Thursday, February 21st
Switching to Unity 2D
I'm beginning to get used to waking up in the morning to the serene noise of New Jersey, instead of the hard buzz of my desktop computer. It's the beginning of my second straight week without Windows, and I've been using my laptop running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS for everything. I walk over to my Thinkpad's dock and press the power button.
I grab my french press, a puddle of yesterday's coffee sloshing around with the grounds, and head into the kitchen to make a fresh pot while everything boots up.
When I come back, I was typing in my password when I noticed a little Ubuntu logo adjacent to my login name. When I clicked it, a little drop down box appeared listing Ubuntu and Ubuntu 2D. Ubuntu was selected.
Curious, I logged into 2D, and was greeted by the typical Unity interface. My bar was less animated, and didn't have the icons piled up on the bottom like they typically are. When running 'top' I also noticed that compiz wasn't running either. Interesting.
I looked online for 'Unity 2D specifics', but I was greeted again by those lovely reviews. Fine, I'll just use it for a day.
The Unity bar itself seemed happier to respond to opening programs. The difference between 3D and 2D may have only been minor, but still enough to feel.
Although when you have two windows of the same program running like Firefox and you click the launcher icon to display all of them, the screen is horribly mangled. The windows become horribly pixelated, like if you had a 1080p screen with the resolution set to 15x19.
My wireless USB mouse is also freaking out right now when I use it. If I spend a few moments typing, or any situation where it idles for four or five seconds, it has to 'wake-up'. I have to wiggle it all over before the cursor moves again.
The icons in my Unity launcher are lower resolution too. Not that it matters, but it's a little painful on the eyes to look at low resolution icons all day.
It is now 4:27, about six hours after boot, and I can no longer stand using Unity 2D. I have also read that it is no longer available in releases newer than 12.04. It feels a lot like a cheap rip-off of Unity, lacking the polish and extra features that make Unity feel clean and crisp.
The icing on the cake came when I wanted to return to the login screen to switch back to 3D, and I was just presented with a black screen; forcing me to hard-reboot the system.
Try Unity 2D yourself if you're running 12.04 LTS like me, and let me know if you have the same issues on your machine, or if it acts differently on full hardware instead of just a laptop!
This has got me interested in different Desktops though. I uncovered a little information about the typical ones available through the Ubuntu Software Centre while learning about Unity 2D. I was especially interested in LXDE, XFCE, and the various Gnome 2 forks (Gnome 2 was the first desktop I ever used). And I will undoubtedly be trying a few of those tonight and tomorrow.