In recent Linux related news I have been reading about the Ubuntu Control Center (UCC) and the Ubuntu Application Menu (Global Menu). The projects looked extremely interesting so I decided to install them and give them a try. Note that directions for download and installation are provided in the links above.
Ubuntu Control Center (UCC)
In the GNOME desktop environment, most of us have become familiar with the
gnome-control-center provided a centralized interface to access various components and elements of your GNOME desktop environment to your general computing experience. This included shortcuts to network configuration tools, disk management tools, display and screensaver related tools, power management and more.
UCC is not that much different. The way in which it stands out is that it is a little more visually appealing to the eye and continues to maintain the new style and themes presented by Canonical for Ubuntu. It is also simplified in presentation and organization. I can see it to be less intimidating to a lesser experienced Ubuntu Linux user. It is my opinion that this is a great step into the right direction. It is these little things that help one distribution stand out over the others. In the open source world we call this differentiation (a topic I will write about in my next post). Although I don’t see myself using it that much, as I usually know which commands to invoke from the command line or which files to modify instead, I can see someone like my wife utilizing this interface and actually be somewhat comfortable with it.
Also note that when it is installed, the application can be launched from
Applications > System Tools > UCC.
While this is not an Ubuntu original project, it is one that Canonical desires to use in their distributions intended for smaller devices (i.e. netbooks). At least for now, it is planned to have this feature implemented in the future release of Ubuntu Network Edition (UNE).
The interface reminds one of the similar feature in the Mac OS series of operating systems. Instead of wasting LCD space for every open application by dropping a File, Edit, etc. menu system, Global Menu will integrate it into the top GNOME panel. This is very desirable for the netbook devices with smaller screens (i.e. 1024×600).
I actually like this. Truth be told, I grew up on Macs, so I am very familiar with this setup and while it is going to take a little bit of getting used to, I have decided to keep it installed with my 10.04 installation on my everyday notebook. Here you can see it in action when a terminal is open:
There are a few drawbacks to this though. It would seem that this feature is only fully functional for GTK+ developed applications. Or at least something to that extent. Certain applications such as Firefox, OpenOffice.org to even VirtualBox will only result in the name of the application to show up in the global menu with options to show the desktop or maximize/minimize the current application. Instead you will find that the generic menu interface will still be presented in the application’s window. Despite this, I still do look forward to seeing what this project grows into.