As I was getting perilously close to filling up my old 256GB hard drive, I decided to treat myself to a 512GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD, which created an opportunity to upgrade to the latest Ubuntu, a task I’d neglected for two years. I usually relish Ubuntu’s semiannual releases—that is, until the Unity user interface landed.
Having cut my computing teeth on Windows 95/2000, Ubuntu (really Gnome 2.X) had always felt reassuringly comfortable—like the best of Windows sitting on a solid Linux foundation. The shift to Unity took the well-worn Windows-esque user interface paradigms I knew and loved and seemed to replace them with their Mac-ish counterparts (which I didn’t). So I held back.
As an aside: I still can’t get over conflating the application launcher with the taskbar—the bar that used to run along the bottom of the screen that both graphically and textually listed the open programs. Oh well, progress. R.I.P. Taskbar.
With the new SSD in hand, I decided it was time to give Unity a fair shake. I watched a video and took notes. I tweaked a few things (but not much, mostly just reverting to the legacy scrollbars). I did get bit by a nasty bug that seems to stem from race condition caused by the SSD being too fast! But otherwise things are nice. Familiar in most ways, different in others. One benefit of having just the launcher docked on the left (not to mention the intergrated menubar on top) is the extra vertical screen real estate it frees up on my paltry 1366×768 display. Previously I’d gotten into the habit of toggling Firefox to fullscreen; now simply maximizing the window makes it effectively fullscreen.
I made a bet on Ubuntu when I first started playing with it in 2006. I used it from day one on my desktop at Federated Media, and eventually switched my personal laptop over to it after getting fed up with Windows. Overall I feel like I’ve been well-served, both professionally and personally. Which is why everyone who’s worked with me in the past would probably be surprised to learn that I’ve been using a Mac at Sincerely. It’s been a good experience, and I think it’s been important for me in developing a common understanding with my coworkers. But I spend most of my day using the following five applications:
- Terminal, with several tabs open, some local, some SSHed into a Ubuntu-based development VM
- Sublime Text 2, for text editing
- Chrome, for web development
- Firefox, for personal email
- Hipchat, for intraoffice chat
Which is to say, practically the same five applications I’d be using if I was developing on Ubuntu. Which is also to say, I look forward to switching back. All in good time.