Seven Tools for Improving Ubuntu Unity: Page 2

Those who dislike Unity are finding ways to make it more like its ancestor GNOME 2.  


You Can't Detect What You Can't See: Illuminating the Entire Kill Chain

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6) MyUnity

Released last month, MyUnity is a selection of settings for customizing the look and behavior of the desktop environment. The launcher, quicklist, and dash all have separate tabs that include several unique features. On the launcher, for instance, you can change the mouseover help for each tile, as well as the executable associated with it.

However, the most useful settings in MyUnity are those for the desktop. In addition to settings for fonts, themes, and numbers of desktops, MyUnity also lets you add individually the icons that were standard in GNOME 2, including Home, Networks, and Trash. It even includes a Show Desktop icon, that traditional solution for a workspace so crowded with windows that navigation has become impossible.

7) Confity

Confity suffers from a faulty English translation and some early faulty packaging. All the same, Confity is worth hunting down, even if you have to compile it from source. It not only has most of the options in all the other tools listed here, but more unique features. Some of the unique features include enabling a system tray, and adding multiple commands to launcher tiles, including playback controls for music players.

Final Cautions

All these tools are for the standard 3-D version of Unity. By contrast, Unity 2-D, which is used by old machines or those without video drivers with hardware acceleration, has fewer options.

In fact, the only customizing tool for Unity 2-D that I've been able to find is Unity 2D Settings. This tool includes settings for hiding the launcher and showing icons on the desktop, but, even with it, the possibilities for improving Unity 2-D are far fewer than those for the default 3-D version.

If you are using the 3-D version, mix and match the tools cautiously. Together, these tools have so many options that how they might interact with a given combination of the others is impossible to guess. You might even find that some of the options within the same tool might even not work or else conflict with each other. Differences in hardware may also produce different results.

Even worse, changes made in one tool might not register in other tools without a reboot -- assuming that they register at all. Unless you are cautious, you could easily end up corrupting Unity to the point that it crashes or no longer starts.

Still, if you have reservations about Unity, considering using some or all of these tools before abandoning the desktop environment. If these tools are not as wide-sweeping in their effect on your desktop as their GNOME 3 equivalents, a careful selection of them could mean the difference between staying with Unity and abandoning it altogether.

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Tags: open source, Linux, Ubuntu, Unity

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