Saturday, May 26, 2012

Surviving upgrade to Ubuntu 12.04

I installed Ubuntu 11.10 as a second system on my new PC some time ago, but never had time to fix all the issues with it. One of them was a problem with Logitech wireless USB headset, which was just not working for some reason. Updates and some tweaks did not help, so yesterday I decided to upgrade to the latest Ubuntu 12.04.

What a huge mistake!!!

I was using GNOME desktop - never could get used to the new Unity UI - it was just too limited. After the upgrade my GNOME session was completely broken! The display resolution dropped to default. The two monitors configuration was lost switching to the mirrored option. Windows did not have borders and title bars, they could not be moved or resized, which was especially annoying when I tried to change screen resolution and desktop configuration - I just could not get to the option I needed, as it was out of the screen! Any change to the UI settings (like an attempt to add more workspaces) broke something. A couple times I got an empty desktop without any controls - I could not even log off or restart the system properly! The keyboard shortcuts did not work - in such an empty desktop situation I could not start the terminal. It was a disaster! The system became absolutely unusable!

Luckily I could at least start a browser and access Internet. With help from Google I could fix some issues. The key was to start CompizConfig Settings Manager, which I already had installed - most of the problems with UI are due to the disabled settings there. I enabled Window Decorations in the Effects section; Move Window, Resize Window, and Application Switcher in the Window Management. After that I could at least use the UI. Apparently fixing keyboard shortcuts was not that easy though, as in 12.04 they are handled some special way, and in the GNOME desktop they are simply broken. There were other things still not working properly, so I had to bite the bullet and switch to the standard Unity UI.

Unfortunately this did not fix all the issues. Keyboard shortcuts with the Windows (Super) key did not work, changing those in System Settings - Keyboard - Shortcuts did not have any effect. Looks like the Super key is assigned to Unity, and cannot be used for anything else! Pressing Super+1..9 starts the corresponding shortcut from the launcher, and this overrides any other assignments. I was always using Super+1..4 to switch between the workspaces, and just could not live without it, so had to make it work somehow. Apparently the only way to change that is to completely remove the Super key assignment from the Unity. It can be done in the CompizConfig Settings Manager: Desktop - Unity - Key to show the launcher. After that some shortcuts with the Super key start working - now I can switch between the workspaces, but some keys are still lost. Super+E, which I used to open the Home folder, is still not working. Well, have to use Ctrl+Alt+E for now until I find the solution.

Another annoying thing, which I found, was the mouse sticking at the edge of the monitor when it's moving from one display to another. Luckily it's just an option. Open System Settings - Displays, and turn off the Sticky edges. Another option there, which one might want to change too, is the Launcher placement. I didn't want it to show on both monitors, and thanks to Ubuntu developers, this is customizable.

Well, these are just the first steps with the "latest and greatest" Ubuntu. I'm sure I will find more changes in the system, which break my usual workflow, but at least now it is more or less usable. Oh, and my wireless headset is now working! I have not yet tried the other sound devices though. :)

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