Ubuntu 12.04 ‘Precise Pangolin’: HUD and Unity 5.0

Last week we took a brief look at what major changes we should be expecting with the upcoming release of Ubuntu 12.04 ‘Precise Pangolin’ in April.

This week, we’re going to take a quick view into a couple of recent announcements for the new updated version, which currently sits in Alpha 2 stage.

HUD – Head-Up Display

The latest announcement from Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Canonical, is the introduction of a new menu system. At current, HUD is in testing and no decision has yet been decided as to whether HUD will be included in 12.04 by default or added in at a later date via an update. Or it may even be held off until future versions. But a decision will be made when the developers feel that HUD is ready and stable enough to be used as the default Ubuntu menu system.

So what’s new with HUD? From what I can see not much. Not yet anyway. In future releases of HUD, voice recognition will be added. An interesting feature for some. But of absolute no interest for the common end-user. Nevertheless, it shows that the HUD developers are looking to the future of computing. And many technologists and analysts tout voice as the next big step for computing and the way we use computers.


What HUD gives us now is a very intelligent and combined menu for essentially everything. Rather that having one menu for “Applications” and another menu for “Preferences”, HUD combines everything into the one menu but only displays what is relevant to what you type in. There are other menu tweaks and applications already available that attempt to do this. A good example being Synapse. But in my opinion none of them really succeed as intended. And that is where HUD will fill the void.

You can test out HUD now if you would like to see an early glimpse of what is has to offer. But be warned, it is early stages of development and is not ready for use on production systems.

Click here if you want to install HUD in Ubuntu 12.04  ‘Precise Pangolin’.

Unity 5.0

It has been a controversial package since its conception. And despite user resistance, Canonical is pressing forth and ahead with the development of Unity. Many users are hopeful that Unity 5.0 finally brings in a mature package so that Unity can be taken serious in the ever growing and crowded desktop interface scene.

The primary focus of Unity 5.0 is to make it fast, responsive and stable. After all, Ubuntu 12.04 is a Long-Term-Support release. So a stable desktop is a very important factor for the upcoming version.

In addition to some stability and responsiveness improvements, Unity 5.0 has also been given a couple of neat little additions worth mentioning. 5.0 has been designed to blend in with the desktop environment and make it stand out less. Previous iterations have given the user the impression that Unity is a separate package that is separate from the desktop environment. Which is false. Unity is the desktop environment. So work is being done to give the overall look and feel to be more consistent and aesthetically appealing.

The “Ubuntu” button has been given a quicklist. Notably, application names now appear in bold. And there has also been some text tweaks. For example; “Keep/Remove to launcher” now shows as “Lock/Unlock to launcher”. Not a great change, really. But a change worth mentioning nevertheless.

Unity 5.0 can be tweaked of course by using the recommended Compiz Config Settings Manager package. You can give Unity 5.0 all sorts of tweaks and visual improvements. And you can also make Unity act more like the traditional Gnome Panel and add simple things like the Show Desktop button. Which of course, iconifies all your current open windows to the Unity panel. Nothing new really, but we are at least seeing the beginnings of giving the power and customization options back to the user. Which is clearly what Ubuntu/Unity users have been wanting and asking for. It can only get better from here.

To install Unity 5.0 on Ubuntu11.10 use the following ppa:

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:unity-team/staging
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Next week, we take a look at how Ubuntu 12.04 and Unity performs on some older hardware.