HOWTO: Configure Ubuntu's Unity Launcher

/howto-configure-ubuntus-unity-launcher 2011-05-01T08:54:09+01:00

So I've recently updated my Ubuntu installation to 11.04 (Natty) and I'm starting to come to terms with the new Unity interface. I think I might like it, though I've not used it in anger (ie for $work) just yet, so we'll see if I change my mind at a later date.

One thing I have discovered though is it's actually quite hard to change any of the Unity settings. I couldn't find any configuration or preference applications anywhere, and right clicking on certain locations doesn't bring up a menu from which you can select "Preferences" or similar.

Well, today, after a lot of digging, I discovered a way to change some of the Unity settings, specifically the Launcher's behaviour settings. The Launcher is the list of icons on the left of the screen by default.

Unity is actually a Compiz plugin from what I can see so accordingly, you need to configure it like you would other Compiz features...

  1. Install CompizConfig Settings Manager if it's not installed already (it probably isn't)...
    $ sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
  2. Use Unity to find and launch the CompizConfig Settings Manager (super+a and search for Compiz):

    Find CompizConfig Settings Manager

  3. Select "Desktop" in the left column and "Ubuntu Unity Plugin" on the right:

    CompizConfig Settings Manager - Desktop

  4. Make your desired changes in the two tabs available. Behaviour:

    Ubuntu Unity Plugin - Behaviour

    ... and Experimental ...

    Ubuntu Unity Plugin - Experimental

As you can see, things are a little sparse and there doesn't seem to be very much you can change, though the one thing I wanted to change - the size - is there. Maybe we'll see more options appear in the future.

The rest of the Unity desktop behaviour seems to be governed by other Compiz plugins, so be sure to have a look around the other enabled plugins within CompizConfig Settings Manager.

The theme settings are still configured like they were before, so there's nothing new on that side of things.

Adding icons to the launcher is as simple as dragging and dropping. Removing them involves right clicking and unticking "Keep in Launcher" or simply drag it to the trash can.

I've not found any other ways to configure Unity yet, but I'll keep looking. If you know of any other configuration settings, please let me know.

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