Some feedback after discovering Budgie with 19.10


First of all, thanks to the Budgie and Ubuntu Budgie devs for their good work. Here’s my short story. As a geeky teenager, back in the 2000’s, I used to tinker a lot on Linux. Then I moved on to other sources of entertainment, and nearly a decade passed. I returned to the free world last year, on more serious ground, and things had changed quite a lot. In particular, when I saw there was a new Ubuntu flavor called Budgie, I was skeptical at first. I thought, what’s its purpose on the (quite crowded) desktop scene? What’s Budgie’s identity compared to other desktop environments ?

Then I tried Ubuntu Budgie 19.10 on a virtual machine and was quite favorably impressed. It runs well, seems lightweight and stable enough for what I could see, looks good, and is quite customizable. In a way, it looks a bit like what Gnome 3 could have been, had it not opted for a seemingly touchscreen-as-default approach, and gone for minimalism at the expense of user choice.

So, again, Budgie was a pleasant surprise. And as such, Ubuntu Budgie is in the roster of distros I may settle for when the next batch of LTS is delivered.

Now, I have a couple questions…

  1. To what extent does the team commit to supporting applets ? Are they mere goodies, offered but not actively supported, or genuine parts of the experience, tested before each release ?

    For instance, I’m a pixel-saving maniac, and as such I’m really fond of my Unity-style top panel, with a global menu and window control buttons replacing the titlebar of maximized windows. As it happens, Budgie has a global menu and a pixel-saver applet, so it passes the test. Only MATE and KDE compete in that regard. However, since I’d have to rely on additional applets to achieve this outcome (and Budgie pixel-saver requires enabling backports), I’d be afraid to suddenly seeing my layout breaking after an upgrade. This is a problem with, say, Gnome 3’s extensions ; meanwhile, Ubuntu MATE officially supports and advertises alternative layouts, so I can have some level of confidence in it regarding future maintenance of the required panel applets.

    What’s Ubuntu Budgie’s take on the question? Do you maintain applets listed in the Budgie Applets application?

  2. I read somewhere that Budgie 11 was supposed to get a workspace overview similar to Mac OS X’s Mission Control, Gala’s Multitasking View, or Gnome 3’s Activities overview. Or Xfdashboard, for that matter. That is, not just a windows overview (like the Preview feature currently available), but a combination of this plus a workspace switcher with the ability to reallocate windows across workspaces. Right now, this is the one missing thing in Budgie, and in my opinion one of the best innovations of “modern” desktops, whatever their flaws may else be. When you get used to that workflow… it’s difficult not to miss it.

    Is this feature still in order, and if so is there an ETA? Like the next LTS, or 20.10, or later…

And then, here’s a couple of remarks to polish an otherwise great distro…

  1. When using the Icon Task List applet, Windows-7-style, and when there’s no more room to show additional icons, the applet simply doesn’t show excess icons. In my opinion, this is not a desirable behavior. I’d suggest having icons being automatically downsized to accommodate more and leave room to all of them. Alternatively, the taskbar could be scrollable, like the Unity dock.

  2. Applications could be more clearly sorted within the Budgie menu. For newbies, there’s nothing worse than seemingly duplicated entries whose name wrongly suggest identical functions. Or the converse: thematically close features scattered across various entries. Xfce settings, in my opinion, exemplify what not to do in that regard, with separate entries for the window manager, appearance, windows tweaks and yet again something else in that vein, that you need to go through to adjust your theme layout.

    In the case of Ubuntu Budgie, some categories in the menu largely overlap at first glance: System Tools, Administration and Preferences (I’ll take it that their being so named is a Linux convention, though). As a result, it is difficult to know in which of these categories a given item is located, unless you already know that, say, Preferences corresponds to items in Gnome settings. I’d suggest merging these categories, or at the very least, the first two (System Tools and Administration). Or, going the other way, you could create a sub-category for Budgie-specific stuff (like Budgie Desktop Settings, Budgie Applets…) and rename Settings (the Gnome one) into System Settings so that it’s clear for new users which Settings application controls the desktop and which one controls the rest.

  3. The French localization has a number of “rough edges”. For example, in Budgie Welcome, some text that is too long to fit in the dark left-panel spreads to the light central part of the window and turns green:
    Which, as you can see, does not look good in the welcome screen that people first explore upon discovering the OS. Besides, at times translations feel awkward, some are missing characters such as accents, and there’s a lot of English text still popping up.

    I certainly don’t want to sound rude or demanding; I’d simply like to point out what Ubuntu Budgie would need to look really professional. In fact, I could help with translations… I’m no software engineer and I don’t know anything about the development process, but I certainly could help with text entries here and there.

And… that’s about it. Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for taking some time to reply!

All applets listed in the Budgie Applets window have a “?” that links back to the applet’s author. So the primary support is via the author.

The applets are chosen based on merit - feedback from the community - and the ongoing maintenance of the author. We have removed applets where there is breakage and no real support from the author. Others where possible we have proposed updates.

That really depends on the community. We assume the community are using & testing on an ongoing basis.

An example of where we have taken on a project is the pixel saver applet. The original author disappeared and the UB community liked the project so much that we forked it and made it work in all supported releases. We will continue to-do so as long as upstream (Gtk, Budgie Desktop, GNOME Mutter) provides the ability for us to continue.

At the end of the day - development of all applets depends on the Budgie Community - its much wider than one distro. If willing developers don’t come forward then a particular project will not move forward. I encourage everyone to help out in whatever way they can.

Upstream don’t give ETAs.

I’m not aware of anyone/group of people who have taken the challenge to move forward here.

With regards to your additional remarks 1 & 2 they are known upstream and are on their issue tracker.

The categories are defined by GNOME themselves and as such we just inherit them in the menu category structure.

With regards to the french localisation - the image is budgie-welcome. Please join the french localisation team and help out reviewing and updating. budgie-welcome localization

Thanks for answering that fast, and thoroughly! Direct contact with developers is always appreciated.

By the way, I forgot two minor points:

  1. The Workspace Switcher applet cannot be resized below some threshold (36 or 37 px I guess) that’s just under the default panel size (assuming a horizontal panel). As a consequence, it prevents the whole panel from being downsized. However, windows behave as if the panel had been resized… causing the panel to overlap the top part of windows.

    To this this, add this applet and then decrease the size of the panel while keeping a window just under the panel. You’ll notice the overlap. Also, panel items may no longer be properly centered on the vertical axis if the panel height is too small for the Workspace Switcher.

    28px is a relatively common panel size (Budgie’s 39px panel is somewhat fat by default) so it’d be nice to have the workspace switcher properly resize.

    EDIT: apparently, you guys are aware of and working on that already, judging by recent forum posts.

  2. Is it possible to change Raven Trigger’s color? I’ve been experimenting with a custom theme, starting with Pocillo (for maximal Budgie compatibility) and adjusting colors. It turns out that dark panel items look better than white ones on this layout. I’ve been able to change the color of the other items… Raven Trigger is the last non-compliant one.

    In gtk.css I found these lines:

    button.budgie-menu-launcher {
    padding: 0 2px;
    color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);

    button.raven-trigger {
    padding: 0 4px;
    color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);

    But they apparently have no effect. Or do I need to change icons altogether (like I did for the menu button)?

Thanks in advance!

This is a default budgie-desktop applet and as such is an upstream issue. There are several other workspace related applets in Budgie Applets you can use. For 20.04 we will be shipping by default “budgie-visualspace” which is an alternative take on workspace access and is nice & compact.

Suggest raise this on a separate topic since it isnt really related to this current “discussion” topic.

Thanks again, you couldn’t have been quicker! I’ll raise a separate topic later today.

I’ve got a couple other questions regarding translations and the development process, in particular of applets.

Indeed, some if not multiple Budgie applets lack a localization. Considering that applets usually don’t contain more than small amount of text, the translation work shouldn’t take too long… Then, are translations released only alongside upstream updates (and sometimes, upstream may take a while before releasing a new version), or would you as a distro add your own downstream translation in the meantime?

For example, Icon Task List has some apparent English text that could be translated in a matter of minutes. However, it’s a core Budgie applet and the Solus / Budgie team doesn’t have a fast update schedule (not necessarily a bad thing). So, would you release your own UB translations, possibly suggesting them as pull request, while waiting for upstream revisions?

Another thing: are translations backported into the latest LTS?

I’m asking all these questions as I’m supervising my father’s Linux migration, and I’d like him to have a clean, consistent-looking desktop. Currently, there are many English-only snippets in Budgie, of the sort you can see in daily use. I could easily translate these things if I were able to access the relevant files, and then it would make sense to share those translations.

Some are third party applets not developed by the UB team, some are developed by us … but at the time the translation support wasnt written into the applet.

In general yes - when upstream such as the solus project produce a release the translations at that time are used. We don’t as a rule do downstream translations - all translations should be done via the project itself.

We could in theory merge the latest upstream translations as a patch and include it as a part of an LTS release. Its a very good idea.

Overall you have highlighted an area which is important - but will need a new dedicated team member to handle. The current team just doesnt have the bandwidth for everything that would be involved.

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Thanks for your clarifications. Concerning Budgie applets, in general, are translations hard-coded (so that re-compiling the whole project is required)? Or are there some editable text files for users to write and test their own translations ? If so, where are they usually located?

Unrelated question: Solus 11 is expected to move to GTK4. I don’t know much about GTK4, so I was wondering… how much upheaval is it expected to cause in the GTK ecosystem? I guess GTK3 was a thunderstorm but I’m not reading anything such as regards GTK4. However, GNOME devs are notoriously uncaring when it comes to breaking things that other projects depend on, so… what about Budgie? How large is the move going to be? How much collateral damage (in terms of stability, resource usage, applets and themes breaking in the process…) do you expect?

Translations are compiled. You cannot directly edit them. You edit translations via the method given by the project. E.g. we use transifex for budgie-extras translations. Upstream solus use a different mechanism.

As to your gtk4 questions. I cannot answer any of these since not enough published details have been made by upstream.

Alright, thanks again!

I’m back to my thread cause the following may not require a thread of its own… I noticed the “System Tools” and “Preferences” entry of (baseline) Budgie Menu were duplicated. That is, at the bottom of the menu, there are categories named so, but they are empty duplicates of non-empty categories.

I believe this happened due to my renaming of Preferences through Menu Editor (Preferences was untranslated).

Yeah. Known issue upstream. Have a look more closely at the .desktop files created in .local/share/applications. Compare to the equivalent desktop file in /usr/share/applications

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Is this where categories (and corresponding localized name / description) are saved as well (not just applications)?

Upstream translations are here

Our budgie extras translations are here

Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind if I choose to stick with Budgie when 20.04 is out :slight_smile: However that wasn’t exactly my question. What I meant was, suppose I change the name of a category in the menu (for whatever reason; missing translation may be one) where is it stored? Somewhere in .local/share/applications ?