Fixing Ubuntu Unity

If you’re like me, you like to be able to see the controls that are part of the User Interfaces on your computer screen.  If you’ve recently upgraded to the Ubuntu Unity desktop you’ve realized that not everyone cares as much about this as you do.  Least of all the Unity developers.  Here are a few tips to help you restore some sanity to your Unity desktop.

  1. Scroll Bars
    Unity comes with scroll bars that hide themselves until you move the mouse over them.  This is stoopid.  To be fair, this isn’t a feature of Unity, because if you switch to a different window manager like xfce they’ll still be there.  Anyway,  do this to restore sanity:

    gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface ubuntu-overlay-scrollbars false

    Now log out and log back in.  Voilà!  Sanity restored!

  2. Application Menus
    Unity developers thought it would be awesome if you had no idea where the application menu was, so they moved it to the top task bar and made it invisible, unless you move the mouse over it by accident.  Nice going Unity developers!

    sudo apt-get remove indicator-appmenu

    Now log out and then back in.  Sanity restored!

  3. Task Switcher
    Naturally when you’re using the Alt-Tab task switcher you don’t give a care about being able to tell which application icon is highlighted, amiright?  Unity developers agreed!  Anyway, the easiest way I found to fix this problem (far easier than editing PNG files in gimp, thank you very much) is to log out and next to your name where you can login again is a cryptic icon.  Click it and select “Ubuntu 2D”.Sanity restored!

You’re welcome.

Broken shortcuts on gnome with dvorak

Let’s say you’re one of the three people who uses the dvorak keyboard layout and Gnome on Linux. (I apparently have a weakness for, how shall I say it, esoteric choices. c.f., my Dylan-related posts.) You try to use the Keyboard Preferences control panel to setup your keyboard layout switcher and suddenly notice your terminal windows keep disappearing on you. WTF?

You do some fiddling and eventually discover that even though your keyboard is nominally in dvorak layout, the keyboard shortcuts are still using qwerty layout and Control-d was really sending Control-d instead of the expected Control-e. Although some people claim this makes sense, I can only assume this was a mistake and those people are on crack. (Okay, maybe not crack…maybe they just don’t touch type, but is it really that different?)

It turns out that there’s a relatively easy solution IF you have both the “USA” and “USA Dvorak” layouts listed in your “Selected layouts”. Make sure “USA Dvorak” is listed first and “USA” is listed second. You can do this by removing the “USA” layout and re-adding it.

Intuitive, right?

As an added bonus to this solution, the keyboard switcher widget in the task bar now calls the “USA” layout “USA2” and calls the “USA Dvorak” layout “USA”.

Happy dvoraking.