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Ubuntu System Panel: Simple? Is it heck… [Opinion]

Notice: This post is more than a year old. It may be outdated.

Ubuntu System Panel is a panel applet designed to simplify launching, managing and just generally using your Ubuntu system.

The idea behind it is based on that of the popular OpenSUSE SLED applet (see screenshot below) but USP is exclusively for use with Ubuntu.


Sled in OpenSUSE 10

Now, this is where the facts end and the grumbles start.

Out Of Date But Pleasantly Surprised

I accidently installed the wrong version of USP to start with – version 0.32. Yet I pretty much fell in love!

It looked spacious and impressive, you could toggle panes on-and-off to get the menu you wanted and even lock the menu to the desktop so it was always accessible! Icons were large, categories were roomy and the entire thing felt cohesive.


screenshot_084screenshot_082 screenshot_080


I soon realised, however, that i had installed a 3-year old version when I peeked at the ‘About’ dialog to gain some more insight. Excited, I zipped off to find the latest incarnation which turned out to be version 2.00.07. 3 years of development had past since the version I’d tried! “Oh boy” i thought “How much better can it have gotten?!”

First Impressions

After quickly installing the .deb I added it to my panel. Things didn’t look too good as it took an AGE to appear; well over a minute had past before i had the applet showing on my panel. Once it had I smacked that ‘System’ button in a fury of expectation! I cannot help but be disappointed with what I found. Somewhere in those 3 years since the version I had tried, USP had lost its way. This is what i was greeted with: –


After a few initial glances it didn’t look that bad, just some crowded menus, panes not big enough, etc. All things you can fix from the new preferences menu.

Yet I must have day-dreamed the part where the word ‘simple’ was used in relation to this applet because the preferences menus are way too complex, cluttered and crowded: –


To Be Fair…

USP has a great concept but a poor execution. That’s not to take away from the effort, hard-work and skill that has gone in to this but part of my disappointment is because there was a seed of potential in the very first version. In fact some of the ideas in that initial “sidebar” approach have echoes with Gnome-Shell’s sidebar!

USP works and, as long as you can overcome the UI disasters or have a spare weekend to tweak all of the thousands of options to get it looking okay, it’s an application worth considering.