Friday, October 28, 2011

Dual Boot Experiences: Ubuntu And Arch

I have been a long time Ubuntu user. Last June I decided to install Arch Linux in my PC, side by side with Ubuntu. First I want to widen my linux skills beyond Ubuntu and secondly, with Unity in Ubuntu and Gnome-shell everywhere else, I wanted to find out which is the best. So I made a new partition and download the Arch iso.

Arch of course, is a minimal distro. I can choose any DE I like from Gnome to KDE, Xfce to E17. I chose Gnome-shell. 

Now that I can boot to both Unity and Gnome-shell, which one do I prefer?

I must say Unity looks cool and awesome. In 11.10, most of the bugs are gone. (although I had to smile when one of the open application icon suddenly disappear when I used the alt+tab). If I want to add an application in the Launcher, I can accomplish it with drag+drop. It's a snap. If I want an application on a certain workspace I just type alt+spacebar>workspace[n] same as in Gnome-shell. 

If I want the mouse to do the job, I have to go to super window mode (hit super window key) and drag the window to the workspace. Nothing unique to any of the DE here except I noticed that in Unity I can hit the right as well as the left superkey, very considerate for the left-handed. 

In Gnome-shell an extra (empty) workspace is created whenever you move/open an application. In Unity, the default is always 4 workspaces. I don't know how this impacts memory usage over time. I find resource usage in Unity higher than Gnome-shell although this speaks more about the distro than the DE. How can I say that? I can enable the gnome-shell in Ubuntu 11.10 too and resource usage is more or less the same as Unity.

Annoyances? I cant' start working until the notifications (from twitter and facebook) are finished. At least the notifications in gnome-shell is interactive. The Ubuntu devs have to rethink that. Users can't remove gwibber because its back ends are part of the Unity desktop. Adding salt to the wound, I really don't use gwibber because I use the twitter client which means I open the browser.  Same with facebook.

Themes work on Unity as well as in the windows of Gnome3. Note I said the windows (as well as the icons). Whenever I try changing the theme for the gnome-shell itself I encounter an odd thing. I can't use the type-to-search in the dashboard. As soon as I type the first letter everything freezes and I have to do a hardware reset to log back in.

Finally, I use the Gnome-shell most often. This doesn't speak of my preference either way. It speaks of my delight in using a distro that doesn't seem to burden me with a lot of scripts and assumes that i can find my way around. It's refreshing. I'm talking about Arch. 
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