian with a fresh face, initially. But, Unity broke it for her, and I wasn't even interested in looking at Unity. I moved on to Arch, and she went back to Windoze.

      The suggestion that some people actually like Unity enough to recreate it on their own seems pretty ludicrous to me. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

      --
      "Trust the science" -- Tony Fauci and his army of psycophants
    • (Score: 2, Offtopic) by jcross on Friday June 30 2017, @03:53PM (5 children)

      by jcross (4009) on Friday June 30 2017, @03:53PM (#533513)

      I'm probably going to get some hate for this, but I kind of like it. My work style is to have apps take up the whole screen, but organized in a consistent spatial pattern on virtual desktops. So the main aspect of unity I like is how it gets the hell out of my way. If I need to launch something I just hit the super key and type, but otherwise I don't need a big task bar or start menu at the bottom. The dock is far more compact, but adequate for the rare times when I need it. I also have to say that organizing menus and system-try kind of stuff at the top makes a lot of sense. I used to think it was stupid until I read an old book of human interface guidelines that Apple published, which explained that it's much easier to get the mouse to the edge of a screen because it stops there. This means that instead of precisely locating the menu on an application window, you just kind of throw the mouse at the top of the screen and there you are, only horizontal positioning is required unless you're going for the corner. After watching Windows users fumble around with menus, I think this might be right, although it might just be something about windows users ;). But yeah, if you want something that feels more or less like a traditional windows desktop, unity is not for you.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by chromas on Friday June 30 2017, @04:19PM (3 children)

        by chromas (34) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 30 2017, @04:19PM (#533531) Journal

        You can get the same panel layout in most DEs, including the Apple-style menu (though it seems inconsistent between applications). Not sure about Guhnome 3 though; those guys are off their rocker, if they even had one. They probably eliminated their rocker because options are bad.

        • (Score: 3, Funny) by LoRdTAW on Friday June 30 2017, @04:32PM

          by LoRdTAW (3755) on Friday June 30 2017, @04:32PM (#533540) Journal

          They probably eliminated their rocker because options are bad.

          No. They designed a new rocker because the original was old and therefor was due for a redesign because new is better. I'm sure you know the rest.

        • (Score: 2) by jcross on Friday June 30 2017, @05:24PM (1 child)

          by jcross (4009) on Friday June 30 2017, @05:24PM (#533569)

          Yeah I'm sure, especially with KDE Plasma which allows for all kinds of tweakage. But I have to say I really enjoy being able to make a fresh install, do a few very minor tweaks, and have everything consistently work right. It's been a while since I used other DE's, but that was not my experience a few years back. I guess part of it might have been that unique point in time, where both KDE and Gnome were throwing all the old stuff out the window and the new stuff was still kinda shaky. I'll need to get experimental again in a bit once unity is really abandoned. It just seems like every time the developers finally get all the kinks of an environment, it's time to throw it out and start over.

          • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Friday June 30 2017, @08:12PM

            by Nerdfest (80) on Friday June 30 2017, @08:12PM (#533663)

            I think I gave Unity a try at that point as well. It paled in comparison to the other DEs though (although it did get a bit better as well). Very slow, a bit unstable, and very fixed in its ways. I'm a full time KDE user now and will be very unlikely to switch again ... but you never know.

            The one thing that drives me nuts with some desktops is when they force their panels to the top or bottom of the screen. Vertical screen real-estate is a t a premium for most of us. Let us move it to the side. I think a sane person would make that the default.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 01 2017, @06:34PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 01 2017, @06:34PM (#533957)

        don't feel bad. it was eventually fine for a lot of normal people. i always left it on ubuntu machines that i set up for people. my grandma (in her late 70's) uses it just fine and she can barely use any OS (she never used computers when she was younger).

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Friday June 30 2017, @04:20PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday June 30 2017, @04:20PM (#533532)

      I'm no fan of Unity, and I haven't even used it (only seen screenshots and read about it) so I can't really make an informed comment on it. However, I fail to see how it could be any worse than Gnome 3, which I have used plenty and can't stand.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 30 2017, @05:16PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 30 2017, @05:16PM (#533566)

      I agree. I started the switch from Windows to Ubuntu in the 10.04 days. Then Unity came out. It sucked more than a Lewinsky. I tried every other distribution before settling on Ubuntu Gnome but had to install gnome-flashback to get a 10.04 style desktop back.

  • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Friday June 30 2017, @03:47PM

    A Unity clone? I'd rather have my tonsils exracted through my ears.

    --
    No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
  • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Friday June 30 2017, @03:47PM (8 children)

    by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday June 30 2017, @03:47PM (#533506) Homepage Journal

    I have an old Gateway laptop that I can't put on the network because it runs XP. Still can't find a distro that will run on it.

    --
    Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
    • (Score: 2) by KGIII on Friday June 30 2017, @05:14PM (2 children)

      by KGIII (5261) on Friday June 30 2017, @05:14PM (#533563) Journal

      What steps have you taken? What errors does it throw?

      Toss a bootable Lubuntu onto a USB and boot from that, perhaps? See if that gets you in there.

      (Even though I have modern computers, I still love LXDE. It's my DE of choice.)

      --
      "So long and thanks for all the fish."
      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday July 01 2017, @03:39PM (1 child)

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Saturday July 01 2017, @03:39PM (#533923) Homepage Journal

        It simply locks up with a black screen no matter what distro I've tried. It does have a CD burner, making it easier than the hassle readying a USB drive like on one of my other laptops.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
        • (Score: 2) by KGIII on Saturday July 01 2017, @04:16PM

          by KGIII (5261) on Saturday July 01 2017, @04:16PM (#533928) Journal

          PAE, maybe? Though I'd expect to see an error.

          --
          "So long and thanks for all the fish."
    • (Score: 2) by UncleSlacky on Friday June 30 2017, @08:54PM

      by UncleSlacky (2859) on Friday June 30 2017, @08:54PM (#533687)

      I'd try antiX, Slitaz and Puppy on it, (in that order).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 01 2017, @02:45AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 01 2017, @02:45AM (#533801)

      Lubuntu and antiX are indeed the ones that get mentioned a lot in this context.
      (antiX doesn't use systemd.)

      My experience with Slitaz was disappointing, but that was on a Pentium 2 with 128MB of RAM.

      People who recommend Puppy Linux should make sure to say that it is a single-user system.
      If you are the only one who will ever use the system and it never leaves your sight, it might be acceptable.

      If a child/spouse/houseguest will ever -your- box, don't put Puppy on that.
      Everybody will be using the same user account and have access to all of your data on the system.

      Puppy is the Windoze 9x of Linux distros.

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

    • (Score: 2) by driverless on Saturday July 01 2017, @09:29AM (2 children)

      by driverless (4770) on Saturday July 01 2017, @09:29AM (#533864)

      I have an old Gateway laptop that I can't put on the network because it runs XP. Still can't find a distro that will run on it.

      This distro [freedos.org] should do the trick.

      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday July 01 2017, @03:29PM (1 child)

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Saturday July 01 2017, @03:29PM (#533917) Homepage Journal

        I remember that one... it's capapble of internet access now? Does it run Linux or Windows programs? I used it way back before Windows 95. There was one called FreeDOS, too.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @04:41AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @04:41AM (#534085)

          Yup.

          4 cool facts you should know about FreeDOS [opensource.com]
          DOS is an old system and the original didn't support networking out of the box. Typically, you had to install device drivers for your hardware to connect to a network, which was usually a simple network like IPX. Few systems supported TCP/IP.

          With FreeDOS, not only do we include a TCP/IP networking stack, we include tools and programs that let you browse the web. Use Dillo for a graphical web browser experience, or Lynx to view the web as formatted plain text. If you just want to grab the HTML code and manipulate it yourself, use Wget or Curl.

          -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by butthurt on Friday June 30 2017, @04:18PM

    by butthurt (6141) on Friday June 30 2017, @04:18PM (#533530) Journal

    The repeated mentions of Unity are a red herring, as far as I can tell. The article mentions that this distro tries to imitate OS X, and says it's "very different" from Unity. In the screen-shot you can see that the dock resembles the one in OS X. I tried it very briefly; aesthetics seemed to be its strong point.

    archive link for the article:
    https://www.webcitation.org/6rbst87Ac [webcitation.org]

    Distrowatch link:
    https://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=elementary [distrowatch.com]

  • (Score: 1) by gtomorrow on Friday June 30 2017, @04:34PM (4 children)

    by gtomorrow (2230) on Friday June 30 2017, @04:34PM (#533542) Journal

    I must be one of the 88 people worldwide who likes Unity and honestly am sad to see it go. I first installed Ubuntu with Unity back in 2008 on a netbook (Netbook edition IIRC) and for that size and form factor it was actually pretty nice. Admittedly it was pretty slow but I chalked that up to 1) it's a netbook! and 2) Unity had lots of help from the GNOME underpinnings and Metacity. Before that it was a Gentoo install (on another machine...from bootstrap no less!), with WindowMaker which I liked a lot, but I don't have the time nor the inclination anymore for such a setup. Presently I've got 16.04.2 LTS installed on this here Dell Inspiron...with Unity of course.

    Personally I just don't see it in Elementary. I tried it out a couple of years ago and while I did like the interface (ooh! MIller Columns!) I found the distro itself was just too flaky. Maybe I should give it another go...?

    GNOME 3? I tried that for a while with Debian setup I had going. It's okay...as in "Meh...it's okay." KDE: I am not a fan. XFCE isn't bad but reminds me too much of Windows 95/98/XP.

    I know I'm going to regret asking but...why all the hate for Unity? Please, if you feel compelled to respond, keep it intelligent. Please.

    In the end I'm probably just going to suck it up and use GNOME 3.

    • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Friday June 30 2017, @04:49PM

      by Gaaark (41) on Friday June 30 2017, @04:49PM (#533552) Journal

      Slowness is one reason I tried i3: if I had a better memory, I'd probably dump xfce altogether for i3, but I use xfce for non-regular things, as in I don't have to remember to run deja-dup regularly for 'back-ups' and it reminds me of the manjaro updates.

      But I love i3 for running steam games, and browsing, etc.

      So, yeah... Speed is i3... Memory loss is xfce :)

      With a super fast machine, maybe I'd be on something like unity, but maybe not.

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 1, Disagree) by Beau Slim on Friday June 30 2017, @05:54PM (2 children)

      by Beau Slim (6628) on Friday June 30 2017, @05:54PM (#533584)

      You aren't a minority. There is just a vocal bunch of haters. Any desktop (on any platform) that doesn't hearken back to the Windows 95 to Windows 7 style gets people frustrated. OMG no Start menu!

      Of all the linux desktop environments I've tried, Unity is certainly the most polished, and you can tell that a lot of thought went into consistency and quickness of common tasks.

      With Unity going away, I tried quite a few options. I kind of like Budgie but they are moving from Gnome's GTK to KDE's qt and I'm not up for a lot of big changes.

      I've settled on Gnome with a few font size tweaks and addons like Dash to Dock, pixelsaver and gnome-global-appmenu so that gnome behaves more or less like Unity. I'm looking forward to seeing Ubuntu's customized Gnome.

      Keep in mind that Unity will continue to work for years to come. There just won't be any improvements.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by driverless on Saturday July 01 2017, @09:49AM (1 child)

        by driverless (4770) on Saturday July 01 2017, @09:49AM (#533871)

        Keep in mind that Unity will continue to work for years to come. There just won't be any improvements.

        Isn't that exactly what you want in a UI? For at least the last five years, probably closer to ten, UI "improvements" have actually been "hipsters randomly changing things to follow whatever hipster trend other hipsters have dreamed up this week". So a UI that's protected from any such "improvements" is a major win in my book.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Joe Desertrat on Saturday July 01 2017, @02:11PM

          by Joe Desertrat (2454) Subscriber Badge on Saturday July 01 2017, @02:11PM (#533908)

          So a UI that's protected from any such "improvements" is a major win in my book.

          This is exactly why people still want the Windows 95/98/XP style desktop with a start menu, etc. It works fine and no matter what O/S one sits down to, whether Windows or *nix, they can immediately find their way around with little effort. Something like that does not need to ever be changed unless it becomes entirely at odds with the operating system function, which on desktop computers is not going to happen.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 30 2017, @07:01PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 30 2017, @07:01PM (#533625)

    I hate how half the time when Ubuntu notices a system problem and wants to auto-submit a bug report, the reporting program itself craps out. You get what you pay for, but could they (Canonical) be any more amateurish?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 01 2017, @06:39PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 01 2017, @06:39PM (#533958)

      it's a stupid thing to have by default when you make a distro aimed at "human beings" when you know damn well human beings can't do shit. also, the whole procedure is ridiculous, even if it works. one can simply remove appport and that little problem magically goes away, not that my grandma should have to figure that out because the dipshits at canonical(sorry, but you people have your head way up your asses half the time) want to be gentoo and OLPC all at the same time.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by UncleSlacky on Friday June 30 2017, @08:57PM

    by UncleSlacky (2859) on Friday June 30 2017, @08:57PM (#533690)

    Unity has already been forked as Yunit: https://yunit.io/ [yunit.io]

  • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Friday June 30 2017, @10:02PM (2 children)

    by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Friday June 30 2017, @10:02PM (#533726) Journal

    I say this as someone who haaaaaaaaaated all things KDE from 4.0 up to 5.6: Plasma is now *the* desktop to beat for the modern world. Just today i had a customer who got virus'd and only ever checks her email and plays flash games; after a little discussion we settled on Debian with Plasma, a custom Win7-like theme I made in-house, and that was it. It looks and acts more like Windows than Windows has since late 2012.

    --
    I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
    • (Score: 2) by chromas on Friday June 30 2017, @10:05PM (1 child)

      by chromas (34) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 30 2017, @10:05PM (#533727) Journal

      a custom Win7-like theme I made in-house

      Would you like to share with the rest of the class?

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Azuma Hazuki on Friday June 30 2017, @10:25PM

        by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Friday June 30 2017, @10:25PM (#533738) Journal

        It's more of a recipe than anything honestly. Download the Fragile and the win7 themes, make a new folder called Redmond, and copy the contents of Fragile into it. Then copy the panel background SVGZ from win7 into the new Redmond folder/theme, mess with the metadata so it says Redmond rather than Fragile, and there you go :)

        I did, however, make a small Plasmoid for a more Windows-like clock with tiny text since Plasma STILL doesn't let you change the damn clock's font size: https://store.kde.org/p/1181740/ [kde.org]
        Just mkdir -p ~/.local/share/plasma/plasmoids/org.kde.contrib.redmonddatetime and then unzip that sucker into it.

        --
        I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 01 2017, @06:41PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 01 2017, @06:41PM (#533959)

    "One of the desktops that is nearly as well polished, and therefore worth Unity fans considering, is the not-quite-as-new-kid on the block, Elementary OS."

    oh, i didn't know ElementaryOS was not an OS but an DE. i wonder why they tried to trick me with the 'OS' in the name. trixxy, trixxy, my precious.

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