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!

You should follow us on or Twitter

Your comments

I think it's a brave move

It's a big change. But I must say I'm pretty excited at the idea.

A step too far

I think this is a really bad idea. Unity can easily be installed if required, and I fear this move will see many move distro. Mint and Fedora will be the winners.


The state it's in now, definitely not. But we've got 6 months of development, including a switch away from mutter to compiz, before it happens. There'll be more eyes on it now it's default as well.

hmmmm.... I think I will pass on this one.

I'm not fan of the unity desktop. It's the one reason why I went from UNR to standard Ubuntu on my network.

It's an interesting move

And maybe no more than that. I personaly use KDE on Fedora so not as immediatly affected but if it helps drive the desktop enviroment forward it will be a big plus

I do - hate mail to mike.saunders@....

I think it's going to be pretty exciting, for me personally I'll probably change it to a more standard desktop fairly quickly as I need more power. But my wife also uses Ubuntu, normally when I set up an environment for her I end up adding panel shortcuts so she can easily get to her most commonly used apps and try to just make things easier. If this done by default and makes using the computer easier for her then so much the better.

The important thing though is that there is always the option to change it if you don't like it. Ain't choice brilliant...

At first I was exited, I

At first I was exited, I also heard that compiz was replacing mutter which is a good move. However, having read reviews of unity so far, I don't like the idea of making it default AT ALL, I think it's a mistake and is only intended to increace canonical's 'ownage' of ubuntu. Unity was designed for small screens and touch screen devices, not an ordinary desktop, but I'm no fan of gnome shell either so I guess I'll see how this turns out.

Maybe you could take a look at the latest ayanta build in the next LXF.


I've been using Unity on Netbook Remix and whilst maybe I can see it working on a larger screen, it's absolutely useless for the netbook. It's big and klunky and takes up too much screen real estate.

Someone in Ubuntu seems to have forgotten that netbooks are used a lot as cloud based devices - with the Unity icons cluttering up on the left, my netbook doesn't even have the screen real estate to show most websites properly without horizontal scrolling.

It's so annoying that I'm contemplating moving my Netbook onto another netbook OS. Given I've used Ubuntu for many many years (since Ubuntu 7.04 I think) and run it on three PCs, that's not a decision I'm taking lightly.

I'm not adverse to change however this bit of change certainly isn't taking me along with it.


Like window button moves, dropping GIMP and aptitude from the default install, dodgy porno calendars and spacial windows, this will be yet another decision Canonical/Ubuntu make that will be forgotten soon enough, but dredged up by people leaving comments on blogs when the next change comes around.

Like this one.

Zeitgeist the future

Using Unity on the desktop will be a winner due to the integration of zeitgeist. Zeitgeist holds the future. But still a brave decision from Ubuntu.

Cooperation would be more beneficial for GNOME users

It would have been nice if Canonical contributed its time and money to GNOME (shell) instead of their own shell. Even if they do not like some of the idea's and features implemented in GNOME shell, I'm quite sure their money and manpower would have given them substantial influence in some of the decisions taken in this area. They claim competition is healthy, but I strongly believe cooperation in the world of FOSS will get you further... Alas, Canonical does not have the name to be that 'upstream friendly'...

And then there's the argument to embrace changes... Well, whether it's plain GNOME 3.0 with GNOME shell or some GNOME 3.0 libraries with Unity, change will come to the GNOME users anyway. But with change, Canonical now also introduces fragmentation, which might turn out badly for the GNOME community...

Anonymous Penguin -- remove this

If you do not allow Anonymous Penguin to post .. please remove it, simple?!

Tried Unity and it is quite a clumsy interface, for now.

Always good to have people splitting to different directions,
- create news for magazines
- chances of creating fanboys and the they against us syndrome

Ubuntu will try to differentiate itself from the rest, so you will see a different desktop, packages (non-gpl), fonts, interface etc. -

What do you expect? Ubuntu for mankind? Wake up, it's going to be be Ubuntu for profit, which is not wrong. Will you throw millions into a project and not milk it?

Wake up, this is the real world!!

Old Gnome is gone anyway

The Gnome shell is coming and the Gnome we have had for so long is going to be no longer available. So, it will be Unity or the Gnome shell, but not traditional Gnome. I have Unity on my EeePC 900 and am not impressed with the speed or the rough edges. The switch to Compiz and six months more development might help.

I have just started using KDE 4.5 in preparation. I have used KDE in the past and always eneded up back with Gnome. maybe this time it will stick.

welcome move

I think Ubuntu's move can speed up UI improvements compared to gnome shell...Its always better to have independent ideas and refinements to keep coming to have better user experience and popularize linux.I am sure as more and more users try their hands out on these new versions their feedback will vastly help the community cause at large.It would be rather nice to have the two teams cooperate with each other if possible.

not easy

Big changes are never taken lightly.when kde 4.0 was launched everybody hated it and now not so much. well...many still hate it :D, but it's getting better every release and that's because many distros started to include kde4 as their main kde desktop. Without the help of all the courageous intrepid adventurers who tried it in the first place, kde4 would still be hated by all and not just many...lololol
I'm not saying this is the right move from Canonical® but I'm really curious and will most definably try it when it's out.

P.S.:I use kde4 ;-D, though i'm not intrepid nor courageous or even adventurer, just mad...hehehe

P.S.2: When I say "hate", I really mean, strongly dislike.

Unity - ironic name

Just another example how Canonical don't want to contribute back to the open source and doesn't want all the Linux world to be at least a little bit coherent. Instead of using Gnome shell as probably the rest of the Gnome world will be doing soon and participating in it's development and making it better, they'll go for their own solution rather then cooperating with others. Instead of using upstream supported project developed by many people from many companies who are working hard to make it perfect and well integrated, they'll hack something by themself.

as long as i can change to

as long as i can change to gnome if its not to my liking, no harm done.

Ford used the same engines in there cars for years and years

Ford used the same engines in there cars for years and years. all they did was change the shell the engine went into.

It is quite exciting that there will be another operating system out there. (even though its just got a face lift)
It feels new, looks new, and new is exciting.
Maybe more people will give it a try?

I really dont get why they

I really dont get why they havent thought of changing it sooner, or at least make a new derivative. That being said Unity needs some work and if someone isnt to willing to use it I'm sure Gubuntu will work just as well as Kubuntu does today.

More individualism

More individualism amongst the distributions must be good - there isn't much separating Ubuntu from Fedora from anything else mainstream, so a good luck to them.

(As regards Unity, it is idiotware and goes with Ubuntu's social desktop / proprietary packages / stifling dissent / spying on installs / etc).


I'm pretty sure they have sent most everything they have done to gnome but they(as in gnome) did not accept the patches. Same deal as with their notification. It's true that they don't "do" as much coding for the community as others but they do plenty unless you look at it in your silly point of view.

Brave Move

This is a brave move by Canonical, whilst upsetting the core users, it will be great for new users like my partner and children.

At the moment I have set them up a Gnome top panel, with Docky on the bottom. This makes it easier for them to navigate and stops a lot of question.

As long as Ubuntu still allows me the choice to use Gnome and does not force their new choice on me. I think it will only help differentiate between Ubuntu and other operating system choices.

Switching to Unity is not the issue

The more I think about Unity, the more it seems like XFCE is to Gnome; XFCE uses libgnome with a new front-end. If Canonical decided to use XFCE on the desktop, people would be surprised, but not divided. The reason they are divided is that Unity is a project owned by a private company. Contributors to Unity must commit their copyright to a private company. It is forcing those who want to promote desktop Linux to choose to follow the front-runner and accept a private-owned desktop environment or abandon the distribution that has been changing the face of desktop Linux in order to promote a less popular community-run desktop environment.

No I don't support Ubuntu's

No I don't support Ubuntu's move to Unity, and I think Ubuntu should ditch their forking of GNOME. They should focus their creative energy towards upstream GNOME and make GNOME the best DE ever.

Hopefully Ubuntu users begin to realise what a bad community player Canonical is and go to alternatives run by community-friendly companies/non-profits or whatever which base their work upstream.

I'm having regrets that I installed Ubuntu on a family member's laptop.

Bold Step Forward

When I first heard about the move to Unity, I was somewhat skeptical. I like my Gnome desktop and don't like the idea of change. Then a little bit later I thought about it again. Is the idea of moving to Unity such a bad thing. Canonical usually spend a lot of time delivering polished desktops that are very user friendly. Why would this time be any different? I am sure that there will be a way to switch back if I really don't get on with it.

Chris Woollard

We need to have something

Since Gnome3.0 is way behind schedule on the gnome shell, having Unity in place will atleast elevate us from the standard UI. plus the file tag OS + zeitgist being proposed alongside should bring it at par to wht gnome is planning with gnome 3

Every distro adds to the

Every distro adds to the default desktop packages and Firefox are prime examples, but nobody bats an eyelid at that. This is a minor tweak on gnome shell it pretty much uses the same technology and has some really nice features.

Ubuntu's core philosophy is to pick the best application for the mass user and I believe that this is the reason for the change, unity has features that are still missing from gnome shell and currently gnome have no plans to integrate them. Other than that there is little change to the application base.

KDE SC Plasma Netbook and E17 is the answer

i don't understand Shutlleworth, if he really wants to give the world a new kind of desktop full of inovation, there are only two real choices, KDE SC Plasma Netbook (powered by Qt) and Enlightenment. Why these two? Because their both being used already by 3 great projects (Maemo/MeeGo, Bada, Ubuntu for Arm) and are supported by powerfull players such as Nokia, Intel, Samsung. And above all because the future is powered by ARM cpus and both Qt and E17 are ready for it!

Innovation might be our only route but...

There's always been this tendency for linux to be playing a catching up game, reimplementing stuff that's available in other OSs. Say dockbarx, mono, etc.... It's great to see innovation in center stage, pushing us forward, but Unity is risky business.

I'm looking at it in terms of adoption. Right now the general opinion people have of Ubuntu is "It's ok but". But it doesn't run my games. But it doesn't run photoshop. But it doesn't recognize my phone.

With Unity, Ubuntu isn't just "ok" because it will be so radically different from everything else. It aims to change the way we interact with the desktop, with our computers even, and therefore has a learning curve. The question is: can we expect people to invest time in adapting to a new desktop even thought the "buts" still remain? Is Unity *that* good?

Today? No, it isn't. Could it be? Maybe. But run all the focus group test you want, I can't see my mother running it no matter what. And that says quite a bit.

Unity on my netbook...

... is extremely slow, unintuitive, restrictive and a mess. I've gone back to Enlightenment E17.


I like open source so I like when somebody participates in it's development ;-) If they do other things I don't mind but mostly I don't care either. I know that they send some patches to the upstream and some of them were even accepted. But I'm quite sure that patches that got rejected was rejected because of some good reason.

Before you start hacking on something, it's always a good idea to check what upstream is doing and to try to make your work part of the upstream project. Discuss your idea with them and try to work together with them. Others will help you, your contribution will have broader audience (more testing and fixes) and you wouldn't have to maintain yet another fork. You mentioned notifications that were rewritten in Canonical and at the same time they were getting rewriten in Gnome and KDE as well. Just imagine how great it could be if all of them would have talked to each other and cooperate ;-)

My point of view might look silly to you, but I prefer if people talks to each other, settle out their differences and work together to make everything better rather then trying to differenciate at all costs.

Why not?

I have to say, why the heck not?
They went macky with the color coding and switching last time. They got some heat for that. This moves them into unknown space sort of at least where they can define their own look and feel without preconceptions. Well less of them at least one can hope. Lets face it, you have to either embrace KDE4, Gnome 3.0 or some other desktop enviroment like Xfce(my second after KDE).
Why not try a new one and see what happens? At least it's not another old Gnome interface trying to look cool with a 'new' color scheme.

Will Unity be Freedom?

I haven't used Unity so can't comment on it directly. Also, I use (previously) derivatives like puredyne & chrunchbang rather than 'pure' Ubuntu,.

However, being a strong advocate of libre software I do promote the use of GNU/Linux and often evangelize to friends and others (often so great success!). This generally involves encouraging the use of Ubuntu and Mint as they are incredibly easy to use for people dependent on a proprietary OS.

I really want to like Ubuntu, as it appears they are doing great things to bring GNU/Linux to more people. Personally, though, the more Canonical moves away from community development the harder it is to stand behind them. It just smells like a new M$. Unity seems to be one giant step in that direction and its sad.

The only saving grace could be if there is an option at login to not have it. That would keep with the spirit of having choices and allow people to make up their own minds about their desktops... hence free as in freedom.

Firstly i don't really use

Firstly i don't really use Ubuntu, i'm not a 'hater' it simply isn't for me. Which is great as we, the linux community, have a huge choice of distro's to choose from.

And that's how i feel about this move, it's a brave move to distinguish Ubuntu from other distro's but ultimately if anyone doesn't really enjoy Unity then a) install Gnome / whatever GUI you like from the repository or b) use another distro (Linux Mint maybe?)

I'm sure there'll be problems at first, there usually is with big changes like this but it's great to see a distro really coming at the 'Linux on the Desktop' from a very different and fresh approach.

Of course this will give Ubuntu hater's a feast to chew on!


Unity? Absolutely not! The whole exercise is a waste of creative talent. A total waste. Unity is a massive brain fart!

Unity - NOT!

At first, I was a bit sceptical, but still interested in the netbook interface. Then I tried it on my desktop PC, I have not the latest hardware, but still a single core processor, 1.5 GB RAM, a low end graphics card with driver installed.

But what did I get for this?

An experience even worse than I was used to get from a live cd! I don't want to have to wait until tooltip texts appear nor I want to wait until text input is shown to me. Furthermore I don't believe that in such a short time performance optimization can make it a system that works as fluently as I want it.
At least I'm disappointed very much :/

At the state it's in now,

At the state it's in now, nope. Provided 6 months of development is enough to see the project mature a little. Right now, the whole thing feels incredibly clunky, to the point I use Ubuntu desktop edition on my netbook to avoid Unity. Then again, if it turns out that I don't like Unity even after further development, at least I can switch to another distro, eh?


I have used Gnome Shell and didn't really care for it. I didn't like the way it did certain things, and my biggest gripe was that there is nothing on the screen to indicate what I have running on any particular desktop. I really need that.

I don't know anything about Unity, so I don't really have a comment about it.

But, If it turns out that it doesn't work for me, then there are other alternatives to be used. That's what sets Linux apart from all the other OS's.

Its not the end of the world, if You don't like Unity switch to another DE....its really that simple.

Thats my 2 cents. (Or would it be Pence??)

Yes !

Why not !

Unity for desktop will be different than Unity for Netbooks.

First of all there will be some optimizations and differences between the desktop and Netbook edition so don't worry about the exactly the same UI for both verisons.

I think it's a bold move, it's risky but it's the right decision. Sooner or later Gnome as we know it will die and will use the dreaded Gnome Shell almost everyone hates. Also Unity is more mature than Gnome Shell and it's being ported to Compiz to improve performance and minimize hardware issues.


So many comments already!!!

Anyway, I had unity on my netbook and I hated it, it didn't feel right, and it was a bit buggy, so I installed kbuntu and switched to the netbook 'version'. SOOOOOO much nicer and friendly.

Fine with Me

The main reason I upgrade my Ubuntu installation is for a new layout / look. Yes, I know I can customise it, and I followed the Tuxradar guide on making Linux look awesome, actually, but I don't really tinker with the look of the desktop very often. Every six months it's nice to have someone give you a bit of a change.

Either way, I'm all for as much experimentation in Linux as possible.

Do you think you'll get the new look if you do apt-get dist-upgrade, or only if you install from fresh?


I don't use Ubuntu, or Gnome (and most certainly not KDE- although I'm posting as Anonymouse Penguine here I still don't want anyone to think I use KDE :), so... this will not affect me personally, i.e., I don't care. But, as a Linux user it's always interesting/important to see what's going on in the Ubuntu camp. Well done Canonical for forking Gnome now instead of prolonging the agony for a long time. As for the UI- I understand it will not be identical to the currently poorly usable netbook edition. So who knows what we're actually debating?

Otherwise... Ubuntu is stagnant in the desktop market outside Linux. All the gains it says it makes are against other distros, not MS or Apple. So Ubuntu has to stand out with some feature. Therefore this move makes sense.

Of course, they could backpedal in three days and announce they're going with... who knows what. It's Canonical after all, those guys are not very serious.

Also, people who want Ubuntu, improved, and Gnome they're used to, will always have Mint. The new release looks set to be excellent in every sense of the word.

@ all the idiots that don't read enough info and spread FUD!!!!!

1 Unity Desktop is not Unity Netbook
2. Unity will be faster because their are not using Mutter as the Window Manager, instead they will use Compiz.
3. Unity is not a fork of Gnome, it's just a different shell.
4. Gnome Shell is nowhere to be seen, Unity has been released, meaning it's more mature.
5. How can you trust Gnome developers, they work slow, are closed minded, they have never accepted Canonical's contributions but are ripping them off on Gnome 3.
6. In order to separate Ubuntu from the pack they really need this new UI which is very promising.

Do the homework before commenting people! Though I don't expect the idiots envious of Ubuntu's success to do that.

Why not?

Why not?

Ubuntu is a desktop orientated company that is failing to gain anything except other Linux distro's users.

Why not try something new. Although they are already too stretched doing multiple desktops. If they are going to do this focus they need to throw all their eggs into this baskets. Forget all the mini versions and just do this. Forget KDE, an alternate Gnome version, LXDE, XFCE.

But they need to focus on original ideas and frankly the zeitgeist integration has to be the best thing and need to focus there minds on this.

I like Unity but it isn't done yet

Well I like the idea but after installing Ubuntu 10.10 on my netbook and it still had really bad performance issues. So I had to changed to use the regular Gnome desktop although I really like Unity. Unity just isn't ready for use yet in my opinion/case.


Moving to Unity on desktops with more power, and big screens with high resolutions might work well for some users, while I think Unity defeats it's own purpose on netbooks (as many have already said), as it takes up more screen space, and makes Ubuntu even slower than before, which is really bad for weak netbooks.

I always install and try out the new versions of Ubuntu as they come, but mostly to be able to support it for friends and family. Don't really like it much personally. What I like about FOSS in general, is choise, and I feel Canonical is trying to make more and more choises for the user for each new release. That can be a very good thing for new users who don't know what they want yet, but myself, I'll stick with Arch + Fluxbox.

Not Convinced

I have trid running Ubuntu with unity on my netbook but found it got in the way. As a result I have now moved to the XFCE version of Mint which is much more useful. The ideal desktop is one you don't notice. Unity does not fit that bill.

No, it's a bit clunky, it's

No, it's a bit clunky, it's more like a tool bar that should do something. If you are planing that then...

Make that bar as pop-up on top (not top as position but more like over existing application), that will please everybody desktop, netbook and touch.

I like standard Gnome it's practical, KDE is a train, Ubuntu Remix OK and more like Jolicloud.

I'm guessing that users want empty home desktop as drop off or maybe no who knows.

Just make it simple OK, don't force to user map something that he don't want.

It's not the user interface but more like what you do with in a productive way!

I won't use it -- or Ubuntu

I won't use it -- or Ubuntu -- simply because of the overzealous Ubuntu fans who're needlessly slandering GNOME, about which up until yesterday they had not complaints. Not a group I care to be associated with.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Username:   Password: