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Ubuntu 13.04 Complete Unity Desktop Review

Expectations were high for the release of Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail, but let’s see if the hype was well deserved. 13.04 delivers improved performance, and some refinements for the Unity desktop. The critics and the community have spoken, but as always I demand the final word.

Ubuntu 13.04 Default Desktop Screenshot

Ubuntu 13.04 Unity Dash Changes

The dash will now offer an all-around better experience for Unity and Ubuntu users. The Unity dash is now able to detect typo’s, and similar items will appear in your search.

Dash Preview Animations Improved

The dash preview feature added in 12.10 now looks even better. The preview feature will let you see information about the selected item inside the Unity dash. In 12.10, the next and previous items inside the dash were partially visible inside the preview mode. Now users will only see the item that is currently selected. Forward and back buttons will also be displayed where applicable.

Ubuntu 13.04 Default Desktop Screenshot

New Dash Lenses

Users will find a new photo lens and a social lens inside the Unity dash. The social lens will let you search through all of your messages from Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. With the photo lens you can easily find any image files that were indexed on your system.

Smart Scopes Delayed

Approximately 100 new smart scopes were supposed to be implemented for the release of Ubuntu 13.04. These scopes are now delayed for 13.10 which should be released in October. The new scopes are going to reside on a central server, not on individual systems. The new features will allow for improved performance and better Unity dash searches.

Ubuntu 13.04 Launcher

The launcher is another very important component of the Unity desktop, and again you will notice some enhancements.

Workspace Launcher Upgraded

The workspace switcher icon located inside the launcher has been removed to save space. After turning it back on from the behavior settings window, you can see that your current workspace is now highlighted with a simple animation.

New Launcher Icons

Some icons used by the Unity desktop launcher, and software center, have changed for this release. The new icons come from the My-Humanity icon theme which you can download from

Ubuntu 13.04 Shutdown Dialogs

Many users have already spoken about the stylish new shutdown dialogs found in Ubuntu 13.04.

Ubuntu 13.04 Default Desktop Screenshot

Completely New Appearance

The shutdown dialogs will now appear similar to the Unity desktop dash and other Unity interface components. A semi-transparent window decoration is used, leaving the desktop background showing beneath.

Ubuntu 13.04 Delivers Stylish Shutdown Dialogs

More User Interface Changes

After some searching, you may find other user interface changes that should be helpful. But to save some time, I have pointed out some of the more important updates that you will come across.

Window Snapping Animations

The Unity desktop now provides stylish new window snapping animations. This feature is seen when dragging a window to the screen edge. The window will then expand to encompass half of the screen. But that is nothing new, just watch for the cool animation that is displayed when doing so.

Ubuntu One Sync Menu

Another Unity indicator menu was added to the top panel, this time for Ubuntu One. Users can find several helpful Ubuntu One option’s inside the menu.

Bluetooth Menu Upgraded

The Bluetooth indicator menu will now include slick toggle buttons for quick access. Turn your Bluetooth connection on or off from the menu, or change your Bluetooth network visibility.

Easier Window Switching

There are now more ways for Ubuntu users to switch between their open windows. The Unity launcher application quick-list menus will now display a list of open windows. You can select the window you want from the menu to switch to it. You can also simply point to an application inside the launcher that has more than a single window open, then use the middle mouse button and scroll over the icon. You will then cycle through the open windows.

Ubuntu 13.04 System Settings Changes

Additional privacy settings were expected for the 13.04 release, but unfortunately these changes are now delayed for 13.10.

Toggle Accounts for Individual Applications

If you have online accounts for Twitter, Facebook and similar applications, then this release is for you. Users can now toggle single applications, giving them the ability to integrate with individual online accounts. So now you can let Shotwell alone can access your Facebook account for example.

Ubuntu 13.04 Review Summary

Some minor headaches and issues this time around, but nothing that I have not encountered with previous versions. Swap mounts on installation, at least when encryption is enabled. This provides our first epic failure, with more to come. A blinking cursor instead of booting, repeatedly. Glitchy software, privacy concerns, cannot install, and won’t boot if you can install. Wubi is gone, Flash works occasionally, and the idea of the upcoming Mir display server scares me to death. Dogs and cats, living together. Mass hysteria! Of course, all the problems I experienced cannot be blamed on Ubuntu or Canonical.

Let the Performance Do the Talking

The primary focus of the 13.04 release is improved performance. I was not shocked by any of the new features, but I did notice a slight speed boost. It appears that many users have expected more out of this release, even in regard to performance. Users with older hardware are more likely to notice the notice the changes thankfully. This suggests why I was left out.

Business or Pleasure?

After attempting to download Ubuntu 13.04, you may notice the new intrusive request for donations. When the donate button appears far larger than the download button, we have a problem. Rumor suggests that Mark Shuttlesworth has sold his soul to the devil. I may have done the same, but my duties remain purely ceremonial.

Ubuntu 13.04 Default Desktop Screenshot

Where Can We Turn?

I must say, I am left without a safe haven for my precious data to reside. As a long time daily Ubuntu user, I find myself unable to tolerate the traumatic Ubuntu experiences lately. Linux Mint 15 appears to be a viable alternative, review coming soon.

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