Unity? (was: What's your favorite distro, and why?)

Michael Torrie torriem at gmail.com
Sat Dec 7 09:06:47 MST 2013

On 12/07/2013 07:30 AM, Olli Ries wrote:
> On Sat, Dec 7, 2013 at 1:18 AM, Dan Egli <ddavidegli at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On December 5, 2013, Michael Torrie wrote:
> [...]
>>> Mint seems to be gaining in popularity because 1) it doesn't have Unity
>>> and 2) it gives other desktop environments like LXDE and XFCE and Mate
>>> more first-class attention (KDE used to be supported but that's now
>>> forked off into its own distro, SolidXK.
>> Okay. I guess that shows how long I've been out of the game, but What is
>> Unity? From what I can gather it seems to be a display environment/window
>> manager ala KDE/Gnome/XFCE/etc... but if is, why is it so hated? What was
>> it intended to do that it's apparently not doing?
> Unity is a Desktop Shell which was designed to work on desktop, phones,
> tablets and other computing devices through different modes that adapt to
> the environment Unity is running in. This will become especially important
> when we will be able to use our overpowered smartphones as desktop/laptop
> replacement by hooking it into a display and attaching a BT keyboard, aka
> "device convergence"

I disagree. Why do we need to have the same interface kludged to
different interface paradigms?  There's absolutely no reason why we
couldn't have a mobile UI on the phone and then when we dock it with a
monitor and keyboard we get a normal desktop UI.  In fact that's exactly
what Ubuntu for Android is.  On the phone's screen it's standard
Android.  When docked it's a normal desktop (well, Unity in this case).

> <snipped excellent summary of Unity's features>

> Unity will ship in version 7.x in 14.04. That version is based on a toolkit
> Nux that Canonical has sponsored/developed. Going forward (Ubuntu Touch
> 13.10 and ongoing, Ubuntu 14.10 and ongoing) Unity will ship in version 8,
> a rewrite and rearchitecture to address earlier concerns (speed, resource
> consumption, design/usability) which is based on Qt/QML, Ubuntu's toolkit
> of choice.

You missed the biggest and most controversial change: Mir.

Unity isn't all bad by any means.  I think part of the problem is
Canonical's decisions to go their own way in terms of Desktop
technologies (Mir, for example), instead of working with the community.

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