Ubuntu 14.04 will be released today and you couldn’t resist the itch to go try the Unity 8 preview session on the Desktop. How underwhelming… there are almost no apps, and some don’t even work and overall it’s actually pretty unexciting… let’s change that in the next few chapters.
First things first though… let’s look at what Unity 8 is not.
The Unity 8/Desktop preview primarily is not a ressurrection of Windows 8 – what you are looking at is the Ubuntu for Mobile UI running on your Desktop/Laptop. Changes to the user experience to move this UI to a Desktop/Laptop environment are coming in the next cycles.
It also is not at a quality level you’d expect from a LTS (hence it’s living in Universe), although it works fairly well on my 2 test machines. Due to limitations discussed in a previous post you might not be able to bring up Unity 8 on NVidia or ATI GPUs. We have not spent a lot of time on Hardware compatibility testing for this release and will focus on that as we march towards Ubuntu 14.10.
So, what is the Unity 8 / Desktop preview?
A whole lot of fun! I have helped Stephen and his team over the last couple of weeks to get some of the required pieces together and am totally excited to have Unity 8 running on top of Mir on my XPS12, which has a touchscreen. This feels like running Ubuntu for Mobile on my Nexus 7, just larger. Did I mention it’s running Mir?
Providing you with the Unity 8 / Desktop preview allows us to
- Give you a vehicle to stay on top of where the development of Ubuntu is headed
- Enable you to test your applications in that new environment
- (and most importantly) Provides us with a metric ton of information of how the system behaves (see below)
While I haven’t been part of the effort, I was told that moving Unity 8 from the Ubuntu for Mobile stack over to the Desktop stack was not overly hard. It seems like our earlier architecture & design decisions are paying off. Admittedly, there is lots to do to make Unity 8 a viable successor of Unity 7, but I have a strong feeling that we are on the right track.
Adding more apps
First of all, let’s make sure we add more apps, this assumes you have already upgraded to Ubuntu 14.04 entirely.
Just in case, let’s update the system once more:
$> sudo apt-get update $> sudo apt-get upgrade [EDIT: adding how to install the Unity 8 / Desktop preview session]
$> sudo apt-get install unity8-desktop-session-mir
This should now provide you with a second session type in the login manager. You can access the Unity 8 session by clicking on the upper right hand icon in the password prompt and selecting Unity 8 there.
Let’s install what we call “System” apps, which are primarily developed by the teams here at Canonical:
$> sudo apt-get install address-book-app webbrowser-app camera-app \ friends-app gallery-app notes-app share-app
It is worth mentioning that these apps also work under Unity 7 in your regular Unity session, give it a spin there.
Next, let’s install what we call “Core” apps. These represent the work of our awesome developer community, basically all of these apps are community contributed apps and just show what can be done with the Ubuntu SDK:
$> sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-touch-coreapps-drivers/daily $> sudo apt-get update $> sudo apt-get install calendar-app dropping-letters music-app rssreader-app \ sudoku-app ubuntu-calculator-app ubuntu-clock-app ubuntu-filemanager-app \ ubuntu-terminal-app ubuntu-weather-app reminders-app
Guess what? These also work under Unity 7!