Ubuntu moves away from GNOME


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+Frank B.

Ubuntu moves away from GNOME

Ubuntu 11.04 to have Unity interface instead of GNOME Shell

The big news at the Ubuntu Developer Summit? Moving to Unity as the default interface for Ubuntu Desktop with Natty Narwhal (11.04), rather than GNOME Shell.

Earlier this year, Canonical representatives had to deny that they were forking GNOME with the work on the Unity interface. (Quick disclaimer, I'm a GNOME Member and help out with GNOME PR.) Unity is a Canonical-sponsored project that was initially delivered for the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. GNOME Shell is the interface being developed for GNOME 3.0, which was delayed to spring 2011.

Apparently, Canonical were being asked the wrong question. During the opening keynote, Mark Shuttleworth has announced that Canonical is committing to making Unity the default desktop experience "for users that have the appropriate software and hardware." Unity requires compositing to work properly, which means users need functioning 3D support to use the interface.

Unity will require quite a bit of work between now and April, 2011 to get Unity into shape as the default desktop. While the Ubuntu desktop 10.10 received glowing reviews, the netbook release much less so. Canonial partner and system integrator System 76 chose to stick with the 10.04 LTS release on its netbook line, saying the interface was "slow and in many ways confusing to use."

What happens with GNOME at this point? Shuttleworth says that Unity is "a shell for GNOME, even if it isn't GNOME shell." He added that he thinks it's good to have "competition" between GNOME Shell and Unity, and referenced Monty Python's Life of Brian as an example of factionalism in a community. Shuttleworth says "we're all in this together," even if there's differences of opinion.

It will be interesting to see how the larger community reacts to this. I'll be covering this more extensively throughout the week, so stay tuned.

Source: networkworld.com

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Rudy

Interesting, I'll be keeping an eye on 11.04

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Vice

Very interesting. Ubuntu is really starting to set themselves apart from the other Distros.

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Mouldy Punk

Hopefully they'll have worked out the kinks and annoyances by April. I installed 10.10 NBR on my netbook and found it slow and difficult to customise. I've since switched to the full gnome desktop (with compiz enabled) and it runs absolutely fine.

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ViperAFK

I hope they tailor it a lot more for the uses of a desktop pc for the desktop version then....

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Rudy

I personally really liked the look of the netbook edition of Ubuntu (didn't try it yet though but loved the screenshots), so I'm looking forward to this

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tomjol

Erm...slightly misleading title?

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Evolution

I agree that the Gnome UI should be replaced, however knowing Canonical, I suspect this is simply one move closer to full commercialization of the distro.

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Joshie

As one of the people who was disappointed with the netbook Unity of 10.10, this announcement makes me nervous. I could go point by point on everything that was a step back, but I've done it before and am not in the mood to hate on Ubuntu today. Needless to say, it's a good thing netbooks aren't what they used to be. 12" is the new portable, and desktop OSes work just fine on those. For everything else, let there be Android (and future competitors).

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Geoffrey B.

i have to say that i like the unity desktop however, i am not sure how well it will scale for desktop.

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mps69

Not sure about this development. I get they are trying to set themselves apart from other OS, but this might be a step too far.

I tried Unity on my netbook, but due to the lack of customisability I've switched back to the full Gnome version.

One thing really disliked was the file manager. The dock was cool, but needs to be refined a little bit.

I'll be interested how the rest of the Ubuntu and Linux community re-acts to this.

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Syanide

Absolutely great news. Current desktop Gnome is just too old, Compiz rarely gets updates (this will probably help out a lot on that field -- and yes, they're using Compiz for desktop effects instead of Mutter which is awesome) and Gnome Shell, while interesting, just lacks focus (most things seem to be doubling of efforts from Ubuntu -- the notification changes, systray changes etc), lacks clear vision, and most of all, lacks results. I really doubt it will be ready by Spring. Ubuntu folks have done more with Unity since it was announced six months ago than Gnome folks have in a lot longer period.

Once again, great decision (and I'm pretty sure they'll adapt it for desktop use).

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soldier1st

it will be interesting how this turns out.

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Growled

I'm not really sure about this. We'll see how it goes. I am not a fan of Gnome, but I think much of Ubuntu's popularity comes from using Gnome. Besides, I don't see them finishing it by April. And what of Mint?

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Syanide

A great article on ComputerWorld about Unity and what it is to Ubuntu:

What's really going on with Ubuntu Unity

ORLANDO, FLA.--As Debian is to Ubuntu, so GNOME is to Unity. What do I mean by that? Well, once upon a time there was an operating system called Debian. It was, and is, a powerful version of Linux. Outside of the Linux community, though, almost no one had ever heard of it. Then Ubuntu came along, built its own easy-to-use distribution on top of Debian, and now it's arguably the most popular Linux in the world.

Yesterday, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, announced at the Ubuntu Developer Summit that Ubuntu was switching its default desktop from GNOME to Unity, a GNOME-based shell interface. Guess what he hopes will happen?

If you answered, create a desktop interface that will bring millions more desktop users to Ubuntu, congratulations, you win a prize. Unity is not just a desktop interface though. It's also Ubuntu's one master interface for desktops, netbooks, and someday, tablets.

While a tablet version of Ubuntu isn't in Canonical's immediate plans, Jono Bacon, the Ubuntu Community Manager, told me that "all the pieces are in place to create an Ubuntu tablet."

He's right. Later that same day, Canonical multi-touch and kernel developer Chase Douglas showed me the first baby steps of multi-touch Unity on a 22-inch 3M Multi-touch Display M2256PW. I was impressed.

I've seen lots of touch systems. Most of them have left me unmoved. This, though, was the first PC touch system I could actually see taking off in the mass market. What's more important than what I think, though, is that the software toolkit developers and vendors are interested in it too. That means that multi-touch applications may be ready in time for the Unity-based Ubuntu launch in April.

I shouldn't have been surprised. If you take a look at Unity, you'll see a desktop interface that clearly meant for touch.

Unity_Browser.jpg

Ubuntu_Gwibber.jpg

...

READ FULL ARTICLE

Also, didn't know where to post this, so I'll bump it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYTJPaM82nQ

:)

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Growled

From the reading I've been doing on the subject, Ubuntu has their work cut out for them, as Unity is currently very slow. I expect that to change in the near future, though.

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.Neo
Also, didn't know where to post this, so I'll bump it here:

I wonder what OS they used to make that video. :p

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amon91

I love how they're pretty much building their own environment though. Heck, soon enough they could just give it a blue theme and call it OSX. :p

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.Neo

I love how they're pretty much building their own environment though. Heck, soon enough they could just give it a blue theme and call it OSX. :p

They wish. :laugh:

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Subject Delta

I have always disliked Gnome, finding it a bit ugly. I will be watching this with interest.

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Joshie

A great article on ComputerWorld about Unity and what it is to Ubuntu:

Also, didn't know where to post this, so I'll bump it here:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=vYTJPaM82nQ

:)

Having tried 10.10 on a convertible laptop, I can say with all the certainty in the world, Unity is a much worse touch environment than Windows 7. Dramatically worse. Many, many more precision/pinpoint targets to poke at than Windows, and it also doesn't intelligently recognize the difference between a finger tap and a mouse click. It also fails to address the fact that most popular software for Linux is not touch friendly and would require major rewrites to become touch friendly. To simply say new software can be written for an Ubuntu tablet would be laughable, since the same argument could be made for ANY desktop OS.

"New software can be written for a Windows 7 tablet."

"New software can be written for a Mac OS tablet."

See? They both work, because they're both true: yeah, sure, ANYONE can write touch-friendly software for any OS they feel like installing on a tablet, but the point has always been that currently existing popular software accessible to the platform is not touch friendly, and people will see those programs and want to use them.

The argument has always been that desktop OSes aren't good enough for tablets, but the reality is that the tablet form factor isn't good enough for desktop OSes. They're TOO capable, too powerful, and too open for the limitations imposed by a touch-only user experience. Ubuntu slapping a touch-friendly 'layer' on top of an unintuitive OS would be 100% no different from Microsoft doing the same thing to Windows, and the excited FOSS fanboys who think Ubuntu is going to storm the tablet market some day are too blind to see their own hypocrisy.

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Syanide

"but the reality is that the tablet form factor isn't good enough for desktop OSes. They're TOO capable, too powerful, and too open for the limitations imposed by a touch-only user experience."

Couldn't agree more.

The thing with Unity though, is that it's not aimed at touch primarily (their uTouch framework has been released like yesterday), it's aimed at smaller screens, and future revisions will probably improve both. I reposted the article because it goes on to explain to some extent the reasoning behind them effectively dumping Gnome and Gnome Shell on desktops, because having used Gnome for quite a while (and testing Gnome Shell occasionally), I'm interested if they will make the desktop thing work better than those two (and my opinion is that it's got potential).

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Growled

I don't see why Ubuntu doesn't move to KDE. 4.5.2 is pretty sweet. It would be a heck of a lot easier than writing your own interface.

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Subject Delta

I don't see why Ubuntu doesn't move to KDE. 4.5.2 is pretty sweet. It would be a heck of a lot easier than writing your own interface.

Well they do have Kubuntu, but they don't seem to give it much love, it can be rather flaky at times in fact

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Growled

Well they do have Kubuntu, but they don't seem to give it much love, it can be rather flaky at times in fact

Yeah, I agree early versions were flaky. 4.5.2 is really smooth. It's the first version that makes me want to use KDE in a long time.

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