Making Unity Useable | LAS | s23e03

Making Unity Useable | LAS | s23e03

Our top 10 tips to turn Unity into a great desktop! After years of rage, the crew of The Linux Action Show has grown to find a new respect, and maybe even some love for Unity. Tune in to find out details.

Plus: Is Valve making a XBMC competitor? Remote desktop suggestions, and converting video and audio formats under Linux.

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Making Unity Useable


Brought to you by: System76

While over time we’ve changed our tune on Unity, early on we were kind of rough. We thought it would be a bit grounding to look back and what we used to say about Unity.

Thanks to System76 and their awesome Wild Dog Performance PC for sponsoring this week’s segment!

Previous thoughts on Unity:

“Apparently spending 15 minutes looking for something in a menu that is more attractive provides more value than getting things done in less than 5 seconds.”

“It’s not clever, it’s tacky and freakishly annoying.”

“I literally would wipe this off my system this instant if I was not forced to keep it for this review.”

Using Unity for the first time:


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What’s Matt Doin?

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25 Responses to “Making Unity Useable | LAS | s23e03”

  1. Floptical58 Says:

  2. jungle-boogie Says:

    Get Matt to wear some cooler shirts.
    Check out:

  3. Matt Hartley Says:

    You buying or sponsoring them? :)

  4. Vlad Says:

    I agree with Matt regarding the Nautilus file manager. It is a boneheaded idea to even think about removing it … or even removing functionality.

    I do use Midnight Commander in a terminal sometimes for certain things, but I will always want a fully functional graphical file manager in any operating system I use. You can’t “manage” files easily without a good file manager.

    By the way Matt….

    You should grow a goatee – with linking mustache. It would be a cool look for you.

  5. Randy Says:

    Yes, please do the untangle episode.

  6. Matt Hartley Says:

    Last time this was attempted, Joe Dirt was notified…it was a real mess. 😉

  7. Stephan Goosen Says:

    A little offtopic, but when I watched the video, I couldn’t help but thinking that there’s something seriously wrong with the fact that schools typically struggle with funding.

    I agree that old computers shouldn’t simply be discarded. But the number of schools struggling for funding bothers me. Shouldn’t schools be the VERY LAST thing to lose funding? I mean, ultimately isn’t the entire future of a country determined by the school system?

    And at the end of the day, the thing that REALLY grinds my gears, is that schools are always at the bottom of the list because no one thinks it’s their problems. “If today’s kids all grow up to be idiots, the economy is only going to feel it 20 – 30 years from now, by which time I won’t be in office anymore. Let me rather win votes by appealing to what the majority of voters want right now.” And then they end up getting elected by promising to spend money on job creation so the previous generation of idiots can find a job that they can actually do with their sub-standard education.

  8. jungle-boogie Says:

    just a fan of their shirts. :)

  9. tora201 Says:

    Hey Chris, not sure I agree with your sentiments regarding the so called slowness of the Unity Dash Home button. It opens in an instant on my machine. And I noticed that Do opened in just a fraction of a second slower than Dash in your video. It appears to be neither here nor there. And anyway, if you seem to use the Dash feature for other things (Lenses) and enjoy it, so I’m not sure I understand the rationale behind Do…..

    Oh, and agree with Matt regarding alternative Nautilus. Not worth potential hassles.

    Nice show by the way.

  10. ChrisLAS Says:

    Well I wonder if it’s slowed down on my system by Lenses (I have a couple).

    But that seems like it’s a problem they would need to address, even if it was some sorta of deferred loading of the lens so that the command/search box could pop up as fast as possible.


  11. Kyle T. Says:

    Good show today! I’m definitely a fan of the Y PPA Manager, very useful! Since there isn’t a link to Synapse’s homepage in the show notes I’ll put one here:

    Personally the custom hotkeys in Synapse have worked better for me than those in Do. Synapse is always the first program I install on a new Linux machine, no matter what desktop environment I’m using. It doesn’t look pretty in LXDE, but it does work!

  12. Kyle T. Says:

    Also, just a note about Planetary Annihilation. It isn’t a modern version of Starcraft…that would be Starcraft II. It’s a modern version of Total Annihilation, which focuses much more on macro-scale strategy than the smaller-scale tactical focus of Starcraft.

  13. Martin de Boer Says:

    Hi guys,

    I would love to see you explain how to setup a virtual server (as a VM) in Virtualbox. It’s ok to use Untangle as an example, but I would love it even more if you would show me how to do OwnCloud.

    Regards, Martin

  14. Darthpenguin Says:

    Ubuntu is to Linux what OS X is to BSD…. just putting that out there

  15. stepAli Says:

    its horribly slow on machine either , and i dont have any additional lenses

  16. adlibre Says:

    Great show. Here are some of my Unity tips.

    Good list of custom launchers/quicklists:

    Good list of app indicators:

    My favorite indicator is SimpleStarter:
    It lets you launch custom applications under an indicator icon, old school gnome2 style. I use this to quickly launch ssh session, ‘xkill’ to stop unresponsive GUIs, bleach bit to quickly erase history, etc.

    Finally, this addon lets you see a list of running apps as an application quicklist:
    This is very critical when you have a lot of text/documents open and want to browse through them by name.

    Check these out and maybe review them on the show — I really think these tools would help more people ease into Unity.

  17. Muffinman Says:

    G’day guys great show :). Thank you for suggestions for tweaking as they’re very helpful. I also use this URL ( which has useful tips as well. I also miss the Gnome 2 applets as well & in particular weather report applet. Yes I know there are indicators such as weather indicator, my weather etc, being in Australia which can suffer from fires & floods the weather reports from the indicators isn’t as accurate or detailed as the applet. Hell it even has a radar map. Any ideas on how to have this functionality of the weather applet in Unity? Keep up the good work & looking forward to the next show. Cheers.

  18. Muffinman Says:

    Sorry the URL is

  19. Sander Voerman Says:

    I have tried Unsettings but I did not see the option to make global menus permanently visible. I suspect this option only becomes available when you upgrade Unity to the Unity Revamped PPA.

  20. ChrisLAS Says:

    You could be right, I have done that on my system. Sorry about that. IDK if I would go as far as recommending people use revamped Unity. While I have had zero troubles, it does not seem like a great long term idea.

  21. ZekThePenguin Says:

    Y’know, you mention enjoying applets on your desktop. You should do a review of Puppy Linux! There are a TON of applets you can use, such as a clock, system monitor, calendar, and more. On top of that, Puppy is incredibly small and fast, so you don’t have to worry about how horribly slow Ubuntu is. ^_^

  22. jgm Says:

    Dang! We need an app or a web page that lets us dress Matt for next week! With separate votes for different items of clothing, things could end up looking a little wild though…. :-)

  23. Matt Hartley Says:

    I always dig feedback but in this case,there is some confusion here. :)

    Linux comes bundled in distributions, whereas BSD is forked, into specifically different operating systems. Just thought I’d clarify this, it’s a common misconception.

  24. Matt Hartley Says:

    Speaking as that Matt guy, this would actually be pretty cool and potentially, awesome! Build it and provide the clothing, I will totally obey the app! :)

  25. Anonymous Coward Says:

    This makes Unity not suck, thanks.

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