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The Unity Launcher

Ubuntu 11.10 Review: Benchmarked Against Windows 7
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First introduced with Natty Narwhal, the Launcher is Ubuntu's new left-hand taskbar/dock. This is one of Unity's most controversial UI elements due to its lack of customization options. However, the fundamentals are solid. The Launcher has all of the basics found in other taskbars and window lists. Moving from a worded task list to icons is nothing the top two proprietary OSes haven't already done. And, with the move toward widescreen aspect ratios, a vertical taskbar is appropriate for the modern desktop.

By default the Oneiric Ocelot Launcher holds shortcuts to Dash, the Home directory (via the Nautilus file manager), Mozilla Firefox, LibreOffice Writer, Calc, and Presenter, the Ubuntu Software Center, Ubuntu One, System Settings, Workspace Switcher, and the Trash. Let's go over the changes seen since the Natty Narwhal incarnation.

Dash

In Ubuntu 11.10, the Launcher now holds the button to activate Dash, whereas in Ubuntu 11.04 it was located in the Panel just above the Launcher. Aesthetically, this change is a plus. The bigger button is more evocative of a Start Menu, and it simply has more detail than it could in the Panel.

Ubuntu Software Center

The Ubuntu Software Center icon underwent a makeover. Strange as it may seem, this change also stirred some controversy. While we see nothing wrong with the icon itself, the predominantly orange color causes the Launcher button's background to become orange as well, completely obscuring a highly-detailed icon.

System Settings

Ubuntu 11.04 incorporated a unified System Settings menu, akin to the Windows Control Panel, Mac OS X System Preferences, and KDE's System Settings. In 11.04 the menu was found in the Panel's logout menu. In 11.10, it also receives a Launcher icon.

The categorical nature of the Natty System Settings menu remains, but the layout is now simpler.

Oneiric System SettingsOneiric System Settings

There is no longer any need for a left-hand pane to navigate between categories. Some settings entries now open in the System Settings menu itself. Selecting All Settings in the window's navigation bar navigates back to the main System Settings menu. Other settings tools still open in new windows.

Single-window System SettingsSingle-window System Settings

No More Lenses

While the Launcher has two new additions (Dash and System Settings), it also has two omissions: the Applications and Places Lenses.

Just like the Dash button was displaced from the Panel to the Launcher, Lenses have moved from the Launcher to Dash.

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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    stm1185 , February 13, 2012 4:27 AM
    4870, gtx260, doom 3, did i time travel to 2008?
  • 24 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 4:25 AM
    jasonpwnsThat's the problem, I've always considered Windows king for gaming, but after looking at Doom 3, and the performance boost over Windows 7. Are we sure we're developing for the right platform? I mean games on Linux theoretically would run a lot better.

    To bad Microsoft has a Monopoly on DX architecture.
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , February 13, 2012 4:12 AM
    Lol. I knew I was gonna see old games on the benchmarks, but all of them id Tech 4? Hahahah.
Other Comments
  • 21 Hide
    compton , February 13, 2012 3:24 AM
    The best part of 11.10 is the renewed appreciation it gave me for Windows 7.
  • 18 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 3:57 AM
    comptonThe best part of 11.10 is the renewed appreciation it gave me for Windows 7.

    LOL that bad uh well at leased there is an alternative if the Sopa takes awake my ripped Window 8 copy LOL.
  • 21 Hide
    jasonpwns , February 13, 2012 4:01 AM
    That's the problem, I've always considered Windows king for gaming, but after looking at Doom 3, and the performance boost over Windows 7. Are we sure we're developing for the right platform? I mean games on Linux theoretically would run a lot better.
  • 15 Hide
    indian-art , February 13, 2012 4:05 AM
    Happy with the benchmarks. I feel Ubuntu 12.04 will be even better.

    Just around a couple of months for its launch!
  • 9 Hide
    malimbar , February 13, 2012 4:09 AM
    One major irrelevancy in beginning of the article: while Mint overtook Ubuntu in Distrowatch, it's nowhere near the actual userbase: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/02/stats-show-ubuntu-not-losing-ground-to-linux-mint/

    Interesting article otherwise, and very well done. I particularly like how it highlights major areas that ubuntu developers need to work on, but still gives ubuntu as a OS credit where it deserves it. It's more worthwhile IMO to review LTS releases (and one is coming up soon), but in the meantime it's great to see where Ubuntu is right now.
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , February 13, 2012 4:12 AM
    Lol. I knew I was gonna see old games on the benchmarks, but all of them id Tech 4? Hahahah.
  • 24 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 4:25 AM
    jasonpwnsThat's the problem, I've always considered Windows king for gaming, but after looking at Doom 3, and the performance boost over Windows 7. Are we sure we're developing for the right platform? I mean games on Linux theoretically would run a lot better.

    To bad Microsoft has a Monopoly on DX architecture.
  • 17 Hide
    nekromobo , February 13, 2012 4:26 AM
    Linux is only free if your time has no value.
  • 27 Hide
    stm1185 , February 13, 2012 4:27 AM
    4870, gtx260, doom 3, did i time travel to 2008?
  • -9 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 4:31 AM
    rmpumperIf you did not notice, all of the 3 tested games are OpenGL which is barely supported in Win7. How about we see some DirectX9 10 and 11 games before making silly conclusions? And in any case, who gives a rat's ass about Doom3 - 7 year old awful game?

    You know what else Doom3 was a monumental achievement do be dissing John Carmack.
  • 22 Hide
    jimmysmitty , February 13, 2012 4:36 AM
    jasonpwnsThat's the problem, I've always considered Windows king for gaming, but after looking at Doom 3, and the performance boost over Windows 7. Are we sure we're developing for the right platform? I mean games on Linux theoretically would run a lot better.


    Sorry but those benchmarks for games are almost pointless. They are old games and the only reason they run on Linux is due to OpenGL. I do wonder though why RAGE was not tested, as its OpenGL. Maybe it didn't work since its a much newer engine using a much newer OGL standard. Or maybe it just didn't show Ubuntu doing very well.

    Windows is still the king of games since the majority of the games out there are DX based, not OGL.

    And from my experience with Ubuntu, 11.04, the 64Bit version is not stable enough and its finicky with ATI GPUs. Had to buld a system for a customer and with 64Bit, it would just flicker as well on 32bit with a HD6450. Had to swap to a nVidia GT210 on 32Bit to get it stable. And then to enable multi monitor support, that was another nightmare. You still have to do everything via a shell prompt with the X (X meaning the GUI) disabled to install the drivers. And thats just the start, If it goes well, you are in business, if not you may just reboot to a shell prompt and no GUI. Or at least thats what happened to me. Had to reinstall Ubuntu over it to get the GUI then reinstall nVidias drivers. Luckilly third time was the charm and it worked.

    Ubuntu has its place, but for the majority of consumers its not the best option as it takes more technical knowledge to operate it efficiently. Windows is for the majority who just need a system to do what they need. Or Android.

    For now I will stick with Windows 7 and enjoy my games.

    I would have liked to see this done on an SSD too.

    Gamer DudeDX11 sucks and its in few games and the ones it is even in mostly run like ass with terrible codding and patch jobs plus The Witcher 2 looks better than any DX11 game.


    I disagree. DX11 is actually faster than DX9, when coded properly. Its been shown. Add in the Tesselation, which DX9 cannot do, and its a great setup. Just wait till the games start doing it more in DX11. It will get better.
  • 7 Hide
    sseyler , February 13, 2012 4:41 AM
    nekromoboLinux is only free if your time has no value.


    Or if you can save a huge amount of money (compilers come to mind) by getting free Linux software, or if you know what you're doing and it doesn't really take that much time, or if what you can do with Linux outweighs the cost in time that it takes to set up and run Linux, or...
  • -3 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 4:45 AM
    jimmysmittySorry but those benchmarks for games are almost pointless. They are old games and the only reason they run on Linux is due to OpenGL. I do wonder though why RAGE was not tested, as its OpenGL. Maybe it didn't work since its a much newer engine using a much newer OGL standard. Or maybe it just didn't show Ubuntu doing very well.Windows is still the king of games since the majority of the games out there are DX based, not OGL.And from my experience with Ubuntu, 11.04, the 64Bit version is not stable enough and its finicky with ATI GPUs. Had to buld a system for a customer and with 64Bit, it would just flicker as well on 32bit with a HD6450. Had to swap to a nVidia GT210 on 32Bit to get it stable. And then to enable multi monitor support, that was another nightmare. You still have to do everything via a shell prompt with the X (X meaning the GUI) disabled to install the drivers. And thats just the start, If it goes well, you are in business, if not you may just reboot to a shell prompt and no GUI. Or at least thats what happened to me. Had to reinstall Ubuntu over it to get the GUI then reinstall nVidias drivers. Luckilly third time was the charm and it worked.Ubuntu has its place, but for the majority of consumers its not the best option as it takes more technical knowledge to operate it efficiently. Windows is for the majority who just need a system to do what they need. Or Android.For now I will stick with Windows 7 and enjoy my games.I would have liked to see this done on an SSD too.I disagree. DX11 is actually faster than DX9, when coded properly. Its been shown. Add in the Tesselation, which DX9 cannot do, and its a great setup. Just wait till the games start doing it more in DX11. It will get better.

    When coded proper DX11 can be faster if it was implemented for performance enhancements and not graphical enhancements but mostly the devs have botched DX11 up in most circumstances DX9 performed better and can still look the dickens The Witcher 2 case in point. DX 11 will be allot better and come into its own only when the next gen of DX11 enabled console arrive in another 50years.
  • -9 Hide
    Gamer Dude , February 13, 2012 4:45 AM
    Gamer DudeYou know what else Doom3 was a monumental achievement dont be dissing John Carmack.

  • 12 Hide
    adamovera , February 13, 2012 4:53 AM
    hotsacomanLol. I knew I was gonna see old games on the benchmarks, but all of them id Tech 4? Hahahah.

    That's the best of what runs natively on Linux. OilRush is out, but has no benchmarking tools, so we have the three Ungine benchmarks. Hopefully, Postal 3 (Source engine) and Rage will be available later this year. Amnesia is also available for Linux, but it isn't really a benchmark-type of game.
  • 8 Hide
    adamovera , February 13, 2012 4:55 AM
    rmpumperIf you did not notice, all of the 3 tested games are OpenGL which is barely supported in Win7. How about we see some DirectX9 10 and 11 games before making silly conclusions? And in any case, who gives a rat's ass about Doom3 - 7 year old awful game?

    On Windows we ran the Unigine tests in OpenGL AND DirectX. Linux doesn't do DirectX.
  • 15 Hide
    wildkitten , February 13, 2012 4:56 AM
    jasonpwnsThat's the problem, I've always considered Windows king for gaming, but after looking at Doom 3, and the performance boost over Windows 7. Are we sure we're developing for the right platform? I mean games on Linux theoretically would run a lot better.

    Except which distro do game developers supports?

    A lot of game developers actually tried doing Linux versions a few years ago. The problem they ran into was there was enough variation between each distro, they almost each distro had to be supported, so they gave up shortly after they started supporting it because there simply was not enough customers to be able to do so much support.
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