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So a fellow reader @ +OMG! Ubuntu! ask me how I managed to customize +Ubuntu Unity-2D. Seeing as there is no dconf or otherwise for doing things like changing the launcher/icon sizes. I should apologise I was supposed to do this a couple days ago. I had it done, but refreshed the page before I posted. I'm fighting a cold, I didn't have the energy to do it again. A Unity update today reminded me.

It's a pretty simple process, just need to edit three files. For those who don't know Unity-2D uses qt to draw it. So all we need to do is change a few values in the qml files.
Unity-2D lives here: /usr/share/unity-2d. The three files we are going to edit are:
/usr/share/unity-2d/shell/Shell.qml
/usr/share/unity-2d/shell/common/IconTile.qml
/usr/share/unity-2d/shell/launcher/LauncherList.qml

Shell.qml
Find the line that looks like this:
LauncherLoader {
id: launcherLoader
anchors.top: parent.top
anchors.bottom: parent.bottom
width: 65 <-- Change this.
I used 50.

IconTile.qml
The first one is optional:
Item {
id: iconTile

property bool activeFocus: false
property bool backgroundFromIcon: true <-- set to false to stop the tile from pulling colours from the icon.
property alias source: icon.source
property alias backgroundOpacity: tileBackground.opacity
Then find this:
Image {
id: icon
objectName: "icon"
anchors.centerIn: parent
smooth: true

sourceSize.width: 48 <-- I used
sourceSize.height: 48 <-- 32.

LauncherList.qml
Find this:
/* The spacing is explicitly set in order to compensate
the space added by selectionOutline and round_corner_54x54.png. */
spacing: -7

property int tileSize: 54 <-- controls tile size, I used 40

/* selectionOutline tile size, so AutoScrollingList view can calculate
the right height. */
property int selectionOutlineSize: 65 <-- controls spacing, I used 48

That's it. The rest is fiddling with png's to get the look you want. For example; The background fill looks bad with a monochrome icon theme, so I hollowed out the background image with gimp. If you want to change the start button it's in the unity/5 folder it's called launcher_bfb.png.

Disclaimer:
These are system files your messing with, so be sure to backup the entire directory before you start. Also backup when your done, any unity updates will overwrite your changes. These changes WILL apply to all users. And of course I'm not responsible if you break your system. You can keep the pieces thou. ;)
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29 comments
 
ty, As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Made the switch to 2D cuz it still has dodge. :)
 
hi there. It seems i do not have the shell folder within unity-2d directory. I could only find "LauncherList.qml". The other two files are not present. i am still using 11.10. Not sure if it has changed in 12.04
 
Oh yes I'm on 12.04 I don't think you can do it on 11.10. The shell folder is new as is the command to launch the side bar. I looked at the 11.10 package, I can get you smaller tiles. Everything else appears to be hard coded. Sorry.
 
Thanks for the reply. Will upgrade asap! :)
 
should be ok for ya the beta is pretty stable.
 
interesting indicator panel, would be nice if stock unity would pick up this idea.
 
that's awn I did that because I like to roll up my windows. it stays on top of the titlebar
 
does it eat less than a gigabyte of RAM yet? I like the Unity concept, hate the compiz-based unity for its laggy alt+tab, but thanks to Intel my CPU can only handle 2 GB of RAM, and the panel + dash + whatever else eating ~1G after a while is simply not something I can live with :-/
 
I have 2 gigs. with pidgin and a and what you see there I boot to about 45% ram use
Pham Ha
 
I have 4GB but I cannot live with Unity also and I have to switch to Unity 2D as well.
Pham Ha
 
I don't know what Ubuntu team have done since Ubuntu 11.04, it's so bad with compiz.
 
my setup is any more our less hungry than unity proper. In fact I'm still using compiz. it helps to have a decent graphics chip
Pham Ha
 
I (and many Ubuntu users) am using ADM processor and it always freeze on shuting down. It caused by Unity (not Unity 2D). After many trials, I defeat and using Unity 2D instead. But Unity 2D is very slow and looks ugly when switching between 2 windows of a same application. I'm waiting for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS for a better solve.
Pham Ha
 
By the way, do you know how to make Unity 2D ungroup windows of same application.
 
amd triple core and nvidia 6025 graphics here runs like a champ
 
Would you make a tutorial on how to make a ubuntu desktop look like yours xD i loved it...i have seen some of those themes but i can't manage to make mine look like that, if not thanks anyway.
 
I could +Luis Piedra but then it wouldn't be unique would it? most of my widgets are conky, and not for the faint of heart, but I'll put up some pointers.
 
Thanks really : D if i got some guidelines xD maybe i can create my own unique layout!
 
Thanks Corey. I've successfully managed to change the launcher/icon sizes. However, the spacing between the icons have decreased (there is no spacing) and it looks cluttered. How can I change the distance between the icons?
 
+Navinesh Chand increase the 'property int selectionOutlineSize:' found in LauncherList.qml Stock its the same size as the bar, and much bigger than the tiles. I made mine 2pix smaller than my bar, so my tiles are a little closer than stock.
 
This is really great. I especially like the fact it is done by editing text files and not using some GUI.
 
Thanks for the guide very useful and well explained. One question when I go into workspace switcher the gap for the launcher is as big as it used to be which while not a big problem looks a little odd, any ideas how to change this?
 
Your welcome +James Stewart. With metacity, if I'm not mistaken it's hardcoded. Expo is kinda hacked into metacity, so there is no options to deal with it. If your using compiz still you can adjust the expo settings to get rid of it.

(Yes, you can still use compiz with unity 2D.)