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Ubuntu Moves Away From GNOME 514

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the end-of-an-era dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It's official: Ubuntu has, with its ironically named 'Unity' interface, chosen to move away from GNOME for Ubuntu Natty Narwhal. Or at least move away from GNOME Shell. Mark Shuttleworth says that Ubuntu will still be 'GNOME,' even if it's not using GNOME Shell. Do you agree?"
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Ubuntu Moves Away From GNOME

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  • by sourcerror (1718066) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:03AM (#34012440)

    From TFA:
    "GNOME Shell is the interface being developed for GNOME 3.0, which was delayed to spring 2011."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pietromenna (1118063)

      From TFA: "GNOME Shell is the interface being developed for GNOME 3.0, which was delayed to spring 2011."

      Probably then they are switching to Unity due to the schedule?

    • by Hatta (162192)

      That's not terribly informative. What part of GNOME is the interface? The window manager? The desktop? The panel? All of that? One might as well ask what part of GNOME isn't Gnome Shell.

    • by captainpanic (1173915) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:25AM (#34012762)

      From TFA:
      "GNOME Shell is the interface being developed for GNOME 3.0, which was delayed to spring 2011."

      On the plus side: there are now also ordinary people using Ubuntu - people that don't know anything.
      On the down side: they still don't understand what a shell is, even after that explanation (see quoted text).

      To me, it's not really clear where GNOME starts or stops... So there's at least one Ubuntu user who is quite clueless what this is all about.

      The value of this post? I show you all that there are people able to use Ubuntu without even the basic knowledge of the processes or even the names of them running on the computer. I always think of myself as the target group for Ubuntu. The wizkids can use the other Linux systems.

      • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@noSpAm.yahoo.com> on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:34AM (#34012872) Journal

        That's funny, because I consider myself in another target group of Ubuntu users. I know all about the guts of Linux, but frankly, computers are not my life. I'm too busy with a wife, kids, social obligations, neighborhood functions, and just living life to bother with all the work that seems to go along with most other distributions. Using Ubuntu allows me to free my time to spend on those things I find important rather than downloading, compiling, and installing the latest kernel once a month. I can just put "aptitude safe-upgrade" in cron to run at 1am on the first Sunday of each month and I know I'm good.

        • Hear, hear! Listen, too.

        • by eddy the lip (20794) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:00PM (#34013384)

          I'm with you. I've been using linux as my primary OS for work and play since you had to edit x.conf by hand. I had a lot of fun learning about the guts of the system, I just don't have time to do that much anymore. I'm grateful that there are distributions that let me just get work done, and still let me get dirty with it if I really want to.

          And after all these years, I'm finally having friends ask me, unprompted, to install linux on their machines because they're tired of Windows. It's only been recently that I've been able to say "sure" and leave off the two page list of caveats.

          Heck, I don't even have to install it for them anymore - I just give them an Ubuntu CD and tell them to call me if they have any problems. They're usually just fine on their own.

  • What the hell does a sea unicorn have to do with $5.00/case frat boy beer?

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:12AM (#34012568)

      Beats the hell out of their Hamm's Hippopotamus release.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by FrozenFOXX (1048276)

        Beats the hell out of their Hamm's Hippopotamus release.

        I was still holding out for Narcoleptic Nightingale.

    • by spidercoz (947220)
      Seriously. Their names get stupider every release.
      • I don't even know why they bother with names. They are confusing and random, and I don't use them. I don't use the Mac OS names either. I just use the version number:

        Laptop 1 = Ubuntu 8.0 (first version of 2008)
        Laptop 2 = Lightweight Ubuntu 10.1 (second version of 2010)
        Mac G3 = 10.4
        Mac G5 = 10.5

        Not a clue what their "names" are supposed to be.

        • I don't even know why they bother with names. They are confusing and random, and I don't use them. I don't use the Mac OS names either. I just use the version number:

          Laptop 1 = Ubuntu 8.0 (first version of 2008) Laptop 2 = Lightweight Ubuntu 10.1 (second version of 2010) Mac G3 = 10.4 Mac G5 = 10.5

          Not a clue what their "names" are supposed to be.

          Names are much easier to google than version numbers, especially if they are unusual words not frequently used in the tech domain. So yes, please keep up using those natty names...

        • by jandrese (485)
          Also, the names are versioned as well. You'll probably notice that all of them have the same first letter in both name components, and that letter advances by 1 down the alphabet for every release. What they do on Release 27 I don't know, but it's still a ways off.
        • Re:Natty Narwhal? (Score:4, Informative)

          by lordandmaker (960504) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:05PM (#34013464) Homepage
          Random? They're in alphabetical order and they alliterate.

          There never was an 8.0 or 8.1. They're all x.4 and x.10, since they're released in April and October. Though they used to be x.6 and x.10 when they released in June and October. That bit seems to confuse the most people; the numbering scheme.



          Also the Mac Gs refer to the hardware, not the OS.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by somersault (912633)

        Just wait for Orgasmic Octopus.. it's everywhere you want it to be..

  • by EricTheRed (5613) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:05AM (#34012472) Homepage

    I know some people say you can't configure Unity (running it on a netbook) the one thing it really needs is the ability to auto-hide as I've now got this big column of desktop real estate on the left of the screen I can't do anything with anymore.

    NB: To those complaining about lack of configurability - try dragging icons around or right clicking them - you can modify it...

    • I want something that looks like Windows (start button, trashbin, tabs on bottom or top, etc). I tried to find Unity screenshots but found nothing. Does it look/feel like a Windows PC?

      • It's vaguely like Windows 7 with a side bar instead at the bottom. And kind of a start button.

        There's some screens below.

        http://arstechnica.com/open-source/reviews/2010/10/ars-reviews-ubuntu-1010-wip.ars/7
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BrokenHalo (565198)
        I want something that looks like Windows...

        Well, if that's what you want, you have plenty of choices. If you want something full-featured, both Gnome and KDE will fit the bill, and you can download themes that even make the icons and windows look similar to Windows.
    • Unity as shipped with 10.10 was not ready for prime-time (slow, glitchy). Your best bet for a decent UI on 10.10 is to use the regular GNOME interface, delete the bottom panel, and replace it with Docky (which is an OSX-looking launcher/task switcher).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by somersault (912633)

        Seconded :) I also install Gnome Do as well to get back the functionality it had while Docky was part of Gnome-Do. I tend to launch things with Gnome Do, and use Docky for a task manager/trashcan.

    • I was using it on a netbook. It's is a pita. I know this might sound stupid and maybe I was missing something obvious but I couldn't get files/folders on my desktop. In fact it was a bit of a struggle just to get a navigation window open so I could go to my Windows partition. I would exactly call it a very intuitive interface. I don't plan on trying unity again for a very long time if ever.

  • I agree... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noidentity (188756) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:05AM (#34012476)
    ...that the summary is +1 flamebait, apparently just a thinly-veiled attack on their decision. How about a summary that describes what they're doing (without using the word ironic), and why?
    • Re:I agree... (Score:5, Informative)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:25AM (#34012770) Homepage

      I agree that the summary is far from unbiased. It's making it sound like Ubuntu is dropping Gnome, which isn't quite what's happening.

      A more reasonable way to look at it, in my opinion, is that Gnome is currently undergoing a large set of changes in the 3.0 release. The people running the Gnome project are planning a radical shift from the current UI to something called "Gnome-Shell". Ubuntu is apparently not sold on this dramatic redesign, so instead they'll be going their own way with a UI that is, in some ways, closer to the current UI.

      Having tried Gnome-Shell out for a little while, I have to say I'm not excited about the change. I appreciate that they're trying something very new and trying to be innovative, but at the very least it didn't feel ready for use.

      • Re:I agree... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:00PM (#34015280) Journal

        The people running the Gnome project are planning a radical shift from the current UI to something called "Gnome-Shell". Ubuntu is apparently not sold on this dramatic redesign, so instead they'll be going their own way with a UI that is, in some ways, closer to the current UI.

        I don't really see how Unity is much closer to the current UI. It looks just as much a "we have a totally new idea on how to break stuff again!" thing as Gnome Shell is.

  • Aero (Score:5, Funny)

    by cerberusss (660701) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:07AM (#34012502) Homepage Journal

    Mark Shuttleworth says that Ubuntu will still be "GNOME," even if it's not using GNOME Shell.

    I've got a mole in the Ubuntu organisation. The word is that mr. Shuttleworth has been in secret talks with Darth^WSteve Ballmer to negotiate the rights for Vista's Aero interface. It was available for pennies due to the number of unsold Vista licenses. The next version of Ubuntu will sport the familiar Aero interface, with features such as the nifty and user-friendly Deny/Allow-widget, grafted straight onto the Linux Kernel.

    Open source community, what more do you want?

    • Re:Aero (Score:5, Funny)

      by sammyF70 (1154563) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:17AM (#34012634) Homepage Journal
      well ... considering that Miguel de Icaza has been in secret talks with Palpat^WSteve Jobs to make Gnome so hard to customize that people won't see why they should use it instead of just buying a mac, it's just being fair to both sides.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tumbleweed (3706) *

      I've got a mole in the Ubuntu organisation. The word is that mr. Shuttleworth has been in secret talks with Darth^WSteve Ballmer to negotiate the rights for Vista's Aero interface. It was available for pennies due to the number of unsold Vista licenses. The next version of Ubuntu will sport the familiar Aero interface, with features such as the nifty and user-friendly Deny/Allow-widget, grafted straight onto the Linux Kernel.

      Open source community, what more do you want?

      The WPS from OS/2, prettied up for the

    • >>>Open source community, what more do you want?

      (1) Amiga OS. I miss it.
      (2) Or if I can't have that, a clone of the Windows OS so I'm no longer locked into the Microsoft Monopoly when running MS software. Something like Wine but bigger.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        1) The last update to AmigaOS 4.1 was just 5 months ago. It doesn't seem to be dead.

        2)

        ReactOS® is a free, modern operating system based on the design of Windows® XP/2003. Written completely from scratch, it aims to follow the Windows-NT® architecture designed by Microsoft from the hardware level right through to the application level. This is not a Linux based system, and shares none of the unix architecture.
        The main goal of the ReactOS project is to provide an operating system which is binar

      • Re:Aero (Score:5, Interesting)

        by wastedlife (1319259) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:05PM (#34013466) Homepage Journal

        Are you kidding, not aware of AROS and ReactOS, or just commenting on how they both still have a ways to go?

        Assuming the second, check these out(and possibly contribute, if you want to help speed development):

        (1) AROS Research Operating System [sourceforge.net] - The AROS Research Operating System is a lightweight, efficient and flexible desktop operating system, designed to help you make the most of your computer. It's an independent, portable and free project, aiming at being compatible with AmigaOS at the API level (like Wine, unlike UAE), while improving on it in many areas.
        (2) React Operating System [reactos.org] - ReactOS® is a free, modern operating system based on the design of Windows® XP/2003. Written completely from scratch, it aims to follow the Windows-NT® architecture designed by Microsoft from the hardware level right through to the application level. This is not a Linux based system, and shares none of the unix architecture.

        The blurbs next to each link are quoted from the homepages of AROS and ReactOS, respectively, and are not my personal opinion.

    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      Darth who? Darth Maul?

  • Sounds fine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rwa2 (4391) * on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:08AM (#34012506) Homepage Journal

    Thanks to desktop standards, people have been doing this for years... makes sense that a major distro is following suit.

    My desktop pretty much only uses gdm and gnome-terminal from GNOME, and occasionally nautilus (though I turn off the desktop handling).

    Using Enlightenment DR16 or occasionally compiz as the window manager, and awn ("Avant Window Navigator") as the panel, with compatible taskbar and notification area.

    • by metamatic (202216)

      My desktop pretty much only uses gdm and gnome-terminal from GNOME, and occasionally nautilus (though I turn off the desktop handling).

      So why not run Kubuntu or Xubuntu and avoid some of the GNOME bloat?

  • Bye bye (Score:2, Interesting)

    by l33tmyst (1373841)
    Bye bye Ubuntu. You made me switch with Maverick Meerkat, but seeing as that's not an LTS as of Natty Narwhal I'll be going back to good ol' Debian.
  • by drolli (522659) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:10AM (#34012530) Journal

    The times when i used not-the-standard-configuration-of-whatever distribution i installed to save memory are gone with my last laptop below 512MB of Ram. If Canonical thinks its easier to maintain it in a different way, fine with me. If it does'nt work i can tune, switch, get into the details and fix it. Until that point i would be happy not to figure out about changes......

    If they do weird things, i am happy to use debian again.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192)

      The nice thing about light weight GUIs is that it's a lot easier to tune and fix than a giant stack of software is. Saving memory isn't the only reason to use Fluxbox, etc. Once you settle on a good configuration (which doesn't take that much time), you never have to worry about the choices your distro will make in the future. It's much nicer to sit down and figure out your GUI once, than to relearn every time they release a new version.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:11AM (#34012550) Journal
    Semantic questions, and questions of categorization, can be interesting and(when all goes well) can even clarify your thinking about a topic; but are otherwise rather pointless.

    On the one hand, it is trivially obvious that if you aren't running the GNOME desktop environment, you aren't runnning GNOME. On the other hand, if you are running a set of programs, and depending on a set of libraries, essentially identical to that of a GNOME desktop, just window managed by something else, it is much more meaningful to say that you are "running GNOME" or "running a GNOME derivative" than it is to say much else.

    Unless you want to actually come up with some set-based definition of what "Running GNOME" means, you won't really be able to conclusively answer the question one way or the other.
  • So the news is that they're moving away from something that doesn't exist yet?

    Maybe they just want to wait for it to exist and test it and shake the bugs out before they decide to use it ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kidcharles (908072)

      Maybe they just want to wait for it to exist and test it and shake the bugs out before they decide to use it ?

      Why would they do that when Pulse Audio has worked out so well?

  • by TrisexualPuppy (976893) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:12AM (#34012578)
    Consistency.

    When you product changes all the time, people are going to have to deal with these changes. When I "upgraded" versions of Ubuntu, I had to deal with a completely different looking interface. WHY? Change for the sake of change seems to be a big driving force in this project. Honestly, the UI that I am using now is no different than it was in 2004. I could have made something in 2004 look exactly like what Ubuntu looks like today. So there really isn't even an excuse that things are being changed to add features. We get a "new look" every rev because some dev thinks that it looks cool. It gets really old when your task bar is moved to the other side of the screen, your menus are all reorganized, and the terminal session shortcut that used to be on a particular convenient context menu is now gone.

    Up until recently (Vista/Ribbon interface) and arguably even now, Microsoft has been able to provide more consistency than a lot of these Linux distros.

    Are we going to see a Gubuntu now?
    • by Dunbal (464142) *

      Gee, and other operating systems NEVER change...

      • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:34AM (#34012878) Homepage

        OTOH, I am free to use the same UI I was using in 1998. This won't quite fly with either MacOS or Windows.

        Sure, you can try to enable "legacy interfaces" with other operating systems but their GUIs simply aren't built to be modular.

        Linux is. That's why I can run whatever I want despite what the "guys in charge" think. Changing or keeping my own customizations is also pretty trivial.

        If you think "everything has changed" from one version of Ubuntu to the next, I suspect that you are only looking at a clean install.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I agree but thats one of the things I like about Gnome/Linux. If you dont like the way something looks there is probably a way to do it. If you want it to look like OSX or Vista http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=490398 [ubuntuforums.org] you can do that too.
      They're just trying different things to see what people like best.

    • by timeOday (582209) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:37AM (#34012938)
      I have just stuck with fvwm, from slackware, to debian, gentoo, now ubuntu. It's lighting-quick, doesn't waste screen real estate, and basically gives me nothing to complain about. I've had the same config file for at least 10 years, I just copy it over to each new machine and tweak it when I start using an app enough to want it on the launch menu.

      Ubuntu makes it easy to do this; fvwm is available from the default package set, then select it as your "session" at the login screen.

      My point being, I share your dislike of needless changes, but I don't feel I've been forced to change.

    • Mwahaahaaa! (Score:3, Insightful)

      Good one. Either you are very young or sarcastic.

      Windows 1-3. Complete changes. 3.1 to 95. Complete change. 95-98 the look didn't change, just where everything was. 98 to 2000... don't get me started. 2K to XP, lots of changes again. Vista so many changes many did not bother. W7, must have been a big change because people don't hate it as much as Vista.

      Every single version of Windows has changed the layout and organization of basic configurations until the point where messing with your disks is so many la

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MadUndergrad (950779)

        Windows 7's naming of directories as "libraries" is inexcusable. It was a well-defined term!

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday October 25, 2010 @01:05PM (#34014466) Homepage

      Oh no. The window controls moved from the right top of the window to the left top of the window, some icons look slightly different, and the default theme is a slightly different shade of brown. My world, she is rent asunder.

      The interface changes from the last few years of Ubuntu updates are in the same order of magnitude as XP to Vista, or Win98 to XP. The "consistency" of Windows is an artifact of them not releasing a new OS for over 5 years. When they do, they of course make different decisions than what they made years before in a previous release. They only maintain "consistency" in the broadest scope, like there's still a Start menu and window frames still have a Close, Minimize, and Maximize buttons. Ubuntu has this too.

      I understand that consistency is something people desire in the abstract. I do not believe that lack of consistency is a reason anyone stayed away from Vista. They stayed away because it was crap. Now people are happily using Windows 7, and the fact that some icons look different. Similarly, the Ubuntu releases are not so dissimilar as to actually cause significant confusion. Maybe for 5 seconds -- "where did Minimize go? Oh, there it is."

      And frankly, if those 5 seconds of confusion cause a panic, or a desire to avoid that OS from then on, then I believe that you need to be exposed to some inconsistency in the form of new GUI interfaces. Learning to use one and exactly one specific interface is a recipe for obsolescence. Exposure to multiple GUIs results in generalizing your understanding, so then when you sit down in front of a new and seemingly completely different GUI (like your friends Macbook), you aren't lost.

      That said, consistency is good, and randomly changing the interface (considered in isolation from why) is undesirable. But that is not why people are avoiding Ubuntu and Linux in general. They're avoiding it for other OSes because those other OSes come pre-installed by OEMs, and support all the software they want to run.

  • by arhhook (995275) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:12AM (#34012580)

    There is going to be some questions about this decision in relation to GNOME. I want to make something crystal clear: Ubuntu is GNOME distribution, we ship the GNOME stack, we will continue to ship GNOME apps, and we optimize Ubuntu for GNOME. The only difference is that Unity is a different shell for GNOME, but we continue to support the latest GNOME Shell development work in the Ubuntu archives.

    Jono Bacon from http://www.jonobacon.org/2010/10/25/ubuntu-11-04-to-ship-unity/ [jonobacon.org]

  • FTA: "Earlier this year, Canonical representatives had to deny that they were forking GNOME..."

    This apparently is a common refrain when asked, no one will EVER admit to it.
  • I like the idea of Unity somewhat, but it really isn't much more than an omni-present dock, some shiny effects, and icons. GNOME Shell uses less horizontal space and equal vertical space, scales well for netbooks as well as desktops, has much better notification organization than Unity [gnome.org], is supported upstream much more, it has extensions [gnome.org] which allow great control over the system (including this very nice and extremely lightweight dock extension [blogspot.com]), an Application Menu [gnome.org] which lets you quit all windows of an appl

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ubuntu had a great deal of promise. But they have failed to deliver. It's been years, and they still cause hard drives to crash, they still fail to support hardware, and they still have shitty updates that break things. I'm done with Ubuntu and it makes me sad, because I can't go back to Windows now. My next computer is going to be an Apple and I don't give a damn about the apple tax, because apparently it is the only way to get a real unix desktop with well-supported software and hardware, that works. Sha

  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:32AM (#34012860) Homepage Journal

    I can't blame distributions for not following the GNOME project in all their technical decisions - some parts of GNOME are (and continue to be) neat, but several, particularly those bits tied with Mono and other attempts to wear Microsoft's leash, are lousy (plus some bits duplicate functionality better done elsewhere, e.g. Empathy over Pidgin).

    GNOME is still a pretty decent development environment, and there are a lot of nice applications that use the GNOME libraries. Still, there's no reason distros need the detault GNOME desktop to run them, and people/distros can be perfectly happy taking GNOME components and standards piecemail.

  • by KnownIssues (1612961) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:01PM (#34013408)
    When Microsoft or Apple put something in their product that people don't like, FOSS proponents respond, "The beauty of FOSS is you if you don't like what someone is doing, you can just go off and do your own thing." When someone actually does this the FOSS proponents seem to respond with, "We can't afford to splinter into tiny interest groups or we won't be able to compete with Microsoft and Apple."
    • by Tetsujin (103070) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:40PM (#34014074) Homepage Journal

      When Microsoft or Apple put something in their product that people don't like, FOSS proponents respond, "The beauty of FOSS is you if you don't like what someone is doing, you can just go off and do your own thing." When someone actually does this the FOSS proponents seem to respond with, "We can't afford to splinter into tiny interest groups or we won't be able to compete with Microsoft and Apple."

      You are assuming that these two groups of FOSS proponents are the same folks. This is not necessarily the case. Just as the community is large enough to favor different preferences for the software itself, the community is large enough to foster different ideas about how the software development should proceed.

  • Jack.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:23PM (#34013780)

    Jeez. Ubuntu is becoming the jack of many trades and master of none.

    Let the dedicated desktop guys at Gnome work on the UI. Last thing Linux needs is yet another implementation of a desktop.

    I think we are about to witness the "Jumping the shark".. (Happy Days reference)

  • Don't freak (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bl8n8r (649187) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:41PM (#34014090)
    Nothing to get your panties in a twist over. I'm sure Gnome/KDE/XFWM will still be available from the repos no matter what canonical does. Besides, it's not like you can't still download Xubuntu, or Kubuntu and install Gnome there.
  • I don't mind change. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Beelzebud (1361137) on Monday October 25, 2010 @01:00PM (#34014382)
    I just hope Gnome Shell isn't the disaster that KDE4 has been.

    I really *want* to like KDE, but every time I try it, it is always broken. Take 4.5 for example. They finally have the desktop to a pretty stable level, and then for some reason decided to rewrite Kwin from the ground up, and caused a severe performance regression. It's not as noticeable on new hardware, but on an older machine it means not being able to play 720p HD movies without major performance issues. The same machine runs 720p just fine under Gnome.

    After using KDE4.5 for a week, I uninstalled it and went back to Gnome. It might be plain looking, but it works. I really hope that Gnome Shell doesn't carry a lot of this sort of baggage.

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