Welcome back to the family, Ubuntu.

Word has come out that Ubuntu is dropping its home-bred graphical engine and interface Unity, and returning to Gnome 3 Desktop.

The experiment lasted 7 years, Unity was introduced since  version 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) and was touted (mainly only by Canonical) as visionary, making a more efficient use of the screen (very relative), with never materialized promises of superior (gaming?) performance and stability.

Canonical is also returning to its roots,concentrating on Desktop, Server, Cloud and IoT platforms, abandoning it’s plans to further develop a Phone Operative System.

The next version of Ubuntu, running Gnome will be 18.04 (LTS)

Exotic Linux Distros

Red Star OS: North Korea, apparently based on Fedora with custom crypto modules.
Red Flag Linux: China, based on Red Hat. (See update below)
Nova: Cuba, state sponsored Linux distribution based on Gentoo.

Some other state sponsored Linux projects around?

Update March 22, 2013

According to ARS Technica China is going to standardize around a highly customized Ubuntu Kylin 13.04

My bet is that it will be “The Great Firewall” friendly.

Linux Rant of the Day

One of the main advantages of Linux is that it can practically run on any computer, meaning, that you can extend the life of an old computer. Linux can run with low memory and hard drive requirements.

I feel that Ubuntu is going against that. I have an 8-year-old desktop, with a AMD Athlon 64 bit processor, 2 Gb of RAM, and a ATI Video card with 256 Mb. Since Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal, moved from GNOME 2 to 3, and started implementing the Unity Shell on top of it, the PC started to feel slow, not responsive, glitchy.  I kept upgrading to versions 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, and then to 12.04 Precise Pangolin. I tried both 32 and 64 bit versions, but the symptoms of slowness, were still there.

So I started to look for alternatives, first was Linux Mint Maya, downstream distribution from Ubuntu. The advantage is that it offers the alternative between GNOME 2 and GNOME 3, but still it uses a shell on top of GNOME 3 to make it appear as 2, the performance was not there, and it felt stuck in the past, for me, Mint is just a cosmetic makeup of Ubuntu.

Then I tried Fedora, the open distribution from Red Hat for desktops, and it was direct, my graphic card / processor / memory, wont give me the full GNOME 3 experience, so it wont install. I think it could, but some serious tweaking would be needed.

At the end, it was OpenSUSE 12.2 Mantis to the rescue. SUSE is a downstream distribution from the old reliable Slackware. It’s a full Linux distribution with GNOME 3, and it runs like a charm, no lagging, no slowness. Lots of software from the repositories of the community.  I think I will stay with OpenSUSE for a while.

Ubuntu, GNome3 y Unity … Recargado

Ahora más o menos la traducción del post anterior, acerca de la última versión de Ubuntu 11.10 Oneric Ocelot, la interface gráfica GNome en su 3ra version, y Unity, la extensión de GNome3 de integración con Ubuntu.

Linux como sistema operativo es flexible en la interface gráfica para el usuario.  A diferencia de Windows de Microsoft, o OSX de Apple, en Linux se puede escoger que interface gráfica usar.  Existen dos grandes proyectos en interfaces gráficas en Linux, GNome y KDE, ambos con ventajas y desventajas, y discutir sobre cual es mejor o peor se convierte rápidamente en una charla bizantina.

Ubuntu desde su versión 10,X para Netbook, empezó a investigar e implementar la interface gráfica que hoy vemos en 11.10.  En la edición 10.X para netbook, lanzaron Unity, como un nuevo paradigma para el manejo mas eficiente del espacio en las pequeñas pantallas de 10″.  Lo instalé, lo trate de usar y no me gustó.  Al final, en mi finado netbook, terminé instalando el Ubuntu normal para estaciones de trabajo, y funcionaba bastante bien.

En mi computador de escritorio, tambien he usado Ubuntu desde la versión 9.X, 10.X y ahora 11.X.  Tambien traté de usar Unity, teneindo en cuenta que es una pantalla de 17″ clásica de 5:4, no las nuevas de 16:9.  En las versiones pasadas de Ubuntu, en 10.11 y 11.04 existía la posibilidad de cambiar de “Unity” al escritorio clásico GNome, pero en esta úlimta versión 11.10 ya no existe la posibilidad, limitandose a poder escoger entre Unity 2D (liviana) y 3D (efectos gráficos).

El principal problema reside en la falta de flexibilidad, no hay opciones para cambiar “a gusto del consumidor” la interface gráfica.  Si se quieren cambiar los parámetros, se tiene que instalar una aplicación extra GNome-Conf que proporciona granularidad en las opciones, pero se puede acabar rápidamente con un escritorio inútil, como me pasó a mi.  Despues de reiniciar mi computador, tenia una pantalla sin menus, sin barras, sin botones, sin nada.

Los menus tienden a desaparecer, siendo remplazados por una barra de tareas muy al estilo Mac con el Dock de OSX, y ya no existe un sitio como Finder de Mac, donde están todas las aplicaciones instaladas, sino una pantalla de busqueda, donde si no se sabe el nombre de la aplicación, es mas dificil encontrarla, sino que tambien suguiere aplicaciones que pueden ser instaladas para realizar tareas similares a las que se pueden lograr con las aplicaciones que se necesitan.  Al final, a mi parecer, confuso, y poco amigable.

Debe existir un modelo de transición donde se pueda escoger entre Menús, y Unity, o ambos, pero no todo o nada.  Igual, Dash (el equivlente al Dock) debe tener opciones de configuración, poder hacer drag-and-drop de las aplicaciones que se quieren o no, poder cambiar el tamaño, o escoger en que borde de la pantalla se quiere (arriba, abajo, derecha, izquierda) o si se quiere oculto, o todo el tiempo visible.  Hoy es monolítico, sin opciones de configuración accesibles al usuario.

Incluso, durante un tiempo, me pasé a Fedora Linux, que tambien hace uso de GNome3, tal vez de una forma mas “pura” sin “Unity”; pero terminé volviendo a Ubuntu.

Finalmente, me doy por vencido con Unity, y GNome3, sin embargo, me parece que Ubuntu es una buena plataforma. Afortunadamente, existe la opción de Ubuntu usando KDE (Kubuntu).

Ubuntu 11.10, GNome3 and Unity

I’ve had it! I give up on Unity.
Since the ubuntu project launched unity, a new shell for gnome3, i have tried it, getting frustrated, and always switching back to the “classic-look” gnome.
At some point I even switched for a brief time to Fedora 16 (which also uses the GNOME3 shell, in a slightly different implementation, perhaps in a more “pure” form.)
My story goes as this, I began with Ubuntu 9.x, and gnome2 standard, and it worked fine.
At some point I had a netbook, and ubuntu launched the “ubuntu netbook” edition a new paradigm in window managment, a first hint on Unity, as a “more efficient” way to work with the small screens of netbooks, I tried it, hated it, and finally installed a standard desktop version on my notebook.
Until the netbook died, I used a standard ubuntu gnome desktop on it.

On my main PC, an 8 year old desktop, switched thru Ubuntu, 9.X, 10,x and 11.X.  On 11.04 Lucid Lynx, there was the option of switching from unity to classic, but now on 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, the classic option is gone, only having the 2D (light weight) unity and the 3D (full eye candy).

I see where the ubuntu project is going, and it’s not a bad direction, which is on my view, towards the Mac OSX desktop. On this version, the Dash, which is like the Dock in OSX, a place where from launch your favourite applications.

The problem is that Dash doesn’t have any configuration options. For example, cannot drag and drop in or out the apps that you want in it; there is no more a menu where to look for all your apps, and the equivalent of OSX finder, is a search window where you see what you have installed, and what can be installed; or move the dash from the left to the bottom (or wherever), options for autohide, or stay-on-top, size, etc.

For manipulating the Dash behaviour and options, the official documentation is to download the compiz-config-tool, which will give full granular control over many settings, but full of inconsistencies or contradictory options, that may render a desktop unusable, pretty quickly; wich was my case. After a reboot, I had an empty desktop, without a dash, or a menu, or a panel bar. nothing.

There has to be a transition, an option to choose between an only menu driven desktop (classic), or only the “search application” window (which is the case in Fedora), or use the Dash, or both.

The Dash has to have some options to configure it’s behaviour. In my case, I use the Opera web browser, which uses a left toolbar to launch the different components, it’s frustrating bacause the desktop shows the Dash, when I am trying to access the Opera toolbar. But I leave the Dash always on, I am starting to loose screen “real state” space. If I had a 24 inch 16:9 screen, maybe that’s not an issue, but I have a 17 5:4 old screen, and loosing screen real-state on big bars, doesn’t appeal to me. I preffer clean desktops, with mimimal bars, just one, maybe two.  I don’t use multiple desktops, and to convice the workspace switcher it needs some coding, agan, cannot remove it.

Anyways, at the end. I like Ubuntu open-source approach and flexibility, that’s why I am not going back to Fedora.

But I definitely don’t like Unity. GNOME, get your act together.

I am installing Kubuntu. KDE is back.