Ubuntu Unity vs Gnome Shell
Today I updated both my main PC and home file server from Ubuntu 11.04 to 11.10. As you may or may not know, Ubuntu 11.04 came with the new Unity desktop interface, which as I described in a previous post, I really did not like. However, in 11.04 it was possible to use the classic Gnome desktop, which I did. But now, in the latest version of Ubuntu (version 11.10, code named Oneiric Ocelot), that is no longer an option. Unity is the default desktop interface, and Gnome classic is gone. Fortunately, it is possible to install Gnome 3.0, and use the new Gnome Shell desktop interface.
For comparison purposes, here are two videos demonstrating each desktop interface. First Ubuntu 11.10 with Unity:
Now Ubuntu 11.10 with Gnome Shell:
I honestly tried to give Unity a good go, but for some reason I could not get Unity 3D to work right (it was agonizingly slow, and the screen would not refresh properly). Unity 2D worked great, but I just found it cumbersome to locate and switch between apps, and the way that Unity handles workspaces just seemed clunky (a workspace, in Linux, is a desktop–and you can have 2, 4, 6, or more workspaces, meaning you can have multiple desktops to put your applications). Also, I no longer had any 3D effects, which was a pretty big downer. I really like cool 3D effects.
So I fired up Gnome Shell and haven’t looked back. Gnome Shell is by far superior to Unity, and no doubt that is because it is more polished and 3D acceleration works without a hitch. The ergonomics of Gnome Shell just seem more natural and better thought out than Unity, and think I can get more done by not futzing with around with the odd way Unity handle’s things. I also really like the way they handle multiple workspaces, and of course having working 3D effects is nice.
So let’s hope Mark Shuttleworth and the folks at Canonical ditch Unity and accept that Gnome Shell reigns supreme.