At Work with Linux: Ubuntu 12.04 Still Around

Yes, I lied. I kept Ubuntu 12.04 around (and 11.10 for that matter) while I went off to do other tasks. Today, after reading a comment from an unknown about enabling 3D acceleration on the VMware Player to correct the Ubuntu 12.04 window resizing problem, I decided to fire up the instances of 11.10 and 12.04 for further examination. First, I upgraded the patches and packages of both versions. Then I enabled 3D acceleration for both. In the case of 11.10, enabling 3D acceleration accomplished nothing. But sure enough, just like unknown wrote, enabling 3D acceleration for 12.04 cleaned up the window resizing, as well as fixing the text artifacts and giving the whole desktop a subtle but significant makeover.

What is interesting in 12.04 with 3D acceleration is that the Dash Home panel now covers the entire desktop when selected. I know it didn't do this for Ubuntu 11.10, and I'm not so sure it did this for the non-3D-accelerated 12.04 desktop. I'm neutral as to whether this is a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. I could entertain arguments for both.

I had to go into the network because Ubuntu 12.04 lost the ability to resolve the proxy gateway's hostname. I have no idea what happened, but after accepting some 130+ patches and updates, once 12.04 came back it couldn't find the proxy because of it and it couldn't get out. The work-around was to slap the raw IP address into the network proxy applet. Once that was done, networking outside the firewall was possible again. Note: not a thing changed the DNS settings.

Key among the features enabled by 3D acceleration is a clearer, cleaner transparency. You can see above the the little translucent dialog next to the terminal icon on the left bar. You get that with a right mouse click I discovered that rather quickly, if accidentally. It's the only way to launch multiple copies, instead of the more intuitive "press/click the button again" action.

This screen shot shows a second terminal being resized. The upper window also has two terminal views (note the two tabs directly above each terminal view). No, thankfully, you can't see other windows when a single terminal instance is hosting multiple terminal views, but you can see one terminal behind another if they're separate terminal instances.

In an odd sort of way, I'm beginning to appreciate the Unity desktop as a development environment. To me it seems a reasonable blend of an older complex GUI desktop with xmonad. I tried xmonad, but removed it after 10 minutes. xmonad was too painfully like Windows 1 for my tastes.

The desktop is now showing the Radiance theme. You'll note that text is now properly rendered on the common tool bar in the top upper left. Now that it's enabled I'm going to keep it this way. I prefer it over Ambiance.

A little more graphical showing off. In this instance I have my ever so lovely blog in Firefox 12 sharing the desktop with one terminal. Switching between the desktop and the two applications is very clean and clear. To me it's obvious which application will come to the front if I release the Alt key. This, combined with the workspace switcher, makes for a visually interesting and a nice tidy environment. My only wish is that the key chord Windows/E would flip through the desktops instead of Ctrl/Alt/cursor keys. I keep reaching for that out of habit.

Another accidental feature I quickly found was when I held down the Window key, a.k.a. the Super key, for more than two seconds. Ubuntu popped up a quick cheat sheet for keyboard maneuvering. It's a great idea, but it could have been a lot less transparent. On a busy screen it's current configuration makes it hard to read.

And finally, I have Google Chrome installed. I had to do this by hand with the following steps:
  1. Download Chrome from Google.
  2. Open a shell, and execute 'sudo apt-get install libcurl3 libnspr4-0d'
  3. cd  to the Download directory (or where ever you downloaded Google Chrome to) where Google Chrome is currently sitting and execute 'sudo dpkg -i google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb'
During the apt-get stage you'll get a message that you should remove libxss1 via apt-get. Don't. Or else you'll install it again to meet all of Google Chrome's dependencies. Well, enough fun for now. Time to move on to more Real Work.


  1. Yup, it looks fun. I briefly used 12.04 because I wanted to try the latest RawTherapee without changing my Debian stable too much. My wife is using Ubuntu all the time, as is my brother - and both don't complain. I'm looking forward to the next stable Debian (codefreeze will be around June or July or so), and to Gnome3...


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