Unity

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Unity is an alternative shell for the GNOME desktop environment, developed by Canonical in its Ayatana project. It consists of several components including the Launcher, Dash, lenses, Panel, indicators, Notify OSD and Overlay Scrollbar. Unity available in two implementations: 'Unity' is the 3D accelerated version, which uses Compiz window manager and Nux toolkit; and 'Unity 2D' is a lighter alternative, which uses Metacity window manager and Qt toolkit.

Installation

All of these packages are available in the Arch User Repository and Ayatana repository. Please note that

  • Some packages require a patched version of gtk2 and gtk3 packages (named with '-ubuntu' suffix). When you install these patched packages, pacman will inform you about conflicting packages. It's normal, and you can safely accept to remove the original ones. If you decide to no longer use Unity packages, it's recommended to reinstall the original packages.
  • Some packages are split to avoid depending on both version (2 and 3) of the GTK+ toolkit.
Warning: Remember you're installing unofficial packages that unsupported by the Arch Linux developers.

Unity

As noted in the introduction, Unity is available in two implementation: Unity and Unity 2D. Both provides the same functionality, but Unity requires 3D acceleration. To make sure that you can run Unity, run the following command (provided by package nuxAUR):

$ /usr/lib/nux/unity_support_test -p

If it says that Unity 3D is not supported, then you still able to run Unity 2D.

Depending on your choice,

metacity-ubuntu is optional, but provides better integration with the window manager (e.g. hide windows title bar when maximized) and some bug fixes.

These packages provide the Unity/Unity 2D session, and a basic interface with Launcher, Dash and Panel. You should install some more packages to get a fully functional desktop environment (see below).

Lenses

Lenses bring some additional functionality to Dash. Dash is a central place to search, filter, open and launch applications, documents, music etc..

  • Applications Lens provides access to installed applications. It can be installed with package unity-lens-applicationsAUR.
  • Files Lens provides access to user's documents and files. It can be installed with the package unity-lens-filesAUR.
  • Music Lens provides access to music library from Banshee. It can be installed with the package unity-lens-musicAUR.
  • Gwibber Lens provides access to social network messages from Gwibber. It can be installed with the package gwibber-unityAUR.

Indicators

Indicators bring some additional functionality to Panel. Panel is the horizontal bar at the top of the screen to display application and status icons and menus.

GNOME/Unity require GTK+ 3 indicators:

  • Application Indicator exposes status icons and menus from applications. It can be installed with the package indicator-applicationAUR.
  • Appmenu Indicator exposes menubars from applications. It can be installed with the package indicator-appmenuAUR.
  • Datetime Indicator provides the current time, and access to Evolution events. It can be installed with the package indicator-datetimeAUR.
  • Messages Indicator provides the Messages menu to collect new messages. It can be installed with the package indicator-messagesAUR.
  • Network Indicator provides the Network menu for controlling ConnMan. It can be installed with the package indicator-networkAUR.
  • Power Indicator provides the Power menu for displaying battery life. It can be installed with the package indicator-powerAUR.
  • Session Indicator provides the Users and Devices menus for switch users, access some pluggable devices, logout and shutdown/restart the computer. It can be installed with the package indicator-sessionAUR.
  • Sound Indicator provides the Sound menu for control media players and volume. It can be installed with the package indicator-soundAUR.

Xfce/LXDE/AWN require GTK+ 2 indicators:

Application Indicator support

Application Indicator requires explicit support from applications/toolkits to expose applications' status icons and menus. Basically, all applications/toolkits supported that implements the Status Notifier Specification.

  • GTK+ applications require individual support to be displayed in Application Indicator.
  • Most of KDE apps support SNI officially, so their icons are displayed in Application Indicator.

Appmenu Indicator support

Appmenu Indicator requires explicit support from applications/toolkits to expose applications' menubars.

  • Appmenu GTK+ exposes menubars from standard GTK+ applications (both from version 2 and 3). It can be installed with the package appmenu-gtkAUR.
  • Appmenu Qt exposes menubars from Qt applications. It can be installed with the package appmenu-qtAUR.
  • Global Menu Bar extension exposes menubar from Firefox and Thunderbird. It can be installed with the package globalmenu-extensionAUR.
  • LibreOffice Menubar extension exposes menubar from LibreOffice. It can be installed with the package libreoffice-extension-menubarAUR.

Messages Indicator support

Messages Indicator requires explicit support from applications to indicate new messages.

Sound Indicator support

Sound Indicator requires explicit support from media players. Basically, all media players are supported that implements the MPRIS 2 specification:

Indicators in GNOME, KDE, Xfce, LXDE and AWN

  • Indicator Applet puts all indicators into the GNOME Panel. It can be installed with the package indicator-appletAUR.
  • Xfce Indicator Plugin puts all indicators into the Xfce4 Panel. It can be installed with the package xfce4-indicator-pluginAUR.
  • Xfce Appmenu Plugin provides a global menu for Xfce4 Panel. It can be installed with the package xfce4-appmenu-pluginAUR.
  • LXPanel Indicator Applet plugin puts all indicators into the LXPanel. It can be installed with the package lxpanel-indicator-applet-pluginAUR.
  • AWN Indicator Applet plugin puts all indicators into the Avant Window Navigator. It can be installed with the package awn-extras-appletsAUR.
  • Message Indicator Plasma Widget provides Messages Indicator functionality by collecting new messages. It can be installed with the package plasma-widget-message-indicatorAUR.
  • Menubar Plasma Widget provides Appmenu Indicator functionality by exposing menubars from applications. It can be installed with the package plasma-widget-menubarAUR.

Notify OSD

Notify OSD (On-Screen Display) is an on-screen notification agent designed by Canonical. It presents notifications in semi-transparent click-through bubbles from applications that implement the Desktop Notifications Specification.

It can be installed with the package notify-osdAUR.

Notify OSD in Xfce

  • If you already installed the package xfce4-notifyd, remove it first, because it is incompatible with Notify OSD.
  • A patched version of Notify OSD is available that utilizes Xfconf, the Xfce configuration daemon and GTK+2, instead of GSettings and GTK+3. It can be installed with the package Template:Package AUR.
  • To get synchronous notifications via Notify OSD when changing volume, install the package xfce4-volumedAUR.

Screen flicker with Compiz

If you're using Compiz, notifications may flicker on fade-out animation. More specifically, the OSD may flash at the end of the fade out. To prevent this, you have to exclude "notifications" from being processed by Compiz animations plugin. To achieve this, proceed as follows:

  1. open CompizConfig Settings Manager (CCSM)
  2. Open Animations plugin settings
  3. You'll find the animation settings strings. You may find something like this (type=Menu | PopupMenu | notifications | DropdownMenu). Just remove notifications from the list. Remember to remove the setting from both Open Animation and Close Animation tabs.

Overlay Scrollbar

Overlay Scrollbar is a design enhancement to save some space on the screen: it hides the scrollbars of the windows, and shows them only when you move your mouse near to the application's border. It can be installed with the package overlay-scrollbarAUR.

It works only with standard GTK+ applications (both with version 2 and 3).