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.

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3 Responses

  1. M.W.Chase says:

    Thanks for the comment! By the way, you can just hit the “windows” key on the keyboard (also called the Super key) to bring up Activities. Or use Alt-Tab to go through active programs as normal.

  2. Vladimir says:

    I have tried the Gnome shell, but I felt like a screen wiper moving frequently with the mouse pointer from upper left corner to the right side previews.

  3. Richard Mart says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more and i thank you for this post.
    It made me try gnome shell again on a new Oneiric desktop. Thanks to Gnome Shell i’m ready to switch back from Linux Mint to Ubuntu.
    Like you said there’s no doubt it my mind Ubuntu would be better off with Gnome Shell. Not only does it look much better but i find it more usable. I particularly like the extensions that allow power users to get more of the classic functionality and i’m a huge fan of the new workspace system.

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