Wednesday, September 28, 2011

To Unity critics of Ubuntu 11.04...

I want to address how I feel about Ubuntu's new Unity interface in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal.

"Ubuntu is now a Mac, blah blah...". Let's face it, Apple really did the Mac justice with window management in their OS X. Something Linux distros failed to do is fill this gap. This is why I fell in love with Ubuntu 11.04's Unity interface. If anything, Ubuntu took a step away from the Windows 95/98 era of stone age windows management and embraced change. People whine that Ubuntu is trying to be a Mac... Well, I argue Ubuntu is trying NOT to be Windows, a good thing. I also want to say the new startup menu in the top left corner is far superior to OS X. What do you know, Ubuntu innovated.

I been noticing the uproar in how people don't like Unity... I have one thing to say... Get over it. Clearly Ubuntu is trying to appeal to a more professional audience who want it to be their workstation out of the box. How is this so horrible? I have been using Ubuntu 11.04 natty on my new (well, a year old) laptop for over a week now. I have yet to see a crash or any sign of bugs/memory leaks.

Critics say Unity provides a learning curve and are not productive in it... bullshit. It took me 30 seconds to figure out how to use it. In fact, I want to advocate that the learning curve has shot through the floor. All Unity is a better workflow windows manager. I, for one, enjoy toggling between full screen on ALL my applications. One of my biggest pet peeves as an artist is focusing on a large portion of the canvas without distraction, something Unity accomplishes for me.


  1. I think GNOME3 is a better window manager than Unity. Elastic workspaces, overview mode by mousing to the upper left, nice transitions, etc.

    I don't like Unity on its own for several reasons.

    - The global menu may adhere to Fitts' Law, but it's bad for usability whenever you don't have a program maximized.
    - *Hiding* that menu under the program's title until mouseover is also *really* bad for usability.
    - The aesthetics don't appeal to me at all. Mostly I'm talking about the dock and how icons look, as well as how the "start" page looks.

    I do however love Ubuntu (software center, dev support, etc.) so it's been a tough stretch of road for me lately. Next time I try Ubuntu I'm going to see if I can get GNOME3 working easily, otherwise I'm moving onto Fedora.

    PS- This is Andrex from the Akihabara forums. :) I actually just got your PM from July, sorry I haven't responded. I might contact your Gmail soon with something to talk about.

  2. Hey, Andrew, long time no see!

    GNOME3 definitely is a nice window manager. One thing I would like integrated in Unity is the workspace management area that GNOME3 incorporates.

    I just feel, being a critic at first of Unity, I find it fairly integrated compared to GNOME2 and other ancient window managements in Linux. Also, when I read when people were complaining about its "difficult" interface, I knew it was a cry for those stone age desktop interfaces.

    As for "hiding" the menu bar, I find that it works, giving me extra space and less clutter when I'm focusing on a project in a full screen.

    But we all have different uses and come from different backgrounds, so what Unity does for me, may well be completely different to you. I just don't think we should get caught up in a desktop GUI war and embrace different breeds. I think this establishes focus for different users, and ultimately, gives the user freedom of choice for these great Unix based OSs. :)

    Anyway, nice to see you again. Did you finish your game with Akihabara yet? :) Feel free to contact me via email.

  3. Yeah of course, everyone is different. I just don't like the Mac way of doing things, which is what Ubuntu is moving towards. Then again, it's also what MS is moving towards anyways...

    4kg will be released next month, but I'm already designing my next game, which will require lots of work. I'm waiting to see how some things shake down, but I would love to have you help me with it. But we'll have to wait and see for now.

  4. Using Macs at my University for my graphic design classes, I can't agree that this a bad thing. As long as Ubuntu remains free, I'll likely stick to their Mac influences.

    However, if you want to move away from Ubuntu, I recommend Debian. Ubuntu is pretty much a "layer" over Debian and uses a lot (pretty much all) of the core functionality of the kernel. The default GUI of Debian is Gnome 2, but I'm sure you can upgrade to 3 quite easily. Just like Ubuntu, you use the .deb installer packages and can use Synaptic Package Manager for easy installs. Just don't get confused when Debian refers their version of Firefox as Iceweasel. You can still update to the latest "Firefox" by adding the software source from

    Good to hear on 4kg!

    As for your next game, just let me know when you start on it. I'll see if I can help (though lately I been really busy at my job because of the holidays).

  5. It still confounds me that basically no one other than Ubuntu does the "app store" thing. "Use the package manager" isn't an excuse.

    I want to at least try Fedora, Mint, and Arch. I used Debian in a VM a few days ago for this server thing I was trying out, seems OK. Might use it for servers in the future.

    If what I'm doing now go through I will be able to pay you for your service, you'd basically be on a team. But it's all up in the air right now. I'll know by November and contact you with whether it goes through or not.

  6. PS- What are you doing right now ("busy for the holidays")?

    And to be clear I wouldn't be able to offer a lot of money, but it would be an incentive at least.

  7. I'm not sure why you really need an app store...but yes it's there.

    I'm sure you'll find the right Linux OS for you, just don't get too caught up in it. All they are tools and what you are most comfortable with. Just note, if you're not an avid (command-line savvy) Linux user, I'd stick with Debian or Ubuntu. From what I have seen in the Linux community, .deb installer packages are plentiful (also usually most updated) and Ubuntu is probably the most popular (translates to easy search of already asked questions). But if you're willing to go through some hoops (hey learning is always good), I'd say experiment away.


    As for your game and payment... To be honest, I can't guarantee my time for paid work. Paid for incentive doesn't really equate more time for me. My terms for working on any project is that if:

    A) It's free for release, it's a "project", not a job, thus I'll likely work on it for free with no deadlines or long term commitments. But this usually requires the project to be released on an open source license and must be free (as in beer and speech) to everyone.

    B) Freelanced paid work I usually charge as if it were a real "job" ($15/hr) and typically sign the rights over for the work to the employer. This will also allow me to force a deadline and the most optimum speedy results. But I understand this isn't an option for you (and a lot of indie developers), so I introduce option 'C'

    C) Pretty much identical to option 'A', but including a % of what is made off of the project, excluding the need for the project to be free/open source. This allows me to work on it in my free time (with my own incentive to do well and a decently fast pace), work with you as a partner (IE: help promote said project), get paid (as well as yourself), and ultimately frees you from emptying and risking your wallet.

    Like I said, I work at my job (+30/hrs a week). I also am juggling with my own projects (game and tutorials). I hope you're not too disappointed from my project conditions and busy schedule (likely will slow down by January), but I feel I should be up front with you my work ethics and time currently allotted. If you're fine and can work with what I have mentioned though, then I'm sure we can make a good project together. :) I personally would prefer option A or C, and I'm sure you would too.

  8. I really appreciate you being so up front about things. Like I said, I have to wait and see how this is going to go down but I should have an answer by November.

    Optimally, I would probably go with option B, actually, depending on the amount of content you can accomplish per hour. This wouldn't be a side project for me, it would be a real job. That is, if it works out.

    The game would be free to play and some of the technology open-sourced though, but I plan to monetize through other means.

    Well, I'll see. I'm tightening up the design doc right now, which will still be very general in some areas but should cover all the gameplay systems and content in some capacity. I might be able to share it with you if you need to see it before signing on.

  9. We'll discuss the "payment" methods when you figure out where you're at then.

    Yes, a design document is definitely an ideal situation.

    Might I ask what the game requires in terms of artwork? Is it retro (8-bit is my safe zone)? Is it a side scroller? Does it call for intense animating? Just curious, anyway.

  10. I'm trying to decide between 8 and 16-bit. It's sort of like your Akihabara game, top-down fantasy RPG type stuff.

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