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I can’t get used to the new Unity system. I’d like to move the left Unity panel to the bottom of screen (like Windows 7 – more similar is better).

But I can't find a way. Is it possible?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 92 down vote accepted

11.10

There is now an unofficial Compiz Plugin that allows you to move the Unity 3D (not Unity 2D) launcher from the left to the bottom.

enter image description here

Credit to WebUpd8.

In summary:

  1. You can now peruse the source-code. Contact the maintainer with suggested fixes! Remember this is unofficial and can & probably will have many bugs still to be ironed out.
  2. Install the PPA - ppa:paullo612/unityshell-rotated
  3. The packages to install are unityshell-rotated libnux-1.0-0
  4. A new plugin Ubuntu Unity Plugin Rotated will be made available in CCSM
  5. There is a likelihood of freezes on installation. If this occurs use CTRL+ALT+F1 to start a TTY, login and restart lightdm with sudo service lightdm restart. Rerun ccsm to enable the new plugin
  6. This plugin replaces the official Unity Plugin. You will obviously not receive further bugfixes from the Ubuntu development team - you will be reliant on the PPA maintainer to supply bug-fixes

warning please see this Q&A as to potential stability issues using CCSM


Linked Questions:

  1. What are PPAs and how do I use them?
  2. Source code
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@fossfreedom Can i restore the Official Unity Plugin incase i decide to revert back??( I use 12.04 now) –  Nirmik May 19 '12 at 6:01
1  
I've headlined the answer as 11.10 - it is applicable only to 11.10 (no 12.04 PPA as yet). For 11.10 users - yes you can revert because the standard plugin exists in CCSM to be chosen (reactivated). –  fossfreedom May 19 '12 at 6:40
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Well. Ok. This moves it to the bottom. What about the right side? I'd like it to be on the right the way like the Wharf Bar in AfterStep. –  Ivan Apr 17 at 19:17
    
@Ivan - note - the answer is headlined 11.10. Other answers for newer questions exist. However you should note - right hand side launchers are not available unless you are using a right-to-left language such as arabic and hebrew. –  fossfreedom Apr 17 at 19:19

12.04 and newer

As of 12.04 you can not move the launcher, and there’s no official support for that.

This is by design, and so far, there are no Canonical plans to change that. Here’s a quote from Mark on the bug report for Ubuntu 11.04:

I think the report actually meant that the launcher should be movable to other edges of the screen. I’m afraid that won’t work with our broader design goals, so we won’t implement that. We want the launcher always close to the Ubuntu button.

I interpret that as a stand that a consistent design must be experienced as a Unity (pun intended), or it won't work at all.

While I personally disagree with Mark’s/Canonical’s decision not to provide a way to move the launcher (please read my final note on this), I do understand the design choice: it truly makes sense for it to be on the side and not at the bottom. Most users today have a widescreen monitor, and virtually all monitors for sale, specially for end-user consumer market, are widescreen too. That means the vast majority of users have lots of extra horizontal space (mostly underused), while vertical space is premium.

Most apps and websites do not use your whole screen width (check the large vertical background bars in both sides of screen of Ask Ubuntu, for example). But they do use the full vertical length (actually, they scroll 3, 5, 10 times your screen height). Meaning lots and lots of scrolling. And then you subtract title bar, menu bar, favorites bar, tabs bar, etc., all of them sucking up your precious vertical space. So adding the launcher on top/bottom would make things even worse, while there’s plenty of extra, “idle” horizontal space.

There is an ongoing, strong movement in app development, specially browsers, towards reducing the number of bars and merging them together. Think about how Firefox changed in this regard in the last few years. So it makes sense for an OS to do the same.

True, Windows’ panel is a well-crafted one… but the design choice of Unity to put it at side and not the bottom is a wise one, once you get used to it. And it’s worth doing so. Your mouse wheel will say thanks ;)

That said, some important notes:

  • I am just expressing Mark’s/Canonical’s statements and point of view. While I do understand the design choice, and I do agree with a side launcher, I certainly do not agree with the decision of not being able to move it. But I’m just a messenger. Don’t shoot the messenger.

  • There are unofficial, third-party packages that allow you to move the launcher. This other answer covers that in great depth.

  • You can, at least, have some control over the launcher in a multi-monitor setup:

Unity launcher multi-monitor settings

(image edited from Ubuntu Vibes)

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37  
If you’re wondering, the “Ubuntu button” (a.k.a. “BFB”) mentioned by Mark in the quote is apparently a button that was in the top-left of the screen at the time of his comment. Now it is on the launcher itself, at the top. Since it would thus move with the launcher, it no longer helps to justify Mark’s design choice. –  Rory O'Kane Jul 3 '12 at 17:51
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On multi-monitor setups, the bar on the side is demonstrably inferior to on the bottom (provided the bar is on a screen that has another screen to the left of it, as the center screen in a 3-screen setup would). The launcher is now "out in space" and no longer enjoying the Fitts' Law infinite sized screen edge. Sticky edges attempt to make that edge a wider target, but it's still a poor substitute for a hard stop. –  Legion Jul 26 '12 at 2:51
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@RoryO'Kane Also the wide display is not a justification neither, since you may be using auto hide panel as I do, so it does not stole no single pixel to other apps. –  Fran Dec 17 '12 at 14:14
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I have my primary monitor rotated so that it is vertical and so the launcher actually eats away precious space in the limited dimension, which is a shame. –  Burhan Ali Mar 25 '13 at 12:54
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@BurhanAli: I also have a sweet 24" monitor with pivot that I love to put in portrait mode, so I do share your pain and I also regret Mark's/Canonnical's decision. Autohide helps, but does not solve th issue. A placement option would surely make us "corner-case" users way more happy :) –  MestreLion Mar 26 '13 at 3:13

You can't move the launcher from where it is. Here is a comment from Mark Shuttleworth:

I think the report actually meant that the launcher should be movable to other edges of the screen. I'm afraid that won't work with our broader design goals, so we won't implement that. We want the launcher always close to the Ubuntu button.

As an alternative, you can use Cairo-Dock Install Cairo-dock:

Cairo-Dock is a pretty, fast and customizable desktop interface. You can see it as a good alternative/addition to Unity, Gnome-Shell, Xfce-panel, KDE-panel, etc After 6 months of hard work, a new version of Cairo-Dock is available (Source: http://www.glx-dock.org/).

Other alternatives that offers you a launcher at the bottom of the screen: Cinnamon, LXDE, and so on.

This is a screenshot of my Cinnamon desktop (as you can see the launcer is at the bottom):

Cinnamon desktop

As you can see, Linux is full about choices!

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6  
The funny thing about that quote though, is that it was made back in the day of Natty. They've since moved the Ubuntu button onto the launcher itself, making that argument null. –  Seth Jun 30 '13 at 15:17
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So now that the argument is null, is there a way, in 13.04+? –  digitalextremist Feb 4 at 17:03
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@digitalextremist: nope, and not up to 14.04. –  MestreLion Jun 4 at 11:08

protected by Oli Apr 29 '11 at 23:45

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