Testing software: Ubuntu 64-bit, Unity and PlayOnLinux, the new Wine-Doors?

I have an announcement to make: Today I made the switch to Ubuntu 64-bit.

This should have happened ages ago, I know. Well, to be honest I never had a compelling reason to do the switch until a month or so ago I got the incentive I needed: moving from 2GB to 4GB RAM.

There are lots of myths regarding the 64-bit architecture going around, so I went around asking Ubuntu 64-bit users about these. As things got cleared up (Multimedia codecs work, Java & Flash work, Wine works) I was feeling more and more certain I should switch. My boss entered my office today, helped me with a backup of my system and I threw away my 32-bit Lucid installation and moved to 64-bit Maverick. I can already feel that the system performs better! The only comparable improvement I have had was when I moved to a Flash memory SSD. Gnome and the whole desktop feels now like a breeze!

At the same time I decided to keep myself to the standard Ubuntu packages and try to avoid funky software (PPAs, external repositories, etc) as much as possible to have the most stable system I can have. I miss aptitude, but the Software Center seems to have improved a lot since the last time I tried to use it (Synaptic is just not my cup of tea) and I think i will be using that from now on as this will also allow me to give support to other fellow Ubuntu convertits. Another thing I miss is the Docky mode in Gnome-Do, but what can you do when David Siegel is part of the Unity team?

Which brings me to the next change I have made: Since it’s introduction I have always been a fan of the interface development effort Cannical has put over time in the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR), later called Ubuntu Netbook Edition (UNE) and now that Maverick (Ubuntu 10.10) was released, its new interface for the Ubuntu desktop: Unity.

In my home computer I have closely followed the evolution of the software and since Lucid (Ubuntu 10.04) I have tested Unity in my everyday computer (Lenovo X200 laptop I use at work). I am writing this now using Unity and it seems pretty decent. Some responsiveness lack here and there, but all in all it seems to be going in the right direction. I got the news that the Desktop team is even making a 2D Unity variant… That means bye bye to Metacity I guess (Gnome Shell never cut the butter in my breakfast table) and a consistent Desktop for all Ubuntu users, regardless of their graphic card and OpenGL support level.

Unity is a game changer in the Free Desktop world: Gnome and Qt applications in the same desktop, without the bloat the full blown Gnome and KDE desktops bring. I love Qt applications (VLC, Spotify, Skype, Google Earth, Opera, sorry no KDE apps in my little world) and I love Gnome applications (Pidgin, GIMP, Inkscape, Gnome-Do, Rhythmbox, Banshee, Gedit, Shotwell – Yeah Gtk+ and Mono, I know) so having a unified interface where all my applications run smoothly will be great! Adding the fact that my distro comes the underlying libraries the applications need will be awesome! – Ubuntu will be different now from all other distributions. For real! And that is only a good thing.

Unity will make you believe... Eventually.

Unity will make you believe... Eventually.

And lastly, in the spirit of other programming enviroments, toolkits, etc… I wanted to mention something surprising I found in Maverick while installing wine: PlayOnLinux. It has everything a wine user will ever dream of, specially if you are a gamer (I am not, but I still appreciate this fantastic piece of software)

This project reminded me of everything one of the most promising wine projects I know of, Wine-Doors, wanted, dreamed and aspired to be. And it is a reality today! I got up and running with Spotify in no time as I use the Linux Preview normally, but I do also fire up the wine-powered Spotify Free once or twice a week… It’s a long story. Don’t ask.

Play On Linux! Wine for human beings!

Play On Linux! Wine for human beings!

So as Wine-Doors took-off like a rocket that used up its fuel rather quickly, Play On Linux stands as the most compelling piece for Windows software management in the GNU/Linux landscape. I am really annoyed that I didn’t know about this project before today (I like to think that I oversaw it a while ago, because I am not a gamer. but I am not sure this is the case!!??)

Anyway… This week I will be installing Ubuntu in my mother’s (Sony Vaio) and my girlfriend’s (EeePC) Netbooks. Wish me luck and give me some tips if you have any.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend everyone!

~ by huayra on 2011 January 22.

13 Responses to “Testing software: Ubuntu 64-bit, Unity and PlayOnLinux, the new Wine-Doors?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ubuntu Ecuador and Sijess Ra, Ubuntu Feed. Ubuntu Feed said: #ubuntu Testing software: Ubuntu 64-bit, Unity and PlayOnLinux, the new …: There are lots of myths regarding t… http://bit.ly/fzlePG […]

  2. Docky is a separate project now.
    Also I’d recommend you to use Synapse instead of Gnome-do it’s much more faster.

    • Docky might be an option, but I am still skeptical. I wanted Gnome-do’s functionality in my dock… 2 application to achieve the same is not the same and AFAIK Docky+Gnome-do integration did not go anywhere. Fell free to enlighten me if I am wrong.

      Synapse seems nice. it’s now installed and I’ll give it a spin. Thanks for your recommendation.

  3. hi,
    i’m happy you’ve finally found your new toys, but:

    – 64 bits with 4 Gb ? hm, rather use generic-pae (less troubles, mostly drivers, & same advantages)

    – unity: new fashion toy: what it bring new ? I only see bad effects: loosing space on the workplace, as its a compiz plugin that mean huge amount of ram eaten, only for some useless eyecandy fashion victims

    – wine: i still can understand why so great prog is missing such feature like bottleneck. Its a shame that its installer, by default, dont propose to install an app into an existing wineprefix or to propose to create one. Ok playonlinux (pol for the friends) is well done, but it exist only because of the wine lack.

    • Hi dingo

      Thanks for your answer! Regarding:

      64 bits – It has its advantages and I think going PAE is approaching the problem from the wrong perspective, at least in my case. The future is not 32 bits as I see it and since my Hardware support it and there are no drawbacks regarding my software, it just makes sense to do that instead.

      Unity – Most long time GNU/Linux users I know started in the server end, whilst I have since 1997 used it as a desktop environment and in my mind it always have been that. Unity represents a change of mind in the way you approach the free software desktop and I believe it is way more than eye candy fashion. I truly believe that we need a new approach to the desktop if we want to get somewhere with the FLOSS desktop.

      Wine – As such wine is a nice tool. i agree that a front end should be highlighted and proposed (but not enforced) for users of the software. And of all software for Wine I have seen and tested, Play On Linux beats them all hands down.

  4. If you’re using playonlinux, you might as well try out the Wine PPA

    • I was checking POL support for different versions of wine. So using the wine PPA makes a lot of sense, indeed.

      I really believe POL should get more attention from the wine using crowd. It’s an awesome piece of software!

  5. Qt applications have GTK+ look and feel since Qt 4.6, it’s not an Ubuntu achievement. A port of Ambiance to KDE and setting it to KDE defaults would be an Ubuntu achievement and would make KDE apps look native in GNOME, but it hasn’t happened yet.
    The 2D Unity uses QML and it’s not a traditional Qt app; shipping Qt with the system doesn’t change anything either. A number of derivatives including Ultimate Edition and SuperOS already did it, and the only benefit on shipping Qt is that users won’t have to download it from the repo. The interface will not be unified between GTK and Qt more than it’s now (actually, latest KDE integrates GTK apps much better than GNOME integrates Qt) and there still will be the almost the full bloat of GNOME 3 (which is much less bloated than GNOME 2), just without GNOME Shell and GJS.

    • True. But I still believe that shipping Qt libraries by default will help installing Qt based applications that are not necessarily KDE applications as such.

  6. Allspice worth checking out winerricks from the repositories. Magic bit of software, that’s almost like like a free CrossOver app.

  7. […] Rubén Romero: Testing software: Ubuntu 64-bit, Unity and PlayOnLinux, the new Wine-Doors? (huayra.wordpress.com) […]

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