Ubuntu On The Beast Just Got Fantastic For ME!

Before we start:
  • Ubuntu = the operating system running my computer.
    The most common operating system for PCs is Microsoft's Windows, Ubuntu does the same but licence free and far FAR better
  • "The Beast" = the name given to family laptop because it is large and glows.
So, now we know what I'm talking about, what am I talking about?

Ubuntu does what every other operating system does BUT, what I love about it is that, it is "compartmentalisd" - there is no one overarching system that is in control of everything AND there is no one company in control of everything. I know for some that is the issue with using Ubuntu and other "open source" systems but for me it is the joy, freedom and fresh air that I get on my desktop.

Let me give you example of what I mean by describing what I mean by "just got fantastic" in this post's title.

I use Google Reader to subscribe and follow a whole stack of blogs and news sources, one of which is UbuntuGeek which recently posted How to install globalmenu in Ubuntu ... - the what? Aha, let me explain by comparing Apple OSX (the operating system running on Apple PCs) with Microsoft Windows. Every Windows program you open has it's own title bar (program name and sometimes what page/document you have open) PLUS it's own menu (File, Edit, ... Help). You know the thing if you're a Windows users AND you probably think it's the only way to display title/menu but no, Apple OSX does it differently. On OSX they have one menu bar that is permanently displayed on the very top of the screen and when you use a program that one menu bar changes to reflect the appropriate menu options.

Very different approaches. Windows assumes you want each menu to be available on top of each program window whilst OSX assumes you want the menus to be displayed in a consistent place every time. As a side note it's interesting to see how Google's Chrome browser takes a different approach to both.

By default, Ubuntu works the way Microsoft Windows does, each program has it's own "File, Edit ... Help" menu displayed under the title bar of each program. But, I can very easily follow the instructions on the UbuntuGeek post and after, installing one program with a log off/on (not re-boot), I have the OSX way of doing it. If I don't like that then I can remove the program and go back to the Microsoft Windows way of menu placement.

So I did install the OSX way and I love it ... now. It took some getting to used to (about 30 minutes of me looking for the menu and not quite sure where to click) but now it makes so much more sense and is so much quicker - I s'pose it comes down to Apple design approach vs Microsoft functionality approach.

But you know the best thing - this only affects me, I haven't changed the way the menus work for the rest of the family (yet :-)

So, I now have the Global Menu a la Apple OSX, and I already had the AWN manager (fancy docking/task bar at the bottom of the screen that looks, well, Apple Mac-y) and with a few tweaks I managed to make it work much nicer with large icons, launch programs (not just what I was currently running), time, weather, log off etc etc. That means the top toolbar (where the Global Menu is) now only contains ... the global menu and a clock.

One more step to gain that Apple OSX smoothness through cracking design for which I needed Twitter's help to discover:

A few minutes later I knew that Apple called it Expose, thanks to @DrewBroadley:

... a quick search brought me to:

Following those instructions I now have Expose for Ubuntu - no installation required, it was always there waiting for me to configure it, doh!

I am now running an Ubuntu desktop that has the best of Apple OSX design tied with the freedom for me to turn on/off major parts of that design as I want. The only issue is there are so many other things I could fiddle with ... eek :-)

That's why I love Ubuntu, it's MY desktop!


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