Perfecting the Linux User Desktop

The linux desktop over the years has been a large struggle for many users. I hear many complaints from people that have ‘tried’ linux out and they seem to all come to the conclusion that it is difficult or even impossible to use. The unfortunate part about most of these complaints, is that they are reiterating something they read 10 years ago, or something their friend who knows computers becaues he is a ‘gamer’ told him so.

You can also jump right to the gallery to just view the images.
Personally, I prefer Linux. In the past few years I have travelled through many different distributions. Lately (past year or so), I have solely worked with the fastly becoming forerunner, Ubuntu. Power linux users can complain all that they want about how Ubuntu is fancying the wrong crowd, but the simple fact is that if Ubuntu wasn’t doing the things they are doing, we wouldn’t have the incredible developements that Linux distributions now offer. To put some fuel for the fire about how Linux is not usable, or that it is simply not capable of being the powerhouse that real users know it can be, I wanted to walk through my setup.

[caption id=”attachment_157” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”When nothing is brought up or running”]When nothing is brought up or running[/caption]

This is my Desktop when I have nothing open. I have 6 virtual desktops… meaning I can have up to 6 windows with stuff in them. I can switch between them by either dragging something to another page, or by using ctrl+alt+ left|right|up|down. So how is this usable, where’s the menu? Well, for one, it’s a touch screen (yes it works quite well) laptop (x61t) that has a 1024*768 resolution. So I need realestate, so that is what is the deciding factor in my choices. The menu is on the left, just moving the mouse to the left side of the screen shows it.

[caption id=”attachment_156” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”The Ubuntu menu”]The Ubuntu menu[/caption]

As you can see it’s all there. But I rarely ever use it. Usually , I just hit command+space which brings up my GnomeDo options.

[caption id=”attachment_155” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”Gnome Do 's native functionality; searching.”]Gnome Do [/caption]

So as I type, it highlight in blue… and it has some amazing plugins! Sometimes I need a quick mouse menu… like when I’m browsing… for that moving my mouse to the bottom of the page solves this with GnomeDo’s Docky feature.

[caption id=”attachment_154” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”This is the settings menu for Docky.”]This is the settings menu for Docky.[/caption]

So Docky is good… and looks good, but sometimes I just need some space for things that I generally need from time to time…. for this I have my screenlets. A quick press of f9 will bring them up… sending everything to monochrome behind.

[caption id=”attachment_167” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”A good view of the Screenlets overlay”]A good view of the Screenlets overlay[/caption]

Notice… Pidgin, Terminal, another Funky clock, Date, the Current moon, Uptime, Battery, and Places. Over time I’m sure I will add more… Still looking for a killer calculator. So now that I have my machine on and running, I need some music.

[caption id=”attachment_169” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”Excellent Linux media player with a great skin.”]Excellent Linux media player with a great skin.[/caption]

Bring in Songbird. yes this is an actual screenshot of my current playlist. It’s very slick, and easy to use and understand. Now that I have my music up, lets fire up some programming tool.

[caption id=”attachment_163” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”Excellent Ubuntu programming program; Geany”]Excellent Ubuntu programming program; Geany[/caption]

I love Geany. It’s very easy to use, and it’s completly packed with autocompletion, etc. Notice how it handles all the language, and allows me to set a dark theme. Once again, pay attention to the realestate usage… I use the entire screen.

Sometimes I have small windows open. Ubuntu handles this well.. take a look at what happens when I have more than one open, notice how the previous clicked windows fade out for better attention getting.

[caption id=”attachment_170” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”Making sure that the other windows fade so that the one you are on gains best focus”]Making sure that the other windows fade so that the one you are on gains best focus[/caption]

Sometimes though… I have things on other virtual displays that I need… and a simple alt+tab won’t get to them. For those I do ctrl+command+space… and wha-laa

[caption id=”attachment_166” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”Easy window grabbing by putting them all up together.”]Easy window grabbing by putting them all up together.[/caption]

So what about this Vista I keep seeing… you mean this vista?

[caption id=”attachment_172” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”The start menu when running Vista in seamless mode.”]The start menu when running Vista in seamless mode.[/caption]

That can run all these Windows ick programs on my desktop?

[caption id=”attachment_173” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”Vista programs running on the Ubuntu desktop; via Virtualbox”]Vista programs running on the Ubuntu desktop; via Virtualbox[/caption]

There is a lot to offer in such a free package of software eh. It seems that it handles quite alot of ‘usable’ features. Things people never imaged they could have for just a download.

Things like pen recognition and pressure recognition…

[caption id=”attachment_174” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”Pen input, pressure sensitivity, shape recognizer”]Pen input, pressure sensitivity, shape recognizer[/caption]

And it’s amazing what firefox can look like…

[caption id=”attachment_162” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”Saving real estate by going full screen with firefox”]Saving real estate by going full screen with firefox[/caption]

I think I’ve shown my point, that linux doesn’t have to be all drab, it can be pretty slick too.

and I will leave you with my idle screen… Rain :P

[caption id=”attachment_165” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”Neat desktop effects, this is the raining effect.”]Neat desktop effects, this is the raining effect.[/caption]

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