Why I Hate Unity

Posted (Updated ) in Linux

Note: Also see the followup to this post: How to Make Ubuntu 11.10 More Usable

So my previous post How to Move App Menus Back Into Their Windows in Ubuntu turned out a little more bitter than even I had first intended. As a result I think it’s only fair I give a few more reasons as to why I have such a strong dislike towards Unity.

Let me preface this post by saying that I was actually quite looking forward to Unity. It looked relatively promising (although I was slightly worried about reports it wasn’t as customizable as Gnome) and after I ended up liking icons on the left when thinking I wouldn’t, I was determined to give Unity a fair go. I would also like to say that many of these issues will probably be sorted out in later bug fixes and updates – but that does not help me right here right now on my shiny new Ubuntu install a few days after release.

So here it is: a ‘by no means complete’ list of reasons using Unity is not a good idea at this point in time.


First impressions

Upon installing Ubuntu and booting it up for the first time, chances are you’ll be greeted with the screen below:

First Impressions
Unthemed, Confusing and all around off-putting error message presented on first bootup.


This screen is bad for several reasons:

  • It’s not themed the way you’d expect (ie the same way every other alert box looks in Ubuntu). In fact it started out looking like a standard alert box then changed to the one you see in the image.
  • It wastes my time. If I can’t load Unity right now, why not have the error say something along the lines of ‘The traditional environment will be loaded for you instead.’ rather than sending me back to the login screen to do it myself? What’s the first thing your grandma is going to do when she sees this message? You think she’s going to do what the message says? No. She’s going to call you and ask you why it’s not working. In addition, despite what the message says – it DOES load Ubuntu Classic for you. I think this one can just be chalked up to a developer not updating the message later on in the development cycle.
  • It’s not even right. I DO have the hardware required to run unity – it’s just not configured correctly yet. When installing Ubuntu 11.04 for the first time, I was installing it on a laptop with an NVidia 8600M GT discrete GPU, 1.8GHz dual core CPU, 3GB DDR2 RAM and 500GB HDD. That should easily fulfill any requirements unity may have. The reason the message appeared is because out of the box, Ubuntu put me on Noveau 2D open source drivers instead of NVidia Proprietry or Noveau 3D experimental. Why not provide the option to enable these and continue? I ended up needing to load Ubuntu Classic, navigate to System – Administration – Additional Drivers, select NVidia current and reboot.


3D Or It Didn’t Happen

With the above in mind, why is Unity 2D not shipped with Ubuntu? With a large percentage of the marketplace not having the required drivers configured during install (not to mention anyone VMing Ubuntu), wouldn’t it make sense to include this? Unity was one of the largest and most hyped new additions to 11.04 – why would you purposely inconvenience or worst case scenario lock out entirely those users? I understand arguments about disc space but if you’re putting so much dev and marketing time into Unity at least have it available to your users!

Unity 2D
Why is this option not here by default?

Update: Looks like this is now in the blueprint for 11.10!



In a traditional desktop you generally have a single button (think Windows Start button or Ubuntu Classic Ubuntu button) which opens up a list of your installed applications. Just about every application is there and they’re all visible in one single place. Unity has decided to throw this concept out the window.

When looking for your applications in Unity – most people will do exactly what they’ve always done; they’ll click the Ubuntu logo in the top left. However instead of the concise, useful list they’re expecting, they’ll be presented with the following:

Unity Startbar
How does this help anyone?

WTF is this? Where are my installed applications? Yes I can search for apps if I already know what their names are…but what if I’ve forgotten the name?

Let’s take games for example. Ubuntu 11.04 comes with the following games installed:
AisleRiot Solitaire, gbrainy, Mahjongg, Mines, Sudoku

Do you seriously expect the average Joe to remember the names of every app installed on his system or enough to type into the search bar (especially when alot of linux apps have traditionally cryptic names)??? If you answered yes to this question: Fuck you.

Wouldn’t it be so much easier if there was some sort of menu that listed all your games…you know…like there used to be? Even if I type ‘games’ into the search field – this is what I’m presented with:

Unity Games Search
Really? That’s all of them?

Now let’s incorrectly assume that most people will figure out before punching their monitor that the magnifying glass icon in the left panel with the + symbol inside it that looks as if it’s disabled is the new location of your applications list. Is this well hidden window not an exact duplicate of what the old application menu used to be, only it takes up a full screen instead of just the top left while providing almost no additional, useful information?

Unity Applications Lens Disabled
I didn’t see what you did there…


Walk Before You Run

So far none of this has affected me too badly. I know the names of my apps and I rarely used the Applications menu anyway – preferring the run window (Alt+F2) instead. Run is also an extremely handy tool for navigating to folders quickly. SURELY they couldn’t have screwed that up right guys….? Guys?????

Unfortunately the guys decided to run away instead of answering and it quickly became apparent why.

In the past, say I wanted to navigate to /home/virtualflyn/Pictures/Wallpapers/ubuntu. This is what I’d type into the run menu:

/home/virt<tab>/Pic<tab>/Wal<tab>/u<at which point the rest of the word would be highlighted and I could just press enter>

No such convenience with Unity. Instead of intuitively assuming you’re looking for a folder and autocompleting, it instead highlights the first result it’s found – which is stupidly exactly what you’ve just typed. The below is an image before and after hitting tab after typing /home/virt:

Unity run woes
Believe it or not this is not useful


Panels? What Panels?

A little off the top, please

Unity has gone out of its way to make panels less useful. Almost all customization options are a thing of the past.

  • You may no longer right click on the top panel and add widgets such as CPU meter
  • You may no longer reorder your window list (now in a massively thick panel on left instead of at the bottom)
  • You may no longer add panels or remove panels you don’t want
  • You may no longer remove the Trash icon from your panel
  • You may not move your panels to your preferred side of the screen

Essentially what you get when you first install Ubuntu is what you’re stuck with.

In addition, system tray icons are now gone – replaced with ‘indicator applets’. This means all applications not supporting indicator applets (95% of apps out there) will just have their system tray icons not show. The results of this are twofold:

  1. All applications are now slowly adding their own indicator applets – essentially recreating the system tray but with alot of wasted development time, less useful behavior (left clicking will no longer open your contact list in your favourite IM client – it’ll just bring up the old right click menu) and alot of apps are missing entirely.
  2. Mass confusion as apps’ icons are no longer immediately visible to the user. Music apps are hidden away in the sound applet. Most apps won’t be there at all. Some (such as Pidgin) are now under the ‘envelope’ icon – which is stupidly confusing and making it a huge chore just to figure out how to open your contacts list.

The purpose of indicator applets was to move all applications into applet categories. In theory this makes sense, however in practice (at least so far) it’s been a massive failure.

A little on the side, please

The left panel is actually one of the best parts about Unity. That’s not to say it’s great – or even good for that matter – it’s just not as bad as the rest. During the beta stages it was thought this panel would autohide and only be visible if you moved your mouse to the side of the screen. This is still the case if you maximize your window but if not you’re out of luck – it’ll stay there in all its chunky, real estate hogging glory. If you’re on a netbook you might appreciate this behavior but for 24″ monitors (ie the other 99% of the market) you probably won’t have your applications maximized and therefore won’t appreciate it.

You gotta work for that menu, bitch!

Here’s a niggling usability issue mac users will be familiar with. Menus are no longer attached to the top of the application windows they belong to. Instead all menu bars are hidden from every window except the active window – which is now displayed in the panel at the top of the screen next to the Ubuntu button. For users on 24″ monitors, this means a long trek with your mouse to the outer reaches of your screen to do something as simple as cut and paste (sorry, anyone who doesn’t use keyboard shortcuts for absolutely everything – you get nothing but a big slap in the face). To all you mac users reading this post, Unity has one-upped you in usability retardation. Not only is the applications menu bar now on the top panel of the screen, but it’s also hidden until you mouse over it! When not mouseover’d you now only see the applications title.

Unity global menu
Every useful and required function safely hidden away from the user


For more information and instructions moving menus back onto their application windows see this post.


Don’t Scroll Me, Bro

Not even scrollbars made it out of the Unity disaster unscathed. In Unity scrollbars are now thin lines with a small section highlighted to indicate where the grabber is. This means you can no longer quick-jump to specific locations by clicking on the scrollbar outside the grabber. In fact, there aren’t even any up or down arrows anymore – you’re relying completely on a mouse wheel and if you don’t have one (or yours is broken) then you’d better hope the up/down keys on your keyboard to the job.

Adding to this is the fact that the implementation isn’t as good as it should be. You can mouseover the grabber area and your grabber will appear. You can move your mouse up and down and the grabber will move with your mouse. If, however, you move your mouse over an empty section of the scrollbar without first going through the grabber area, you don’t get the grabber appear where your mouse is (ie you can’t just to a specific spot on the scrollbar). See the image below for details:

Unity Scrollbar
Yet another design flaw

While this is only a small issue, it’s still an issue. It removes useful functionality for the sake of clearing up a few pixels worth of space. This is not an improvement at all.

Update: You can revert to the old style scrollbars with the following (You’ll need to restart afterwards):
Update 2: There’s now an OMG! Ubuntu article about removing them: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2011/05/disable-the-resize-grip-in-ubuntu-11-04/

sudo apt-get remove overlay-scrollbar
sudo su
echo "export LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR=0" > /etc/X11/Xsession.d/80overlayscrollbars

Death By A Thousand Cuts

There are many other niggling issues with Unity as it stands today, most notably

  • The UI is quite sluggish even on hardware that should allow it to fly along smoothly.
  • After tabbing out of the search box in the run menu (Alt+F2), you can no longer type or even click on the search box to return focus to it – your options are to close and reopen the run menu or shift+tab your way back to the search box.

Hopefully both of these will be fixed soon – I would have liked a little more care put into issues such as these though before release.


Heavy Lubrication Advised

…and there you have it. These are some of my most major gripes with Unity (the ones discovered after only a few minutes of use). As it stands at the moment, Unity is nothing more than a tool to get people off their PCs and outside doing other things. A UI overhaul such as Unity should have been given far more thought and far more testing before release than it was and keeping to the 6 month release cycle has definately hurt Ubuntu’s reputation for usability in this case.

The IRC channels are flooded with queries and complaints and users have been leaving for alternative distributions in droves. It would seem Unity is nothing more than a Mark Shuttleworths pet project and not something Ubuntu’s users actually want.

PS. Thanks to Andrew for his excellent tutorial here which helped me get Unity working in Virtualbox making this post possible.

Note: Also see the followup to this post: How to Make Ubuntu 11.10 More Usable

  • cam2644

    As a great Ubuntu fan it saddens me to agree with the above. What a let down Unity is.It either doesn’t function at all or,at best,less than satisfactorily.On neither of my pcs does the option to switch back to gnome work. On one I’ve reverted back to 10.10 (happlily) on the other I’m going to experiment with Mint. Maybe the future lies with smartphones and touch screens but loyal desktop and laptop users have been cast aside.

  • Tom Greer

    I love Ubuntu. I’ve used it for at least five years. I was looking forward to Unity.

    11.04 is a totally disaster! All the above things true. In addition, I got no window borders. That’s right, no way to move, close, minimize or maximize windows. But even worse, I use two monitors, a 22″ is my main screen, with a 15″ to the left. The Unity left panel shows icons down the left side of the main monitor. That’s right in the middle of the desktop! The option to move to the top refused to work.

    Changing to the Classic View was better but still broken. Compiz didn’t upgrade properly. Lost all my settings. But it’s broke. Wobbly windows don’t work. The desktop cube doesn’t work either. Emerald segfaults. Defaulting back to Metacity brings better functionality; but stuff only mostly works.

    Where is the undo button? Take me back to 10.10!

  • Arturo Ochoa

    I also had to get rid of UNITY. The worst thing I have seen since I started using Linux.

  • Chris Hutchin

    I agree with you all! I’ve desperately tried to find something that I like about Unity, but I’m struggling! I’ve been using Linux Mint on my Laptop for a while and applaud their decision not to adopt Unity at this stage.

  • Preet

    I found Ubuntu 11.04 installation solution.

    If you have 3GB RAM, remove any one DIMM from computer and try again. It will definately solved. I wasted 4-5 days and nights to find this solution.

    I think Ubuntu 11.04 needs two same size DIMMs on each slot.

    What you think!!

    Reply me !!!

    • Flynsarmy

      My laptop has 3GB ram which I assume means (I haven’t checked) it’s got a 2GB and a 1GB stick in it. I didn’t experience any installation issues with 11.04

  • M. Golder

    Well written article. I really tried to like Unity. I love Ubuntu but Unity is not Ubuntu. It’s a miserable failure. It’s like buying a car with square wheels. It’s new and some may think it’s refreshing but in the end Unity is simply a pig with lipstick.

    The more I tried it the more I began to detest it. Even when I selected Ubuntu Classic Unity still interfered. It’s not a very well thought out system. It’s a system that will be forced upon Ubuntu users in future releases. Because of Canonical’s pompous ramrodding of a dysfunctional OS down users throats it’s the system that drove me away.

    My Co-Workers aren’t quite as reserved as I. Most of them went mouth frothing rabid trying to use Unity. We pulled Ubuntu off of every Desktop, laptop, and net-book in the company and went to Red Hat.

    I realize that Canonical wants to make a profit; however, no one will pay for server support or cloud goodies from a company that pretentiously disregards the views and desires of the very people that brought it to the top in the first place. We won’t be back and it’s because of Canonical’s arrogance.

  • digitalelixir

    As the above states all kinds of frustrations it isn’t that hard to switch to the normal gnome 3 desktop. It is however very hard to set the gnome3 to do the cube and other nifty things. Turning of the aero snap (grid desktop windows blast into full screen is annoying.) Which is easy to turn off if you know how to ask the right questions in the forums. (helpful hint: ccsm/snapping off and grid off). As for the nice kernel provided by Linus it is amazingly quick. The Unity is a four letter word for me though. Totally agree. It is all fun and games until I have to work to get the computer back to an original gnome layout. Unity isn’t primetime product. It is a step into the world of oblivion. It is the wrong direction. Taken from words of the many, we’ve side stepped into a gutter. The next release I would hope to imagine to see a unity release and gnome release. Unity= tablet world. My big super computer and laptop are not meant for this. The productivity is 120% wrong for what I do day in and out.

  • Dr. Doom

    Spot on. You’ve addressed many of the shortcomings not only from Ubuntu’s flawed UI logic, but Mac’s as well. I think I may love you.

    • Diqi

      agYea definitely the situpd menu w/e it’s called is awful. Even Gnome-shell’s is better. It is very difficult to browse. It looks like crap. It is really weird when you are trying to use it to execute a console command. All the lenses are really kinda confusing. I like the idea (gnome-do like) but I also like being able to browse through my applications without having to click though 3-4 different things first. I think that part of unity needs an interface overhaul/redo. Much of the rest is fine so long as it gets more configurable (for example we need to be able to theme/change the colors on the panel that comes out of the left side of the screen. (and actually everything including the launcher/dash thing w/e you all are calling it. So in short: fix the launcher interface, make everything themeable/customizable.

  • Lord Lansdowne

    This was an hilarious read. And, thank you: I thought I was being a stubborn user that was refusing change and was failing to keep an open mind. Unity truly has a lot of functionality and usability issues.

    I’ve delayed upgrading to Natty 11.04 for as long as possible, but last week decided to upgrade my netbook first — this way I could figure out what needed to be done to keep my workstation functional.

    After playing around with Unity again and determining that it, well, sucks, I switched back to Gnome, reinstalled Ubuntu Tweak, re-enabled “Show Windows” and “Show Workspaces” in the corners and got back to work.

    While eyecandy is nice, I can live without the cube (I rarely used it) but not the ability for me to switch between windows or workspaces in a pinch. Nor I like having to hunt for software.

    I would think that an upgrade should just… upgrade. Not completely change the functionality of your operating system. I get it that Shuttleworth and the Gnome people aren’t seeing eye-to-eye right now, but the user is the one that suffers.

    Case in point: on my Google Nexus S, the latest update disabled the ability to sync Facebook with my contacts. Google talked about “freeing your data” and other non-sense. Okay, great. But now not even notifications work. Somehow they’ve been quoted as saying that this was “better for the user.”


  • raz

    I disagree with you guys. I totally love unity. I know its buggy, there are usability issues associated with it. I even know you can do similar things with avant, and other docks. This is not entirely new thing. But the theme is new. The theme is, it is a marketing idea. It is a buzz word. This is what makes ubuntu different, stand out from others. Looking at others and reacting or adapting after they, do is not what users want from ubuntu. To make this free operating succeed it must do more advertisement than do stuffs. That is how less powerful hardwares (at same money) sell better(apple) than Linux. I know Linux has always improved and will continue to, but a feature that came 5 years earlier in Linux, if it comes in current version of Windows or Mac it becomes a buzz word. Thus we need to live with some adds even in Linux part. Else we would be discouraging our fellow developers. Ubuntu 11.10 alpha 2 has already done subtle usability improvement on Unity, so there will be very less complaints, when this version goes final. Unity is only unique thing about Ubuntu. And what ever software they put, we can always compile it down to our needs any way if we feel, it is too much for our hardware. So, we must not stop growth. Cheers!!

  • Luís Talora

    “This is but one of a great many great challenges you’ll face if you decide to continue on with Unity. Good luck…and may God have mercy on your soul should you choose to stick with it.”

    I’m still laughting at the paragraph above…

    Sure, I hate Unity too. And God knows I gave it a try. The problem is it seems that Unity has contaminated the whole Ubuntu, in a way that using Classic Ubuntu is not as good as it was on Ubuntu 10.10. I’ve been facing app focus problems (the focus in on Firefox but everything I type is going to Thunderbird, which is behind – lost a few e-mails because of that)…
    Anyway… WTF? Why to addopt such an unproductive environment and make it the default? I dont’t get that…

  • Dan

    I do all my research and work in Ubuntu – but Unity has made this near impossible. I am ready to check out and go to Debian. I am so sick of having to mouse up to the corner to get to the menu – it makes Gimp almost impossible to use. The stupid launcher does not always hide and then it’s overlapping Libre Office or whatever happens to be in focus. Even if you install ccsm and tell the stupid launcher to autohide, it doesn’t always obey. After 4 years of loving the flexibility of Gnome, I am pretty near ready to check out. It’s the most unusable desktop yet. Gnome. I a want you back.

  • greg p

    Wow, its like someone just read my mind!
    I am gonna try Zorin O/S, as I have been pretty much dissuaded from using Ubuntu by the recent changes, sooooooo much tweaking, and soooooo little production!(my new gtx 550 graphics card worked for 3 days, then NOT. wtf?)
    At the moment I am using windows XP, that’s how much I liked Unity.
    Its like nobody ever considered asking the users “what do you like about ubuntu or linux?)
    It probably is likely that apple and microsoft survey users, why cant Ubuntu?
    Pretty dissapointed user after 1.5 years solid Ubuntu.

  • Shiliarr95z

    Well, I do hate Unity, and I just Downgrade Compiz to ver 0.8.6 and replace global panel with AWN and that solved all my problem. Search “Downgrade Compiz” in Google and you’ll find what you need there.

  • Kat Amsterdam

    This was a great read, thank you for writing it. But guys, Unity was made to be used with keyboard shortcuts. When you learn the shortcuts you will see that it can be quite productive.

    I like the drag to the top of the screen for fullscreen, or the side of the screen for half screen.
    The Super+W keystroke is very important for using Unity.
    (just as a similar keystroke is essential for the Mac way of working)


    Your points are solid as well, so I hope you have posted a link to this blog to the Unity Development team. Your feedback is constructive so I am sure they would appreciate it.

    • aaa

      After some time I must say – they DIDN’T a thing in Unity from those usability issues. They even made it worse. If an OS requires you to have a wallpaper with instruction on keyboard shortcuts then you know it was made by someone who is plainly insane.

    • AlBme

      “Unity was made to be used with keyboard shortcuts.”

      Well, that contradicts the view that Unity was made to leverage the tablet OS market.

  • Kat Amsterdam

    Remember as well, if you want a rock solid stable, bug fixed interface then stick u with a LTS release of Ubuntu and not a Technical Release like 10.10, 11.04, or 11.10. Unity in 12.04LTS will be a much better experience.

    For the business user it is especially important to only use LTS releases, as they are designed for the business user.

    • aaa

      11.04 is an alpha release at most, not even beta. It shouldn’t see light of day.

    • suave

      Very well said.

  • jld

    Unity has been challenging for me as well. Actually started with Kubuntu on a recommendation, then a few years ago switched to standard Ubuntu after trialing it with VMware. It’s more minimalist desktop was one of my favorite things about gnome. Just installed Mint in a another VM. Sweet….. After a few tweaks this is the perfect merging of what I liked from KDE and standard gnome.

  • Fred

    Thanks for the great article. I am glaad I’m not the only one becoming crazy here with Unity. Unity has taken away most of what I enjoyed in Ubuntu, I don’t see how I will continue using it if I cannot switch back to Ubuntu Classic easily.

    Canonical, please to hear our need! Efforts are behing put in such a wrong direction right now. Windows is such a failure, why would you want to inspire yourself from it ? Central top-left menu from iOS is so anoying ! How can you take that as well ? Wow. Really must say I am shocked to see you guys took out the Ubuntu Classic option. It was SO MUCH BETTER!

    I don’t beleive a fraction of a second that all change are progress and for the better. Unity as it is right now is a pure failure of understanding people’s need and a big step in the total wrong direction. Such a waste of energy to frustrate you precious users !

    • Flynsarmy

      Hey Fred,

      I’m currently running 11.10 and managed to get it looking almost identical to 10.10 (but with newer apps).

      You need to install gnome-session-fallback to get back to Gnome Classic:
      sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback

      After that there’ll be some more tweaks such as removing overlay scrollbars (described in my article), re-enabling all system tray icons:
      gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist "['all']"

      Get classic run menu back:

      In System Settings go to ‘Keyboard’
      Open the second tab for Shortcuts.
      Check in the System left Nav, there is keybinding for ‘Show the run command prompt’.
      If not double click it and press ‘Alt + F2’ to set it.

      To customize panels in 11.10 you’ll need to hold alt while right clicking.

      Here is a great article on a bunch more similar tweaks you might find useful.

  • Fred

    Hey Flynsarmy,

    Thanks a lot for your tricks !

    It works very well actually, I’m glaad it turns out to be simple steps to execute.

    I heard many people saying to switched to Linux Mint based on Ubuntu 11.04, I don’t know if you gave it a try ? Anyway for now my Ubuntu 11.10 is perfect with the tweaks, thanks to you!

    Have a good day!

  • Alice

    I would just love to know who exactly was the ****ing moron who decided to make Unity the only out-of-the-box option in the latest ubuntu.

    I wonder if the jerks who forced this system on us have ever actually tried using it themselves for a day or so?

    • UnityDroveMeCrazy

      The “moron” who decided this was shuttleworth. he is rich so nothing you, me or anyone else says will change his opinion.

  • Anonymous

    You forgot one (maybe two) other problem(s) not even associated with Unity:

    The constant idiotic release cycle of these Ubuntu versions – and their stupid names. I mean, can we have something a little more stable like we see in it’s big brother Debian? After 20+ years, Debian is just now getting into version 6! I mean, hasn’t anyone heard of “service packs” or simple “patching” – like they do with Windows? WTF is Canonical thinking by moving to the Unity interface? Can we expect this backwards thinking with the other distros like Kbuntu or even MythBuntu?!

    And now that Microsoft is set to put it’s iron fist up the Linux community’s butt with their BIOS crap (implementing UEFI), things look bad. And Unity is nothing more than what happens when a bunch of clueless geeks try to look cool and ignore any real problems that any other idiot can see coming.

    • Flynsarmy

      I actually don’t mind the 6 month release cycle – as long as they don’t push out stuff that isn’t ready. Unity clearly wasn’t ready and so it shouldn’t have been made available in 10.04 (The version this article was written for). Nobody forces you to upgrade but the option becomes available if you want it. Ubuntu solves a problem that Debian suffers from – a little less stability in exchange for far newer apps.

      Also you can only get so far with updates/patches. Sure, you can get users to add a PPA here and there but if we did that for everything we’d end up in a support/debugging nightmare.

    • Fred

      You might be interested in using the LTS version in this case, which is more stable, less constant changing (LTS versions are releazed every 2 years, like …service pack…! )

  • Graham

    I’ve been waiting a long time to get something like this off my chest, but I was waiting for the appropriate article!

    Shuttleworth has screwed up, and big time. His mistakes (especially Unity) will be talked about for years to come. I see this decision as splitting the Ubuntu camp into Unity lovers and haters.

    Unity seems to be his way of sucking up to the big manufacturers who have believe that notebooks are the next big thing. They’re not. I think he hopes that this dumbed down, chunky icon, non-configurable mess suits the need of the next generation of touch screen devices.

    Here is the corporate side of Canonical sneaking through – we are now living with an executive, monetary decision, not the feedback from everyday users. I don’t have a freakin’ touch screen and I don’t want to use an OS built for touch-screen!

    He has alienated the desktop/laptop community who love to configure their machine down to the Nth degree. Now we can’t even right click the taskbar anymore! Seriously?

    I think he must live in a land of Apple-macs and touch screens as that seems to be the major influence over the design changes recently. We now have a new mac-menu and a touch-screen, search-by-keyword environment. WTF?

    I used to enjoy referring friends across to Ubuntu as it beat winblows hands down until 10.10. How can I refer a system I can barely use myself anymore? I feel like an idiot using this Linux distro – not a day I was ever expecting!

    Personally I ran Unity for less than one day then quickly installed Linux Mint instead. Pretty much the same deal, only with a winblows-type start menu in the corner.

    Let’s face it. I like the windows start-bar, and secretly I think you might too…but don’t be ashamed! I tweaked my first installation of Ubuntu five years ago to look like it. Plus it’s easier to convert newbies to the system when the automatically reach for the bottom-left corner.

    We all want the best of both worlds – best of winblows and macs (although I hate using macs as well, so don’t get me started on the ctrl-apple-function-key, one-mouse-button stuff!).

    I now use winblows and Linux about 50/50, mainly because nothing can match MS Office, and there are far too many .exes and companies afraid to move away from winblows in the world (which I don’t like using virtual-box before you suggest it – been there!)

    While I’m not a full linux convert, I’m still proud of using Linux when showing others as it’s a bit different. But where I’m tired of winblows crashing and catching viruses, I’m equally tired of running scripts where gui doesn’t exist (and I was brought up on good old DOS, so the keyboard has always been my friend), tired of fixing stuff that breaks, and tired of spending hours on google solving multiple issues (many, many hours lost!). Please let me be an advanced user who uses gui as much as humanly possible, and bash and terminals only for mission-critical moments like switching across with alt-f3.

    If you hate Unity as much as I do, I would HIGHLY suggest installing Linux Mint (or try it in virtual-box) – it looks and feels just like the good old days we used to enjoy using Ubuntu 10.10!

  • Juako

    Jesus. You can’t imagine how much I thank myself for not upgrading anymore since 10.10. I feel like I’ve learned a lifetime lesson. My desktop (beautiful Gnome 2.3, Heavily tuned Compiz with svn plugins, AWN, Nautilus elementary, Guake, and a couple of beautiful gtk / icon themes) kicks the shit out of this sorry ass excuse for a desktop that is Unity.

    Ubuntu, I’ve started to use Linux as my main permanent, only OS in 2006 and I have to thank you for that. I’m now a much grown up Linux user, and as you have decided to go nuts (as the Gnome folks also did seemingly), you are going the way of the Dodo for me. Besides my thank you I leave you a warning:

    “pull your head out of your ass, and out of Mark’s ass, clean the shit that you have left in your brain and ears, or go the way of the Dodo for everyone”

    Send that message to your fellows at the GNOME project. Cheers.

  • Gunter

    Just to make a small statement here: UNTIY SUCKS!!!

  • Chris

    The best Ubuntu version is 10.10 and I use it for my daily business routines. The desktop environment is easy and logical like a tune in orchestra, no limitation and every thing are configurable. I have tried Unity and it is no way I can be productive with this desktop environment.I will call Unity a BIG crap desktop as many before me so in detailed .

  • Aaron

    Unity is finally forced upon us…… My 5 minute impression of it is that it’s the combination of the worst features of Windows, OSX, old Ubuntu, and some more combined. Truth is, if I want to get frustrated by a GUI I would have installed Windows 1.0 or something. They don’t need to force it upon us.

  • KantsCitizen

    there’s a poll about unity:


    I just expressed my hatred in this!

  • Ivo

    Have been using Ubuntu for couple of years now. Today it got enough. After upgrading to 11.10 my productivity has gone down sooo much that it makes me cry.

    Saving this post and flushing my ubuntu installation and continuing with Debian and std. Gnome.

    Bye Bye Ubuntu.

  • Lord Lansdowne

    I’m going to try Linux Mint this weekend. I’ll test it out first on my netbook and if it works as it should — I can be productive as I was — Ubuntu is done.

  • tingon

    I hate unity too
    i moved back to debian distro….

  • robberrt

    The unmovable, non-removable trash icon in Unity speaks well for the whole experience. If I could drag and drop Unity to its own trash icon and delete the whole mess, I would actually have done something productive. I’ve reverted to Ubuntu Studio 10.04 and frozen all upgrades for the time being. Ubuntu Studio developers are on a better track right now with the XFCE Desktop but, in my estimation not quite as good as the Gnome 2 desktop. Perhaps in time, Gnome 3 and XFCE will prevail.

  • jorge

    I’m noob. I love Linux. I hate Unity. Why we have to swallow this s**t ?

  • Marcelo God

    Unity is a challenge even for GNU/Linux experts. It’s an aberration of interface, and it’ll succeed in only one thing: getting Linux users to look elsewhere for a worthwhile desktop solution.

  • rye

    I had been using Ubuntu for almost 3 years. Unity made me look for something else. The unfortunate thing was gnome3 really bites the big one too (although it’s better than unity). I finally found Debian Stable. It is exactly what it’s name says. Stable and Secure. After I read more about it, I realized I probably should have been using it instead of Ubuntu. After all, Ubuntu is really just a distro built on Debian!

    For all you Ubuntu users frustrated, I would give Debian a go.

  • Matt

    Unity is not the end of the world. It’s flaws can be ‘managed’ to the point where it’s more usable than gnome 3, which shares many of the same problems.

    First I got compiz working with Unity by disabling some useless Unity effects that I have not missed.

    I then installed Cairo-Dock. Why the heck couldn’t they have just adopted one of the existing docking solutions rather than Unity beats me. I really like cairo-dock, it does everything Unity does but actually has a usuable system menu and a much better desktop browser, that only requires a single click.

    Now you can shut down the unity left side menu altogether and just use cairo dock if you so desire. I’ve left mine on since it gives me two ways to quickly jump to an open app or to choose an app. In fact with cairo menus on the bottom and unity and the left you can have a lot of app. icon.s conveniently hidden away on the margins of your screen. Not bad really. I have a different set of app. icons showing, a Unity set and a cairo set.

    By the way the criticisms of the dash menu are so right on. Dash is useless. It’s file search is useless since it stupidly only can search items you’ve already used WTF? synapse is also bad in this regard. It is moronic to assume that anyone remembers the name of their app. and that they feel like typing it into dash in the first place. I sure can’t.

    In fact if I type alt-F2 and then type mail, it doesn’t even find Thunderbird, my mail client. So it’s worse than useless. At least synapse has got that figured out. (So why not replace dash with synapse if you want this kind of functionality. Why reinvent the wheel?)

    Finally the big problem with unity and these gpu dependent desktops is that they completely fail if you try to use them remotely. Not even No machine’s latest nx server can handle it and why should it? If you use the eye candy, you have to also install a vanilla backup window manager if you want some kind of graphical remote login capability; LXDE maybe?

    • Matt

      I forgot to mention that cairo-dock actually installs a shell for you that completely bypasses Unity if you so desire. Those shells have a lot of advantages actually, requiring very little configuration.

      • Flynsarmy

        Hey Matt,

        Thanks for the constructive comments 🙂

        You might also be interested in my How to Make Ubuntu 11.10 More Usable post. In there I detail a bunch of ways to improve 11.10 (Mostly by just switching back to Gnome 3 which I find far more usable).

  • Christen

    When the first Macintosh appeared, I loved it (well almost, no hard disk, constantly ejecting floppies, it rapidly got the nickname “the toaster”).
    Then over the years it started to crash every 20 minutes. I switched to a PC + windows98.
    I still have a Windows in my Ubuntu VirtualBox, some really nice applications only run on Windows.
    I also again bought an apple computer two years ago (you need a Mac when you write apps with graphical interface, on the Mac everything looks different). And very soon I end up hating this system.
    – They keep the menus at the top of the screen, with a large screen this means moving your mouse up and down all the time
    – I often happen to mis-do because the menu that of a window I am not looking at.
    – Very difficult to install stuff (I was never able to install Scintilla and other stuff)
    – Very difficult to configure.

    And now Ubuntu is a mac like OS ! Even worse I would say (except for installing apps, which remained as good as before).
    I definitively hate it since 11
    11.04 fine, but the menus are on top of screen. Arg !
    11.10. A Mac, but worse. After one week I went to gnome-session-fallback
    But there are plenty of bugs.
    Many of my favourite applications did not work because of fonts problems.
    And even Windows is much better in terms configuration

    I tried KDE, but it does not look any better.

    Well, I am now trying a live Debian, maybe some other distros before I choose…
    But definitively, bye bye Ubuntu. Sorry about that.

  • Sveinn í Felli

    Clement Lefevre the main protagonist in LinuxMint writes some (healthy opinions) on GNOME2 vs modern desktops in this blog:

    Among other things:

    “Gnome 3 is shiny, elegant and modern looking. It’s a sleek desktop but it comes with a few problems:

    It changes the way people use their computer
    It’s application-centric, not task-centric (you switch between applications, not windows)
    It doesn’t do multi-tasking well (you can’t see opened windows, system tray icons, etc..)”

    That’s why the Mint-tem developed “MGSE” (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions) and some reasonable defaults for their desktop. Not perfect yet, but already usable.
    Personally I’m a ‘distro swapper’; using several distros/desktops all the time. Last 2-3 years my main ‘default boot’ distros have been various flavors of Mint, partly because I’m not the only one using my computers (n00bs around). Most of my ‘real’ work is to be done in KDE, but I also have to keep up with Ubuntu LTS editions because I give some assistance to users at a school nearbyn (1k users). They’re still on 10.04 and now is approaching the deadline for deciding what to install before next fall.

    I’m quite hesiting.
    Personally I hate Unity and GNOME3 just like the author above; these abominations interfere with any established workflow and severly diminish PRODUCTIVITY. I’m pretty sure that the staff and the teachers at my school will moan, fight (and lobby themselves back to Windows95) unless totally reindoctrinated on how to use computers.

    But then there are the kids (16-25yrs). They have shown much greater ability to adapt; they’re smartphone users and more used to tablets and other devices.

    Maybe Unity works for them ?
    Don’t know.

  • Morten Edvars

    Thanks for the tweaks, have lost two days of work already, caused by stupid me updating to Ubunto 11.10. Unity is absolutely the worst GUI I have seen since NextStep, and on my next pc I will run Mint.

  • KennedyBAJ

    Looking back after a year. Unity has been a wonder… on my tablet. Still using Mint Julia on my desktop though.

    Everyone keeps gearing towards tablets and smart phones, but need we be reminded that these technologies were abandoned techs that we began returning to as we discovered that the majority of earth lacks the intelligence to operate anything truly high-tech.

    I think Mint is leading the future of high end tech for wizs with a simple $ sudo subject-verb /optional/location -adjective object -adverb $ to command a network master and all of its subjugates in a single sweep.

    Unity is Ubuntu’s answer to “the masses”.

    • Alvin

      If you want to be rid of Unity you have to go to one of the other desktop spins, unsels there’s some trick I don’t know for getting Gnome without Unity in Ubuntu 11.4. Kubuntu and Xubuntu are both possibilities, and can be installed into Ubuntu without a full reinstall, via the kubuntu-desktop and xubuntu-desktop meta-packages. I have all three on one of my Ubuntu installs and I can switch desktops on every login. Use the desktop chooser menu in the GDM (default Ubuntu graphical login) dialog box, after choosing username but before entering your password.KDE has its own quirks, but is generally a little more like Windows and less like Mac or a phone launcher than Gnome or Unity, respectively. YMMV.XFCE is lightweight. If you want a minimal window manager that does the basics and stays out of your way the rest of the time, it’s a good pick. I used it mostly on older hardware where resources were too tight for KDE or Gnome.I haven’t tried Enlightenment in years, so I can’t much speak to it. It was pretty good back then, so may be worth a try.

  • Wolf Bein

    The article really nails it. The way I see it Gates, Jobs, and Shuttleworth are very similar — “corporate visionaries”. So it’s no surprise that Linux freedom lost out. I have already switched to Mint and I am transitioning to Debian.

  • Jackalope

    I’m sick of Ubuntu, they load your pc with unecessary software and unity. gave fedora a shot but the non-proprietary drivers makie my video playback choppy in full screen. 🙁 probably will be giving archlinux a shot.

  • CPL

    The unity interface is salad bar of bad ideas. Suggestions, ignore it and install gnome 3 if you actually do any work.

    Fucking scroll bars are useless.

  • Bobbie_Z

    Where can I tear the eyes out of the people who tried to force Unity down our throats? This has brought me to a freakin’ rage.

  • Pedro

    Sadly its 2015 and Unity still sucks ass. Designers need to learn that you can’t tell users what they want (yes, I know we only like Windows because we lived it). How the fuck can it be so hard for a 30+ year computer user to edit panels? I can’t believe how poorly Unity plays with other Desktops. I foolishly bought a Lenovo Twist and it has issues with Linux (UEFI and Secure boot are a whole other bucket of rage inducing awesomeness) so Ubuntu is kinda my only choice. Why? Why it gotta be so frustrating? I’ve been running a little Netbook server on Ubuntu for years and it works great – AS A SERVER. As soon as you put Ubuntu in a situation where you want to use the GUI, run for cover.

    Thanks for listening. I hate Unity – give me Chaos. Is there a Chaos desktop? I think that’s my next google.

  • niz

    I HATE Unity….oooh dear how do I hate unity! but when I installed ubuntu mate I almost cried from happiness…linux as gods intended to be… and not sluggish windows with the linux name

  • richardwicks

    About 20 years ago, I used the first version of KDE, and hated it and dumped it for GNOME.

    I used GNOME for over a decode, until first GNOME dropped it for the godawful GNOME 3.x, then Ubuntu went to Unity. I then got onto Linux Mate and Mint for the next few years.

    But you know, I just discovered, KDE doesn’t suck any more. I’ve finally learned to like KDE.