Unity8 windowed mode

I’ve received requests from people asking how to try the windowed mode on their unity8 enabled devices (yes phones too). Here’s how it works:
You need a phone or tablet, flashed with the devel-proposed channel. On a PC, running an up-to-date vivid and having unity8-desktop-session-mir installed should get you going. Get a terminal on the device somehow (ssh/adb/terminal app) and execute:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity8 usage-mode Windowed

While this currently works on phones too, there’s the issue that the window’s title bar is hiding behind the panel so you can’t really drag the windows around. Start the gallery-app to get around that. On larger screens, the panel should allow you dragging windows from there too. Here’s some screenshots:

Windowed mode on Nexus 4

Windowed mode on Nexus 4

Windowed mode on Nexus 7

Windowed mode on Nexus 7

Windowed mode on a PC

Windowed mode on a PC

To get back to staged mode, do:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity8 usage-mode Staged

Again, this is still an early work in progress, loads of stuff missing in windowed mode. The gsettings flag is considered temporary and experimental, it might disappear at any time. Also, we might disable windowed mode on form factors where it doesn’t really make sense, like on the Nexus 4 screenshot above.

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19 Responses to Unity8 windowed mode

  1. Joe says:

    Nice guide, thanks!

  2. Javacookies says:

    Does phones/tablets already has cursor when a mouse is connected? Mouse has been working since early days through OTg but no cursor is displayed

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  7. Martin Kozub says:

    How do you force landscape in windowed mode on Nexus7? It seems everytime I try I am switched to the portrait and unable to rotate my screen at all.
    Thank you very much, also for the article above.

    • Michael says:

      With current released images that’s not possible yet. If you want, you can install ppa:unity-team/demo-stuff which holds the rotation branches for now. As announced on the ubuntu-phone mailing list that should land very soon so you might just wait a week or two.

      • Martin Kozub says:

        Thanks :). Looking forward to it … then give me Chromium to play with under MIR and Unity8 and I am ready to use it on daily basis.

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  9. Michael K says:

    I have been told ubuntu phone is ready for installation on some android devices. I’m using ubuntu on my desktop pc und would like to use it with my Nexus 7 device to turn it into a desktop pc easily.

    But already the name of this site (notyetthere.org) makes me believe, that ubuntu phone is still in an experimental state at least for the desktop mode. Is that right?

    • Michael says:

      Well, it is true that the desktop mode for the phone is still not finished. However, the phone should ready to be used as a phone and offer most things you’d expect from a phone out of the box. Also don’t be confused by the domain of this site. It is my personal domain and has nothing really to do with Ubuntu or it’s current state.

  10. Martin says:


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  13. Kris says:

    “(…) we might disable windowed mode on form factors where it doesn’t really make sense” – what makes sense for one, does not necessarily make sense to another.
    I would like to use my MX4 in Windowed mode with my own wallpaper and icons directly on the Desktop.

    • Michael says:

      If you consider the whole thing, I can assure you that you don’t want to use windowed mode on a phone. Whether there is a wallpaper or not is an entirely different story. Anyhow, we’re not locking it down, if you really need to, you can enable windowed mode manually with tweak tools, but we won’t bring the regular user into that awkward situation.

  14. Kris says:

    OR – would be nice to be able to request Windowed mode when a mouse is connected, and automatically back to staged mode when it is disconnected!

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