Ubuntu 11.04 Tweaks and Hints

One of my Ubuntu desktops has dual screens with a separate system to the left running Windows. The two systems share a mouse & keyboard using Synergy, and this has worked well for the past few years. Upon upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04, a few problems arose with Synergy. By default, the Unity bar (or column, whichever you wish to call it) was set to auto-hide, and to only show itself when the mouse hits the left edge of the screen. Great, except that when the mouse reaches the left edge of the screen, Synergy takes over and puts it onto Windows and the next screen over.

Also, over the years, I’ve become accustomed to using super+l to lock the screen, and super+space to bring up Gnome-Do to launch programs. Upon upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04, Unity takes the super key for itself, and breaks/changes all other key combinations that use the super key.

Here are the tweaks that I’ve made so far to make Unity a bit more friendly. I’m writing this assuming that you already have compiz enabled (desktop effects prior to upgrading), and that you have CompizConfig Settings Manager installed.

Disable the Unity Bar from autohiding and make it narrower

Open up CompizConfig Settings Manager and search for “Ubuntu Unity Plugin”. Once there, set Hide Launcher to “Never” on the Behavior tab, and optionally set the Launcher icon size smaller on the Experimental tab (I have mine set to the lowest possible value of 32).

Change the Unity launcher key away from the Super key

On the first tab of the Ubuntu Unity Plugin screen of CCSM, change “Key to show the launcher” to something other than “<Super>”. As seen in the screenshot, I’ve set mine to “<Shift><Super>”, which is working out just fine.

Changing this has also enabled Gnome-Do to resume working via super+space and I’m able once again to set the “Lock screen” setting to super+l. (Just like on Windows. Using both systems, it’s nice to have consistency.)

Opening multiple instances of a program from the Unity Bar

This is nothing special, but it took me a bit of time to figure out. Middle clicking on the icon on the Unity Bar will launch a new window/instance of the program.

Dual Screen wallpaper

Ubuntu 11.04 has a new option for displaying wallpaper, “Span”. Time to hit up your favorite site for images that work on dual monitor setups.


  1. Kazé said,

    May 16, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

    Without this blog post, I’d probably have dropped Unity. Thanks for sharing!

  2. User said,

    May 24, 2011 @ 2:11 am

    What Kazé said, thanks Andrew!

    I like the looks of unity, but cursed it for not always showing the bar, and taking over my super key.

    Does anyone know a good replacement for the “Character Palette” gnome applet for untiy?

  3. » Gnome Do gets along with Unity Linux Sagas said,

    June 29, 2011 @ 6:13 am

    […] this time, I found an interesting article about how Andrew customized his desktop. His choice was Shift+Super.  I think that I am going to […]

  4. dimitris said,

    July 20, 2011 @ 5:06 am

    Thank you sir, very helpful

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