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Easily Configure Ubuntu’s Unity Interface With Confity [Linux]

Posted on | June 1, 2011 | No Comments

ubuntu unityCustomize Ubuntu’s new Unity desktop, all from an easy-to-use interface. Confity allows you to re-enable the Ubuntu system tray, resize or hide Ubuntu’s dock and remove the Fisher-Price color scheme.

I called Ubuntu 11.04 a big step foward for Linux, but not everyone agrees. Ubuntu’s Unity interface is brand new, and reaction to it has been mixed to say the least. Love it or hate it, however, most people agree that it could be a lot easier to customize.

It’s understandable that every element of Unity cannot yet be configured; the system is brand new, and programmers were focused more on stability than adding options. Confity, despite it’s stupid name, does make it possible for the average user to quickly change settings, however, so it’s worth a look.

System Tray

The first option seen: re-enable the system tray completely. Ubuntu is trying to eliminate the many incompatible icons in the tray gathered over the years, but you might not be ready for the transition to indicators.

Luckily for you, Confity gives you the option to completely re-enable the system tray.

Launcher

There are quite a few options in Confity related to the Unity dock:

ubuntu unity

An obvious perk is the ability to re-size the docks icons, which can really make the dock bigger or smaller overall. You can also turn off or change the icon animations, which some will appreciate.

My favorite tweak, though, is the ability to turn off the “Backlight.” Not sure what this means? That makes sense; it’s not obvious. It means, so you know, turning off the lego-colored blocks that you see. Turn it off and the colors are gone. An improvement, I think.

Panel

You can make the panel transparent, if you want. I did, and I like the look, but this is certainly more nifty than useful.

Tweaks

You’ll notice a pretty big section for tweaks:

ubuntu unity customize

What are these tweaks? Basically, you can add items to the right-click menu of various things on your system tray. For example, you can add playback controls to Banshee’s icon:

ubuntu unity customize

Keyboard Shortcuts

You can change Unity’s three main keyboard shortcuts, if you like. Some may not like the “super” button being so prominent, so change away. If nothing else you might learn the keyboard shortcuts.

Installation

Ready to make use of Confity? Installing random crap you find online is never a good idea; it’s always better to install stuff directly from the repositories. Sadly, Confity cannot be installed from any repo. It can however be found on SourceForge. Head to Confity’s SourceForge page and you’ll find some downloads. The source code is there, but you’ll probably find the .deb file easier to install, so download that. When you try to install the .deb file, you’ll see a warning. Remember: you are installing this program at your own risk. I didn’t run into any problems but you might.

Conclusion

I had fun changing my configuration, and ended up with this:

ubuntu unity

I shrank the launcher icons, turned off the launcher backlight and made the panel transparent. I think it’s an improvement over the default, but then again I’m the one who made the tweaks. That’s the best part of software like this; you can make things you already love even better.

What changes did you make? Share them in the comments below.


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