A few thoughts on Ubuntu 12.04 Alpha 1

After an aborted installation in VirtualBox using the direct installation, I got a VM instance of Ubuntu 12.04 in place by installing from a loaded Live CD session. That proceeded without any trouble and downloaded the required updates too. First impressions revealed a polished Unity interface that ran without any crashes. Adding VirtualBox’s Guest Additions in the usual way was all that was needed to tart up the experience even more. However, there remains a wish list for improvements to unity so here are mine:

  1. Merging of an application title bar with the desktop’s top panel on maximisation: In 11.10, removing the appmenu packages does force menus into application windows and that seems to be destined as a configurable item in Unity at some point; it’d be good to see it in 12.04 though it’s not in the first alpha release. the merging of the panel and title bar would be a good thing to have as a user setting too because I am unconvinced by the current behaviour when there is plenty of screen space.
  2. Rearranging icons on the application launcher: There seems to be no obvious way to do this at the moment and attempting to move them with a mouse only moves the launcher up and down. There is no doubt that this behaviour is a bonus for those working with small screens but it is a nuisance unless there is another means for achieving the same end.
  3. Desktop environment switcher on the login screen: This seems to have disappeared for now. Hopefully, this is an oversight that will see correction in later stages of the development of Ubuntu 12.04. This is how I currently get Ubuntu 11.10 to boot into GNOME Shell so its loss would be a step backwards. Then, a Gubuntu project would become truly necessary though I have to say that Linux Mint makes such a good alternative that I wonder how they would get going.

In summary, it does look as if the Unity interface is getting more and more polished. However, there are niggles that I have described above that I think need addressing and I hope that many of them will addressed in either 12.04 or 12.10. Usability seems to be improving but I still am left with the impression that it has a way to go yet.

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