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Thread: Alternatives to Unity GUI.

  1. #1
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    Question Alternatives to Unity GUI.

    OK, so I'm pretty green.This is my first time trying Linux.

    First Impressions: The Unity GUI, while somewhat intuitive, is about exciting as watching paint dry. I wanted to change things and make it look like I want it to look, but there seems to be few settings or skinable features. There doesn't seem to be a way to create shortcuts on the desktop like Windows. Unity seems to want you to use Search every time you want to find an installed program. And there are no gadgets or geewiz stuff to add to the desktop. Granted, I understand Ubuntu and other Linux OS want to be lean and mean so they can run on the smallest to the largest computers, phones to server farms, but I have a pretty decent desktop machine with a great graphics card, plenty of ram and hard drive space, and I want to be able to skin the OS to look and do what I want. I thought Linux would be more privy to the concept of skins and individualization. But it seems to me a more rigid OS than even Windows.

    However, I know that Ubuntu and other Linux OS support shells and other GUI like KDE, Gnome, and the like. So my question is this: What is the most configurable, skinable, hopefully modular w/plugins, desktop shell out there? Something made for an advanced desktop machine and not a tablet or phone, something with a little more ummmph!

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
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    Re: I can't live with the Unity GUI...What else can I install?

    You want KDE. Others are customizable, but not like KDE.

  3. #3
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    Re: I can't live with the Unity GUI...What else can I install?

    Some examples.
    Amazing April Screenshots
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2131337
    Marvellous May Screenshot Thread
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2140890

    I just prefer gnome panel or fallback, but I do not customize it.
    For info on UEFI boot install & repair - Updated Mar 2015:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2147295
    Please use Thread Tools above first post to close thread when/if answered completely.







  4. #4
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    Re: I can't live with the Unity GUI...What else can I install?

    I think Unity/Gnome 3 is one of the less lean desktop environments for Ubuntu, but it has been designed with small screens and mobile devices in mind.

    I use xfce (Xubuntu). Better configurable, less eyecandy, which I don't mind.

  5. #5
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    Re: I can't live with the Unity GUI...What else can I install?

    +1 for Xubuntu with the XFCE desktop

  6. #6
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    Re: I can't live with the Unity GUI...What else can I install?

    By the way, the whole idea behind the unity dock is to pin all your favorites and most used apps to the dock not the desktop...then you have easy 1 click access and rarely need to go into the search....perhaps you were unaware of that? You seem to think you have to bring everything up in the "dash" search...it's not highly customizable but you can auto hide, shrink the size of the icons and enable workspaces...

    It's a more "mac-like" interface...so i gather you probably don't like macs....as suggested, kde would be for you...it's the closest to windows...or xubuntu as also mentioned...

    I find unity very nice to work with (and reminds me of when i had a mac as this has the dock, global menu and search similiar to what mac calls "spotlight")

    But then i am not a "customization maven" as some are here...so for me it's no biggie but perhaps for you it is...so try those two suggestions...
    Last edited by craig10x; May 22nd, 2013 at 01:23 AM.

  7. #7
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    Re: I can't live with the Unity GUI...What else can I install?

    IMHO Ubuntu is great if you more or less like the way it comes. I suppose it's not quite "linuxy" in the sense that if you want to make more than trivial customizations or changes, it can often start failing in strange ways. And its forums are of very little help once you modify the canonical system beyond a certain threshold. In both of these ways, it's very much like MacOS, actually (hard to achieve the smoothness of the "standard" install after customization, hard to get any useful feedback on its forums).

    If you want to change things around, or maybe you need/want to update some component of Ubuntu to a version more recent than 3 years removed from upstream, but still want stability, why don't you try Debian? Debian is the foundation underneath Ubuntu. Debian implements upstream updates roughly every six months (other than security updates, which are continuous), Ubuntu then packages them after further delay into its own versions -- and once you start compiling software on your machine, you'll realize that Ubuntu's outdated packages are a very real and annoying concern (dependency hell). You can stay relatively stable and yet get even closer to the bleeding edge with Debian's "unstable" flavor (also called "sid"), which is actually one of the more stable distros I've ever run. Debian unstable keeps much more up-to-date (everything from the kernel version to all packages installed from its huge binary repository) than the stable Debian releases, but the way the development cycle works, you periodically get frozen from new updates even while running the unstable flavor.

    And if you really want to have full control of your system without having the exercise of that control breaking things, but you are willing to pay the price of learning Linux on a more fundamental level, give Arch a try. You'll be on the bleeding edge of every Linux project, from the kernel to your GUI's calculator program. Sometimes updates will bonk your system until you fix it, though in my experience such bonks are usually partial and your system will still boot and run, though some functionality will be missing unless you downgrade (last resort because it's quite unexciting) or figure out how to make things happy.

    Finally, if you want to compile everything yourself, there is Gentoo.

    Interestingly, the level of support (in official Wikis and forums) is better in Debian than in Ubuntu, and better in Arch than either Debian or Ubuntu. Gentoo can be hit or miss -- I don't even run Gentoo, but I've encountered solutions in Gentoo's forums on many occasions. The Arch Wiki and forums absolutely rock, they're at the point where if you know more than a trivial amount about computers and have the patience and intellectual horsepower to approach problems analytically rather than just trying random stuff you've seen on the 'net, the level of support exceeds not only other Linux distros, but also MacOS and Microsoft documentation and official forums.

    Don't abandon Ubuntu just yet. But carve out a partition on your system (I really recommend full installs for testing out various Linux distros over any LiveUSB rubbish...all you need is a 10GB partition on your system HD, and you can try new distros at will, and that space will let you temporarily live in a new distro for longer than you anticipated if you happen to like it), and try out the other options.

  8. #8
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    Re: I can't live with the Unity GUI...What else can I install?

    You can install gnome-fallback in order to have a "classic" desktop.

    You can also customize it.

    Tips an tricks in this thread: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1966370

  9. #9
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    Re: I can't live with the Unity GUI...What else can I install?

    KDE of course. I like my revolving desktop cube and wobbly windows...

  10. #10
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    Re: Alternatives to Unity GUI.

    KDE is really customizable out of the box. XFCE comes to a very close second as it is easy to customize it.
    Easy to understand Ubuntu manual with lots of pics: http://ubuntu-manual.org/
    Do i need antivirus/firewall in linux?
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