Sunday, May 23, 2010

Changing settings in Ubuntu

The new Ubuntu 10.04 window button layout was a surprising and unexpected change. Thanks to howtogeek for helpful instructions - and only the second hit on a Google search for: "ubuntu 10.04 close button".

To summarize (without all the nice screenshots):

The Problem

Ubuntu 10.04 window buttons (close, minimize, maximize, etc) are on the left by default.

A Solution

Make configuration changes to move the buttons around:
  1. Open the gconf-editor
    1. ALT+F2 - open the Run Application window
    2. enter gconf-editor
    3. press Run
  2. Expand Applications > metacity > general
  3. Double-click button_layout - edit the button order
  4. Enter menu:minimize,maximize,close or :minimize,maximize,close - change the order of the buttons as desired.

Button Layout Syntax - An Aside

You can place different buttons in different places, as determined by their relative order and a couple of syntactical symbols:

: (colon) is like the 'middle' of the window bar. Anything to the left of the colon will be on the left-hand side. Anything to the right will be on the right-hand side. So what if you want to put something in the middle of the window? Dig deeper!

, (comma) is the separator between elements that you want displayed.

menu is the menu button. It has functions that can also be performed by right-clicking on a window's bar, things like "minimize" and "move"

minimize is the one-click button that minimizes the window it's associated with.

maximize is the one-click button that maximizes the window it's associated with.

close is the one-click button that closes the window it's associated with.

Here endith the aside.

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In order of preference (pun intended):





Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ubuntu Rant and Holler

Ubuntu Saga: Upgrade The Second

I upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 today. I say 'upgraded', but what I should say is 'installed'.

With the new installation, everything's shiny and new: distro, themes, backgrounds... configuration settings...

I started an official upgrade from 9.10 to 10.04 and it failed miserably - as it did when I attempted an upgrade from 8.10 to 9.04 almost a year earlier. Before the upgrade completed it hung, stealing my time and my GUI interface. Luckily, the command line still worked, so I was able to back up my data and start from scratch with a LiveUSB.

Hence 'installation' instead of 'upgrade'. Hence new configuration settings.


I logged into my completely new Ubuntu 10.04 installation and the very first thing I noticed: Left-hand window controls. Like a Mac.

Now, I have nothing against a Mac per se, but I do have a distaste for usability changes without gain. In my mind, this was not the brightest move, and I don't understand what inspired this odd decision. How is it useful to make a fairly significant usability change ten versions and several years in?

On the plus side, I now know where to make major configuration changes - something I had neither the interest, nor motivation to do in the past eight years that I've actively used Linux.

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If (!system.Upgrade()) {

install = new Installation()

if (install.window.alignment==LEFT) {