Gnome-Shell vs Unity

It’s been almost a year now since Gnome team started to work on Gnome 3, which is the next Gnome desktop environment base. Gnome has also been working on Gnome-Shell which is the main desktop environment for Gnome 3. Gnome-Shell is trying to bring a better experience and friendliness to the user by implementing new desktop system and features. However, Ubutnu developers have seen that Gnome intentions for the desktop differs from theirs, so they started Unity.

A recent screenshot of Gnome-Shell showing opened windows

Basically both Gnome-Shell and Unity are user interfaces built on the Gnome 3 base. However, each delivers its own distinct experience. Gnome-Shell based their GUI on Mlutter, a composing window manager. When Ubuntu started development on Gnome 3 for Unity, it based its development on Mutter as well, and they have released Unity interface for Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook edition.

However, the experience was worse than ever, laggy, buggy, and trashy! Neither users were satisfied, nor the developers! That’s why they ported compiz to Gnome 3! Beta testers of the upcoming Ubuntu release – including me – all agree that there has been major improvement, it became snappier and more responsive.

An recent screenshot of Unity showing workspaces

Even though Unity seems doing better – performance-wise – so far, it still has its problems. The most critical one would be the fact that no one will be able to run a fully featured Unity if you do not have a proper graphics card and would drop you on a Qt-implemented Unity, a.k.a Unity 2D! Gnome-Shell, on the other hand, because of Mutter it doesn’t take advantage of the graphics card to the max like Compiz with Unity. Gnome-Shell and Mutter is more like Gnome 2.x and Metacity or KDE and Kwin.

Which will win in the end? That question will remain till Gnome’s Gnome-Shell release in March and Ubutnu’s Unity release in April. … but what do you think?

13 thoughts on “Gnome-Shell vs Unity

  1. for some reason , both looks like jolicloud to me
    while the pic of Gnome-shell somehow reminds me Android 3.0 .. looks like a tablet interface than a desktop one .. going for touch support ?

    1. The provided screenshots are only showing one part of the UI, if you’re interested, you can look in here for gnome3 and here for unity. 🙂

      Developers of Unity definitely had the idea of tablets – and netbooks mainly – in mind when they designed the interface. They also have developed the uTouch, the piece of software that enables mutlitouch on ubuntu. However, the experience will slightly differ from when it’s installed on a netbook/tablet or on a desktop/laptop, only to provide better experience.

      As for Gnome-Shell, I can’t say so since I’ve never heard the word ‘tablet’ mentioned. But – I think – because many people think that tablets are the “future”, they’re going to heed to it! BTW, it’s UI is not much of a tablet UI, they usually have larger icons – just like Unity’s. Also the fact that they have implemented mouse-only features! I think they’re just trying to bring another practical, yet modern, UI!

      Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

  2. so in short, they’re the same thing. but one is more standard than the other and doesn’t rely on graphics cards as much. personally, I’m siding with gnome-shell simply because desktops are their business (and has been for years), and that looks aren’t the only driving factor for them.

    but ether way, a weird GUI is coming to desktop pcs. I think everyone including microsoft will follow suit eventually (assuming that it survives that long).

  3. Gnome is way better for Desktops and Laptops. Unity should stick with netbooks and tablets or whatever.

    1. +1 , and btw, they only did that because OS X is doing it!! 🙁 It’s the truth; they announced that they’re going to be using the interface for all one day after the back to the mac event where the new OS X UI was shown!

      I hate that fact, but it’s the truth.

        1. … and who exactly said I am an Ubuntu guy anymore? The only reason why I’m following its news daily is because it’s THE popular linux.

          And BTW, expect an Ubuntu bashing post in the future, I’ve been collecting data for months now! XP

          Though I’d keep one Ubuntu installation on my netbook with my own UI, just to know how things are going! … and help noobies!

  4. Then whats your Linux distro currently? Hopefully not an RPM distro. If you’re not using Debian, then I suggest you do. It doesn’t have any bloat like Ubuntu and its releasing a new version soon.

    1. Hopefully not an RPM distro.


      … and its releasing a new version soon.

      YES, Squeeze! I’m waiting for it, and this is the only reason why I still have 10.04 on my main PC! I know I can install Lenny and then do apt-get fullupgrade, but I don’t like to do release upgrades. I also have CrunchBang Linux on my secondary Pentium II PC. 🙂

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