At the weekend I used the time to install Ubuntu 18.04 on my computer. So far I have used Ubuntu 16.04 with Unity. I am someone who uses the standard if possible, because I don’t want to waste my time with many adjustments to my desktop every time. The change from Gnome2 to Unity many years ago was quite painless and I could quickly get used to it. To be honest, that was also my hope when installing Ubuntu 18.04 and the new Gnome3 desktop. Ubuntu has made some changes to make it easier to switch from Unity to Gnome3. Did they succeed? Personally, I say no. After two days I am back to Unity in Ubuntu 18.04. Here is why.
What I miss in Gnome3 as Unity-User
I already revealed myself as a Unity lover. I quickly got used to it and find it very user-friendly and easy to use in many points. On the new Gnome3 desktop I was curious and honestly willing to switch to it, but that’s not exactly made easy. I am missing many little things that I have learned to appreciate in Unity and that make my work with the computer easier. Here are a few examples.
Integration of external media
I immediately installed Dash-to-Dock to have more options when customizing the dock, e.g. to have the application launcher at the top instead of at the bottom of the dock. In Unity, external media such as USB sticks are displayed as another icon in the dock — in Gnome3 as an icon on the desktop. I find this impractical, especially when working with maximized windows, because you first have to minimize them to be able to watch and open the icon. Perhaps there is some kind of extension for this, but that is exactly the point. I don’t want to have to customize the desktop with 50 extensions until it behaves the way I want it to, at least not for basic things like the following example.
By default, the Gnome3 menu only contains buttons for System Preferences, Lock Screen and Shutdown. I suspend my laptop at the end of the day. But I can only do this in Gnome3 if I press the ALT key at the same time or install an extension. In Unity 2 clicks are enough, in Gnome3 I need 2 hands or an extension.
Utilization of screen space
I see a big advantage of Unity in the top bar. There are the window menus and also the buttons for closing, minimizing and maximizing. It makes my work much easier if I just move the mouse to the upper left corner and click and I know that the window will close. I don’t have to “aim” or navigate the mouse pixel by pixel. Simply push up to the left, click and you’re done. Furthermore, the integration of the menus in the upper bar saves a lot of screen space. Especially for smaller screens. By default this is not the case with Gnome3, but you can of course achieve it through extensions.
Icons in the top bar
It seems to me that some applications are optimized for Unity instead of Gnome3, especially the icons in the upper screen bar. I had some applications (e.g. Mattermost Desktop), which are well integrated under Unity, but which I could integrate in Gnome3 — again — only with an extension.
GDM vs. LightDM
Another one of those things. It’s the little things that make life easier. Apart from the fact that I find the LightDM login screen much nicer and prettier than the one from the GDM, it offers other advantages. By default, in both GDM and LightDM, the login screen is only visible on one screen (if you connect more than one screen). With LightDM, all I have to do is move the mouse from one screen to the next to get the login screen to the other screen. This is not possible with GDM. A big disadvantage, especially in schools, where you often have a projector in the classrooms. If the login screen appears on the projector, I cannot simply switch it to the connected computer.
Maybe these are all just small things and they you can adapt them to a large extent with appropriate extensions, but that’s exactly the point. I want a desktop I can use productively without having to adapt it first through extensions. Certainly I really like Unity and now look strongly through these colored glasses, but it is among other things the things mentioned above that make my work on the computer easier.
For my part, I’m back to Unity.
$ sudo apt install ubuntu-unity-desktop
its all you have to do — even in Ubuntu 18.04 — including lightdm.
To all Unity lovers — will you switch to Gnome3 in Ubuntu 18.04?