Imprecise Pangolin?

As noted in an earlier post (In praise of backups), automatic updates to the old long-term support release of Ubuntu (Version 10.04, Lucid Lynx) caused a “black screen of death” condition on my production machine and I was wondering if the problem would be fixed in Precise Pangolin, the latest release (Version 12.04) of the Linux operating system. However, before we consider if this is or is not the case, you have to know something about toasters.

Actually, you have to know something about the “Toaster”. One of my friends posits that computers should be like toasters – you plug them in – and they work. The controls are always on the same side. The heating elements light up when the toaster is plugged in. Lightly burnt bread is ejected after a finite time of operation.

My production machine is a toaster – it’s “the” toaster. This computer is largely operated by the Supreme User (read spousal unit) who wholeheartedly subscribes to the afore-mentioned postulate about toasters. In consequence, nothing is supposed to vary on this machine. E-mail is to be sent and received; web pages are to be browsed. The display screen, and all the applications, are to provide no surprises (read changes).

Needless to say, with at least bi-annual updates to Ubuntu, and the desire to try (read play) with lots of new applications, I also run a development machine. This is kept well away from the Supreme User, and keeps me busy installing, running, and removing software – and restoring disk images when things really go south!

And so we come to Precise Pangolin. And, here we have a problem. Firstly, by default, it sports the Unity interface, which nobody would suggest bears any resemblance to the 10.04 desktop. Fortunately, we can roll the desktop back to some extent by installing the Gnome Classic interface (gnome-session-fallback); however, this isn’t a true fall-back state. Note the differences in the following screenshots:

Old and new panel menus

One obvious difference (in colour) is that the wallpaper on the desktop isn’t the same. But, since this is user-defined option, this is easily fixed – and will go a long way to convincing the Supreme User that nothing has really changed!

The figure essentially shows the left- and right-sides of the top panel menu bar. Note that the System menu has been eliminated in the new version. The main sub-components of this menu item, Preferences and Administration have been moved to the Applications menu. Now this may not be an issue. The Supreme User doesn’t use anything on the System menu and so may not even notice that this has disappeared.

The icons for Firefox and Thunderbird were user-installed and so, one might think that these would be easily restored. But, not so. Right-clicking on the desktop no longer brings up an option to Create Launcher. So, how does one establish icons to run applications directly from the panel?

The answer is provided in a posting by fossfreedom on the Ask Ubuntu forum: “Open a menu that contains the launcher. Drag the launcher on to the panel.” So, for example, navigate to: Applications – Internet – Firefox – and drag the menu entry onto the panel.

On the right side of the panel, apart from the ordering of the various icons (and the fact that one screenshot was taken on a machine with a wired Internet connection, while the other was a laptop, hence the power icon and wireless), the main sticking points are the time being displayed in the new version, but not the day and the date, and there not being a dedicated Shut Down icon. This feature now appears under System (the gear-cog icon on the far right side of the panel). However, these issues, especially the lack of the Shut Down button are likely to be a deal-breaker and so need to be explored, but on another day…


Proven. Practical. Precise. – Choose Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Oneiric Classic (No effects) Tweaks and tricks

Guide for the classic Gnome session

How do I create application launchers in Gnome Panel

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