I’m busy writing this as the Ubuntu installer is doing what it was designed to do, deleting an installation of Windows 7 on a newish Samsung laptop. A close friend of mine is all fired up about Ubuntu and I guess there are going to be some comparisons to be made, after persuading him that having one installation ( as opposed to duel-booting) is the only sane way to go (No sense in having Windows AND Ubuntu problems, and if you have problems, let them be Ubuntu ones!). How does Ubuntu rate in terms of presentation?
Yes Windows 7 aside from the commercial excess and Microsoft cant, is a feisty thang indeed, a buxom blonde whose features stay with you for about a week or two, pity about the avaricious personality.
Yes, t’is not just the eye-candy, the OS is a beauty in the user interface department with some fine touches, like file previews in the taskbar, tool bars in the file manager, animations and system-wide sounds, which really all put KDE to shame.
There is no point in comparing Windows 7 to Gnome, so I won’t even try. But the encounter with the dark side got me thinking:
We’ve really become too reliant on Compiz to save us at the end of the day. Enabling the default settings in Ubuntu just doesn’t do it for the new user. One is expected to modify the system with Compiz-Config like every other LXER and isn’t this the problem with taking the easy way out? More work for us?
There appears to be no major design innovation occurring in the subtle world of Ubuntu graphics (aside from shifting things around and around). Also, absolutely nobody in the community is offering up overall system schemes to turn us all more productive creatures. (I know I sound like I’m about to sell my soul to a large corporation,. but stick with me)
I”ve harped on about this a few times in various forums: The desktop computer is expected to function on so many levels. Daytime its an Office. Afterhours, its an Enterternment and Multimedia Hub. On Weekends it can go from Programming Interface to Gaming Centre in 0-5 seconds and nobody but nobody is offering us the kind of overall design solutions to make each of these unique activities stay in their rightful place. Perhaps Gnome-Shell will finally liberate us, but until then, we have a terrible mashup of all of the above. A desktop that is crippled by the demands of each sector of the community, as Ubuntu becomes the workhorse you toss around with no means of simply turning on the candy.
Ontop of this, the problem of too many candy options and not enough over-riding design statement. For example, have you tried flicking a switch and having Appearance Preferences, Compiz-Settings and System Sounds change to suit your mood? I know I can do it manually, but has anyone tried automating this and presenting us with the evidence of design statement that doesn’t fall apart the next day when you have to pack everything away and go to work, WITH THE SAME BLOODY LAPTOP OR DESKTOP COMPUTER!!!!
Then again there are areas where we don’t seem to have much of an option at present and maybe that is a good thing.
“What, you mean there are no sound themes to choose from and no wallpaper sets?” I can just imagine the sweat breaking out as my associate realises he will have to spend the rest of the week in an environment that:
A) Has no sound effects urging him to open and close nautilus windows
You can however download system sound themes which have this feature. Install as per instructions. To activate System > Preferences > Sound . Click on “enable window and button sounds”
B) No animations to waste time looking at while the nautilus file manager does its thing
C) No folder previews so that we can peak into media folders without having to open them.
[UPDATE:I guess this is a subset of the above issue, but the fix works nicely }
D) A Gnome menu that is decidedly outdated and difficult to edit.
E) Small scruffy icons which are hardly 3-dimensional and the complete opposite of the trend towards fat, or icon is everything, started by Apple Iphone and now taken up to some degree by Windows 7.
F) No wallpaper sets (as opposed to single wallpapers) which are automatically cycled on login.
G) An upbeat login that matches the upbeat wallpaper.
If you feeling like a Grumpy Gnome, there is a quick method to rectify some of the Windows 7 design damage, well at least the last two points.
If you pining away for those gob-smacking Windows 7 theme wallpapers, here is how to install them in Ubuntu
Hack Microsoft Theme Packs
1. Download any one of the theme packs from Microsoft
2.Install p7zip-full via Synaptic
3. Change the .theme extension to .7z and open with archive manager by right-clicking on the file
4. Extract the wallpapers and install via Appearance Preferences
If you really need to get the wallpaper to change automatically every so often, be a devil and install Wallpaper Tray.
And the coup ‘d gras, change the bloody GDM background you doofus. Here’s how:
Installing Xsplash-Background-Settings will allow you to choose one of your new wallpapers as the background. No more gloomy Ubuntu.
Add Xsplash-Background-Settings ppa
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/meerkat/stable/ubuntu karmic main
apt-get install xsplash-background-settings
The programe will ask you to paste a piece of code in a terminal to change the permissions on the xsplash folder. Do it.
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