Ubuntu 12.04 (And first post!)

Woo! First post!

So anyway, I recently re-installed Ubuntu on my desktop PC. I quite like Linux and I’d want to use it more often but I find that certain things don’t work so well. But anyway, here’s a few of the issues I’ve found with Ubuntu 12.04

Skype

Skype’s come a long way since it bumped up to version 4, the inclusion of a tabbed window interface really helps to streamline everything. Still, sound for 64-bit computers is still an issue. I’m thinking it’s a PulseAudio/Skype issue but all sound is badly distorted. It’s little things like this that compromise the usability for everyday users.

Unity

For all it’s bad press, I quite like the unity interface. The way the top bar becomes the title menus really does a lot to clear up the clutter everyday PC users face. However, I’ve found the integration of other applications to be somewhat lackluster, particularly in the system tray area which blocks other applications from displaying icons there unless you open the console and use gconf to change the white list.

The side-bar ‘dock’ that housed all of the application icons no-longer auto-hides which was a useful space-saving feature. Even better was when there was an option so you could customise it to your own personal preference! I don’t mind Ubuntu nabbing a few Mac OS-X UI features here and there because if there’s one thing Apple are good at it’s UI design (iOS Homescreen and notifications not withstanding); what I do have an issue with is Ubuntu taking Apple’s rather authoritarian approach to software development – there’s no space for personal customisation just like…

Volume Control

Ubuntu tended towards incremental steps of 6% if you change the volume, for headphone users that can be quite significant so if you’re not wanting to be deafened, you’d change that figure. The gconf utility used to allow you to do that just fine and dandy but now that option isn’t there. I got around this by using custom key bindings and this .volumeHack.sh file. I didn’t bother with the xbindkeys script and instead just used Ubuntu’s provided keyboard shortcut manager in system settings.

IM Clients

Empathy is still the default IM client on Ubuntu and I’m alright with that because I feel Pidgin has really lost a lot of ground to Empathy. The one feature Empathy still needs to implement to overtake Pidgin is combining contacts – to this day Trillian is the only IM application that achieves this properly. Combined contacts should:

  • Be able to be viewed as a mixed chat log from individual contacts, combined chronologically.
  • Prioritise a particular account protocol.
  • Easy switching and notifications of changing protocol within a single chat window.

Skype support would be lovely too but somewhat of a pipe dream at this point, though Skypekit is available for Linux embedded devices – surely should work on Linux desktop?

Rhythmbox

I can’t believe this issue made it past testing: the bottom of letters which hang below the line are cut off. Minor I know but mind boggling in it’s simplicity.

Chrome

Right-click on the tab-bar and tell it to use system title bar and borders to avoid displaying two title bars in full-screen mode.

Mounting

There really needs to be an easier way to manage mounted partitions in Ubuntu. Disk Utility is an excellent application but I feel it’s usefulness could be extended to managing mounted partitions, it’d be nice if it would automatically mount a particular partition that I use to store my important files but to do this I have to edit fstab – not too much of an issue for me but it’s minor things like this that will confuse Joe Bloggs.

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