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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Tue, 22 Nov 2011

Unity and GNOME Shell are more alike than different

I've been spending time each day working in Ubuntu 11.10's GNOME 3/Unity and Fedora 16's GNOME 3/GNOME Shell desktops.

They're more alike than you think. Rather than do things the GNOME way, Ubuntu/Canonical decided to take its own direction with Unity, which is now, like GNOME Shell, built on top of GNOME 3.

They look and work more alike than you'd think.

I find it puzzling. But in a way it makes sense.

The differences between the two environments are small. A click here, a small feature there. But there's a lot of GNOME in both Unity and GNOME Shell.

I know there have been problems with the GNOME Project and Ubuntu, and Ubuntu has an active design team that wants things to look a certain way, which isn't necessarily the way that GNOME designers and developers want them to look.

And Ubuntu is a big project with a huge user base, and the Ubuntu/Canonical team wants more control over the desktop they deliver to their users.

I get it. Yet Unity looks more like a tweak on GNOME Shell (or GNOME Shell a tweak on Unity) than you might think.

I guess that means if you hate one of these desktop environments, you're bound to hate the other, too. I see no way around that.

But if you like Unity, chances are you'll like GNOME Shell. And vice versa.

I'll crawl back under my rock now. Readers, go about your business. Nothing to see here.