One of the things that irks me about the Ubuntu interface is the fact that you have to find your way among the unusually long Preferences and Administration menu to perform any configuration changes. Things are so much nicer in Windows with the Control panel and even better within Mac OS.
However, as configurable as Linux is, there is almost always a way to tweak it according to your liking. Recently, I found an excellent way to consolidate all the settings in a single panel or window.
It’s called the Ubuntu Control Center. Ubuntu Control Center offers you a central place you can visit for most of your Ubuntu administration needs.
Installation is easy. You download a deb package for Ubuntu using the above mentioned Google Code page. At this point, if you try to install using the DEB package, you will most likely get an unresolved dependency error. This is because in addition to the files within the DEB package, Ubuntu Control Center also uses other software like the previously mentioned Hardinfo, font-manager and the likes to provide you a streamlined administration experience. Of these, you need to install the "font-manager" before you try to install Ubuntu Control Center.
After font-manager is installed, you can proceed with Ubuntu Control Center installation. It should most likely resolve, download and install all other dependencies. Once installed, you will find Ubuntu Control Center listed under Applications > System Tools.
Go ahead and run it, you are greeted by a slick interface like the one above. The left side lists categories namely: Software Management, Hardware, Network and Internet, System, Local Disks and Personal Settings. Click on a category and the right pane updates to reveal the configuration tools available in that particular category. "Software Management" for example provides you easy access to Ubuntu Software Center, Software sources, updates, cruft removal and the like. Clicking on a configuration tool will run the same commands and launch the exact same tool and interface as you would have got using the Terminal or the System Menu.
Ubuntu Control Center provides you access to almost all the configuration tools that you will find listed under the long System > Administration menu. In addition to this, Ubuntu Control Center also uses external tools like GuFW for firewall settings and Font-Manager for configuring fonts.
Ubuntu Control Center provides a centralized interface, where in you can access all of the common settings and configuration for your computer. It has an intuitive interface and does a great job of providing easy access to configuration tools. In fact, this is how the things should by default inside Ubuntu. That said, there are a few features that would make a lot of sense if included in Ubuntu Control Center. For starters, there could be a "tweak" section that can list some of the common tweaks that Ubuntu users apply (ala Ubuntu Tweak).
What are your thoughts about the application? Should Ubuntu ship with such an interface out of the box? Let it out in the comments.