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Ubuntu Command Center: Gnome Control Center

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Ubuntu 12.04 is all about pixel perfecting everything and focusing on the quality of the overall release. This is important since it is a LTS release which would be used by companies and users all over the world for a long time. From the view point of a user and sys-admins, it is important to have all the customizable options in one place. Gnome Control Center is meant for just that. There have been quite some updates on the gnome control center which are worth mentioning.

Here are 2 screenshots, the old gnome-control-center as present in Ubuntu 11.10 and the new one in Precise.

Above: Illustration 1: Ubuntu 11.10 Gnome Control Center
Above: Ubuntu 12.04 Control Center

As you can see there is quite a visual change in addition to some important setting changes. All these are described below in this article.

Privacy
With Unity displaying the recently used files and applications, it was necessary to provide the user control over what is displayed in the dash. The newly added Privacy option in the gnome-control-center  helps with that. You no longer need to install other 3rd party applications.

Complete control  

With the new privacy options, you can blacklist files based on the file types and also specific folders. You can also erase history between a certain time as shown in the screenshot below.

Sound Menu
The new sound menu has landed with more customization options. This is an actual implementation of the sound menu mock ups created by Canonical. The new sound menu is only available while using Unity. If you choose any other desktop environment, the old sound menu is displayed.

Online Accounts
Online Accounts is sadly removed from the Gnome control center. It was removed since it wasn’t properly supported in Ubuntu. At the moment, adding online accounts only affects Empathy. Thunderbird does not support online accounts to configure Email and Calendar. Online Accounts may make its ways back in the next release if default applications in Ubuntu support it.

Appearance
Users eagerly looking for options to customize Unity will be pleased to see few unity customization options added to the gnome-control-center. At the moment, it only supports changing launcher icon size, launcher hide and the launcher reveal sensitivity behavior. The customization options are few but nonetheless welcome. Based on the mock ups, more are to land in this cycle or the next.

Details
Some system settings were combined to prevent any confusion. For instance the System Info has been renamed to Details. It now also includes option to configure removable media which was present before as a separate option.

Other small changes are summarized in the list below

  • Larger icons for more clarity
  • Monochrome icons
  • Sound menu and the power menu brings options to hide the indicator icons shown in the top bar.
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Summary
The changes implemented are quite worthy and should please all users since it brings some much anticipated features like the privacy options. That said, there are more which need to be implemented like the multi-monitor settings, global menu behavior etc. However, it is clear that Ubuntu is heading in the right direction providing new features both for power users and users new to Ubuntu.

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