Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak has landed and brings with it the Unity 8 technical preview desktop session. Unity 8 has been the face of the Ubuntu phone and tablet for a few years and has quickly evolved its convergence feature set to allow it to work seamlessly between form factors such as phones, tablets and desktops. You can now chose to log in to a Unity 8 session directly from the greeter.
The current experience comes with a minimal set of applications; a browser, terminal and systems settings. Here are a few things you might like to try to flesh out your Unity 8 session and get the most from it.
Unity 8 is designed from the ground up to work well with touch based displays. Try pressing three fingers on a window to open the touch friendly controls. You can move and resize windows with controls which work well for a touchscreen.
Unity 8 ships with only the Apps scope enabled by default. There are many others installed and you can enable them by:
You can browse and play your media directly from Scopes or launch the Media Player app. Make sure you have some supported media in your Music and Videos directories first.
sudo apt install mediaplayer-app mediascanner2.0 unity-scope-mediascanner2 ubuntu-restricted-extras
It wasn’t possible to include all the Unity 8 core apps in the 16.10 image but you can easily install some additional apps as Snaps and from a PPA.
These Snap apps are cutting edge and will be updated frequently. Because they are packaged as Snaps you will not be stuck with the version of the app which shipped with 16.10, they will be frequently updated and you will benefit from the freshest version as soon as they are available. (There is a known issue with Snaps opening two windows. This will be fixed soon.) Once you have installed the apps pull down the Apps Scope to refresh.
sudo snap install --edge --devmode gallery-app
sudo snap install --edge --devmode camera-app
sudo snap install --edge --devmode address-book-app
sudo snap install --edge --devmode ubuntu-calendar-app
You can also add this PPA to give you access to other Unity 8 apps which are built as .deb packages:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:convergent-apps/testing
sudo apt update
sudo apt install music-app
sudo apt install ubuntu-calculator-app
sudo apt install ubuntu-docviewer-app
Unity 8 uses the Mir display server but many older applications need the Xorg display server to work. To support these applications you can install Libertine which will create a container to host the applications and Xmir to provide the Xorg display server. Install the Libertine packages from the archive by typing:
sudo apt install libertine libertine-scope libertine-tools
Once installed you will see the Libertine manager icon in the Apps Scope.
Mir runs on vty8, whereas Xorg runs on vty7. If you switch to a text console (e.g. vty1) and want to get back to your Unity 8 graphical session press ctrl-alt-f8.
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