Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at 05:53

This is the first part of my review and here I talk about its Look and Feel or let me word it panorama. First, I present you here a video I name it Ubuntu 20.04 in One Minute that reveals to you the panorama of this amazing computer operating system including desktop animation effects and how one interacts with everything inside it. Second, I present you long explanations following it to emphasize the improvements since the age of Hardy Heron version twelve years ago. In panorama, it got so many changes in order to make it just works for most people yet still unique with its own humanity for human beings. So, let's go to the review and see you in the next part!

(Ubuntu 20.04 in One Minute - a video that portrays the desktop, start menu, system tray, panels, wallpapers, effects & animations, System Settings, and workspaces; dedicated to amuse everyone in this Corona pandemic)

< Preamble | Part I | Part II | Part III >
< Download Links | Install Guide | Afterinstall | Basics | Unity | Education >

  • Identity.
  • Menu.
  • Activities.
  • Searching.
  • Headerbars. 
  • Office suite.
  • Wallpapers and themes.
  • Missing things.
  • Computers and laptops.

 (This is panorama of a desktop computer running Ubuntu 20.04 operating system also known as Focal Fossa - notice the sharp colors and smooth forms it serves) (Picture 1.1)

Ubuntu panorama is now changed so much since the age of Hardy. It left Human theme set into Yaru these days - from orangeish brown-white in the past into greyish pink-white now. This is the new identity.

(Hardy - Nautilus file manager on left and System Identity on right - all blended in Human desktop theme) (Picture 1.2)

(Focal - Nautilus on left and Ubuntu Software on right and notice it is already Yaru right now) (Picture 1.3)

Accessing applications is now simplified using the large start menu symbolized by nine dots on bottom. A big benefit also is that now Super key works to open this menu and it's not unusable anymore. When you often use an app, you Favorite it to the left panel. You do not check multiple categories every time anymore unlike on Hardy.

(Applications Menu - similar to Android's way of running apps) (Picture 1.4)

Work with apps is now using Activities button on top corner. Multitasking works with Workspaces that appear on right edge - as we simply drag window and click over workspaces to do that. One more great thing is you can run pinned apps by pressing Super followed by numbers.

(Busy - this view is called Activities Overview with three apps running on current workspace and seven more running on different workspaces beside - once again similar to Android's way to present running apps) (Picture 1.5)

Accessing files and folders is still with Files the beloved file manager of Ubuntu which on Hardy it was named Nautilus. It is clearly simpler now. No menubar, no toolbar, no statusbar either. Its the 3rd position on left panel. Now everything is done by that black topping you see on this screenshot - where the buttons back|forward - address - blank space - search - views - preferences - close all took place. It also does not show disk partitions as they are now hidden under + Other Locations section. The biggest improvement is the search is now excellently faster. Try it!

(Files version 3.36 right now leaving its legendary predecessor Nautilus version 2.22 on Hardy) (Picture 1.6)

Browsing the internet is now up to Firefox version 75 compared to Hardy age version 3.0. It supports thousands of addons right now including the amazing uBlock Origin, HTTPS Everywhere, and so on. It grows to accept new search engines aside from Google namely DuckDuckGo and Startpage - which respect user's privacy more. It plays out of the box many multimedia formats including mp3 and mp4 now. And of course it plays YouTube without asking for additional codecs.

(With this old Firefox many of us started knowing the internet) (Picture 1.7)

(It has been transformed so much in 2020 - notice the logo is different now and also no menubar neither statusbar) (Picture 1.8)

Just search, everything is connected to your Super key. For example, type photo and you find Image Viewer or type screen and you find either Screenshot or settings related to your display. Continuing the start menu above, it's fairly like the examples here, now you just type anything and it appears on your screen. It's as simple as that. Interestingly, it also searches into sections in Settings and also your files and folders. 

(Searching - this one is unlike Android - now the system improves a lot to display better and find faster) (Picture 1.9)

App windows toppings are now larger and darker with everything simplified. This means no menubars anymore in Ubuntu Applications. This is the great change since Hardy age. Did you notice that?

(Headerbars - this is honestly now a trend among Apple and Android products - a thick titlebar with everything on it to get rid of menubars and also toolbars which are considered obsolete - notice the position of search and navigation buttons) (Picture 1.10)

Now Ubuntu office suite features Word 2007-like toolbars which are loved by many as you may see below. I also like this toolbar style. It is not anymore but LibreOffice - a fortunate, professional and surviving free software now everyone enjoys the benefits. We can learn so much here that our community decision ten years ago to save from proprietary company was right and now we are the witnesses of this successful free software.

( 2.4 with Writer, Calc, and Impress running on Hardy - do you remember those sweet days?) (Picture 1.11)

(LibreOffice, a successor which surpasses, version 6 with Ribbon toolbar style) (Picture 1.12)

Ubuntu now eases us by adding open in terminal feature everywhere. This means in your home directory, system, partitions, external hard drives, anywhere else you can instantly invoke commands as you wish without fusses anymore. This extends functionalities without limits! This feature didn't exist on Hardy.

(Terminal & Nautilus - they are now one click away) (Picture 1.13)

Changing wallpaper is now integrated within Settings and not in separate modules anymore but it's still just a right click away. However,  Specifically this control panel will be discussed in the next part.

(Right-click & desktop wallpaper - Focal still keep context menu in one hand and Change Background feature on the other hand) (Picture 1.14)

Changing theme is now simplified too. If Hardy offered multiple ones, Focal only offers three namely Light - Standard - Dark. If Hardy offered theme customizations built-in, Focal does not. The idea is easy to grasp, Ubuntu wants to be just work and assume that users do less customization - by the proof of separate application available if you want to install and customize themes.

(Appearance Preferences - remember this? It is where we switch desktop theme and also enable 3D cube on Hardy.) (Picture 1.15)

(Settings | Appearance - this is the theme switcher as well as left panel visuals adjustment on Focal) (Picture 1.16)

Speaking a little bit technical, GNOME is the name of Ubuntu panorama. You see Ubuntu you see GNOME. It is unchanged since the old age. However, it is now version 3.36 (see its official video) on Focal compared to version 2.22 (read its release) on Hardy. For you didn't know, every GNU plus Linux system like Ubuntu separates between its system and appearance unlike Microsoft Windows so we find that here the user interface is actually an independent product from The GNOME Project.

(GNOME 3.36 - Ubuntu Focal browses the official website of its own user interface) (Picture 1.17)

Missing things exist which maybe make us feel a little bit emotional such as dragging icons to desktop, create new panel, file manager's split vertical, 3D cubes, wobbly windows, and the excellent old user manual which was really educating for user. Outside of  these, of course we missed Canonical's ShipIt program which sent freely Ubuntu CDs worldwide that I believe made this alternative operating system popular. I was a recipient of their CDs among so many other recipients. Were you?

(Right showing Ubuntu website promoting Dell XPS laptops with Focal and left showing newly branded laptops proudly selling with Focal as well) (Picture 1.18)

Finally, to close this first part, very happy news coming from computer manufacturers as now more Ubuntu laptops and PCs we can purchase compared to the old age with Hardy. Many of them are now coming with certifications too - that means even if they come not with Ubuntu we are guaranteed to have Ubuntu running on them finely. You can read this official news to see the processes behind. They grow in numbers and qualities. This is the outside panorama fortunately we can see the reality these days. To all these vendors I wish you all success!
(Right is Tuxedo Computer's BA15 and left is LaptopWithLinux's where both companies gives us freedom to preorder Ubuntu 20.04 as the operating system) (Picture 1.17)

Do you want to know things left unchanged?
  • Screenshot - pressing Alt and Printscreen keys is still taking current window as well as pressing Shift instead is taking a free rectangle area.
  • Audio and video playbacks - Rhythmbox and Totem are still here however changed they are.
  • Utilities - even Baobab disk usage analyzer is still here although Brasero cd burner is no more. Of course File Roller archive manager is still here too.
  • Titlebar's context menu - right-click on windows' toppings still work.

(Focal Utilities - they are now numbered sixteen tools listed under utilities group on your applications menu) (Picture 1.18)

To be continued to part II...

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.