Workflow with Unity

June 02, 2015

Ever since I started using linux in 2006, I have been on the quest for a perfect working environment. I used Gnome and KDE for many years. I eventually started programming much more often, and, eventually, I found tiling window managers. I used i3 for many years including up to this last year on my Macbook Air. I spent many months configuring i3 itself, Emacs, Chrome, etc. until I felt it was the most optimized that it could be.

A couple months ago, I ended up upgrading to a 28” 4k monitor and that changed everything. i3 no longer made sense, different programs were of different font sizes, and things were just plain weird with so many pixels. I wanted to find something like Mac’s retina scaling and interface, but something that allowed me to have complete control using the keyboard — no mouse at all.

I went back to Googling about the current state of desktop environments, how they had progressed, and how linux was preparing for 4k.

Enter Unity

I remember whenever Ubuntu started the switch to Unity and it caused an uproar. It was slow, buggy, and people just wanted Gnome 2. It has, however, matured into a much better DE. It is in fact, the only one I have found to be a pleasure to use on a 4k monitor. It provides proper scaling that can be acutely adjusted, and with the tweak tools you can customize pretty much everything.

Additionally, the keyboard shortcuts seem very well thoughtful. They do not interfere with Emacs, zsh, Chrome, etc. and are really easy to remember. There is also a nice quick help menu if you hold down your super key.

So, as people continue getting more and more screens with more density, give Unity another chance! Hopefully, they just strip the Amazon integrations now…

Written by Joseph Furlott who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. I am a software engineer that specializes in designing and building web applications using React. I work at Datadog as a software engineer.

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