Today we’ll have a look at the last of the three young remix versions based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. According to Ubuntu Unity’s website, their remix is geared towards users who stayed with the Unity desktop and want to continue using it. The last LTS version with Unity was 16.04, the support of which will end next year. Ubuntu Unity promises an easy to install out of the box experience with a modern look based on the Yaru GTK theme and the Papirus icon theme. It includes, of course, the famous HUD and global menu that set Unity apart from other desktop environments.
The project is still in it’s infancy and the website is just a couple of months old. To download Ubuntu Unity we are offered links to MediaFire or MEGA or alternatively a torrent download option. I first tried the MEGA option but that stopped with an error that I had exceeded my quota. Seems one needs an account with them in order to be able to use it. I then went with the torrent option and that worked well. The ISO size is a whopping 3.4 GB and thus by far the largest I have come across to date. Let’s have a look and see if there is enough content to match the download.
Ubuntu Unity booted up quite fast in my virtual box. It had it’s own nice splash screen and the process finished with a sound jingle as the desktop appeared. As usual, the first thing I did was check htop. It wasn’t installed by default so I added it and then had to rub my eyes and go clean my glasses. It showed 1.49 GB RAM usage at idle, as well as 111 tasks and 291 threads! I couldn’t believe it so I signed out and back in again but the numbers stayed the same. Opening the System Monitor confirmed the numbers and also showed the 4 cores idling at around 10% base load on average. These numbers are quite concerning. Oddly, the system monitor numbers didn’t give an indication what was using up all the resources and after opening a few apps, the system became completely unresponsive due to RAM shortage and I had to shut it down. I proceeded with a full reboot of my system just to eliminate any other reason for the issue but the result was the same.
Having a look at the installed applications gives us some indication to the ISO size. There are several duplicate applications for the same tasks. We get file manager Nemo, that was made default by popular demand but Nautilus is also included. We get Geary for emails but also Thunderbird. We also get the Unity Tweak tool by default with several pre installed GTK and icon themes to choose from. These do add some weight to an installation but still doesn’t really account for the 3.4 GB ISO. We also get the full LibreOffice suite as well as Shotwell for photos, Rhythembox for music and Totem for videos. There are also two Time & Date settings, a Gnome and a Unity version it seems. Maybe one was due to the live session, I wasn’t sure. The Unity Tweak tool wasn’t fully functional. Changing icon size had no effect and the click to minimize apps on the launcher did not work either.
As the system was quite unresponsive I decided to cut my time short with this review. This is already version 4 of the release and according to their website the one that should be used for production machines. From what I have seen so far this is not production ready yet. Testing it solely in a virtual machine might not give a correct picture but as I could not find any negative notes on this scenario I am assuming the issues run deeper. I feel this has been released too soon and with too much promise. Had it been labeled beta, I think it would have received a greater positive feedback. It appears this remix is mainly developed by one person, Rudra Saraswat which is no small feat. I feel he has been trying to please too many people which lead to the bloat. First priority should be to take a clear direction and trim things down to the essentials. Hopefully he will be able to motivate more developers to help him polish this remix up. There are still many Unity fans out there. For now, I would wait and see how it develops and wish the project the best of luck!