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Posts tagged with 'unity'

The Unity team is doing an “Ask me Anything” on Reddit if you want to join in.

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For 11.10 the launcher team worked on a new alt-tab. Here’s how I use it to switch between not only applications, but windows within applications.

(Sorry about the flicker, seems to be a result of recording it)

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Alex has found a great workaround for fixing web applications in Unity.

BAMF has been plagued by this bug, which basically means it groups Chromium and Chrome windows under the browser icon. That means my gmail, IRC, music, etc. all get matched as generic browser windows instead of separate applications.

It’s quite easy, you just edit the .desktop that Chromium makes and tell it to make a user profile someplace else and somehow this is enough for BAMF (and therefore Unity) to match the window as a separate application. What’s the result? Finally, each application shows up independantly on the launcher:

Those used to just all file under my Chrome icon. And of course, the big one, alt-tab:

I’ll update my instructions on webapps in Unity later tonight, or an enterprising person can go and update it if you want.

Thanks Alex for finding this workaround, I’ve been crippled by this for a long time, now I just updated a few files. This should tide us over until Trevino gets back from holiday and fixes it for real. (This is a bug I certainly won’t miss).

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I was checking out some of the incoming merge proposals from contributors and I noticed a FIXME in a comment and decided to see what’s in the Unity source code that someone might want to check out if they’re looking for something TODO or FIXME. 

Turns out it’s not as bad as you’d think,

I’m going to update this list weeklyish, it’s already found some dead code that Neil was able to just purge from the source tree, so if someone wants to go ahead and start going through these and check for low hanging fruit it’d be a nice project for someone who wants to dig in. If the FIXME or TODO is missing a corresponding number then perhaps filing placeholders for them would be useful as well.

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Well, we’re a week away from 11.04 so I decided that I would collate the information about Unity on the web and put it into one nice page for everyone to find. Got some more tips you’d like to add? Add them in the comments!

Getting Started

Home page

Hardware Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions

Common Questions

Launcher and Quick Lists

Indicators and notification area



For application developers

Contributing to Unity

Am I missing any? Post them in the comments. (I will moderate comments for this post to only allow tips and tricks)

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One of the (great) trends that browsers are doing these days is “getting out of the way”. That is, less “chrome” more space for content. I was curious to how we’ve been improving in this area, so I asked Jason to do some math, and here’s what we came up with.

So, given a desktop that you log in, how many pixels do we consume and how much do we leave for apps? Well, by default here’s how GNOME 2.x, 3.0, and Unity consume your pixels. These are the amount of pixels (broken down by resolution) that these three desktops use:

I measured Unity twice here. By default if there’s nothing in the way, we show you the launcher, if you move a window there or maximize, we get out of the way (the green bar). So, GNOME 2.x takes up a given amount of space no matter what. Unity takes more but gets out of your way once you start using it to about the same level as GNOME 3.0. Notice how both GNOME 3.0 and Unity are already giving the pixels back where they belong, to applications. :)

Next we have how much space we take up when working, for me I maximize my applications.  We maximized the window in GNOME 3.0 by dragging it to the top bar to measure it but didn’t take into account the window decorations and stuff. Still, much better across the board. I only measured Unity once because the launcher in this state goes away.

But wait a minute, doesn’t the application menu belong to the application? Let’s measure how much UI Unity consumes if we give the menu back to the application. So when you maximize an app the only UI Unity uses up is the home button, the window controls, and the indicators. There could still be dead space there in the menu, but that really depends on the length of the menu and per application, and I’m not going to go measure half the archive.

Caveats and Conclusions

a) GNOME 2.x is fat… :)

b) When you use them GNOME 3.0 and Unity are trending towards giving real estate back to applications. (I think this is good)

c) Unity does give the most space back, but remember that’s really all I’m measuring, this doesn’t imply that it’s better (or worse), and it also doesn’t take into account how we actually interact with the desktops, it’s just a raw measurement of pixels. Sorry guys, no flamebait here.

d) We didn’t measure how much space ayatana-scrollbars save you. This would be nice to know.

e) We didn’t take into account overlay-ish things like the dash or the overlay thing that GNOME Shell does. It could very well be that those UI interactions mean that you don’t have to care about those pixels (or care more), but that’s for an expert to figure out, my goal was just to figure out “Is it just me or are desktops following browser chrome trends?

f) We didn’t take into account full screening applications.

Here’s the spreadsheet if you want to mess with it, or add your favorite desktop. (I didn’t measure KDE)

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David Calle has been working on a Books Lens, which lets you search for free books on the internet. The workflow is like this. Super, “Dune”, enter, start reading Dune in Google Books. Neat huh?

Well wouldn’t it be cool if a lens knew what you were looking for before you even start typing?

(Video Link)

The zeitgeist integration isn’t ready yet, but David’s working on it. In the meantime enjoy the current lens and all the books it finds, here’s the PPA.

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Jay Taoko has put up a blog post talking about Unity’s hardware requirements. You can find the information on the wiki page too.

On the wiki page we talk about the OpenGL features we use and the hardware we test on, we hope to grow this over time. 

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I’ve already talked about how I multitask with Unity. Today I’m going to talk about how I use the Dash.

(Unfortunately the flicker is way more annoying in this video than before. Jason tells me it’s my nvidia driver, I’ll need to hunt down a non-nvidia machine to rerecord this video, but it gives you a general idea)

( ogg / mp4 )

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I have made a video of how multitasking works in Unity to demonstrate some of the more advanced features.

(ogg / mp4 )

Glitches are from the recording, it’s smooth on my actual desktop, also, when I say something in the video and it doesn’t happen it’s because I am fat fingering it, unfortunately we haven’t found a solution for that yet.

This is a guest session version of how I work to give you an idea of the things you can do (my normal session is a cluttered mess so I tried to go for more of an out of the box experience). Feel free to share your tips in the comments!

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One more wall down. Here’s what evolution looks like in Natty. You can right click on the icon and do stuff.

Well thanks to Unity Quicklists I can add this to webmail too: 

Here’s the excerpt from the .desktop file, tack this into the bottom of your existing Chromium GMAIL .desktop file:


[Compose Shortcut Group]
Name=Compose New Message
Exec=chromium-browser --app=''

[Contacts Shortcut Group]
Exec=chromium-browser --app=''

[Calendar Shortcut Group]
Exec=chromium-browser --app=''

Clicking on those quicklists gets you app mode windows too, no new tab ugliness.

Ken and Aq, please put this in your “blah blah native integration” pipe and smoke it, yours truly, the web.

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Thanks to the hard work of Marco Trevisan Unity now has better support for Chromium web applications. 

If you look at the pic you’ll notice that each web app has it’s own icon and it’s own window (and of course when you click on icons they’ll open in a proper browser window):

Thanks to Fabien Tassin for his guidance, and of course thanks to the upstream guys at Chromium for making this possible. There’s some other fixes left to land (you need a newish Chromium and Unity from tomorrow’s release) but this should be sorted out as both projects release going forward.

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(but in a good way)

(Original Post)

While there is no exciting new bling to talk about this week, there are plenty of bugfixes to be had for this Unity release.?? This week the team welcomes Nico van der Walt as he makes his introduction fixing Bug #731212: “Applications” and “Files & Folders” keyboard shortcut overlays not  drawn correctly with scalable launcher and Bug #741346: superkey shortcut labels does not scale properly.

“The Ubuntu community is a big inspiration for me and I love how friendly everyone is. Unity will be a big success and I look forward to being a part of this great Linux distribution.”

Also this week we have Andreas Richel submitting his first fix for implementing a more robust method of launching applications from the home view (lp:730623). Unfortunately his camera is broken so no picture, but he sends along “I’m a 20-year-old German computer science student in my 6th semester. I’ve been passively following Ubuntu and the bug trackers for some time now, but was unable to find enough time to dig into an ongoing open source project. So this really is a first for me :)”

Also back this week are veterans Marco Biscaro and Andrea Azzarone, fixing Bug #742985 ‘Lenses with no shortcut still display black box when pressing super key’ and Bug #741775 ‘Launcher icon progress-bar too big for a 32px launcher’. These two are like clocks, something landing almost every week!

Wait, more Bugs?

This week the list is up to 39 bugs, a new high. Now you might be thinking “Wait a minute, I thought all these brilliant people were doing awesome, how can the list of bugs go UP!?!” As it turns out, there have been about 50 bitesize bugs fixed so far (the green line):

What happens is at the beginning the bugs aren’t really bitesize since a bunch of plumbing work is going on. Towards the tail end as we get towards the polishing phase it’s easier to nick off and fix bitesize bugs, especially as more and more people are able to run it the closer you get to the Beta milestone. If anything, the list of bitesize bugs will probably continue to grow, especially when Unity goes into another feature phase after Natty. However as you can see the green “Fix Released” line, the number of bugs being fixed also goes up as the code matures and is exposed to more people who want to hack on it. The slow march towards progress continues.

Other Unity Updates

(from the Desktop Team Report)

  • As usual, Unity (and related components) released last Thursday, ready for beta (3.6.8) + some bug fixes cherry-picked crash fixes for the beta freeze.
  • This week, we got, in addition to a lot of bug fixes:
    • Multitouch full support handling. If you didn’t test it and you have a supported hardware, you should probably give it a try, the handles (that you can activate by ccsm and a keybinding) are just… gorgeous!
    • Introduction of a pending waiting for approval “fade and slide” effect when hovering the bfb (in experimental plugin settings) that may be set by default.
    • Some keynav better handling in both the launcher and the dash, as well as Quicklist having now the title name in the Quicklist (as in maverick)
    • Launcher now responds to theme change!
    • Under the cover, a rewrite of the Hide behavior machine enabling more effective automated tests.
  • New Zeigeist synced with debian to get in sync with the latest debian stack
  • Some new compiz uploads to fix miscellanous issues, like more invisible window fixes, Alt + Tab fixes, some redrawing issues and autorespawn on crash

For people found of the full story, the now classic link:

How to Get Involved

1. Get the Code

Follow the Step by Step Instructions and Wiki Page. This will get the code from Launchpad, set up your development environment, and getting you used to the Launchpad workflow.

2. Pick a bug

Here’s the full list if you want to find more, feel free to just grab one, assign it to yourself, mark it in progress and get started.

3. Fix your bug and then get your code into Unity

Don’t worry we won’t leave you hanging, you can get a-hold of a Unity developer through many different ways:

  • #ayatana on freenode IRC during European and American workdays. Or you can post to the mailing list if you have a question.
  • We also have weekly IRC Q+A for any developer who wants to dive in and ask a Unity developer. 7pm-8pm UTC (That’s 2pm EST) every Friday!

Remember you can read all of Jorge’s previous Bitesize Bug Reportsby following the Bitesize tag.

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Here’s my desktop when I’m working on stuff:

And here it is clean with my Launcher shrunk down, thanks to Andrea Azzarone’s contribution. This feels really great on my laptop:

Neil’s also landed a bunch of multimonitor fixes. Here’s some other goodies in Unity 3.6.4. Bitesize report on Tuesday, but I just had to share the love on this tiny-launcher.

I am now on the fence whether I should keep my bookmark toolbar or hide it to get even more content on my screen, but I do find it useful. 

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(Original Post)

Lots of updates today. First of all, by the time you read this or by the time your mirror updates (or when you get Alpha 3 on Thursday) you’ll have the latest drop of the Unity Dash:

Unity File Places

Unity 11.04 DashSearching through the Dash in Ubuntu 11.04Quick lists land in Unity

Other Contributors this Week

  • We have a new contributor this week, Marco Bisaro ?has fixed  Bug #713789 – Upper left Ubuntu logo has different background color than panel.
  • Olivier Sauder’s work on keybindings for the launcher has landed
  • Mathew Rasmus has made it so the launcher uses proper getter/setter for the Launcher’s member-var_launcher_action_state.
  • This could be you! See below!

General Unity Fixes and New Stuff

What a crazy week! Double dose of unity (Thursday and Tuesday)! We also got a new compiz with a full stack rebuild/update. That totalize more than 23 updates within the week. As you can see, we got a lot of fixes and enhancements:

Other Highlights

  • Most of known common crashers for unity have been tackled
  • Lot of accessility improvments
  • Lot of launchers fix and most of “false show” positive or “launcher being crazy” on intellihide mode fixed
  • Drag and drop from the application and file places to the launcher is now functional (but still in beta Funny :) )
  • New shortcuts with the Super key:
    • tap super open the dash
    • Keeping super press will get some shortcuts showing: Super + to get active window of an application or show the places/ws switcher/trash
    • if you add Shift to the dance, it will open a new instance of an application instead of getting an existing one
    • Key navigation to all elements of the launcher now, and quicklist! Alt + F1 showing the launcher when hidden.
  • Rework fade effect animation when hovering the bfb (the ubuntu logo) Still some known crasher on the unity window decorator. It’s tracked and under debugging right now. Hope we can get a fix after alpha3 on upgrade.

How to Get Involved

1. Get the Code

Follow the Step by Step Instructions and Wiki Page. This will get the code from Launchpad, set up your development environment, and getting you used to the Launchpad workflow.

2. Pick a bug

This week we want to focus on these bugs, pick one:

  • Bug 718889 -  Launcher does not hide/unhide on Expo
  • Bug 660010 – No ‘safely remove’ option is present in the unity menu when a usb disk is inserted
  • Bug 718885 – Launcher responds to click off from a quicklist
  • Bug 721121 – Icon in Launcher should be home folder icon
  • Bug 718885 – (NEW!) Launcher responds to click off from a quicklist
  • Bug 725529 – (NEW!) ?Double-click on panel to unmaximize only works in right half
  • Bug 724727 – (NEW!) Super key shortcut overlay not with umlauts, greek/cyrillic letters
Here’s the full list if you want to find more, feel free to just grab one, assign it to yourself, mark it in progress and get started. I’ll be picking a new selection for each blog post each week, but the list is always changing, so you can always just dive into the list and snag one.

3. Fix your bug and then get your code into Unity

Don’t worry we won’t leave you hanging, you can get a-hold of a Unity developer through many different ways:

  • #ayatana on freenode IRC during European and American workdays. Or you can post to the mailing list if you have a question.
  • We also have weekly IRC Q+A for any developer who wants to dive in and ask a Unity developer. 7pm-8pm UTC (That’s 2pm EST) every Friday!
  • Mention session in developer week.

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Now we can rock this...

Mikkel and Ken have a weekend present for you for those of you who have been waiting to add Unity Launcher bling to your Python apps. I guess these are bindings or “accessible in python” or whatever the GI way of saying it is:

Please note that this is new and I’m really just trying to sucker you into banging on it so you can file bugs and update documentation.

(You might need gir1.2-unity-3.0 if you don’t have it installed)

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Here’s something I’ve been waiting for that I’m sure application authors will enjoy: 

We now have an API for applications to leave a progress meter and/or a number on their launcher. The wiki page is a bit sparse so expect more detail there over the coming week.

What we need to do

Well, the first thing I’m working on is getting the wiki page up to shape. We’re going to need examples for different languages, and basically make the page useful for application developers. I’m on that this week. I could use a hand here if someone wants to dig in.

Next, we need people to think about where this is useful. So right away, you’re thinking mail apps, Transmission and Deluge, USC, update-manager, etc. 

The library is called libunity, which is the same library you’ll use for Places and stuff, and you can use it in one of two ways:

  •  Directly in your application, just link up to libunity, you’ll notice the the API is similar to app indicators. This is on purpose, so if you’ve already got libindicator support in your app, this should just be additive and straightforward.

For example, right now your application might put a “new message” counter in the messaging menu, this is designed so that you can also just plop the same number right on the launcher icon too.

  • Or standalone, like the example on the wiki page - this is for you people who want to write little wrapper scripts to monitor something (like say, your mutt instance on a remote server, *hint hint*) (think of the things we could get from byobu running on your server!)

Application developers, we’re looking for feedback for libunity, feel free to file bugs.

How You Can Help

Feel free to start filing bugs in Launchpad for applications to support this. Make sure you tag em “bitesize”, as these will be easy for people to dig into and make work.

Got a favorite application? Link the up to our resources or they can contact us directly if they want help with linking these up.

Other Unity Improvements that Just Landed

Part 2 of the things that landed today are much more user visible, mainly, drag and drop for the Launcher:

  • Drag stuff into the trash
  • Being able to drag files onto apps, for example select 4 text files and drag all of them onto the text editor and it will open them all up at once.
  • Drag any .desktop files right into the launcher, but you can’t drag from the Dash yet, but you will be able to soon. For an example of this drag and drop applications from /usr/share/applications to get an idea.
  • Drag anything from a GNOME menu, GNOME Panel, and any dock that does xdnd into the launcher (for those of you with frankendesktops) - remember that we already import those launchers on first run.

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Because people only land cool stuff after my weekly report: 

First off, Marco Trevisan (Treviño) has readded the old autohide behavior to the launcher for those of you that are into that sort of thing. Here’s the video showing you how it works.

Secondly, power keyboard users might want to check out the keyboard shortcuts page. I recently discovered the power of Ctrl-Alt-numpad, I think you’ll dig it. 

And lastly, Jason’s made it so that when you drag a certain file type into the launcher the application that launches it stays lit, but the rest “shut off”. So assuming you have say, GIMP and Shotwell in your launcher dragging a .png close to the launcher will keep those lit and the ones that don’t support .png will not be lit. Small, but slick.

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Welcome to another edition of the Unity bitesize report!

New Stuff

Cando’s been working on two fixes (which are under review). The first is being able to middle click on a maximized window title in the panel and have that be pushed to the background.

In case you didn’t know, you can middle click on window titlebars and they get pushed behind other windows. This can be a very handy window management technique, but now that we’ve welded the title bar with the top panel when a window is maximized this was missing. So thanks to Cando for preserving this bit of “UNIX Law that this feature must exist” on our desktops.

The second bit he’s working on is making it so that when you click on the Trash Can it only opens one window (or focuses it if you have it open but lost it) instead of opening a bunch of trash cans.

The Big List

Here’s the list of bitesize bugs that can be snagged and fixed by anyone who wants to get involved.

Getting Involved

Want to tackle some of these? Instructions for getting started are available here.

For more information check out the wiki page:

If you have any questions feel free to pop by on #ayatana on Freenode.

Other Unity Tidbits

  • Chris Coulson has landed the application menu work in Thunderbird!
  • Mat Trudel is continuing his work on multimonitor support in Unity but is probably realizing that this wasn’t bitesize at all. Yum!
  • Jason’s landed the Launcher API bits, which will allow applications to interact with the launcher better. Things like new mail indicators with a little number, download progress for clients, etc. (More to follow on this in the future)
  • Mikkel’s been working on the Places API, so expect the wiki page to be updated this week. Once this lands we’ll finally be able to have people implementing some of the great ideas for Places we’ve been collecting. (I’ll have a seperate blogpost about this one later)

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I’ve started this page.

If you’re running 11.04, please start adding shortcuts to this page as you find them. Or if you have the time to go through CCSM and add them all to this page it would be quite useful.

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