Open Ballot: do you support Ubuntu's move to Unity?


This is a big one: the world's most popular Linux distribution is getting a radical desktop overhaul in 11.04. Ubuntu will switch from the standard Gnome layout, as used in all previous desktop releases, to the Unity interface featured in the netbook edition. As we prepare to record our next podcast, we want your opinions on the change: is this a bold leap forward for Linux, giving it a unique GUI to clearly differentiate it from Windows and Mac OS X? Or are changes like this too risky, and Ubuntu should stick with the tried-and-tested Gnome layout?

Let us know what you think, and give yourself a more interesting name than Anonymous Penguin if you want us to read your comment out!

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Your comments

Time for a final choice

Great, now all the lazy people like me will get a chance to try it without any special effort. If its ugly, I'm back to ArchLinux with some tilling window manager in no time.

Psst. Nobody liked Gnome that much anyway..


I will end up moving to another distro. Now that Mark is forcing me into something else, I will make the time to install Arch or stay with my longtime friend Debian.

Depends on what the goal is

I've had both my parents happily running UNR since it was a hacky add-on to 8.10, and, while I don't plan to take them off the LTS versions of 10.04 UNR they're running now, when 12.04 rolls out with Unity, I'm sure they'll like it.

Personally, I haven't run Ubuntu ever, and haven't used GNOME proper for years. I like XFCE, I like E16, I like the Meego demo's I've seen so far, and I plan to keep running, supporting and advocating open-source software. I plan to keep picking what I deem are the right tools for the job, and the more there are out there, the better choice I can make.

A bit more development on Unity and Yes!

@Cooperation would be more beneficial for GNOME users

Yes that is true but then again its nice to see them do something completely different to other distos. Ubuntu is leading the innovation charge at pace!

Ive heard Unity is really bad at the moment but 6 months of development and refinement should make the difference.

The good thing about this is it will really lower the bar for new users IMO. Also if a user sees the same interface on the desktop edition as his/her netbook then its consistent and encouraging for the user to use the desktop edition.

I think overall I am in support of this more but also worried that it could turn out badly or I won't like it.

Does it really matter if they do?

So now there will probably just be another disk for Gnubuntu installation for the default GNOME setup. Who cares? Maybe it will be more user friendly, maybe it won't. The only downside will be that there will be yet more questions from newbies with all these ubuntu variants (forget the linux variants, bsd variants, etc).

I do wish they would work on more important issues instead of desktop manager appearance (such as speed, stability . . . contributing back to Debian).

Maybe the default install page for ubuntu should just have pictures of different computers and say "Does your computer look like this?" and you click on the image of your computer for the flavor of ubuntu.

picture of server --> Ubuntu server edition
picture of netbook (links to)--> netbook remix
picture of old computer(links to) --> lubuntu
picture of Mike Saunders computer (links to) --> MikeOS

Now Ubuntu = Fedora +


Ubuntu = Fedora + UbuntuOne + Mono + unnecessary services + Ugly window placement

From 11.04

Ubuntu = Fedora - Gnome + UbuntuOne + Mono + unncessary services + Unity desktop + Ugly window placement

Mixed feelings

So far, I haven't been impressed with Unity, but I'm keeping an open mind. I'm interested to see how it all turns out as I'm a fan of tinkering with things, even if they're already working. Still, I won't be surprised if I end up sticking to older versions of Ubuntu.

Yes - go for it

I've just installed it on my netbook and it looks and runs very nicely. I say Canonical have done the right thing - creating an attractive customised desktop they can make their own, and can hopefully go on to build a strong brand. Ubuntu has the potential to become MacOS for the masses if they get it right. Good luck to them.

Absolute Pure Genius

This is a brave genius move from Canonical. This will clearly define Ubuntu, the Apps will be the same, say what you want, Fedora, Suse, Gentoo they are all good distributions, but ave had plenty of time to become the default desktop. If Linux wants to move forward, its actions like these which will define the platform. While others roll out a changed gnome theme here and there, and still cannot get Wifi working, a decent package management system or patch management sorted out.

Good move.

Functionality not superficiality

Don't see what was wrong with the tried and trusted Gnome 2.x interface. Would prefer it if Canonical instead devoted it's efforts to developing a suite of apps to rival Apple's ilife.

It is functionality that matters more than bling.

We need apps comparable to Garageband and iMovie in terms of functionality, stability and ease of use.

What's an Ubuntu?

...and why does it need to be united with gnomes?

go there own way?!

I used to use ubuntu from hardy to jaunty. They now seem to be wanting to become the 'Windowz' of linux. Bloating this, and mono-ising that.
I, like crunchbang, mepis and others, have switched back to "debian". (actually crunchbang statler - simple & effective)
They used to listen to the 'comunity' but now they just seem to change things for their own sake on a whim.
If they spent as much time on bug-fixing and feeding back upstream instead of launch-parties, comunitizing-the-comunity-NOT, and globetrotting round the world to talk it all up, I might look at it again!

nope, won't use it anyway.

Personally I don't care but at the same time I can't stop the feeling of ”not another de”.
It will just make the mess messier.

Various thoughts

1. The unity netbook interface is poor: it wastes screen space and seems a backwards step from the old UNE.

2. On the other hand, the KDE team has done a great job on their netbook interface. (How come LXF has scarcely mentioned it?)

3. Gnome shell scarcely looks up to much either: more clicks to achieve the same ends.

4. Is Canonical using Linux as a springboard to its own operating system in a similar way to Apple's use of BSD as a basis for theirs? Or is that being too suspicious?

Choice is good

I thought the Unity interface on my netbook was okay - Meego's one is better though. Presumably they'll do something to make Unity more suitable for the larger screens on a desktop - in which case I'll reserve judgement until I've seen it.

Actually, as long as they make it optional, and easy to revert to Gnome, KDE, etc, then "fine, go ahead" says I. After all, I've still got the window controls on my desktop edition of Lucid on the right-hand side. :p

NO - I was really looking forward to Gnome Shell

I was really looking forward to Gnome Shell and the 3.0 release. Regardless of what people think about Gnome, and believe me it does have its problems, it is still a mature and tested desktop that gets the job done. Maybe the move to Gnome Shell was to much for them, but I rather enjoyed it while it was in the repository.

I'll have to see what Unity looks like when 11.04 hits the net, but I probably won't upgrade. I haven't upgraded from 10.04 LTS and I probably won't until 12.04. Whatever they do, I just don't want their experimentation to ruin a good thing.

Better than the alternative...

I don't like Unity, but I like it more than Gnome-shell.

The bigger part of the announcement, in my eyes, is Unity's switch to compiz, which will improve stability and performance greatly. Clutter, sadly, is pretty terrible from that point of view.

As a disliker of 'docks' and the 'dock-like' way of doing things, both Gnome-Shell and Unity don't appeal much to me, but of the two (and we'll almost certainly see one of them as the default in the major distros soon) Unity is far and away the winner, both in design and implementation.

Regardless, at least we can still change window managers to one that fits us better --- or just use the terminal with something like 'screen'. That's the beauty of Linux --- there's so much choice!

[Disclaimer: I had some warning that this would happen, and have therefore actually formed an opinion in advance.]


They're welcome to do whatever they want.

I took Lubuntu 10.10, installed gnome-core and gnome-shell, then installed a number of Linux Mint packages, added a few KDE apps, removed LXDE and Openbox, and now I have a bit of a Frankenstein distro. Not quite Mint, not quite Ubuntu, but it has the apps *I* want and the desktop environment I want to have.

No one forces anyone to use any one particular environment. Until Canonical says, "no, you can't take Ubuntu and do with it whatever you'd like," they can do what they want. That's the beauty of open source.

If it's broken don't fix it.

I've been slowly converting regular people who have no clue as to what an OS is to Ubuntu at my Real Estate office in California. I'm talking about older folks (50+) with a netbook who were not happy with how Windows was running.

A USB Stick and 10 minutes of playing with Ubuntu 9.10 or 10.04 is all it took to convince Realtors to switch to Linux.

I'm not a computer geek, I just got tired of my wife complaining that her Acer Aspire One "aspired" to be a computer running under Windows.

As long as it works and the general public, i.e, us simpletons can use it, great. It just needs to work. That's it. And for goodness sakes encourage demo's of it. How else do you expect to get word out? Osmosis?!

Duplicated development effort?

Looks interesting, but doesn't it seem like a lot of duplicated development effort?

You can achieve a similar environment with:

- Gnome Shell
- Docky/Cairo Dock/AWN
- Global Menu Applet

Granted, they can include a great deal of DE integration by coding their own versions of the above apps, but (correct me if I am wrong) would it not be easier to patch existing apps to provide the integration they want?

Well, a non-issue for me really, I'll stick with my Arch Xfce.


well done

Canonical knows that that the desktop is where the battle for hearts and minds plays out.
In order to attract users away for commercial operating systems the default DE is going to be the thing that'll make peoples minds up.
Most people I know, don't want to get any more involved in customizing their desktop than changing the background or the colour scheme.
In order to attract new people It needs to look slicker, be more responsive or have better functionality than commercial rivals.
While Gnome is immediately accessible to anyone who's ever used a desktop operating system, it doesn't really excite people.
I hope they can iron out the problems and present something unique and attractive.
This one foreground task at a time thing is good.
Right now it's let down in some key areas. 3 clicks in 3 different parts of the screen to get to the file manager? Really?
I've never owned or used an Iphone or Ipad but I believe they have a common UI thats simple and intuitive to use. Canonical aim to provide a common UI across it's desktop, netbook and touch screen offerings. It's exactly what they should be doing.
I also really enjoy the comments saying "I would never use unity I prefer emacs on my gentoo build..." or similar.
This is not about you.
Enjoy your life.

A little bit disappointed

I use Ubuntu since 6.06, tried many other distributions (Fedora, openSUSE was my first try in the Linux world with version 9.2, slackware, etc, etc).I was happy using ubuntu operating system (distribution) that with every update got better and still was matching my habits. So with 10.04 I had to start changing my habits - window border buttons on the left side - but it was okay I could change it and that was easy, but still for me this was an attempt to change the way I was working in a way I didn't wanto.

My point is - changing is okay, but only when users can do all the work on their PCs the way they are used to. Winning new users in the GNU/Linux world is perfect, but why loosing those who are already happy and have completely switched to Open source? Why should I start from the beginning with testing distributions, searching for the one matching my needs? It sounds more like Apple trying to dictate how I should use my computer.

If I can use GNOME in 11.04 without any big efforts I don't care if there is Unity, GNOME Shell, or whatsoever.


Seems like another ploy for PR. Bit depressing as when I tried Unity (on a fairly new machine -- 3/4 years old) it did not work, just a white screen.


I like the idea of Unity and I always love it when Linux distribution try to innovate and to be different instead of copying MS and Apple. That's why I also like Gnome Shell.

But an interface with huge icons is not exactly what I am looking for on my 22" screen!

After being flamed in the Gnome Census debate, why doesn't Canonical devote some engineering capacity to make Gnome Shell work properly? Until then, just ship the newest Gnome 2.x or maybe even skip one release and fix the bugs in Maverick!

I am quite a Linux geek who loves every single new feature and gets excited about releases, but even I don't need a strict 6 month schedule and would prefer improved stability over that.

Besides that, the main thing

Besides that, the main thing I dislike about the beautiful OS X desktop is the global menu bar - good for a netbook, awful for any screen bigger than 13". Why do I have to move my mouse to the top of the screen when I want to save something?

Not at all

I think i may end up switching to Linux Mint if this goes through. Thery're turning ubuntu into mac os x.


If they're turning Ubuntu into a free, open version of osx that'd be awesome.
Power users and people who don't want everything configured for them have a wide choice of distro's.
Canonical are trying to build a mainstream OS, so they need to be willing to make choices for those people who don't want to make their own.
Most folk just want to get on with whatever they need to do.
Unity should just be one big button that says 'do what I'm thinking of'.

tides of change

yes, i'm all for it. I´m using it on a 15" screen and works great, i'd love to try it on a touch screen. Yes its simple and you don´t have to mess with the configuration of the computer. I like messing with my computer, but most of the times i don't have spare time for it. That´s why i don´t use Fedora regularly. Ubuntu at this time, with unity is simpler to use than win 7. That works for me.

If it ain't broke - don't try to fix it!

Looking at the demo screen of the new "ugh" Unity Desktop, it is an apparent move to dumb down the UI. Shuttleworth mentions Unity competition for the UI - when there is no competition except maybe between KDE and Gnome. What he forgets is that only the hearts and minds of the user can decide that - not an edict by Shuttleworth.

Admittedly, I am an Advanced user of the Gnome Gtk UI, so, I will proceed to immediately edit the .iso image file of the Ubuntu 11.04 Live CD upon download to suit my needs which are that I have a custom Live CD/USB environment that is more secure than any installed OS.

I do NOT support Ubuntu's move to Unity. It is a wasted effort.

Not a bad thing

I don't see this a bad thing, as long as the experience is smooth and nice, I think it's a breath of fresh air.

Given certain effort

I personally think that the design of Unity - or the design used on Unity by the UNR - is appalling. I don't know the technology of Unity, I have only seen it used - and that probably goes for a lot of the commenters - and if it is going to be a success, they are going to need a considerably smoother design. Pay some people from the Mint project, for instance...

Canonical kills another myth about Linux.

Well looks like Canonical is looking to kill another myth: the only significant reason malware is rare on linux is that there aren't as many installations of linux.

Why? in the next few years we will see major linux malware, only the only platforms it runs on will be Canonical based.

Canonical will write tons of holes as they abandon the practices that built GNU and created solid architectures
( because these are just the extreme practices of GNU radicals ) while adopting MS like development processes.

Of course places like freegeeks will stop using Ubuntu because the equipment they recycle won't be powerful enough to use it ( Unity need 3d hardware acceleration ). Quite a change from the demo of a ten year old computer running compiz.


Im not a huge fan of GNOME but even less of the GNOME shell
or or Unity so I might not be the best guy to judge but in a 
way I am since this is done to get new users.
This hasnt succeeded in convincing me to ditch either E17 or 
LXDE and Ive installed KDE based distros for about 14 people 
this past year (I offered three desktops and EVERY ex-Windows user chose KDE). Were talking grannies and granpas and people with little kids. I think the 'its easier for kids and non-techies' is pretty weak excuse for many changes in tech.
Click here for Firefox, click here to find your pictures, 
click here to listen to music. 

I will however give it shot and offered Unity to newbies if it becomes stable enough. Too much choice is not a problem.
And if even one person decides that Unity is to their liking, then it will be worth it.
The desktop has to reflect what the user wants, NOT what we tell him he wants.
Once again, thats the beauty of choice and FLOSS.

But personally.... MEH!!

A bad idea

I think the switch to Unity on the desktop is a poorly thought out idea, as it may drive users away because it is less similar to Windows than the GNU Network Object Model Environment. Also, Unity its self is poorly thought out, as the large dock on the left side of the screen is completely impractical for web browsing (the most common thing people do on netbooks) as it renders you unable to view the webpage without horizontal scrolling. The only good thing with Unity is the single horizontal panel, an idea that should be considered in preparation for the next release of the G.N.O.M.E.

Effective Screen Area

I personally don't care what system is used. The main criteria for me is how much of the screen area is used on the system. I like to do things with my computers and I don't want anything getting in the way of that. This is why the standard Gnome layout is always modified to a single bar instead of the two Gnome normally provides, (aka as in the Mint and SUSE Gnome offerings).

Good Move

I would love to see Ubuntu move to it's own unique GUI. The only doubt's I would have is the ease for non-linux users to transfer over to the new GUI.

A slap in the face for GNOME developers

Weird, after the switch to KDE 4, the interface became less usable. It has caught up in the meantime, but why try the same thing now with Unity? It was made for netbooks, right? Why boycott the development of Gnome Shell, which looked very promising? This is precisely the kind of "everyone does as they please" that we don't need anymore in Linux.

Tatty not Natty

Was thinking of switching to Debian as it was... this news has made my mind up.

With Debian not only do you get Gnome as intended, but, of course, you get more stability and robustness and less of Canonical's increasing commercialisation of Linux. Not everyone wants their stuff in the Ubuntu One cloud; not everyone wants to be encouraged to buy music in the proprietary MP3 format, so that Canonical can make a fast buck by undermining the years of work that Open Source enthusiasts have spent promoting Vorbis as a non patent encumbered alternative; not everyone wants to broadcast every aspect of their mundane lives using a me menu thank you very much. I think the Software Centre selling proprietary software is bad... okay it may increase Linux adoption, but what is the point if proprietary software on Linux becomes the norm? The very reason Linux was invented was to be an alternative to proprietary software; if proprietary software on Linux becomes the norm then Linux loses it's meaning for me... if we're all using proprietary software, we may as well all use Windows. Having proprietary software in the Ubuntu store is the equivalent to waving the whiteflag IMO.

Anyway, end of rant.

On a widescreen monitor even

On a widescreen monitor even a netbook, unity doesn't waste space.

Most web pages are thin slivers of content with white strips on either side.

You can afford to get rid of the white strips

convincing monkeys to grow wings

The industry is trying out the tablet model with the success of the iPad. If I buy an android variation [I don't care how pretty it is, I'll kill myself before buying the Close Source Apple thing of the month], the first thing I will want to do is rip the software provided, and load my own Linux interface.

Trying to get the Gnome people on board with this program seems to me like convincing monkeys to grow wings.

Could Ubuntu develop a tablet multi-touch screen interface easier, in-house (perhaps for a tech-support fee), with Unity? I think they might.

Oh, and Jim Moreson, Elvis, JFK, and Marilyn Monroe are all living in a retirement home in up-state New Jersey. Fact.

news well received

I think this news will be well the KDE team keen to win back those who left KDE in droves in the KDE 4.0-4.1 era.

It is beyond me what is going on.

Tony Benn said "there are too many socialist parties and not enough socialists". This reminds me of Linux. Linux still has barely 1% marketshare and yet there is so much factionalism not just between KDE and Gnome, but even within Gnome itself! Over the next couple of years we are going to have at least 3 concurrent versions of Gnome... the official Gnome shell version, the Unity version, and the good old fashioned classic Gnome 2 diehards version.

I try to follow these things but am struggling to find any progress that Gnome shell has made in last 12 months. There seems to be a real lack of direction and a lot of change for the sake of it. Unity just seems pointless to me. I look at how polished Gnome 2 is now after 8 years or so and say to myself if it ain't broke don't fix it!

What worries me more is that I have heard that xfce is really struggling for developers these days and the future of the project is in doubt (could Mike "xfce" Saunders please confirm or deny this?). I think xfce's combination of usability and minimalism is wonderful and should be a lesson to both Gnome and KDE. The reason the old fashioned desktop style that xfce personifies became so dominant is because it works. It is only really geeks who like new UI concepts... the vast majority of users like what they know. In this way, Gnome 2's similarity to Windows was a strength. Familiarity to the not so tech savvy typical user is more important than Linux forging it's own identity by means of some groundbreaking interface that, for all it's innovation, will put the masses weaned on windows XP off.

After thinking a bit more

After thinking a bit more about it I've come to the position that it's not bad after all. I believe it will help GNOME in the long run because the Shell now has competition that tries new ideas. In the end I think this will benefit both projects as long as they don't ignore each other.

Let's be positive, guys! Look at it as an opportunity for new ideas to be put into action.

Canonical? Ca-nonsense-ical more like it!

Think they are trying too hard to be different.

Vanity... want to be seen as cutting edge.

Major own goal.

Gnome 2 is like a vintage Cadillac... it will never date. Why scrap 8 years of refinements? Gnome 2 is one of the major factors that helped Ubuntu become so popular. It is highly intuitive and simple to use. We tend to take it a little for granted because it's been around so long... sadly most people won't realise how good Gnome 2 is until Gnome 3 comes out, the same way most people didn't realise how good kde 3 was until KDE 4 came out.

One of Apple's best strengths I think is continuity. OSX is 10 years old and still no sign of OS XI.
Canonical we don't need new stuff every 6 months,especially not when it's as halfbaked as Unity!
Plus they don't chop and change the default apps every 6 months!

brown envelopes

Unity is a good thing.

It will increase adoption of Ubuntu which can only benefit the Tuxradar staff on the Canonical payroll.

Before we know it the podcast will be recorded on board Graham Morrison's luxury yacht!

natty dread

At least this will give me an excuse to go distro hopping again.

Doesn't Spaceman realise that he is scrapping much of what made Ubuntu popular in the first place? Seems suicidal to me.


I'm a bit confused.

Is Unity open source?

When I read that it is a Canonical only thing is this because no one else wants it or because the code is not open?

What is Clem (Mint maintainer) going to do?

Eye Candy by Default

Mixing Compiz and Unity will provide an effects laden desktop by default. I believe that this may well help create a good buzz around Ubuntu, and make it look more attractive to the average desktop user.
I really hope that this works, and believe it is a really bold move. I will happily go along with it as long as there is always an opt out available and the ability to customize the desktop as I want remains possible. If not its off to Open Suse or Mint I go.


I don't care much for Ubuntu, and it looks like many people hate Unity. Does that mean more users will go and see somewhere else? Maybe! And that can only be good! That is why I support Ubuntu's move to Unity!

Unity is an aberation

Has Shuttleworth been on the wacky baccy again?

Hidden Agenda

No doubt Unity will help the Tuxradar team to convert Ubuntu users to the OS of their paymaster Microsoft!

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