Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unity 5.2: What's new, and a call for testing

It's been a few weeks since the last drop of unity, and now the unity team has readied the new version of unity 5.2. Let's walk through how to preview the new features unity 5.2 is bringing, and help test those features using checkbox! Checkbox allows you to get your feedback straight into the hands of the unity developers and report any problems your system may have with the new version of unity. First let's talk a little bit about what's new. Note that these features only exist for right now in Unity 3D.
  • Multi-monitor support
    • You will now see launchers on each of your monitor, and when you scroll across a monitor, you should feel some resistance in order to allow for you to use the launcher on that screen.
  • New screen edge detection
    • To invoke the launcher, you now need to push (or "scroll into") against the left of the screen, rather than hover for X seconds. No more hitting the back button in firefox and having the launcher pop up in your way!
Feedback is appreciated on these features especially. Utilize #ubuntu-unity on freenode and checkbox feedback form to let the developers know how they work for you.

Prerequisites: Make sure you are running the latest version of precise, and all your packages are up to date. Unfortunately this cannot be installed on oneiric or any previous ubuntu release. 

Also, unity 5.2 did not ship with "the HUD" sadly. So if you have been testing the HUD you will need to use ppa-purge to remove and downgrade your packages. See this post for information on using ppa-purge if you need help doing so.

1) Add the unity ppa (https://launchpad.net/~unity-team/+archive/ppa). You can do this by issuing the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:unity-team/ppa

2) Update apt and run a dist upgrade -- this should prompt you to upgrade unity and some indicators as well as install checkbox-unity.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

3) Restart your unity session by logging out and logging back in again.

Ok, hopefully the upgrade went smooth for you, but if not, head over to freenode #ubuntu-unity channel and let folks know what went wrong.

So, now that your up and running you can run the through the manual tests the unity team has prepared. Open the dash and type 'unity testing'. The Checkbox Unity Tests should launch. Checkbox will gather some information on your system and then ask you which tests you wish to run. Once complete you will see a link containing your system report and an option to publish it to launchpad. Use the text box below the link to enter your launchpad email address and then hit submit. This will ensure your results and feedback go to the unity developers.

Please ensure you have finished and submitted your testing results ASAP. The testing window will be closed this Thursday at 8am UTC, in order to give the unity developers time to finish fixing the bugs found. Then unity 5.2 will be pushed to precise and coding on Unity 5.4 will begin.

Filing Bugs
Please file bugs against unity package in launchpad (https://bugs.launchpad.net/unity/+filebug). When filing, please make sure to tag your bug '5.2-rc1' and mention your running Unity 5.2-rc1 in your description.

Final Thoughts
Don't hesitate to reach out to the unity team on IRC #ubuntu-unity on freenode at any time or to follow the latest in unity development. Thanks for helping test ubuntu and unity!


  1. What exactly do you mean "push against the left of the screen"? Is Unity detecting cursor speed?

    1. Jay, you must scroll into the left of the screen in order for the launcher to open -- this is a change from previous unity versions. If you simply mouse to the edge it doesn't appear.

    2. haha. still not getting it. can you post a shot clip on what exactly has changed? this has been one of the many things that bugged me about unity!

    3. If you go thru the unity tests it also has a test for this launcher reveal. The design and concept is explained here:


  2. Basically is "hold" you cursor on the edge, even while you keep moving your mouse (or finger). It measures both the speed and length of time you do this to determine a "push" value.

  3. Both these issues were a pain. Glad to hear that they are fixed now. Will test. Thanks.

  4. What about Unity2D, will that also get the new features in time for Precise?

    1. Unity2D generally tries to implement as many features as Unity3D as possible or otherwise emulate them. I do not know the timeline nor what features are being targeted for the precise release.

  5. Multi-monitor is annoying now and getting more worse, I want *one* bar on one of my monitors and nothing else.
    I definitely don't want another launcher ...
    Unity is evil on big screens, unstable on my Thinkpad R500 with docking and external monitor + laptop screen. My oneiric setup is the most frusttrating experience since Windows 95, not a day without crashes. Makes me think of changing to Windows 7 after 10 Years of using Linux as my OS.
    Switching off monitors for energy saving is not useable - the ui crashes on resume. On suspend there is a 50% chance the ui crashes. Sound crashes occasionally. Keyboard shortcuts are working only occasionally. Desktop switching on empty desktops via keyboard works only occasionally. Refocussing the desktop works only occasionally.
    All on well hung standard hardware.
    *Please* avoid annoying new features and make this crap stable, stable, stable. I need this system working.

    1. Please don't go back to Windows. If you don't get a stable Ubuntu: Think about Mint.

    2. The name of the game for this cycle is definitely quality and stability. Multi-monitor support in unity is being looked at hard this cycle and this is the first part of making it a good experience. If your in a position to help test, please do so and file bugs as noted above. There are many testcases to walkthru that if cause problem on your machine can then be looked at and hopefully fixed.

  6. Love it. Especially for Firefox!

    Launcher reveal could be implemented better though. (it may work wonders using touchpad)

    1) Maybe previous implementation as default and this as an optional.

    2) Better still make it that the launcher will comes out if the cursor is in the middle left edge or below of it.

  7. i am using MATE at Mint, but with a precise install in other aprtition and Unity at Mint as an option, I do like to use some PPA lens some times.

    Does this PPA works with Mint12?
    I can try to test it at my Mint, Precise is not working well - at this moment - in my computer.

    1. The ppa is meant to be installed on Ubuntu Precise. I am sorry to hear precise is not running well for you but it is still in development. With that said, it feels real stable for me at the moment.

  8. Just took dual monitors for a spin with latest beta.

    I love Unity but not when my mouse stops right at the middle of the screen. This needs some kind of config option to disable the pause where they meet. It is pretty frustrating. How can I turn it off?

    1. There is! Goto system settings, displays. There you can turn off sticky edges as well as control which screens the launcher appears on :-) In addition, check out the appearance applet in the behavior tab. There are options in there you might find useful.