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Ubuntu Moves Away From GNOME 514

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

    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?
  • Re:Aero (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:25AM (#34012752)

    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 modern age. It's not like anyone is using THAT, right?

  • Re:Confusion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Confusador ( 1783468 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:29AM (#34012814)

    Which, really, has nothing to do with this. Anyone who doesn't know what Aero or Aqua are doesn't need to know whether they are using Unity or GNOME either, both will just work. For some of us, though, it's interesting news.

  • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw&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.

  • 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.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:37AM (#34012922) Homepage

    I would use MacOS if not for that whole "failing to support hardware" thing that you like to give Ubuntu flack for.

    Seriously. I run Linux on Apple gear because Linux hardware support is better.

    If your thing is "everything is supported", then Apple really isn't the platform for you.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by heathen_01 ( 1191043 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:37AM (#34012928)
    I can't freakin' STAND Gnome. I never really understood the appeal of it...just seemed like a convuluted mess to me.
  • 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)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:38AM (#34012946) Journal

    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 layers deep I need a mining canary to find it.

    Compared with that both OSX and Ubuntu have been solid rock.

    Which probably is what sits in your head... MS and consistent interface...

  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 1s44c ( 552956 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:44AM (#34013062)

    I can't freakin' STAND KDE. I never really understood the appeal of it...just seemed like a convuluted mess to me.

    It was good and I liked it until KDE 4 came out. After trying to use it for 4 hours I switched to XFCE and have never looked back.

  • by marsu_k ( 701360 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @11:50AM (#34013174)
    For the love of $DEITY, stop recommending Kubuntu, it's an half-assed effort that keeps giving KDE a bad name. Yes, the 4.0 release was a PR disaster, whether it was the fault of the developers or distros is debatable but irrelevant now. If you want to run KDE, do yourself a favor and use a distro that puts some effort to it, like Mandriva, OpenSUSE or Chakra.
  • 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.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:00PM (#34013386) Homepage Journal

    Someone with a three digit /. ID should know that Gnome took several years from the release of 2.0 (2002) until it was back to the usability level of 1.4. Gnome 2.6 (2004) was even forked by a couple of rather incompetent optimists. Of course, Gnome had usability experts from SUN who would claim that inability is two letters better than ability, since the ability to do things only would confuse those who don't understand why and how.

    When did the 2.x series start coming good again? 2005? 2006? Or 2010, when they finally ditched Nautilus' obnoxious spatial mode? Or when GTK finally got an acceptable (it's still only half-decent) file selector?

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {}> on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:22PM (#34013758) Homepage

    Not 2005 or 2006. That's about when I ditched GNOME due to being sick of Havoc Pennington's reign of "usability" terror. There was a constant crusade to make sure that no user could have edge flipping of multiple desktops, even as a buried option or as an "addon". (I basically stuck with GNOME until they broke Brightside so many times that the Brightside author gave up - Brightside somehow managed to add edge flipping to most GNOME WMs.)

    Pretty much everything he did in the name of "usability" was to remove functionality. People bitch about KDE4, but KDE4 is far more feature-complete than GNOME was when I ditched it, and GNOME was actually trending downwards. (Admittedly, I didn't do the KDE 3.x to 4.x transition until around KDE 4.2 or 4.3.)

  • 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)

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:31PM (#34013932)

    Isn't that sort of the point? Disrupt the user experience minimally when shifting from one OS to another?

  • Re:About time. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tetsujin ( 103070 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:32PM (#34013940) Homepage Journal

    Gnome has held GNU/Linux back for nearly 10 years now.

    What's wrong with it? How do you think we would have been better off without it?

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:37PM (#34014026) Homepage Journal

    I remember the Window-manager-of-the-month club. Beginning with Enlightenment and finally sticking with Metacity, except when its Compiz that used to be Emerald.

    I remember Big, default "CDE" panel, and the new, slim defaults. I remember difficulty in transition - but...

    It was not so dramatic. Nautilus was always, pretty much a centrepiece - accessible as the Desktop - since the Andy Hertzfeld/Easel involvement 9-10 years ago.

    This is crap navigation for phones/limited memory devices, shoveled up onto the full desktop. Unity looks to be... Much the same.

  • 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.

  • by rec9140 ( 732463 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:53PM (#34014272) Homepage

    *buntu land needs to RUN, not crawl, not walk, but RUN FAR AWAY from the disease that is gnome and monoboi's other crap...

    But alas they still don't get it..."Unitiy....will require composting...."

    Would you please QUIT with the stupid wobly windows, spinny cubes and other crap!

    For a normal desktop KDE needs to be the choice, and yes I will be the first to get the tar, feather, and pitchforks out over the debacle that is and remains KDE4, unfortunately its still the better of the regular X WM's... For lighter weight LXDE, XFCE, etc. are great... just not for me..

    If you want to see what a PROPER *buntu WITH KDE can look like then report to KMint and enjoy... []

  • Re:Mwahaahaaa! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moonbender ( 547943 ) <> on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:54PM (#34014292)

    Most halfway computer literate persons will be able to use in some fashion all of the following: all Windows version from 95 to 7, all Mac OS versions from 7 up to 10, and all Ubuntu version starting from the very early ones (don't think I've personally witnessed the first release). They're all essentially the same in far more ways than they are different. It's all WIMP.

    Whether or not any OS has been "consistent" over the years is really just semantics. You're cherry picking certain aspects (the mere existance of a start menu, for instance). I think claiming that the user interface of Windows and Mac OS haven't changed significantly in those years is ridiculous. I can tell you that despite being a excessive user of all Windows versions up to XP, I now have difficulties accomplishing simple tasks such as disabling a network connection in Win7; not because the user interface is worse (I assume it's better), but simple because it's really different, particularly if you've developed a kind of second sense for the previous versions. I'm sure the first Ubuntu version resembles the current Ubuntu release more closely than Windows 95 resembles Windows 7. But that is hardly fair, since Ubuntu isn't all that old.

  • Re:I'm confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kidcharles ( 908072 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @12:57PM (#34014332)

    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 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.

  • Re:Mwahaahaaa! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MadUndergrad ( 950779 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @01:21PM (#34014676)

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

  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Yfrwlf ( 998822 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:59PM (#34015994)
    I think this is why someone should either take Gnome and add in the "advanced" buttons that let nice tweaks, like screensaver settings in your example, be easily accessible, or take KDE and organize it properly so it's not a cluttered mess.

    Seriously, I believe there is a happy medium that you could make combining the two themes of Gnome and KDE, simplicity and power respectively, by burying the advanced features and tweaks and keeping the simple and common features up-front. I love each DE for each reason, but have ended up with Gnome as I dislike the clutter more than the removal of some features that I don't need all that much, or that installing some additional apps will give me.

    Fork, anyone? :D
  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @03:23PM (#34016290) Homepage Journal

    No, I think people = people. Some people can't let KDE 4.0 go, even though they're perfectly capable of shutting up about practically all competing desktops. And on the contrary to what you claim, its unfinished status was in fact known, and the lack of features wasn't celebrated as a breakthrough in usability, which it was in Gnome 2.0.

    It was made clear, and it was well known to everyone who considered installing it, that KDE4 wasn't ready for prime time at release. Yet you think it's in any way credible that you just happened to stumble over and saw the release announcement even though you were living in a bubble at the time and hadn't heard the rumours that it might not be quite the finished article just yet.

    Oh, and hey []:

    KDE Project Ships Fourth Major Version of cutting edge Free Software Desktop

    With the fourth major version, the KDE Community marks the beginning of the KDE 4 era.

    For those interested in getting packages to test and contribute, several distributions have notified us that they will have KDE 4.0 packages available at or soon after the release. The complete and current list can be found on the KDE 4.0 Info Page, where you can also find links to the source code, information about compiling, security and other issues.

    "Cutting edge." "Marks the beginning." "Packages to test and contribute." Not: what you said.

    I can understand that you're angry if you installed it and noticed an immediate drop in productivity, since what it actually did, then, was to expose you as an imbecile.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal