There’s a lot of criticism out there for the Unity Desktop Environment. Strangely I can’t echo the same sentiments. I quite like using Unity (mind you not Ubuntu). Here are a few reasons why and why not.
The Unity Launcher: I have always loved launchers. Back in the days, when I would change desktop environments every second day – fluxbox, gnome, kde, wmaker, etc, one thing was constant. I had gnome-panel (&) start from my xinitrc irrespective of what distribution I used. Also I have never been a fan of taskbars. The Unity launcher marries the traditional launcher with a highly usable taskbar. It had some usability issues when Ubuntu initially switched to Unity, but it’s almost perfect now with AppIndicator Support. I can have upto 15 applications open at the same time and it’s still a breeze to manage them.
Gnome Run Command: No don’t confuse this with the Ubuntu Dash (super key). This is the plain old ‘Alt + F2’ command. Its as good an application launcher as any. I use the ‘Ctrl + Space’ combination which is much more accessible than the ‘Alt + F2’ combo. Seriously, Linux distributions should take a cue from osx and change the default key bindings for the ‘Run’ command.
No Widgets BS: The KDE Plasma Workspaces and the OSX Dashboard are just a waste of valuable RAM. Who uses widgets? They are hidden beneath the application windows. I set them up, but I never use them. So good job for not plagiarizing a useless feature from osx.
Themes: Lot of awesome themes available for people like me who spend an eternity on eyecandy stuff.
Things that I don’t like:
Gwibber: I loved the Adobe Air version of Tweetdeck before Adobe decided to stop developing Adobe Air for Linux. I now use the Tweetdeck webapp. Not as good, but still much better than most linux twitter clients out there.
Empathy: Its good, but still needs more work. Looks ugly.
The last two reasons are more to do with the Gnome Bundle than Unity itself.
I tried Gnome 3 a couple times, but wasn’t happy with it. KDE is ugly. I dont think I’ll like Cinnamon, Mate either. I have seen the screenshots and I don’t like the ‘Start’ Menu.
I think I’m going to stick to Unity for the time being till there’s a better alternative.