Tips & Tricks for Ubuntu Unity Remix

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Since my first experience with Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal, I’ve considered Unity to be a well-crafted enjoyable desktop environment. 11 years later, here are a few post-install tweaks I’ve used to smooth over a few rough patches.

–Be sure to update Unity to v7.6. Steps and the change log are outlined here. https://unity.ubuntuunity.org/blog/unity-7.6/

–Unity does not have an easy way to manage installed applications. You can fix this by installing the “mozo” package, which will help you add, label and categorize apps. One quirk is that, post-install, you must first run mozo from the terminal, then add it to itself as a menu item. After that, it will show up in searches.

–Unity didn’t ship with its own applications, like MATE or KDE. It inherited GNOME apps, and while many have been replaced by MATE’s versions, a couple remain. Big examples include GNOME Calculator and GNOME System Monitor, though there are others. Remove “gnome-calculator” and “gnome-system-monitor” packages, and replace them with “mate-calc” and “mate-system-monitor.” The calculator automatically appears in your app list, but the system monitor will not; add it using Mozo.

–The dash button, AKA “big freakin’ button”, can be found at /usr/share/unity/icons/launcher_bfb.svg. It can be replaced by either an SVG or PNG file.

–If Yaru icons aren’t to your liking, Ubuntu MATE’s Ambiant Colours icons will give you the 16.04 look. You can find them here: https://github.com/lah7/Ambiant-MATE-Colours. However, the recolored Ambiance/Radiance themes will not work for Unity. You’ll have to create variations of the “light-themes” package, which comes installed, per #6.

–As an example: to match the colors of Yaru-bark icons, make a copy of the Ambiance theme folder and change the highlights to Yaru-bark’s green. In your copied Ambiance theme folder, look for the gtk-3.0 and gtk-3.20 sub-folders. Each sub-folder has a gtk-main.css and settings.ini file. Replace every instance of orange (hex code f07746) with green (hex code 9c9c88). After naming the theme folder, drop it in home/.themes. Set it with Unity Tweak Tool, and you’re good to go. I’ve found that the original Ambiance/Radiance themes make Unity respond faster than with Yaru.

–Unity Greeter is not easy to manage, and lacks a customization GUI. It can be replaced with Mint’s slick-greeter. Install the “slick-greeter” and “lightdm-settings” packages, then navigate to /etc/lightdm and create a text file called lightdm.conf. Add the following text:
[Seat:*]
greeter-session=slick-greeter

Reboot, and you should see slick-greeter at login. A quirk is that lightdm-settings will only run via terminal with permissions. Add it to Mozo and be sure to select “application in Terminal” and add command: sudo lightdm-settings in the options.

–The lock screen can be configured in dconf-editor.

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