Unity

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Unity is a desktop shell for the GNOME desktop environment developed by Canonical Ltd for Ubuntu. Unity is implemented as a plugin of the Compiz window manager.

Not to be confused with Unity3D.

Installation

Warning: Installing Unity means that many official packages will be replaced with patched Ubuntu versions. Be careful to check the resulting package conflicts.

Unity can be installed on Arch Linux from an unofficial repository or alternatively from source.

From the unofficial repository

Add the Unity-for-Arch repository. Available packages are listed on GitHub. It is recommended to install the freetype2-ubuntuAUR package.

Additional packages are available from Unity-for-Arch-Extra - see GitHub for available packages.

From source

All of the PKGBUILDs can be browsed on the GitHub repository, where Unity-For-Arch provides a minimal working Unity shell, and Unity-For-Arch-Extra provides some additional applications, including lightdm-ubuntuAUR (LightDM with Ubuntu patches), ubuntu-themesAUR, unity-tweak-tool (a popular Unity configuration tool) and more.

Install git and navigate to a directory in which the sources can be built, then do:

$ git clone https://github.com/chenxiaolong/Unity-for-Arch.git

Open the README and build the packages according to the ordered list (see: Makepkg#Usage):

$ cd <package name>
$ makepkg -sci
Tip: To use LightDM, follow the same steps mentioned above to install lightdm-ubuntuAUR and lightdm-unity-greeterAUR from the Unity-For-Arch-Extra repository.

Updating

Navigate to the original directory and pull all changes:

$ git pull

Then, check, if any packages need updating:

$ ./"What_can_I_update?.py"
Note: Sometimes, if a certain crucial package is updated, those depending on it will also need to be recompiled. For example, if unity is updated, nux might need to be re-compiled as well.

Standard and extended functionality

The following section lists packages that, whilst not required for the Unity shell to function, do serve to enhance the user experience:

Functionality Package(s)
Notifications notify-osd
Screen locking gnome-screensaver-ubuntu
Online accounts signon-keyring-extensionAUR[broken link: archived in aur-mirror], gnome-keyring, telepathy
SSH gnome-keyring
HUD & menubar integration appmenu-qtAUR, firefox-ubuntuAUR, thunderbird-ubuntuAUR
File and Folder lens zeitgeist-ubuntu
Configuration gnome-tweak-tool, unity-tweak-tool
Pidgin integration pidgin-indicator

Tips and tricks

Customize LightDM wallpaper and appearance

See LightDM#Changing background images/colors.

Autostart programs on login

See GNOME#Startup applications.

Troubleshooting

Cannot right click on desktop

Other issues that this fix addresses:

  • Title bar at the top doesn't display Arch Linux Desktop
  • Shortcut keys, such as Super and Alt do not work when there are no active windows

Execute the following: gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons true

Unity stops working after update

Run compiz.reset and then log out and log back into the Unity session.

If Unity still is not working, report an issue on github or discuss it in this forum thread on the Arch Linux Forums.

Some GTK+ themes look ugly since GNOME 3.6

This affects the unity default theme and light themes. Use:

~/.config/gtk3.0/gtk.css
GtkLabel {
  background-color: @transparent;
}

Workspace switcher widget disappeared

In ccsm (the Compiz Configuration Settings Manager), ensure that the following option is checked: Settings > Appearance > Behaviour > Enable workspaces.

No skype or other applications appear in indicator tray

Using Skype as an example; Append Skype to the systray-whitelist list in com.canonical.Unity.Panel using dconf-editor or the gsettings command. Reboot or logout afterwards.

Alternatively, replace the contents of systray-whitelist with all.

Known issues

See Github Issues for known problems.

Indicator-messages does not work properly

Pidgin and a number of other applications can not be integrated into indicator-messages due to its API changes. Users will have to wait for upstream to release software updates for the affected applications.

Pidgin-libnotify-ubuntu has unresolvable dependency

As of February 2015, the required package perlxml is unavailable, try pidgin-indicator.

See also