Feb 29 2012
I’ve been playing with the forthcoming Ubuntu 12.04 LTS release for quite a while now. While the official release date is still a couple of weeks ahead of us, the guys at Canonical are obviously working very hard on Precise Pangolin – the differences and improvements between the daily builds speak a language of their own.
While the distribution gets more polished and although this time even the desktop version will have a guaranteed support for five years, there still is one thing bothering me enormously: Unity. And the “HUD” project for Unity, which will replace application menus with… a search box where you can type in keywords to search for the application feature that you want to use.
I’ve already stated my opinion on Unity, and I still think this project is a wasted effort headed in a completely wrong direction. “HUD” only makes this more obvious and I wonder how anybody involved in this project can honestly believe that a search box will make using an application with a GRAPHICAL user interface more efficient. Even if one day voice recognition will become a part of HUD. The way I see it, HUD will make GUI apps even more difficult to use and slow advanced users significantly down.
The main advantage of graphical user interfaces was that they were VISUAL. Humans are visually-oriented beings, our other senses are not nearly as important for us as our eyes are. This is why graphical interfaces were such a huge leap ahead from the old command line interface and made using computers so much easier for everybody. I just don’t understand why Mark Shuttleworth now wants to turn back the wheel of time twenty years. Even with voice recognition, the HUD concept just feels wrong.
I could understand if the folks at Canonical were working on a feature like SpeakToIt, an assistant with a customizable avatar and voice recognition for Android, or something similar to Siri on the iPhone 4S. This stuff makes a lot more sense for me than a system-wide replacement for application menus.
Another thing that I don’t like about Unity is its dark default theme. It’s kind of depressing to look at and lowers my mood rather quickly. Can’t we have friendly colors? I think that Linux Mint looks A LOT friendlier than Ubuntu. The color scheme alone could be reason enough to use Mint instead of Ubuntu. And yes, I mean it.
One of the first things that I do on a Ubuntu Desktop installation is sudo apt-get install gnome-shell, log off and then log into a vanilla Gnome 3 session. I know that a lot of people also hate the Gnome 3 experience, but I find it still a lot better than the available alternatives. It’s still depressingly dark, but it feels a lot better than Unity.
Other than that, Ubuntu 12.04 feels more stable with each build that I look at and overall I think it will still be a very solid platform when it’s ready – even though they try to force Unity on us.
Now it’s time for me to have a look at an Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS build and decide whether it will be worth upgrading our 10.04 LTS servers to 12.04 LTS or if we’re better off by sitting this one out. 10.04 LTS was a great improvement over 8.04 LTS; almost everything worked smoother, faster and more reliable in 10.04 LTS than in its predecessor. I hope 12.04 LTS will bring another positive boost for our preferred server platform.