So I've recently updated the Ubuntu installation on my laptop to 11.04 (Natty) and I'm starting to come to terms with the new Unity interface. I think I might like it, mostly because it is very similar to how I've set up my Mac, though I've not used it in anger (ie for work) just yet, so we'll see if I change my mind.

One thing I have discovered though is it's actually quite hard to change any of the Unity settings. I couldn't find any configuration or preference applications anywhere, and right clicking on certain locations doesn't bring up a menu from which you can select "Preferences" or similar.

Unity is actually a Compiz plugin from what I can see so accordingly, you need to configure it like you would other Compiz features...

  1. Install CompizConfig Settings Manager if it's not installed already:
$ sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

2. Use Unity to find and launch the CompizConfig Settings Manager (super+a and search for Compiz)

  1. Select "Desktop" in the left column and "Ubuntu Unity Plugin" on the right

Login Screen

Update: actually, instead of trying to get slim to work on 11.04, it's easier to use Ubuntu Tweak. Since Ubuntu 9.10, installing new login screen themes or changing the login window appearances is not as easy as before. There’s no powerful GDM login manager do change login appearances as you like.

So I dug around and found an alternative login manager for X11 called SLiM.  It's desktop-independent and completely configurable through themes and an option file; is suitable for machines on which remote login functionalities are not needed. It can instead GDM to customize your own login screen appearances.


Run the command in Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal:

sudo apt-get install slim

while installation, it asks for choosing a login manager between GDM and SLiM, just choose SLiM. If you change your mind and want to change the default login manager back to GDM, run:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm

Customize a login theme

You can download a SLiM login theme from http://slim.berlios.de/themes01.php Or create a theme (read http://slim.berlios.de/themes_howto.php):

  • a background image (background.png or background.jpg)
  • a panel image (panel.png or panel.jpg)
  • input box(es) and messages and their placement and properties (slim.theme)

Now, let’s change the login theme:

  1. Put the downloaded/created theme under /usr/share/slim/themes
  2. Edit /etc/slim.conf
# current theme, use comma separated list to specify a set to
# randomly choose from
current_theme debian-moreblue-orbit

To select a random a theme, replace the theme name with couple themes separated with “,”(without quotes).

To Preview the theme:

slim -p /usr/share/slim/themes/NAME
On 15 May 2011