Geertjan's Blog

  • August 18, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 and NetBeans IDE

Geertjan Wielenga
Product Manager

Between yesterday and today I switched from Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) to Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) to Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin). For some reason I couldn't switch directly from 11.04 to 12.04, at least, I couldn't find 12.04 in the update manager of 11.04. Only once I was on 11.10 did I find 12.04 in the update manager and then, with a feeling of 'oh well, since I'm upgrading anyway, I might as well go all the way', I started the next update process shortly after finishing the first.

The one and only reason for doing so (I was generally happy with 11.04) was that Ubuntu had become increasingly sluggish. My assumption was that by upgrading I wouldn't only be gaining from the inevitable performance enhancements that new releases of any product provide, but that in the process of upgrading many corrupted files would magically be removed or fixed.

I committed the absolute cardinal sin of not backing up my disk prior to starting the upgrade process. I did so knowing that anything of importance on my disk had already been backed up to "the cloud" (e.g., repos on java.net), incrementally, over time, and that if my disk were to get wiped out I'd be secretly happy to be rid of billions of pointless pics and documents that I'm too lazy to clean up myself. But, as luck, I guess, would have it, my entire disk with all its content remained intact through both processes.

And, after switching to Nimbus, and fiddling with the themes a bit (I installed an app called Unsettings, which turned out to be handy), NetBeans IDE looks good too. Click the image below to see NetBeans IDE fully:

Plus, via the NetBeans Ayatana plugin, I've suddenly begun to really appreciate the real estate savings thanks to integration of NetBeans IDE with the Unity menu bar:

I've browsed a little bit on-line to see what the enhancements are in 12.04. The first thing I noticed is that the Unity sidebar thing doesn't switch on/off back/forward weirdly and unexpectedly anymore, i.e., it is 100% fixed all the time, which (despite the loss of real estate) I am already happy about. This change results in a much quieter work environment, i.e., the restless on and off switching was, now that I think back to it with the fixed sidebar in the corner of my eye, quite distracting, even though I didn't realize it at the time.

I also read somewhere that dual monitor support is enhanced, which is great, maybe I'll be able to use Ubuntu again for presentations (at some stage the dual monitor thing stopped working and that was the only reason I switched to Windows, i.e., I couldn't do presentations anymore).

Aside from that, I've read that stability and performance are improved, which surely can't be a bad thing either. What I liked, too, is that I didn't need to reconfigure my wireless setup, which is what I had to do a few upgrades ago, i.e., several settings had been wiped out in the upgrade process. In contrast, so far, everything I've had before is exactly as it was before and the whole process has been seamless.

And, guess what, my laptop doesn't sound like a plane about to take off anymore. Maybe the biggest plus so far. Good job, Ubuntu!

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Comments ( 15 )
  • eugene-r Saturday, August 18, 2012

    Here is extremly useful Ayatana plugin for NetBeans, which makes NetBeans-Ubuntu integration better - http://plugins.netbeans.org/plugin/41822

  • Geertjan Saturday, August 18, 2012

    Dude, you read my mind. That's exactly what I was looking for. And it works brilliantly. I guess all NetBeans Platform applications targeted for Ubuntu should include this module in their update center.

  • Geertjan Saturday, August 18, 2012

    Updated the blog entry with a neew screenshot illustrating NetBeans integration with Unity. Thanks again.

  • Faisal Abdul Aziz Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Are you able to access menu and menu items through short cut keys with Ayatana plugin?

    It was a major turn off for not to be able to access them through the keyboard a while ago and it made the IDE completely useless for me.

  • Geertjan Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Yes, indeed, I can use shortcut keys in the Unity menu bar for menu items coming from NetBeans IDE!

  • Jose Sa Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Weird, on my 12.04 install netbeans behaves terribly with multi monitor. If netbeans is on my secondary monitor, then the menus open on the main monitor. Also, the popup windows like Find File open with width 0. I have to resize the window everytime I want to use it.

    Any tips how to fix this issues?

  • Geertjan Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Weird. Haven't had the opportunity to try multi monitor yet. Good to know it could be clunky.

  • Tony Monday, August 20, 2012

    I've been using NetBeans 7.2 on 12.04 and Oracle JDK 1.7.0_05 with dual monitors for a few weeks now with no problems. Have just installed Ayatana and it works fine, thanks for the tip! Even with undocked windows on both monitors the menu follows the currently focused window. Now if I can just find a way to disable that horrible menu-hiding behaviour...

  • Goran Miskovic Monday, August 20, 2012

    Cannot download the Ayatana plugin for NB. :( Clicking on the download button on takes me to the developer's blog.

    Is there alternative download location?

  • Neil C Smith Monday, August 20, 2012

    Hi Geertjan, Welcome to 12.04! I'm loving it, really nice to use and the benefit of being an LTS release (can't be bothered about the 6-month upgrade cycle these days!).

    Found the tip by Jim Powell in this thread - http://forums.netbeans.org/topic47823.html - useful for getting NetBeans working nicely with the default GTK theme. I initially used Nimbus too, but found it crashed about 1 in 10 times through threading issues, though this may now have been fixed (NB7.1 & OpenJDK).

    Unity launcher can be set to autohide, though defaults to fixed (I prefer autohide, which is not the same behaviour you were complaining about - which I think was called dodge).

    Best wishes, Neil

  • Geertjan Monday, August 20, 2012

    Hi Goran, the developer's blog very clearly shows you the update center that you can register in the Plugin Manager:


  • Goran Miskovic Monday, August 20, 2012

    Yes, it does. However, it is still confusing: If the button reads Download I would expect a download to start and no to land on a blog page in Spanish. :) Anyway, I will file RFE against the update centre.

  • Geertjan Monday, August 20, 2012

    Why? If you create a new plugin page on the Plugin Portal, you can either upload the NBM (or ZIP) into netbeans.org or you can point to your own page. I think that's good. Just browsing through that page you can very easily see, just by looking at the screenshots, how to install the plugin.

  • Goran Miskovic Monday, August 20, 2012

    Because the button reads "Download".

    I did not even consider looking at the blog page. I assumed that something is wrong since the download did not start when I pressed the "Download" button.

    Anyway, back to the topic: Ayatana plugin for the NetBeans is just awesome! I installed it on the latest development build and it works great. I been using Unity and HUD since each became available. Slowly I became so used to HUD at the first place that it started to be annoying using mouse when interacting with my favourite IDE.

    The only problem that I did not resolve yet is related to shortcuts: NetBeans identifies that I am using Ubuntu but it does know acknowledge that I am running Ubuntu on iMac. For example, there is no 'insert' key, so I cannot use Alt + Insert nor I can use Mac alternative Ctrl + I to "Insert Code".

  • Geertjan Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    Instead of switching to Nimbus to fix the menubar display:

    sudo vim /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/gtk-2.0/gtkrc

    Find a row 338 with contents:

    style "menu" {

    and make it look like this:

    style "menu" = "dark" {

    save and your java menus will be fine.

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